The 91st Bombardment Group was a heavy bomber group equipped with the B-17 and that formed part of the Eighth Air Force's strategic bomber force from November 1942 until the end of the Second War World.
The Group formed at Harding Field on 15 April 1942, with the same four squadrons that it contained for the rest of the war. The group moved twice in the next four months, while training with the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. The group operated the B-17 throughout the Second World War.
In August-September 1942 the group moved to England, arriving at Kimbolton in Cambridge. In October the group moved to Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire, where it remained for the rest of its time in England. All three of its squadrons shared the same base while in England. The Group formed part of the 1st Bombardment Wing of the Eighth Air Force from 1942 until 1945, making it part of the 1st Air Division from 1943. It was allocated to the forces available for Operation Torch, but didn't make the move to Africa, although crucial supplies and reinforcements were diverted, reducing the group's ability to operate late in 1942. The group's first British base was Kimbolton, but the runways turned out not to be suitable for the B-17 and in mid-October the group moved to the pre-war RAF base at Bassingbourn.
The Group entered combat on 7 November 1942 during an attack on the U-boat pens at Brest. At first it was used to attack coastal targets, including submarine pens, shipyards, harbours and docks. On 23 November the group was the target of one of the first 'head on' attacks, a new Luftwaffe tactic that avoided most of the B-17's guns and targeted the aircraft's vulnerable nose. The group suffered heavy losses during this raid.
On 27 January 1943 the group took part in the first Eighth Air Force heavy bomber raid on Germany, an attack on the German navy base at Wilhelmshaven. This phase of operations lasted until mid-1943.
The group then took part in the full strategic bombing campaign, attacking industrial targets in occupied Europe and Germany. The group took part in the attacks of the ball bearing plant at Schweinfurt, and lost ten B-17s, the second-worst losses during the attack. It won its first Distinguished Unit Citation for an attack on Hamm on 4 March 1943 and its second for its performance during an attak on German aircraft factories on 11 January 1944.
On 4 January 1944 the group took part in an attack of Kiel, becoming the first Bombardment Group in the Eighth Air Force to take part in 100 missions. At this stage the 91st BG had also lost more aircraft and more men on operations than any other group.
On 6 March 1944 the group took part in the first large American raid on Berlin, suffering heavy losses in the attack.
In the summer of 1944 the group took part in the operations that supported the Normandy invasions. On 24-25 July 1944 it took part in a heavy bomber attack on German troops around St. Lo and in August attacked the German lines at Caen.
During the Battle of the Bulge the group attacked German communications behind the front line. It was used during the crossing of the Rhine to attack airfields, bridges and railways.
After the end of the war in Europe the group was used to evacuate prisoners from German POW camps, before returning to the US in June-July 1945. It was inactivated in the US on 7 November 1945.
1942-1945: Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress
|28 January 1942||Constituted as 91st Bombardment Group (Heavy)|
|15 April 1942||Activated|
|Moves to Britain|
|November 1942||Combat Debut|
|June-July 1945||Returned to United States|
|7 November 1945||Inactivated|
1st. Lt Edward R Eckert:
15 Apr 1942
Col Stanley T Wray, 15 May 1942
Lt Col Baskin R Lawrence Jr, c. 25 May 1943
Lt Col Clemens L Wurzbach, 25 Jun 1943
Col Claude E Putnam, Dec 1943
Col Henry W Terry, 17 May 1944
Lt Col Donald E Sheeler, 30 May 1945-unkn.
Harding Field, La: 15 Apr
MacDill Field, Fla: 16 May 1942
Walla Walla, Wash: c. 26 Jun-24 Aug 1942
Kimbolton, Cambridgeshire, England: Sep 1942
Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire, England:, c. 14 Oct 1942-23 Jun 1945
Drew Field, Fla: 3 July-7 Nov 1945
322nd Bombardment Squadron: 15 Apr 1942-7 Nov 1945
323rd Bombardment Squadron: 15 Apr 1942-7 Nov 1945
324th Bombardment Squadron: 15 Apr 1942-7 Nov 1945
401st Bombardment Squadron: 15 Apr 1942-7 Nov 1945
1942-43: 1st Bombardment Wing; VIII Bomber Command; Eighth Air Force
1943-45: 1st Bombardment Wing; 1st Air Division, Eighth Air Force