344th Bomb Squadron

Squadron
media-13669.jpeg 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 Sternfels flying on his bomb run over White IV at Ploesti. Aug 1, 1943. -- NOTE : This version of this iconic photo is the correct version of this photograph with the smoke stacks of White IV on Sternfels' right rear side. This iconic photograph is often printed in reverse, in error, due to it's reversed appearance on Time Magazine's cover after the Ploesti mission in 1943.

Personal Archives - Kickapoo

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
B-24D, 41-11819,  9th AF 98th BG 344th BS. Shot down over White IV. 1 Aug 43
  • 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

Related videos and documents

  • Media Type: Document
  • Object Number: Document 41295
  • Description: The Squaw's Crew - B-24D Liberator - 41-11761 -...
  • Media Type: Document
  • Object Number: Document 53498
  • Description: RAF Form 441A Sortie Reports for the 98th Bomb Group on Operation Tidal Wave, the bombing of Ploesti. - 1 August 1943.

Revisions

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Added details. - Kickapoo

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Black Sunday ---- Michael Hill

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Wikipedia - The 344th Bomb Squadron

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ContributorKickapoo
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Wikipedia - The 344th Bomb Squadron

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ContributorKickapoo
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Wikipedia - The 344th Bomb Squadron

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ContributorKickapoo
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Black Sunday ~ Michael Hill

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ContributorKickapoo
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Black Sunday - Michael hill

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Burning Hitler's Black Gold by Robert Sternfels

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Burning Hitler's Black Gold by Robert Sternfels

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Burning Hitler's Black Gold by Robt. Sternfels

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

344th Bomb Squadron: Gallery (55 items)