44th Bombardment Group

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The 44th Bombardment Group was one of the relatively small number of Eighth Air Force bomber units to fly the B-24 Liberator throughout the war in Europe.

The unit had been formed at the start of 1941, training with the B-24. After a short period operating as a combined training unit and anti-submarine patrol unit, the 44th began to prepare for the move to Europe in August 1942, and by October had reached Shipham, Norfolk. This would remain the units main base from then until the end of the war in Europe, although a number of detachments would serve elsewhere.

B-24D Fearless Freddie
Fearless Freddie

The 44th began operations in November 1942, attacking targets across much of occupied Europe, reaching as far as Romania and Sicily, as well as attacking targets in Germany.

B-24 Liberator over Ploesti
B-24 Liberator over Ploesti

The first detachment was made in June 1943, when a large part of the group moved to North Africa, to support the invasion of Sicily. While there the unit took part in Operation Tidal Wave (1 August 1943), the low-level attack on the Ploesti oil fields, winning a Distinguished Unit Citation for its part in that raid (the unit's second).

This first detachment returned to England at the end of August, but the group was only together for a short period of time, for a second detachment left for North Africa in September, this time to support the landings at Salerno. The group finally came back together in November 1943, and remained in action until April 1945. Its main targets were enemy airfields, oil installations and railway marshalling yards.

During that period the 44th took part in the "Big Week" operations of 20-25 February 1944, designed to knock out the German aircraft industry, in the operations to support the D-Day landings, including raids on Caen and the German positions at St. Lo. During the failed attack at Arnhem the 44th flew supply drop missions, while in December 1944-January 1945 it took part in the Battle of the Bulge, attacking German communication links in and behind the battlefield. The group also flew missions to support the final Allied advance into Germany.


 Consolidated B-24 Liberator (Crowood Aviation), Martin W. Bowman. A well balanced book that begins with a look at the development history of the B-24, before spending nine out of its ten chapters looking at the combat career of the aircraft in the USAAF, the US Navy and the RAF.
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 B-24 Liberator Units of the Eighth Air Force, Robert F. Dorr. Although the Eighth Air Force is famous for operating the B-17, even at the end of the Second World War the B-24 still equipped one third of all Eighth Army Bombardment Groups. Here Dorr looks at the role the Liberator played with the Eighth Army, from its tiny beginnings in 1942 to the final massive air armadas of 1944 and 1945. Dorr also looks at the sizable detachments sent to North Africa during 1943, and the famous Ploesti mission.  
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‘Big Week’ 1944 – Operation Argument and the breaking of the Jadgwaffe, Douglas C. Dildy. Looks at the USAAF’s concentrated attack on the German aircraft industry, a week of massive bombing raids that forced the Luftwaffe into an equally massive defensive effort that cost them around 150 aircrew at a time when they could hardly afford those losses, as well as cutting German fighter production by around 2,000 aircraft, and proving that the long range escort fighter was the key to a successful daylight bombing campaign (Read Full Review)
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January 1941-April 1945: Consolidated B-24 Liberator
August 1945-July 1946: Boeing B-29 Super Fortress


20 November 1940 Constituted as 44th Bombardment Group (Heavy)
15 January 1941 Activated
February 1942 Becomes an operational training unit
July 1942 Begins to prepare for combat
August-October 1942 Moves to the UK
November 1942-June 1943 Active with Eighth Air Force
June-August 1943 Detachment to North Africa
1 August 1943 Takes part in Operation Tidal Wave, the attack on Ploesti
September-October 1943 Detachment to North Africa
November 1943-April 1945 Entire group active from bases in England
25 April 1945 Final combat mission
August 1945 Redesignated 44th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy)
21 March 1946 Allocated to Strategic Air Command
12 July 1946 Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Lt. Colonel Melvin B. Asp: 15 January 1941
Lt. Colonel Hugo P. Rush: May 1941
Colonel F. H. Robinson: 1 April 1942
Colonel Leon W. Johnson: 15 January 1943
Lt. Colonel James T. Poscy: 3 September 1943
Colonel Frederick R. Dent: December 1943
Colonel John H. Gibson: 1 April 1944
Colonel Eugene H. Snavely: August 1944
Colonel Vernon C. Smith: April 1945
Lt. Colonel Henry C. Coles: c.6 August 1945
Colonel William J Cain Jr: c.30 August 1945

Main Bases

MacDill FIeld, Florida: 15 January 1941
Barksdale Field, La: February 1942
Will Rogers Field, Oklahoma: July-August 1942
Shipham, England: October 1942-15 June 1945
Sioux Falls, SD: c. 27 June 1945
Great Bend, Kansas: 25 July 1945
Smoky Hill, Kansas: 14 December 1945-12 July 1945

Component Units

66th Bombardment Squadron: 1941-1946
67th Bombardment Squadron: 1941-1946
68th Bombardment Squadron: 1941-1946
404th Bombardment Squadron: 1942
506th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1945

Assigned To

1941: 3rd Bombardment Wing
Eighth Air Force: 1942-1945
1942-43: 2nd Bombardment Wing; Eighth Air Force
1943: 14th Bombardment Wing; VIII Bomber Command; Eighth Air Force
1943: 2nd Bombardment Wing; 2nd Air Division; VIII Bomber Command; Eighth Air Force
1943-1945: 14th Bombardment Wing; 2nd Air Division; Eighth Air Force
1945: 96th Bombardment Wing; 2nd Air Division; Eighth Air Force

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (4 February 2008), 44 Bombardment Group, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/44th_Bombardment_Group.html

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