401st Bombardment Group (Second World War)

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The 401st Bombardment Group was a B-17 Flying Fortress group that fought with the Eighth Air Force from November 1943 until the end of the war in Europe.

The 401st made its combat debut on 26 November 1943, taking part in the largest Eighth Air Force raid yet carried out. The group provided some of the 633 aircraft that took part in the raid, an attack on Bremen.

On 27 May 1944 the group lost seven aircraft when flying at the head of the 1st Bombardment Division during an attack on the German rail network.

For most of the war the group took part in the strategic bombing campaign. It won a Distinguished Unit citation for its role in two raids against German aircraft production, one on 11 January 1944 and the second on 20 February 1944.

As with most B-17 groups, the 401st also carried out a number of tactical missions. It was used to attack German transport links, Luftwaffe airfields and coastal fortifications in the period before D-Day and on the day itself. In July 1944 it took part in the raids that aided the American breakout at St Lo. It attacked the German fortress at Brest in August 1944 and took part in Operation Market Garden in September 1944. During the battle of the Bulge it was used to attack German transport links and in March 1945 it was used to support the crossing of the Rhine.

The group returned to the United States in August 1945 and was inactivated in the same month.




1943-1945: Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress


20 March 1943 Constituted as 401st Bombardment Group (Heavy)
1 April 1943 Activated
October-November 1943 To England and Eighth Air Force
June-July 1945 To United States
28 August 1945 Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Col Neil B Harding: c.1 Apr 1943
Col Harold W Bowman: Jun 1943
Col William T Seawell: Dec 1944- 1945.

Main Bases

Ephrata AAB, Wash: 1 Apr 1943
Geiger Field, Washington: June 1943
Great Falls AAB, Mont: Jul-Oct 1943
Deenethorpe, England: c. 1 Nov 1943-May 1945
Sioux Falls AA Fld, SD: c. 1-28 Aug 1945.

Component Units

612nd Bombardment Squadron: 1943-45
613rd Bombardment Squadron: 1943-45
614th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-45
615th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-45

Assigned To

1943: 92nd Bombardment Wing; 3rd Air Division; VIII Bomber Command; Eighth Air Force
1943: 92nd Bombardment Wing; 1st Air Division; VIII Bomber Command; Eighth Air Force
1943-1944: 94th Bombardment Wing; 1st Air Division; VIII Bomber Command; Eighth Air Force
1944-1945: 94th Bombardment Wing; 1st Air Division; Eighth Air Force; US Strategic Air Forces Europe

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (27 November 2012), 401st Bombardment Group (Second World War), http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/401st_Bombardment_Group.html

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