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397th Bombardment Group

Constituted as 397th Bombardment Group (Medium) on 20 Mar 1943. Activated on 20 Apr 1943. Trained with B-26's. Moved to England, Mar-Apr 1944, and assigned to Ninth AF. Participated in operations preparatory to the Normandy invasion by attacking V-weapon sites, bridges, coastal defenses, marshalling yards, and airfields, Apr-Jun 1944. Hit strong points in France on D-Day and assisted ground forces throughout the remainder of the Normandy campaign by bombing fuel dumps, defended areas, and other objectives. Engaged in bombardment of German forces in the region of St Lo during the Allied breakthrough in Jul. After moving to the Continent in Aug, struck enemy positions at St Malo and Brest and bombed targets in the Rouen area as Allied armies swept across the Seine and advanced to the Siegfried Line. Began flying missions into Germany in Sep, attacking such targets as bridges, defended areas, and storage depots. Struck the enemy's communications during the Battle of the Bulge (Dec 1944-Jan 1945) and received a DUC for a mission on 23 Dec 1944 when the group withstood heavy flak and fighter attack to sever a railway bridge at Eller, a vital link in the enemy's supply line across the Moselle. Continued to support the Allied drive into Germany until Apr 1945. Returned to the US, Dec 1945-Jan 1946. Inactivated on 6 Jan 1946.

Squadrons. 596th: 1943-1945. 597th: 1943-1946. 598th: 1943-1945. 599th: 1943-1945.

Stations. 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, NJ, 5-6 Jan 1946.

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

Campaigns. Air Offensive, Europe; Normandy; Northern France; Rhineland; Ardennes-Alsace; Central Europe.

Decorations. Distinguished Unit Citation: Eller, Germany, 23 Dec 1944.

Data from Air Force Combat Units of World War II By Maurer, Maurer, Published 1986


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