397th Bombardment Group

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The 397th Bombardment Group was a medium bomber unit that served with the Ninth Air Force and supported the D-Day invasion and the campaign that followed.

The group was activated in April 1943 and was equipped with the B-26 Marauder. It moved to England in March-April 1944 and joined the Ninth Air Force. Combat operations began in April, and in the period before the D-Day landings it was used to attack V-Weapon sites, bridges, coastal defences, rail marshalling yards and airfields.

On D-Day it was used to attack German strong points. It then supported the fighting in Normandy, attacking fuel dumps and German strong points in particular. In July it supported the breakout at St Lo. In August 1944 the group moved to the Continent. It was used to attack the isolated German garrisons at St Malo and Brest, then helped support the rapid Allied advance across France.

In September it began to operate over Germany, attacking bridges, defended areas and storage dumps. During the Battle of the Bulge the group attacked German communications, helping to isolate the battlefield. It was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for an attack on the rail bridge at Eller on 23 December 1944.

During 1945 the group supported the Allied advance into Germany. It returned to the US in December 1945-January 1946 and was inactivated on 6 January 1946.




April 1943-: Martin B-26 Marauder


20 March 1943 Constituted as 397th Bombardment Group (Medium)
20 April 1943 Activated
March-April 1944 To England and Ninth Air Force
April 1945 Last combat
Dec 1945-Jan 1946 Returned to US
6 Jan 1946 Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Maj Rollin M Winingham: c. May 1943
Lt Col John F Batjer: 18 Jul 1943
Col Richard T Coiner Jr: 5 Oct 1943
Lt Col Jimmie W Britt: 23 Jul 1945-unkn.

Main Bases

MacDill Field, Fla: 20 Apr 1943
Avon Park Bombing Range, Fla: 12 Oct 1943
Hunter Field, Ga: 1 Nov 1943- 13 Mar 1944
Gosfield, England: 5 Apr 1944
Rivenhall, England: 15 Apr 1944
Hurn, England: 5 Aug 1944
Gorges, France: Aug 1944
Dreux, France: c. 11 Sep 1944
Peronne, France: 6 Oct 1944
Venlo, Holland: 25 Apr 1945
Peronne, France: c. 24 May-c. Dec 1945
Camp Kilmer, N J: 5-6 Jan 1946.

Component Units

596th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1945
597th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1946
598th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1945
599th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1945

Assigned To

1944-45: 98th Bombardment Wing; 1944-45: 9th Bombardment Division (Medium); Ninth Air Force

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (21 January 2014), 397th Bombardment Group, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/397th_Bombardment_Group.html

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