Constituted as 491st Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 14 Sep 1943. Activated on 1 Oct 1943. Trained for combat with B-24's. On 1 Jan 1944 the group, less the air echelon, was transferred without personnel and equipment to England, where personnel were assigned later. The air echelon continued to train in the US until it joined the group in England in May 1944. Served in combat with Eighth AF until the end of Apr 1945. Began operations early in Jun 1944 and attacked airfields, bridges, and coastal defenses both preceding and during the invasion of Normandy. Then concentrated its attacks on strategic objectives in Germany, striking communications centers, oil refineries, storage depots, industrial areas, shipyards, and other targets in such places as Berlin, Hamburg, Kassel, Cologne, Gelsenkirchen, Bielefeld, Hannover, and Magdeburg; on one occasion attacked the headquarters of the German General Staff at Zossen, Germany. While on a mission to bomb an oil refinery at Misburg on 26 Nov 1944, the group was attacked by large numbers of enemy fighters; although about one-half of its planes were destroyed, the remainder fought off the interceptors, successfully bombed the target, and won for the group a DUC. Although engaged primarily in strategic bombardment, the group also supported ground forces at St Lo in Jul 1944; assaulted V-weapon sites and communications lines in France during the summer of 1944; dropped supplies to paratroops on 18 Sep 1944 during the airborne attack in Holland; bombed German supply lines and fortifications during the Battle of the Bulge, Dec 1944-Jan 1945; supported Allied forces in the airborne drop across the Rhine in Mar 1945; and interdicted enemy communications during the Allied drive across Germany in Apr 1945. Returned to the US in Jul. Inactivated on 8 Sep 1945.
Squadrons. 852d: 1943-1945. 853d: 1943-1945. 854th: 1943-1945. 855th: 1943-1945.
Stations. Davis-Monthan Field, Ariz, 1 Oct 1943; El Paso, Tex, 11 Nov 1943; England, 1 Jan 1944; North Pickenham, England, Feb 1944; Metfield, England, Mar 1944; North Pickenham, England, 15 Aug 1944-Jun 1945; McChord Field, Wash, 17 Jul-8 Sep 1945.
Commanders. Col Dwight O Monteith, 10 Oct 1943; Maj Jack G Merrell, 20 Dec 1943; Col Wilson H Banks, 5 Jan 1944; Maj Alex E Burleigh, 19 Jan 1944; Lt Col Jack G Merrell, 29 Jan 1944; Lt Col Carl T Goldenburg, 12 Feb 1944; Col F H Miller, 26 Jun 1944; Col Allen W Reed, c. 20 Oct 1944-1945.
Campaigns. Air Offensive, Europe; Normandy; Northern France; Rhineland; Ardennes-Alsace; Central Europe.
Decorations. Distinguished Unit Citation: Misburg, Germany, 26 Nov 1944.
Data from Air Force Combat Units of World War II By Maurer, Maurer, Published 1986
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