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Laon/Athies

Military site : airfield

Detailed history

During the Liberation of France, the Luftwaffe abandoned the base airfield at the end of August, sending in demolition teams to blow up hangars, buildings, electrical generators, water treatment and other facilities. It was seized by Allied ground forces in early September, and turned over to the United States Army Air Forces. The IX Engineer Command 820th Engineer Aviation Battalion moved in about 7 September and began a quick rehabilitation of the base so it could be used by American aircraft.[3]

It was declared operationally ready for combat units on 9 September, a few days after its capture from German forces, being designated as Advanced Landing Ground "A-69 Laon/Athies Airfield". Although operationally usable, Athies was a wrecked base from the Allied air attacks and what was blown up by the Germans as they withdrew. The Americans made do with what could be repaired, and moved in what equipment was necessary to conduct combat operations. Many buildings of masonry construction had been made useless, their contents consisting of nothing but wreckage.[4][5]

Under American control, Ninth Air Force used the base for several units from 7 September 1944 until closing the base in July 1945. Known units assigned were:[6]
50th Fighter Group, 15-26 September 1944, P-47 Thunderbolts
368th Fighter Group, 11 September-2 October 1944, P-47 Thunderbolts
323d Bombardment Group, 13 October 1944-February 1945, B-26 Marauders
416th Bombardment Group, February-May 1945, A-26 Invaders

With each combat group having three fully equipped squadrons, the airfield at Laon-Athies became one of the busiest American bases on the continent. With the war ended, Laon/Athies airfield was closed on 23 May 1945 and turned over to the French Air Ministry.

English Heritage's record description

Not yet known

Service

Units

  • 98th Combat Bomb Wing
  • 50th Fighter Group

    50th Fighter Group

    Group
    Before the build-up to D-Day, the group were based in the United States as part of the Fighter School Command and the Army Air Forces School of Applied Tactics. In spring 1944 though, like so many other fighter and bomb groups, the 50th Fighter Group...

  • 323rd Bomb Group

    323rd Bomb Group

    Group
    The 323rd Bombardment Group operated with B-26 Marauders, American medium bombers. They were the first Eighth Air Force Group to fly a medium level bombing mission with this aircraft on 16 July 1943. After flying a total of 33 missions with the Eighth,...

  • 368th Fighter Group

    368th Fighter Group

    Group
    The 368th Fighter Group flew P-47s in combat from England from March 1944. In the days after D-Day the Group supported Allied ground troops fighting in the Cherbourg penisula and then around St. Lo. The Group received a DUC for flying seven missions in...

  • 416th Bomb Group

People

  • James Abbott

    Military | Captain | Aviation ordnance office | 416th Bomb Group
    Plain Dealer from November 24 to November 25, 2009, James Samuel Abbott, III, Passed away at his Gates Mills, Ohio residence November 22nd, 2009. Mr. Abbott was born in Cleveland, Ohio, November 19, 1918. He graduated from University School in 1936 and...

  • Robert Andrus

    Military | Lieutenant Colonel | fighter pilot | 368th Fighter Group

  • Donald Angell

    Military | Second Lieutenant | fighter pilot | 50th Fighter Group
    DONALD A. ANGELL, Sr. 86, of The Villages, Florida passed away on January 18, 2008. He had been a resident of the Palm Beach Gardens area since 1968 after retiring from the US Air Force as a Major. He had resided at The Villages since September 2003....

  • Jack Arnold

    Military | Lieutenant Colonel | Bombardier B-26 Marauder | 323rd Bomb Group
    Jack T. Arnold, born December 7, 1921 in Dupo, Illinois. Graduated from East High in East St. Louis, Illinois, received a first alternate appointment to West Point and enlisted in the U.S. Army Infantry. Immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor, he...

  • Walter Foster

    Military | Lieutenant Colonel | Bombardier | 323rd Bomb Group
    Lt. Walt Foster was a navigator and bombardier from Upstate New York who served with the 456th BS during the Second World War. His first combat mission was flown from Earls Colne Airfield on February 3, 1944 to the Ruisseville "No Balls” secret weapon...

  • Joseph Grillo

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Bombardier, Navigator | 323rd Bomb Group
    Killed in Action (KIA) on mission in the B-26 41-34955, 'Mission Belle', to Houfflaize during the Battle of the Bulge. Heavy flak at target. ...

  • Ralph Hackworth

    Military | Sergeant | 323rd Bomb Group
    Killed in Action (KIA) on mission in the B-26 'Mission Belle' to Houfflaize during the Battle of the Bulge. Heavy flak at target.

  • Theodore Harwood

    Military | First Lieutenant | Co-Pilot / Pilot | 323rd Bomb Group
    Ted joined the 323rd BG in Beaulieu, England on August 13, 1944 and flew his first mission on August 13/14, 1944 to Foret de House Bivouc and an Airdrome. It was a night mission, described by the combat crews as "creepy", "the worst". Of it, Ted said,...

  • Joseph Lazar

    Military | First Lieutenant | Co-Pilot / Pilot | 323rd Bomb Group

  • Russell Leibensperger

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 323rd Bomb Group
    Killed in Action (KIA) on mission in the B-26 'Mission Belle' to Houfflaize during the Battle of the Bulge. Heavy flak at target. AM w/ 11 Oak Leaf Cluster

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Aircraft

  • 41-34955 Mission Belle

    B-26 Marauder

  • 42-107588

    B-26 Marauder
    42-107588 was the lead ship on the mission of the 453rd to bomb the wooden bridge over the Our River at Steinebrück, near Saint-Vith, Belgium on 14 January 1945. In the Missing Air Crew Report - MACR 11926 -, Lt Mitchell E. Mussman, flying in number 3...

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
25 July 2015 02:50:13 466thHistorian Changes to usaaf from date, usaaf to date, closure date and history
Sources

Wikipedia.com

Date Contributor Update
22 January 2015 02:01:37 Tanks Created entry with name, number, latitude, longitude and media associations
Sources

AAM Photo

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