44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs

Group
The insignia of the 44th Bomb Group.

Object Number - FRE 5068 - The insignia of the 44th Bomb Group.

The 44th Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated 15-January-1942 at McDill Field, Florida and equipped with B-24Cs. The Group moved to Barksdale Field, Louisiana and acted as a training unit for the 90th 93rd and 98th Bomb Groups and flew anti-submarine patrols over the Gulf of Mexico; the Group claimed 1 U-Boat destroyed. On 26-July-1942 the Group moved to Will Rogers Field, Oklahoma to prepare for overseas deployment. The Ground echelon sailed for the UK on the Queen Mary on 4-September-1942. The air echelon moved to Grenier Field, New Hampshire and in late September was re-deployed to the UK.

Assigned to 8th Air Force at Cheddington from 11-Sep-1942 to 28-Jun-1943. The Group was known as the 'Flying Eight-Balls' and each B-24 Liberator it flew was decorated with a winged bomb cartoon of an 8-Ball (pool ball) over which were superimposed eyes and the nose of a bomb in the squadron colour. The Group received a Distinguished Unit Citation for an extremely hazardous mission against naval installations at Kiel on 14 May 1943. This mission involved drop incendiaries on the target from an unprotected position behind B-17 formations that had dropped high explosives. The Group lost five of its seventeen Liberators in the target area.

The group was transferred TDY to the 9th Air Force at Benina Main, Libya from 28-Jun-43 to 25-Aug-43. They provided support for Operation HUSKY, the invasion of Sicily, during July 1943. They also participated in the famous 1-Aug-43 raid on the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania dubbed operation TIDAL WAVE. The unit was awarded another Distinguished Unit Citation for this action in which 11 of the 37 B-24s it despatched were MIA. Col Leon Johnson, Group Commanding Officer was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his leadership in this action. Afterwards the 44th returned to Shipdham for a very short respite from 25-Aug-43 to 17-Sep-43 at which time the Group was again sent TDY to North Africa at Oudna, Tunisia where the they shared the base with a B-17 Bomb Group, the 99th to support the invasion of Italy. On 1-Oct-1943 the 44th participated in a mission to bomb the Messerschmidt plant a Weiner-Neustadt, Austria where they met intense anti-aircraft fire and hordes of German fighters. The Group lost 8 B-24s of the 25 they sent to the target. On 4-Oct-1943 the Group was sent back to Shipdham for the remainder of the war.

Between October 1943 and June 1945, the Group flew strategic bombing missions over occupied Europe. These were daylight raids that put the bomber crews in great danger from enemy aircraft and anti-aircraft fire. In all the 44th flew 343 missions in 8,009 sorties and dropped 18,980 tones of bombs. The Group lost 153 aircraft MIA.

CLAIMS TO FAME
First 8th Air Force Bomb Groups to be equipped with B-24 Liberators
Operated from England for a longer period than any other B-24 Group
Sustained highest losses of aircraft of any B-24 Group in 8th Air Force
Claimed more enemy aircraft than any other 8th AF B-24 Group 153.
First Bomb Group to be awarded a DUC for 14-May-43 Kiel
CO Col Leon W. Johnson awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor 1-Aug-43 Ploesti.

Browse 44th Bomb Group photographs and other documents in the 2nd Air Division Memorial Library digital archive here: www.2ndair.org.uk/digitalarchive/Dashboard/Index/42

Commanding Officers

Group Commander Colonel Eugene H. Snavely carves the roast at the base of the 44th Bomb Group at Shipdham, Norfolk, 1944.
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 14th Combat Bomb Wing 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs 492nd Bomb Group (Heavy) 66th Bomb Squadron Headquarters (14th Combat Bomb Wing) Headquarters (Eighth Air Force)
  • Service Numbers: O-22364
  • Highest Rank: Colonel
  • Role/Job: Commanding Officer
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
  • Highest Rank: Colonel
  • Role/Job: Commanding Officer
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs 506th Bomb Squadron 68th Bomb Squadron
  • Highest Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
  • Role/Job: Pilot; Commanding Officer
Colonel Leon W. Johnson of the 44th Bomb Group after receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor. Handwritten caption on reverse: '138/RF, WD 140. B/G Leon Johnson with Medal of Honor 22 Nov 1943.' On reverse: Sport & General [Stamp].
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 14th Combat Bomb Wing 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs 506th Bomb Squadron Headquarters (14th Combat Bomb Wing)
  • Service Numbers: O-16429
  • Highest Rank: Brigadier General
  • Role/Job: Pilot - Commanding Officer 44th
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 14th Combat Bomb Wing Headquarters (14th Combat Bomb Wing)
  • Highest Rank: Colonel
  • Role/Job: Commanding Officer

Connections

See how this entry relates to other items in the archive by exploring the connections below.

Unit stations

Station Location Date

Based

Cheddington 1942-08-11 - 1942-10-09

Based

Shipdham 1942-10-10 - 1945-06-15

Encompassing

  • Unit Hierarchy: Squadron
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment
The 'semiofficial' insignia of the 44th Bomb Group.
  • Unit Hierarchy: Squadron
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment
  • Unit Hierarchy: Squadron
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment

People

  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs 66th Bomb Squadron
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs 68th Bomb Squadron
  • Role/Job: Ordnance
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs 68th Bomb Squadron
  • Highest Rank: Lieutenant
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs 66th Bomb Squadron
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs 68th Bomb Squadron
  • Highest Rank: Private First Class

Aircraft

  • Aircraft Type: B-24 Liberator
  • Unit: 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs 67th Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-24 Liberator
  • Unit: 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs 68th Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-24 Liberator
  • Unit: 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs 66th Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-24 Liberator
  • Unit: 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs 66th Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-24 Liberator
  • Unit: 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs 67th Bomb Squadron

Mission

Revisions

Date22 Aug 2019 09:55:30
ContributorEmily
Sources

Air Force Combat Units of WWII

Date7 Jul 2019 20:46:25
ContributorKickapoo
Sources

Anatomy Of A Disaster - Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg ---- Black Sunday - Michael Hill ---- Into The Fire - Duane Schultz ---- TogetherWeServed.com ---- FindAGrave.com ---- Personal Archives - John S. Young

Date9 Mar 2018 15:26:29
Sources

2nd Air Division Memorial Library

Date10 Apr 2015 07:32:08
ContributorEMBLEMHUNTER
Sources

my photo

Date25 Nov 2014 19:04:59
ContributorLee8thbuff
Sources

Lee Cunningham 25-Nov-2014. Added early history per http://www.usaaf.com/8thaf/bomber/44bg.HTM.

Date10 Nov 2014 23:34:57
ContributorLee8thbuff
Sources
Date2 Oct 2014 09:42:20
ContributorSuperman
Sources

Log of the Liberators

Date27 Sep 2014 18:42:45
ContributorAAM
Sources

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database / The Mighty Eighth. A History of the Units, Men and Machines of the US 8th Air Force.' by Roger A. Freeman (1989). 'Air Force Combat Units of World War II' compiled by the Department of the US Air Force, edited by Maurice Maurer (1983). / Units in the UK from ETOUSA Station List, as transcribed by Lt. Col. Philip Grinton (US Army, Retired) and extracted by IWM; air division data from L.D. Underwood, based on the 8th Air Force Strength Report of 6th August 1944, as published in 'The 8th Air Force Yearbook' by Lt. Col. John H Woolnough (1980)

44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs: Gallery (374 items)