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97th Bomb Group

Group

The 97th Bomb Group flew the Eighth Air Force's first heavy bomber mission from the UK when they bombed a marshalling yard at Rouen on 17 August 1942. Just a month later though the Group were reassigned to the Twelfth Air Force and left England for the Mediterranean theater. Flying first with the Twelfth, and later with the Fifteenth, Air Force, the Group flew bombing missions in support of ground operations as well as bombing more strategic targets in Germany. The Group received a Distinguished Unit Citation for leading a strike against an aircraft factory at Steyr, Austria, on 24 February 1944 during Big Week, 20-25 February 1944.

Between 17-Aug-42 and 21-Oct-42, while they flew from Polebrook and Grafton Underwood with the 8th Air Force the Group flew 14 missions using 247 sorties and dropped 395 tons of bombs. The Group had 14 aircraft KIA during this period.

CLAIMS TO FAME (17-Aug-42 to 21-Oct-42)\
Flew the first heavy bombing mission of the war 17-Aug-42 Rouen.

US Air Force Combat Units of World War II Description

Constituted as 97th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 28 Jan 1942. Activated on 3 Feb 1942. Trained with B-17’s; also flew some antisubmarine patrols.

Moved to England, May-Jul 1942, for duty with Eighth AF. Entered combat on 17 Aug 1942 by bombing a marshalling yard at Rouen, the first mission flown by AAF’s heavy bombers based in England. After that, attacked airfields, marshalling yards, industries, naval installations, and other targets in France and the Low Countries.

Moved to the Mediterranean theatre in Nov 1942, being assigned first to Twelfth and later (Nov 1943) to Fifteenth AF. Struck shipping in the Mediterranean and airfields, docks, harbors, and marshalling yards in North Africa, southern France, Sardinia, Sicily, and southern Italy, Nov 1942-May 1943, in the campaign to cut supply lines to German forces in North Africa. Helped to force the capitulation of Pantelleria in Jun 1943. Bombed in preparation for and in support of the invasions of Sicily and southern Italy in the summer and fall of 1943. From Nov 1943 to Apr 1945, engaged chiefly in long-range missions to targets in Italy, France, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Greece, attacking oil refineries, aircraft factories, marshalling yards, and other strategic objectives.

Received a DUC for leading a strike against an aircraft factory at Steyr on 24 Feb 1944 during Big Week, the intensive air campaign against the German aircraft industry. 2d Lt David R Kingsley, bombardier, was awarded the Medal of Honor for saving the life of a wounded gunner on 23 Jun 1944: during a mission to Ploesti, Kingsley’s B-17 was seriously crippled and the tail gunner was injured; when the crew was ordered to bail out, Kingsley gave his parachute to the gunner, whose own had been damaged, and assisted him in bailing out; Kingsley died a few moments later when his bomber crashed and burned.

The group received its second DUC for a devastating raid against one of the Ploesti refineries on 18 Aug 1944. Other operations of the 97th included pounding enemy communications, transportation, and airfields in support of Allied forces at Anzio and Cassino; bombing coastal defenses in preparation for the invasion of Southern France; and assisting US Fifth and British Eighth Army in their advance through the Po Valley. Inactivated in Italy on 29 Oct 1945.

Commanding officers
  • Frank Armstrong

    Military | Lieutenant General | Commanding Officer; Pilot | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    Commanded 97th BG from 31 July 1942 to 27 September 1942. ...

  • Joseph Atkinson

    Military | Lieutenant General | Bombardment Group Commander
    97th Bomb Group Commander 27-Sep-42 through 5 Jan-43 with the rank of Colonel. Please access the following link for a complete biography: http://www.af.mil/AboutUs/Biographies/Display/tabid/225/Article/107783/lieutenant-general-joseph-h-atkinson.aspx

  • Cornelius Cousland

    Military | Colonel | Commanding Officer | 97th Bomb Group
    Commanding Officer of 97th Bombardment Group, 3-Feb-42 to 29-Jul-42.

Structure

Part of
  • 1st Combat Bomb Wing
  • 5th Bomb Wing

    5th Bomb Wing

    Wing
    The 5th Air Division (5th AD) originated on 19 October 1940 at McChord Field, Washington. Its initial mission was air defense of the northwest United States with three bombardment groups (12th, 17th and 39th) flying early B-17 Flying Fortresses (B-17C...

  • 1st Bomb Wing

    1st Bomb Wing

    Wing
    The First Bomb Wing arrived in the UK in July 1942. The wing command became the 1st Bomb Division in August 1943, while the wing was retitled the 1st Combat Bomb Wing.

Encompassing
Previously was
Not yet known
Became
Not yet known

Missions

  • VIII Bomber Command 1

    17 August 1942
    The US 8AF launches its first strategic bombing raid of the war, sending 12 Boeing B-17Es of the 97BG on a strike against the railyards of Sotteville-lès-Rouen, France, while another six fly a diversionary route. The attacking force is split into two...

  • VIII Bomber Command 1

    17 August 1942
    The US 8AF launches its first strategic bombing raid of the war, sending 12 Boeing B-17Es of the 97BG on a strike against the railyards of Sotteville-lès-Rouen, France, while another six fly a diversionary route. The attacking force is split into two...

  • VIII Bomber Command 2

    19 August 1942
    Bombers from 97th Bombardment Group are despatched to bomb the German airfield Drucat at Abbeville, France. This mission is flown to occupy the Luftwaffe and to try to prevent them from opposing the invasion of Dieppe, France by over 5,000 allied...

  • VIII Bomber Command 2

    19 August 1942
    Bombers from 97th Bombardment Group are despatched to bomb the German airfield Drucat at Abbeville, France. This mission is flown to occupy the Luftwaffe and to try to prevent them from opposing the invasion of Dieppe, France by over 5,000 allied...

  • VIII Bomber Command 3

    20 August 1942
    Bombers from 97BG are despatched to bomb the railroad marshalling yards at Amiens/Longeau, France. 12 Spitfires from 31st Fighter Group provide escort. 31st Fighter Group also despatches Spitfires on diversions and for an RAF Lysander on Air Sea Rescue...

  • VIII Bomber Command 4

    21 August 1942
    97BG despatches 12 B-17s on a mission to bomb the shipyards and harbour facilities at Rotterdam, Holland. The mission is aborted when attacked by approximately 25 Bf-109 and Fw-190 fighter aircraft. Spitfire aircraft were despatched by 31FG as escorts...

  • VIII Bomber Command 5

    24 August 1942
    97BG despatches 12 B-17s on a mission to bomb the shipyards at Le Trait, France.

  • VIII Bomber Command 6

    27 August 1942
    97BG despatches 9 B-17s to bomb the shipyards at Rotterdam, Holland.

  • VIII Bomber Command 7

    28 August 1942
    97BG despatches 14 B-17s to bomb the Avions Portez aircraft factory at Meault, France.

  • VIII Bomber Command 8

    29 August 1942
    97BG despatches 13 B-17s to attack German airfields at Courtrai, France.

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Stations

Station Location Date
Assigned 8th Air Force May 1942
Based Polebrook 13 June 1942 – 25 November 1942
Based Grafton Underwood 6 July 1942 – 8 September 1942
Assigned 12th Air Force November 1942
Based Chateaudun-du-Rhumel 8 February 1943 – August 1943
Assigned 15th Air Force November 1943
Based Amendola 16 January 1944 – 1 October 1945

Connections

People

  • James Abbott

    Military | 97th Bomb Group

  • John Abdallah

    Military | Captain | Bombardier | 97th Bomb Group
    John Abdallah served as a Bombardier with the 97th Bomb Group. He was shot down on 16 July 1943 while on a mission to San Giovanni, Italy. The plane ditched in the sea 35 miles east of Catania, Sicily. The crew were fortunately rescued after about 30...

  • Earl Adams

    Military | 97th Bomb Group

  • George Adams

    Military | 97th Bomb Group

  • William Adams

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Radio Operator | 97th Bomb Group
    Shot down 21 October 1942 in B-17 #41-24443 while serving as Radio Operator, Prisoner of War (POW).

  • Arthur Aenchbacher

    Military | Colonel | Pilot | 97th Bomb Group
    DFC/ AM w/ 8 Oak Leaf Cluster

  • Stanley Aldridge

    Military | Sergeant | Engineer | 97th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 340BS, 97BG, 8AF USAAF. Failed To Return (FTR) navigation exercise to Burtonwood in B-17 41-9098. Weather was poor, almost certainly the red warning flares on North Wales border were missed by the crew, and so while continuing on their...

  • Edwin Alf

    Military | 97th Bomb Group

  • Thomas Allen

    Military | 97th Bomb Group

  • Clyde Allison

    Military | 97th Bomb Group

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Aircraft

  • 41-24342 'Stinky Jr'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 92BG Bovingdon 8/42; 414BS/97BG Polebrook 24/8/42; transferred Maison Blanche, Alg. 20/11/42; Missing in Action Foggia 7/9/43 with Bill Bispham, Pilot: Everett Blogg, Navigator: Glenn J. Rhodes Jr., Co-pilot: Dan Grover, Flight engineer/top...

  • 41-24344

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 326BS/92BG Bovingdon 20-Aug-42; 414BS/97BG Polebrook 28-Aug-42; Missing in Action on mission to bomb the U-Boat pens at Lorient, France. This was 97th's first mission 21-Oct-42, shot down and crashed Plouescat, near Morlaix, France. 8KIA 2POW...

  • 41-24378 War Eagle

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned RAF [FA693] but transferred 92BG Bangor 24/6/42; 342BS/97BG Polebrook /8/42; Maison Blanche 13/11/42; Tafaraoui, Alg. 22/11/42; Biskra 25/12/42; Chateau-du-Rhumel 8/2/43 125m; transferred 99BG Tortorella 11/43 12m; Returned to the USA Morrison...

  • 41-24392

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 92BG Bangor 13/7/42; 414BS/97BG Polebrook 24/8/42; Maison Blanche 20/11/42; Tafaraoui 22/11/42; Biskra 25/12/42; Chateau-du-Rhumel 8/2/43; Pont-du-Fahs 1/8/43; Depienne 15/8/43; 2BG Massicault 14/11/43; Salvaged 6/5/44. HELL'S KITCHEN.

  • 41-24400 Little Bill

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 92BG Bangor 13/7/42; transferred 414BS/97BG Polebrook 24/8/42; Maison Blanche 13/11/42; Tafaraoui 22/11/42; damaged 21/10/42; Salvaged. LITTLE BILL. ...

  • 41-24406 'All American'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 92BG Bangor 13/7/42; transferred 414BS/97BG Polebrook 6/42; Maison Blanche, Alg. 13/11/42; Tafaraoui, Alg. 22/11/42; Biskra, Alg. 25/12/42; on Tunis mission was rammed by Me109G 1/2/43 almost slicing rear fuselage and tail of plane off; made...

  • 41-24411 Dottie

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 325BS/92BG Bangor 13/7/42; 97BG Polebrook 8/42; Salvaged NBD 21/10/42. DOTTIE. ...

  • 41-24412 Flying Flit Gun

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 301BG Westover 30/6/42; 92BG Bangor 8/42; 340BS/97BG Polebrook /8/42; Maison Blanche 13/11/42; Tafaraoui 22/11/42; Biskra 25/12/42; Chateau-du-Rhumel 8/2/43; Pont-du-Fahs 1/8/43; De Pienne 15/8/43; Cerignola 20/12/43; Amendola 16/1/44;...

  • 41-24413 Birmingham Blitzkrieg

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 92BG Bangor 14 July 1942. Transferred 414BS/97BG Polebrook 24 August 1942. To Maison Blanche, Algiers, Algeria 13 November 1942. To Tafaraoui, Algeria 22 November 1942. To Biskra, Algeria 25 December 1942. Missing in Action on the Bizerte...

  • 41-24419 'Virgin Sturgeon' 'Honey Chile II'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 92BG Bangor 14/7/42; 341BS/97BG Polebrook 8/42; Maison Blanche 13/11/42; Tafaraoui 22/11/42; Biskra 25/12/42; bombed on base by Luftwaffe 10/1/43; Salvaged.

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Citations

Distinguished Unit Citations: Steyr, Austria, 24 Feb 1944; Ploesti, Rumania, 18 Aug 1944.

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
07 June 2021 13:51:59 Emily Changes to motto, insignia, us air force combat units of world war ii description, citations and stations
Sources

Air Force Combat Units of World War II

Date Contributor Update
01 November 2016 02:14:11 466thHistorian Changes to motto and aircraft associations
Sources

http://www.armyaircorpsmuseum.org/97th_Bombardment_Group.cfm

Date Contributor Update
01 November 2016 02:07:25 466thHistorian Changes to stations
Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/97th_Operations_Group

Date Contributor Update
01 November 2016 02:06:14 466thHistorian Changes to stations
Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/97th_Operations_Group

Date Contributor Update
05 February 2016 18:49:55 JB1 Changes to type and mission associations
Sources

1943-44

Date Contributor Update
15 November 2014 22:16:50 Lee8thbuff Changes to description and mission associations
Sources

Lee Cunningham 15-Nov-2014. Added claims to fame: http://www.usaaf.com/8thaf/bomber/97bg.HTM

Date Contributor Update
15 November 2014 22:14:09 Lee8thbuff Changes to description and mission associations
Sources

Lee Cunningham 15-Nov-2014. Statistics for period in England: http://www.usaaf.com/8thaf/bomber/97bg.HTM

Date Contributor Update
07 November 2014 17:23:02 Lee8thbuff Changes to citations, commanding officers associations and mission associations
Sources

Lee Cunningham 7-Nov-2014. Adding Commanding Officer Cornelius W. Cousland.

Date Contributor Update
20 October 2014 23:04:38 Lee8thbuff Changes to commanding officers associations and mission associations
Sources

Lee Cunningham 20-Oct-2014 Commanding Officer connections within site data.

Date Contributor Update
20 October 2014 22:53:19 Lee8thbuff Changes to air forces, aircraft types, unit part of associations, commanding officers associations and mission associations
Sources

Lee Cunningham 20-Oct-2014, Commanding Officers http://www.usaaf.com/8thaf/bomber/97bg.HTM; Biography of Joseph H. Atkinson http://www.af.mil/AboutUs/Biographies/Display/tabid/225/Article/107783/l...

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:42:46 AAM AAM ingest
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).

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