Constituted as 44th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 20 Nov 1940. Activated on 15 Jan
1941. Trained with B-24's. Became an operational training unit in Feb 1942. Also
served on antisubmarine duty. In Jul 1942 began intensive preparations for combat.
Moved to England, Aug-Oct 1942, for service with Eighth AF. Operations consisted
primarily of assaults against strategic targets in France, Belgium, Holland, Germany,
Italy Rumania, Austria, Poland, and Sicily. Pounded submarine installations, industrial
establishments, airfields, harbors, shipyards, and other objectives in France and
Germany, Nov 1942-Jun 1943.
Received a DUC for an extremely hazardous mission against naval installations at
Kiel on 14 May 1943: with its B-24's carrying incendiaries to be dropped after three
B-17 groups had released high explosive bombs, the 44th flew in the wake of the main
formation; thus the B-24's were particularly vulnerable because they had no protection
from fire power of the main force, and this vulnerability increased when the group
had to open its own formation for the attack; but the 44th blanketed the target with
incendiaries in spite of the concentrated flak and continuous interceptor attacks
Late in Jun 1943 a large detachment moved to North Africa to help facilitate the
invasion of Sicily by bombing airfields and marshalling yards in Italy. The detachment
also participated in the famous low-level raid on the Ploesti oil fields on 1 Aug
1943. The group was awarded a DUC for its part in this raid and its commander, Col
Leon Johnson, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his daring and initiative in leading
his men into smoke, flame, and alerted fighter and antiaircraft opposition over the
target, which already had been bombed in error by another group.
Before returning to England at the end of Aug, the detachment bombed an aircraft
factory in Austria and supported ground forces in Sicily. In Sep the group struck
airfields in Holland and France and convoys in the North Sea. Also in Sep, a detachment
was sent to North Africa to support the Salerno operations.
The detachment returned to England in Oct and from Nov 1943 to Apr 1945, the entire
group carried out operations against targets in western Europe, concentrating on
airfields, oil installations, and marshalling yards. Took part in the intensive campaign
of heavy bombers against the German aircraft industry during Big Week, 20-25 Feb
1944. Sometimes flew support and interdictory missions. Struck airfields, railroads,
and V-weapon sites in preparation for the Normandy invasion;
supported the invasion in Jun 1944 by attacking strong points in the beachhead area
and transportation targets behind the front lines. Aided the Caen offensive and the
St Lo breakthrough in Jul. Dropped food, ammunition, and other supplies to troops
engaged in the airborne attack on Holland in Sep. Helped to check the enemy offensive
during the Battle of the Bulge, Dec 1944-Jan 1945, by striking bridges, tunnels,
choke points, rail and road junctions, and communications in the battle area. Attacked
airfields and transportation in support of the advance into Germany, and flew a resupply
mission during the airborne assault across the Rhine in Mar 1945.
Flew last combat mission on 25 Apr 1945. Returned to the US in Jun 1945. Redesignated
44th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy) in Aug 1945. Trained with B-29's. Assigned to
Strategic Air Command on 21 Mar 1946. Inactivated on 12 Jul 1946.
MacDill Field, Fla, 15 Jan 1941 Barksdale Field, La, Feb 1942 Will Rogers Field, Okla,
Jul-c. 28 Aug 1942 Shipham, England, Oct 1942-c. 15 Jun 1945 Sioux Falls AAFld, SD,
c. 27 Jun 1945 Great Bend AAFld, Kan, 25 Jul 1945 Smoky Hill AAFld, Kan, 14 Dec 1945-12
Jul 1946. Andrews Field, Md, 1 Jul 1947-6 Sep 1948. March AFB, Calif, 2 Jan 1951 Lake
Charles AFB, La, c. 1 Aug 1951-16 Jun 1952.
Lt Col Melvin B Asp, c. 15 Jan 1941 Lt Col Hugo P Rush, May 1941 Col F H Robinson,
c. 1 Apr 1942 Col Leon W Johnson, c. 15 Jan 1943 Lt Col James T Posey, c. 3 Sep 1943 Col
Frederick R Dent, Dec 1943 Col John H Gibson, c. 1 Apr 1944 Col Eugene H Snavely, Aug
1944 Col Vernon C Smith, Apr 1945-unkn Lt Col Henry C Coles, c. 6 Aug 1945 Col William
Cain Jr, c. 30 Aug 1945 Lt Col James F Starkey, c. 8 Jan 1946-unkn. Unkn, 1947-1948. Col
Howell M Estes Jr, Feb 1951 Col Carlos Cochrane, 7 Mar 1951-16 Jun 1952.
Antisubmarine, American Theater; Air Combat, EAME Theater; Air Offensive, Europe;
Sicily; Naples-Foggia; Normandy; Northern France; Rhineland; Ardennes-Alsace; Central
Distinguished Unit Citations: Kiel, Germany, 14 May 1943; Ploesti, Rumania, 1 Aug