344th Bomb Squadron

Squadron

Object Number - UPL 13669 - The B-24D Liberator, 42-40402, The Sandman, in the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bombardment Squadron. Piloted by Lt. Robert...

The 344th Bombing Squadron was first activated at MacDill Field, Florida as one of the original three squadrons assigned to the 98th Bombardment Group. The 344th soon moved to Barksdale Field, Louisiana, where it began to train as a Consolidated B-24 Liberator heavy bomber squadron under Third Air Force.

The squadron's training was short and it deployed to Egypt in July 1942 over the South Atlantic Ferrying Route transiting from Morrison Field, Florida though the Caribbean Sea to Brazil. It made the Atlantic crossing from Brazil to Liberia, then transited east across central Africa to Sudan. The air echelon of the group reformed with the ground echelon which traveled by the SS Pasteur around the Cape of Good Hope, joining with the air echelon of the squadron, the 343d Bombardment Squadron and group headquarters at St Jean d'Acre Airfield, in Palestine.

Combat in the Middle East
Upon arrival in the Near East, the squadron became part of United States Army Middle East Air Force, which was replaced by Ninth Air Force in November. It entered combat in August, attacking shipping and harbor installations to cut Axis supply lines to North Africa. It also bombed airfields and rail transit lines in Sicily and mainland Italy. The squadron moved forward with Ninth Air Force to airfields in Egypt; Libya and Tunisia supporting the British Eighth Army in the Western Desert Campaign. Its support of this campaign earned the squadron the Distinguished Unit Citation.

98th Bomb Group Liberators attacking Ploesti
On 1 August 1943, the squadron participated in Operation Tidal Wave, the low level raid on oil refineries near Ploesti, Romania. Alerted to the vulnerability of the Ploesti refineries by a June 1942 raid by the Halverson Project, HALPRO, the area around Ploesti had become one of the most heavily defended targets in Europe. Upon takeoff to Ploesti, Lt. John Young's B-24, Kickapoo, lost an engine shortly after takeoff and crashed with it's two pilots, Lt. Robert Nespor, Lt. John Riley, and all but two of it's crew KIA, the first casualties of Operation Tidal Wave. The 344th Squadron pressed its attack on the Astra Romana Refinery through smoke and fire from bombing by the 93rd's Bombardment Group's earlier attack and heavy flak defenses. The squadron's actions in this engagement earned it a second Distinguished Unit Citation.

When the forces driving East from Egypt and Libya met up with those moving westward from Algeria and Morocco, the 344th, established as a B-24 Liberator heavy bomb squadron and trained by Third Air Force. Deployed to Egypt in June 1942 over South Atlantic Transport Route transiting from Morrison Field, Florida though the Caribbean to Brazil; performed trans-Atlantic crossing from Brazil to Liberia, then transited east across central Africa to Sudan. Lastly the group reformed with the ground echelon which traveled by ship around the Cape of Good Hope, joining with air echelon in British Palestine.

Assigned to the newly formed IX Bomber Command, the squadron operated from airfields in Egypt; Libya and Tunisia supporting the British Eighth Army in the Western Desert Campaign. Also staged long-range strategic bombardment of enemy maritime shipping targets in the Mediterranean Sea and Italian ports, also military and industrial targets in Sicily, Italy, and the Southern Balkans, including attacking the Nazi-controlled oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania.

Reassigned to Fifteenth Air Force in southern Italy; continuing strategic bombardment raids on Occupied France; Southern Germany; Austria and targets in the Balkans. In the summer of 1944, the squadron participated in the invasion of southern France, assisted in the Soviet advance into the Balkans, and supported the partisans and guerrillas in Yugoslavia and neighboring countries.

The squadron returned to the United States in May 1945 where it was redesignated as a Boeing B-29 Superfortress very heavy bombardment squadron and began training for deployment to the Central Pacific Area. Training continued until November when the unit was transferred to Merced Army Air Field, California and reassigned to the 444th Bombardment Group,[3] where it replaced the 678th Bombardment Squadron, which was converted into a reconnaissance unit. The squadron was inactivated at what was now Castle Field in March 1946.

Commanding Officers

  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 98th Bomb Group 344th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: O-29680
  • Highest Rank: Colonel
  • Role/Job: Commanding Officer / Pilot

Connections

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People

  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 98th Bomb Group 344th Bomb Squadron
  • Highest Rank: First Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Pilot
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 98th Bomb Group 344th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 32130688 / O-729696
  • Highest Rank: First Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Bombardier
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 98th Bomb Group 344th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 11044165
  • Highest Rank: Technical Sergeant
  • Role/Job: Flight Engineer / Top Turret Gunner
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 100th Bomb Group 98th Bomb Group 344th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 34125884
  • Highest Rank: Staff Sergeant (3rd Grade)
  • Role/Job: Turret Gunner
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 98th Bomb Group 344th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 15074778 / O-?
  • Highest Rank: First Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Pilot

Aircraft

  • Aircraft Type: B-24 Liberator
  • Nicknames: - Kickapoo
  • Unit: 98th Bomb Group 344th Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-24 Liberator
  • Nicknames: - Rosie Wrecked Em
  • Unit: 98th Bomb Group 344th Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-24 Liberator
  • Nicknames: - Raunchy
  • Unit: 98th Bomb Group 344th Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-24 Liberator
  • Nicknames: - Hail Columbia - Little Chief Big Dog - Grumpy
  • Unit: 376th Bomb Group 98th Bomb Group 344th Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-24 Liberator
  • Nicknames: Rowdy Ann
  • Unit: 376th Bomb Group 98th Bomb Group 344th Bomb Squadron 512th Bomb Squadron

Revisions

Date14 Oct 2021 01:46:56
ContributorKickapoo
Sources

Added details. - Kickapoo

Date3 Nov 2020 08:29:01
ContributorKickapoo
Sources

Black Sunday ---- Michael Hill

Date16 Oct 2020 08:38:50
ContributorKickapoo
Sources

Wikipedia - The 344th Bomb Squadron

Date16 Oct 2020 08:34:11
ContributorKickapoo
Sources

Wikipedia - The 344th Bomb Squadron

Date16 Oct 2020 08:26:02
ContributorKickapoo
Sources

Wikipedia - The 344th Bomb Squadron

Date28 Feb 2019 23:54:34
ContributorKickapoo
Sources

Black Sunday ~ Michael Hill

Date9 Aug 2018 11:18:49
ContributorKickapoo
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael hill

Date12 Mar 2018 11:29:13
ContributorKickapoo
Sources

Burning Hitler's Black Gold by Robert Sternfels

Date12 Mar 2018 11:25:20
ContributorKickapoo
Sources

Burning Hitler's Black Gold by Robert Sternfels

Date10 Mar 2018 08:32:21
ContributorKickapoo
Sources

Burning Hitler's Black Gold by Robt. Sternfels

Date1 Nov 2016 02:46:47
Contributor466thHistorian
Sources

12th & 15th Air Forces - Gerard Paloque
page 94

344th Bomb Squadron: Gallery (55 items)