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Historical Report of Headquarters Detachment, 397th Bombardment Group (M)

INITIAL INSTALLMENT

Historical Report of Headquarters Detachment, 397th Bombardment Group (M)
(from 20 April 1943 to 1 April 1944)

***

During the Spring of 1943, one of the medium bombardment groups organized in the Third Air Force was the 397th Bombardment Group (M). With the activation of this group there came into existence four new B-26 squadrons and a headquarters detachment. This narrative concerns the headquarters detachment.

One of the first official references to Hq Detachment, 397th Bomb Gp, is found in General Order 28, Hq Army Air Base, MacDill Field, Tampa, Florida. In this general order, dated 1 April 1943, authority was given for the activation of Hq, 397th Bombardment Group (M) along with the 596th, 597th, 598th and 599th Bombardment Squadrons (M). Activation date was 20 April 1943 and the new B-26 Group was stationed at MacDill Field, Tampa, Florida. Assigned to the III Bomber Command, the group was to obtain it cadre, fillers, and replacements from sources under the control of the Commanding General, III Bomber Command. All this was in General Order 28 which further stated that the unit should reach full T/O strength by 13 July and would commence training approximately seven days after that. (See Exhibit 1.)

Temporary CO of the Group at the time of activation was Capt. Bertram E. Solomon who had come to the 397th from the 40th Bomb Wing. In the original cadre assigned to the group (par 6, SO 126, Hq, III Bomber Command, dated 10 May 1943) were the following current personnel of Hq Detachment:

M/Sgt John C. Hardy
M/Sgt Charles M. Alexander
T/Sgt James M. Calabria
T/Sgt Earl D. Trull
S/Sgt Charles J. Huber
S/Sgt David Jacobs
Sgt James Gaffney

From Keesler Field, Maj. Ross L. Freeman was assigned to the Group on 10 May (par 49, SO 129, Hq ABAC, MacDill Fld, Fla). He served as CO for a short time and later as Executive Officer of the Group. At the same time, Capt. Forest W. Acton entered the Group from BTC, Atlantic City (par 47, SO 129, Hq ABAC, MacDill Fld, Fla) and was appointed Acting Group Adjutant. (par 5, SO 6, 397 Gp.) A week later, Maj. Frank L. Wood, Jr. came into the Group (par 6, SO 133, III Bomber Command, 17 May 43) and assumed command of the group.

The bulk of later fillers came from the 21st Bombardment Group (M), an operational training group in B-26 aircraft at MacDill Field, and from the 1st Minimum Altitude Bomber Torpedo Unit Medium at Eglin Field, Florida.

Shortly after activation, the Group was sent to the Army Air Forces School of Applied Tactics at Orlando, Florida to pursue a course in medium bombardment. The officers and men of the Group attending the 30 day course beginning 17 May 1943 were designated in Special Order 129, Hq III Bomber Command, dated 13 May 1943. For two weeks at AAFSAT, the men took an orientation course, then moved to Montbrook Army Air Base, Williston, Florida for the final two weeks. At Montbrook, simulated bombing missions were conducted.

Returning to MacDill early in June, the Group was faced with the task of filling its ranks and organizing for the training in the Summer months ahead. There came two large shipments of fillers to Group Headquarters during these early months of the Group:

First, from Eglin Field came the following officers and men on 24 May 1943: (Present ranks and grades are listed.)

Lt. Col. ROLLIN M. WININGHAM (par 5, SO 139, MacDill)
Maj. WALTER D. SNYDER, JR. (par 7, SO 144, “ )
Capt. MONTY R. GREGOLINE (par 5, SO 139, MacDill)
CWO MILBURN P. MERIWETHER ( ditto )

T/Sgt Arnold B. Dodson (par 1, SO 139, MacDill)
T/Sgt Gerald S. Samet ( ditto )
T/Sgt Horace Womack, Jr. ( “ )
Cpl Louis Georgecocopoulos ( “ )
Pfc Frank O. Forsythe, Jr. ( “ )

Complementing the shipment of men from Eglin Field were the men received from the 21st Bombardment Group. Of the present personnel, the following came from the 21st in May and June of 1943:

Maj ROBERT L. McCOLLOM - 10 May 43 (par 10, SO 126,
III BC )
Maj WILLIAM RAFKIND - 17 May 43 (par 6, SO 133,
III BC )
1st Lt DEANE WEINBERG, JR - 11 May 43 (SO 127, III BC )
T/Sgt Charles R. Allison - 30 June 43 (par 10, SO 177,
III BC )
T/Sgt James R. Ellis - 25 June 43 (par 19, SO 172,
III BC )
T/Sgt Robert S. Irvin - 20 June 43 (par 11, SO 167,
III BC )
Sgt Horace O. Jacobs - 25 June 43 (par 19, SO 172,
III BC )
Sgt George J. Konick - ditto
Sgt Stanley J. Kusiel - “
Sgt Clyde L. Sunquist - “
Sgt Charles W. Johnson, Jr - “
Cpl Lawrence Girgenti - 24 June 43 (par 12, SO 171,
III BC )
Cpl Harold I. Marmorstein - 20 June 43 (par 11, SO 167,
III BC )
Pvt Robert A. Lindahl - 25 June 43 (par 19, SO 172,
III BC )

Lt. Colonel Winingham, then Major Winingham, took command of the Group while it was at Montbrook and Captain Paul W. Vereen, from Eglin Fld, was appointed Group Adjutant. Captain Acton was transferred to the 596th Bombardment Squadron, where he became executive officer.

Fillers continued to come into Headquarters Detachment until it reached full T/O strength, and early in July the offices of the Group were moved into hangar 3 at MacDill Field.

18 July 1943, Lt Colonel John R. Batjer assumed command of the Group. Lt. Colonel Batjer came to the Group from the 55th Bombardment Wing. Major Winingham was appointed Deputy Group Commander and Major Wood became Group Operations Officer.

Captain Vereen was appointed Commanding Officer of Headquarters Detachment in addition to his other duties by VG CO 21 May 43. This appointment was confirmed and made of record by par 4, SO 73, 397th Gp, 3 August 43.

On 29 August 1943, Major Kenneth R. Majors was transferred to the 397th from the deactivated 477th Bombardment Group. Assigned to the 397th by par 33, SO 230, III BC, he was appointed Group Adjutant by par 1, SO 98, 397th Gp, 31 August 43. Captain Vereen was transferred to the 597th Bombardment Squadron and Major Majors subsequently became commanding officer of Headquarters Detachment.

With the deactivation of the 477th, Headquarters Detachment received the following enlisted men from the personnel of that group: (par 33, SO 230, III BC, 29 August 1943.)

T/Sgt Fred W. Turner
S/Sgt Donald J. Frantz
S/Sgt Benton K. Johns
Pvt George J. Jenner

Lt. Colonel Batjer was succeeded as commander of the 397th by Colonel Richard T. Coiner, Jr, the present commanding officer. Colonel Coiner was transferred from the 21st Bombardment Group, which we had commanded, and assigned to the 397th on 5 October 1943 (par 14, SO 269, III BC.) Colonel Batjer was transferred to the 55th Wing.

The Group’s first permanent change of station came with the movement from MacDill Field to the Avon Park Bombing Range, Avon Park, Florida. The movement was by air and motor convoy and Headquarters personnel made the move on Tuesday 12 October and Thursday 14 October. The movement was in accordance with Ltr 3AF 370.5 (4 Oct 43), and par 9, SO 270, III BC (6 Oct 43). SO 282, par 14, Hq AAB, MacDill Fld (9 Oct 43).

The stay of the 397th at Avon Park was brief. On 1 November the Group began moving out by air, rail, and motor convoy, heading for Hunter Field, Georgia. The flight and motor movements were begun Monday morning, 1 November, and the rail movement got underway that evening. (par 10, SO 302, Hq Avon Park Bombing Range, 30 Oct 43).

In January of 1944, the Group participated in the Tennessee maneuvers, two squadrons at a time moving to Atterbury Army Air Field, Columbus, Indiana for two weeks of operations. A portion of Headquarters made the journey each time, the first section leaving the 1st of January and the second on the 15th of the month. At Atterbury, the Group was attached to the I Tactical Air Division for operational control, and acted as air support for the Blue Army in the maneuver area. (Ltr, Hq 3AF, 370.5, 17 Dec 43, Subj. “Movement Orders, 397th Bomb Gp (M) AAF”; par 1, SO 12, Hq 3AF Staging Wing, Hunter Field, Ga.)

Five miles south of Camden, Arkansas, a B-26 from the 598th Squadron crashed in the afternoon of 20 January 1944 and all the occupants were killed. Included in the fatality list was the name of M/Sgt Cecil A. Stewart, a member of Headquarters detachment and a group technical inspector. The death of M/Sgt Stewart was the first fatality in Group Headquarters, and marked the only training casualty in the detachment.

Returning from Atterbury, the Group made final preparations for overseas movement and on Thursday 24 February the first planes took off for England. The planes rolled down the runways of Hunter Field after a ceremony in which Colonel L. L. Koontz, commanding officer of the Third Air Force Staging Wing, presented Colonel Coiner and the group a commendation and trophy in recognition of the performance of the Group while stationed at Hunter Field. The commendation read in part:

Military personnel of the 397th Bomb Group, which includes
the 596th, 597th, 598th, and 599th Bomb Squadrons, have maintained
rigid training schedules while at Hunter Field under many adverse
circumstances and have performed their duties in a manner to bring
credit to themselves and the favorable attention of this command. In
addition, the cooperation extended by every member of the 397th Bomb
Group toward the military personnel of this command while the Bomb
Group was being processed and staged for overseas movement was
accomplished in a superior manner never before equaled by any unit
being processed at Hunter Field, Georgia. (See exhibit 2)

In the air movement were Colonel Coiner, Major McCollum, Captain George D. Hughes, and CWO Meriweather from Headquarters. The detail for the advanced party was composed of Lt. Col Winingham, Captain Morrow, Major Rafkind, and 2nd Lt Timberlake. Lt. Timberlake, the assistant Group Intelligence Officer arriving in the United Kingdom on 22 February was the first member of the Group to arrive in the European theatre.

The flight echelons and advance party of the 397th having gone on, the rest of the Group moved to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, in preparation for the overseas movement. Headquarters Detachment left Hunter Field on the morning of Monday 13 March and arrived at Camp Kilmer the next day.

Nine days after the departure from Hunter Field, the men of Headquarters detachment, struggling under duffle bags and field equipment, were the first members of the Group to board the Italian liner Saturnia in New York Harbor. Behind them were the stepping stone to combat – MacDill, Orlando, Avon Park, Hunter Field, and Atterbury; ahead, their active participation in the war in Europe.

In the early morning of Thursday 23 March 1944, the Saturnia slipped past the Statue of Liberty and the 397th Bombardment Group (M) was sailing for England.


Compiled 20 June 1944

By

1st Lt Tedsan S. Timberlake
Sgt Charles W. Johnson, Jr.

Supplement to Initial Installment, Historical Report, Headquarters Detachment, 397th Bombardment Group (M) AAF.


The following orders cover assignment of Headquarters, 397th Bomb Gp, from Hunter Field to 98th Combat Bombardment Wing:

1. From Hunter Field to Camp Kilmer – SO 67, 3AF Staging Wing, Hunter Field, Georgia, 7 March 1944.

2. From Camp Kilmer, to ETOUSA – Secret Ltr O, ASF, NYPE, Brooklyn, N.Y., 19 March 1944, file SPTA – GM (EC) 370.5 (#5102) and letter 3/20/44 ASF, Camp Kilmer, N.J. (Subject – Movement of Troops.)

3. From ETOUSA to USSTAF – ETOUSA Letter Order AG 322 OPGC 31 March 1944. Subject: Troop assignment #43.

4. From USSTAF to Ninth Air Force – USSTAF Letter Order 322, 4 April 1944, subject: “Assignment of Units #38.”

5. From Ninth Air Force to Ninth Bomber Command – Ninth Air Force Letter Order (370.5) 22 March 1944 (Subject: Arriving Unit.)

6. From Ninth Bomber Command to 98th Combat Wing – Ninth Bomber Command General Order 62, par 1.


R E S T R I C T E D
HEADQUARTERS ARMY AIR BASE MACDILL FIELD C-(wms)
Office of the Base Commander

GENERAL ORDERS) Tampa, Florida
April 1, 1943.
NUMBER 28 )

1. PIC Restricted GO 104, Hq 3AF, 28 Mar 43, citing ltr AG 320.2 (3-19-43) OB-I-AFDPU-M, 20 Mar 43, Subj: “Constitution and Activation of Certain AAF Units”, and 1st Ind, Hq 3AF, 29 Mar 43, file 3AF 322.082 (3-20-43) AC, to same ltr, the following units are activated at this sta and assigned as indicated, effective 20 Apr 43:

UNIT T/O PRIORITY RATING ASSIGNED TO
Hq, 397th Bomb Gp (M) 1-112, 1 July 42 C-1-1604 III Bomber Command
596th Bomb Sq (M) 1-127, 1 July 42
597th Bomb Sq (M) 1-127, 1 July 42
598th Bomb Sq (M) 1-127, 1 July 42
599th Bomb Sq (M) 1-127, 1 July 42

2. Cadre, fillers and replacements will be furnished from sources under the control of the CG, III Bomber Command.

3. T/O listed above will be used as guide in the orgn of these units; specific authorization of cnl grades will be published in a separate communication.

4. This unit will be equipped in accordance with the following tables and will have a priority rating for controlled items of equipment as indicated above:

Group Headquarters TE 1-112
Bomb Squadrons (M) TE 1-127

5. This unit will be organized in accordance with the following schedule and will commence training approximately seven (7) days after reaching T/O strength:

DATE TO REACH DATE TO REACH RATE TO REACH
25% STRENGTH 50% STRENGTH 100% STRENGTH

May 20, 1943 June 20, 1943 July 13, 1943

By order of Colonel VOSS:
W. M. STRICKLAND, JR,
Captain, Air Corps,
Adjutant.

DISTRIBUTION:

2-cys on Unit Activated
2-cys on CG AAF, TAGO, HQAD,
3-cys CG 3AF
3-cys CG 3BC
1-cy ea Base Ord O, Sig O, Cml O, FO, FO, TO, Med O, QM.
1-cy Base S-1, S-2, S-3, S-4.
2-cys Director of War Orgn and Movement, Washington, D.C.
2-cys Engr Property O.
2-cys ea CO, Sub-Depot, Sub-Depot Supply O.
1-cy ea Sub-base
2-cys CG ASC, Patterson Fld, Fairfield, Ohio.
2-cys Sig O, Fld Serv, Patterson Fld, Fairfield, Ohio.
6-cys Base Adjutant’s File.


HISTORICAL REPORT OF 397TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M) AAF FOR THE PERIOD OF NOVEMBER 1943.


Under authority of SO 155, par 1 thru 6 inclusive, Hq 397th Bomb Gp (M) AAF, Avon Park Bombing Range, Florida the entire personnel of this organization was transferred to Hunter Field, Georgia. Assigned aircraft were flown by designated crews, while other personnel and equipment were transported by train and truck convoy. The southeast portion of Hunter Field was designated as the headquarters and operations area, and the task of orienting the group to its new surroundings was under way.

Operations schedules, concerning routine training flights, commenced immediately after arrival. Ground and air schools were established. Major WININGHAM, the Deputy Group Commander, was in charge during the absence of the CO, Col. R. T. COINER. Col. COINER was at this time observing military tactics, employment or air power and operations in ……… (see confidential page.)

4 November 1943, the War Department awarded 2nd Lt. JOHN D. HAZLE the Distinguished Flying Cross, per GO 76. The citation read as follows:

For extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight as pilot of a B-26 aircraft on a training mission in the vicinity of Tampa, Florida on 18 August 1943. Lieutenant Hazle’s aircraft was struck by a P-51 aircraft, tearing away part of the cockpit and nose section and damaging the left engine. By skillful maneuvering, he was able to hold the aircraft in a level position while four members of the crew parachuted to safety. The fifth crew member, in the rear of the aircraft, was unable to jump. Lieutenant Hazle, although still at 4,000 feet, elected to bring the aircraft down to attempt a crash landing. Lieutenant Hazle’s high degree of airmanship and unselfish devotion to duty in placing the safety of others before his own is in the finest tradition of the Army Air Forces.*

After the staff sections had commenced their regular routine duties, personnel and equipment had arrived, and maintenance of aircraft permitted, Group Mission #10 (see exhibit #1) was briefed at 0700 EWT and take-off was executed by 23 aircraft at 0857 EWT, 6 November 1943. Group Mission #11 was briefed at 0700 EWT, 10 November 1943. Twenty-two aircraft of this organization simulated bombing objectives and target “C”, located 3137.0 N – 8131.0 W. (see exhibit #2.)

*This info contained in WD GO 76, 4 Nov 43, not available here.

397th Bomb Gp
Historical Report

A two day course in First Aid and Sanitation was conducted by the Medical Detachment, this Headquarters. The attendance of the entire group was approximately 90%. Officers and Enlisted Men qualified in small arms fire and the percentage qualified was 62%.

Forty-seven officers and 52 enlisted men of the 596th Bomb Squadron proceeded by military aircraft to Dale Mabry Field, Tallahassee, Florida, arriving 1500 22 November 1943 (see exhibit #3) for the purpose of routine training, returning 28 November 1943.

Thanksgiving! Throughout the squadron messes turkey had its rounds. Officers and enlisted men, their wives and families attended. For the one day of Thanksgiving, daily flying and ground routine was scheduled at a minimum – a day of thanks for all we cherish.

Col. COINER, CO of the 397th, resumed command of the Group per GO 12, Hq 397, 26 November 1943 (see exhibit 4). A few days following, Colonel COINER gave a lecture to the assembled personnel of this organization with comments in reference to our standard ship, the B-26 Martin “Marauder” and actual operational uses from …… bases (see confidential page.) The emphasis of the lecture was placed on the extreme importance of proper navigation over enemy territory, and the standard OP of medium bombardment aircraft.

As yet, no problems have been encountered, but the personnel of this group felt that its future combat record will be to such an extent that in the months to follow numerous references will be made to the historical reports of the organization. In all missions, emphasis is being placed on the SOP to be used exclusively in what is considered our future assignment to actual combat.

{SIGNED}
TEDSAN S. TIMBERLAKE,
2nd Lt., Air Corps,
Gp. Historical Officer.

HISTORICAL REPORT OF THE 397TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M) AAF S-1
SECTION FOR THE PERIOD OF NOVEMBER, 1943.


The month of November, 1943, saw definite steps in bringing the 397th Bomb Group to full strength. Large shortages in the three types of enlisted gunner personnel were cancelled, thus completing many combat crews heretofore held back in training as teams. Many minor personnel shortages were also eliminated. Steps to remove overages in personnel by higher headquarters became more pronounced toward the latter part of that period.

Thirty-six new officers (including Warrant Officers and Flight Officers), mostly pilots, navigators and bombardiers, came in during the month. Fifteen officers were transferred out of the 397th Bomb Group.

During the same period, one hundred and nine enlisted men were gained, against twenty transferred out.

The month of November 1943 also saw considerable reassignment of personnel between squadrons to correct faulty distribution and irregular attrition. At the beginning of November maximum variance between squadrons in officer strength was seven, in enlisted strength fifteen. At the close of the month, the figures were five and seven respectively.

{SIGNED}
K. R. MAJORS,
Major, Air Corps,
Adjutant.

HEADQUARTERS 397TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M) AAF D/TST/3
Hunter Field, Georgia

10-December 1943.

INTELLIGENCE HISTORICAL REPORT FOR PERIOD NOVEMBER, 1943.


9-11 November 1943, Captain Donald Riddle, Air Inspector, 55th Bombardment Wing (M), MacDill Field Army Air Base, Tampa, Florida, accompanied by the Wing Photographic Interpreter, conducted an inspection of the intelligence sections, this organization. A negative report was rendered of irregularities previously reported but not corrected. Irregularities noted during the course of inspection were based on overages and shortages of personnel in the Group and Squadron Intelligence Sections. Other deficiencies and recommendations were noted and suggested. Action has been taken to correct each irregularity specified. See enclosures Nos. 1 & 2.

The following transfers were effected from November 1 thru November 30, 1943, per letter 330.32, Headquarters 397th Bomb Group (M) AAF, 30 November 1943:

a. Assigned:

1. 2nd Lt. TEDSAN S. TIMBERLAKE to
Headquarters 397th Bomb Group.

2. S/Sgt. FRED P. LEVY to the 596th Bomb
Squadron.

3. S/Sgt. BENTON K. JOHNS to Headquarters
397th Bomb Group.

4. Cpl. WILLIAM W. JONES to the 598th
Bomb Squadron.

b. Transferred:

1. 2nd Lt. PHILLIP M. GUBA, JR. from the
598th Bomb Squadron.

2. 1st Lt. HORACE H. GAFFNEY from the
597th Bomb Squadron.

3. 2nd Lt. MAT D. BOULDIN from the
599th Bomb Squadron.

4. S/Sgt. JESSE M. EISEN from the
596th Bomb Squadron.

5. Sgt. CHARLES (NMI) GAUDIN from the
599th Bomb Squadron.

6. Pvt. ROY (NMI) GROGAN from the
598th Bomb Squadron.

PERSONNEL AS OF DECEMBER 1, 1943

Major THOMAS E. McLEOD Group S-2
2nd Lt. TEDSAN S. TIMBERLAKE Asst Group S-2
1st Lt. HENRY C. BECK, JR. Photo Interpreter
1st Lt. JAMES M. SNOW Photo Officer
M/Sgt. Charles L. Alexander Chief Clerk
S/Sgt. Ernest E. Claridge Photo Interpreter
S/Sgt. Frank O. Forsyth, Jr. Clerk
S/Sgt. Benton K. Johns Clerk
Sgt. Arthur P. Cullen Photo Clerk
Cpl. Charles W. Johnson, Jr. Clerk


{SIGNED}
TEDSAN S. TIMBERLAKE,
2nd Lt., Air Corps,
Asst Group S-2.

HEADQUARTERS 397TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M) AAF D/TEM/1
Hunter Field, Georgia

30 November 1943.

In reply refer to
321

SUBJECT: Intelligence Summary.

TO : Commanding Officer, 55th Bombardment Wing (M) AAF,
MacDill Field, Tampa, Florida.


1. In compliance with instructions contained in teletype message COBOMWG0095PD, dated 30 September 1943, the activities within the intelligence sections for the month of November are hereby submitted:

a. An aircraft recognition training course was initiated and classes were conducted by 2nd Lt. Tedsan S. Timberlake. Training was carried out on a group basis, and other units invited to participate. Personnel of the 90th and 93rd Airdrome Squadrons, in particular, were included in plans for the training. Attendance at scheduled recognition classes is required by order of the group commander.

b. Group and squadron S-2s cooperated with operation officers in planning bombing missions, including one Wing mission and two group missions. Intelligence annexes to field orders were prepared in each case. Intelligence officers participated in the briefing of combat crews prior to each of the three missions. Different S-2s briefed each separate mission, and all available S-2s assisted in the interrogation of returning crews. Resumes of consolidated mission reports were presented at the critiques and the essential facts tabulated on display board for information of participating crews. Photos secured by the group photo officer were utilized by the photo intelligence officer to plot details of bombing results, showing hits scored by each squadron and flight.

c. Regular weekly group conferences were held. Principle subjects discussed were: policies and procedures; assignment of special tasks to each officer for carrying out the group intelligence training program; conduct of investigations; securing of enlisted personnel required to bring the intelligence sections up to T/O authorization. Intelligence officers also attended weekly S-2 meetings sponsored by the base intelligence officer.

d. Situation maps were developed by each squadron for convenience of crews on the line. A war room was developed in the group briefing room; the situation in various theatres posted daily; and a program developed for weekly presentation of news summaries.

e. Sandtables were planned for use in connection with briefings and construction initiated. Two officers and four enlisted men in group and squadron intelligence sections who recently attended the 7th Photo Intelligence School or the sandtable course, are being employed in this activity.

f. Facilities were arranged for display of classified documents containing tactical and other information of instructional value. Available material is being given the widest possible distribution.

For the Group Commander:

K. R. MAJORS,
Major, Air Corps,
Adjutant.

HISTORICAL REPORT OF THE 397TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M) AAF,
GROUP OPERATIONS FOR THE PERIOD OF NOVEMBER, 1943.


1. Key personnel:

Major F. L. Wood, S-3
Major W. D. Snyder, Gp Bombardier
Captain E. W. Udick, Gp Navigator
Captain W. Rafkind, Gp Communications O.
Captain H. T. Watson, Gp Tactical Inspector
Captain G. D. Hughes, Asst Gp S-2

2. Mean average of 39 airplanes assigned, 28 flyable, or 71% flyable.

3. 2070 operational hours flown, or 76 hrs/day, or 1.9 hrs/day/assigned airplane.

4. Average number of pilots assigned: 143. Average number of hrs/day/assigned pilot: 1.1 hrs.

5. Three group missions: 5 Nov, 10 Nov, 17 Nov 1943.

6. Distinguished Flying Cross: 2nd Lt. John F. Hazle.

7. Aircraft accidents: 1 (no casualties).

8. Change in personnel: S/Sgt. Benton K. Johns transferred to group intelligence section.
{SIGNED}
F. L. WOOD,
Major, Air Corps,
Group S-3

397th Bomb Gp (M)
HUNTER FIELD GA
10 Nov 1943
F. O. )
No. 4 )

Map: Sectional Aeronautical Charts SAVANNAH, JACKSONVILLE.

1. a. (1) The purpose of this mission is the simulated attack of three small area targets about which nothing is known except position.

(2) JESUP and DOUGLAS are very lightly defended and will be attacked without changing course at an initial pt.

(3) WAYCROSS may be defended by anti-aircraft and an initial pt (WARESBORO) will be used.

2. 397th Bomb Gp employing all available B-26 aps based at HUNTER FLD, SAVANNAH, GA attacks railroad junctions at JESUP and DOUGLAS, the RR station at WAYCROSS, GA and target C of TOWNSEND Range on 11 Nov 1943.

Briefing: 0700

Stations: 0745

Start Engines: 0815

Take Off: 0830

Assembly: Over HUNTER FLD at 2000 ft swinging on course at 0900.

Route Out: HUNTER FLD, JESUP, DOUGLAS, WARESBORO, WAYCROSS, COX, TOWNSEND Target C.
Route Back: Target – HUNTER FLD.

Bombing Alt: JESUP 4000 ft., DOUGLAS 6000 ft., WAYCROSS 8000 ft., Target C 10,000 ft or 500 ft below clouds.

I.A.S. During atk: 180 MPH.

Method of Bombing: Bomb from formation of all aps. Bombardier in lead aps call on course when target comes into sight. Sq ldrs sight for range and deflection. Wing men sight for range if they have M series bombsight-or drop on Sq ldr.

Maneuver after atk: Break to right taking up east heading for approx 4 min then turning north to HUNTER FLD.

Landing: Per SOP.

Critique: 1300 in Briefing Room.

Loading: 3 – 100 lb. Practice Bombs “NTA1” Spotting Charge. Am-none.

3. a. Each Sqdn to furnish all available Aps to be used in mission, 598th Sq leads atk followed by 599th, 596th, 597th.

b. Aps Nos 13, 33, 53, and 73 will carry camera and photographer to obtain bombing results.

X. (1) Crew: P, CP, BN, E, G, R.

(2) A Navigator will fly in lead aps of each element.

(3) Sqdns will report results to this hdqs immediately upon return.

4. a. T to take crews to aps available at 0715.

b. Sqdns will have prchts available at 0700.

5. a. See Annex:

b. Gnd – Control tower – HUNTER FLD

(1) Air – lead ap Gp formation – Dep fld ldr 599th Sq leading 2nd flt of aps.


ROLLIN M. WININGHAM,
Major, Air Corps,
Comdg.
OFFICIAL:

{SIGNED}
FRANK L. WOOD, JR.,
Major, Air Corps,
S-3.

397th Bomb Gp (M)
HUNTER FIELD GA
17 Nov 1943
F. O. )
No. 5 )

Map: Sectional Aeronautical Charts JACKSONVILLE, SAVANNAH, and BIRMINGHAM.

1. a. (1) Savannah, Ga, has been reoccupied by the US Army. 397th Bombardment Group (M) is based at Hunter Field, Savannah.

b. (1) Enemy munition dump is located at Target C (3137 – 8137).

(2) Enemy fighter airdromes protecting dump at Target C are located at: Fitzgerald (3143 – 8315); Douglas (3130 – 8251); Cordele (3158 – 8347).

2. a. 397th Bomb Gp employing 18 B-26 aps based at HUNTER FLD, SAVANNAH, GA attacks Rwys, grounded aps and enemy airdrome installations at FITZGERALD, DOUGLAS and CORDELE on 18 Nov 1943.

b. Same mission will also attack enemy munitions dump located at Target C.

Briefing: 0700

Stations: 0830

Start Engines: 0900

Take Off: 0912

Assemble: Over HUNTER FLD at 1500 ft at 0928.

Depart: HUNTER FLD at 2000 ft on course at 0930.

Route: Individual flights will be briefed at briefing.

IP for actual bombing range: TOWNSEND (3132 – 8131).

Axis of atk: 360 deg.

I.A.S. : (1) During climb on course: 180 MPH.

(2) During level flight: 185 MPH.

(3) During atk: 200 MPH.

Method of Bombing: Each Squadron will bomb individually from its flight of 6 aps. All bombing will be pinpoint. Sqdn ldrs will sight for deflection and range, wing men drop on Sqdn leader. Release in rapid train. Between IP and actual target, formation will lose 1000 ft in alt and do evasive action.

Maneuver after atk: Break away to the right, take up heading for Savannah Lightship (3057 – 8040).

Landing: Per Gp SOP.

Critique: 1430.

Loading: 6 – 100 lb M-38 practice bombs each ap.

3. a. 597th, 598th, and 599th Sqdns will furnish 6 aps and crews each.

b. 596th Sqdn will furnish 4 aps as spares and observers.

c. Cameras will be carried in last ship in each element.

x. (1) Crew: P, CP, BN, E, G, R. (Plus F in ships 23, 43, and 63.) (Plus N in ships 11, 31, and 51.)

(2) Each crew will report immediately upon landing to S-2 office of their respective Squadron for interrogation.

4. a. See annexes.


ROLLIN M. WININGHAM,
Major, Army Air Forces,
Commanding.
OFFICIAL:

{SIGNED}
HARRY H. PATTERSON, JR.,
1st Lt, Army Air Forces,
Operations Officer.

ANNEX “A” to FO NO. 5 – 397th BOMB GROUP 17 Nov. 43.


COMMUNICATIONS


1. FREQUENCIES:

A. Ship to ship (Command Set: transmitter 7540; Receiver 7540. RADIO SILENCE EXCEPT IN EMERGENCY.

B. Ship to Group Ground Station (Liaison Set): 4760.

2. CALL SIGNS:

A. Squadron Call Signs: 597th: B
598th: A
599th: C
B. Group Ground Station: 5 RF.

3. VISUAL SIGNALS:

Panels parallel means bomb.

Panels crossed means DO NOT bomb.

ANNEX “B” to FO NO. 5 – 397th BOMB GROUP 17 Nov. 1943.


INTELLIGENCE


1. Summary of Enemy Situation:

a. Enemy forces occupied SAVANNAH last July, penetrating inland to occupy Northern half of Georgia and Southern half of SOUTH CAROLINA inland as far as ALABAMA border.

b. From fighter airdromes at FITZGERALD (3143-8315), DOUGLAS (3130-8251), and CORDELE (3158-8347), enemy is protecting munitions dump at Target C (3137-8137), also harassing sea supply line to SAVANNAH; also Enemy Fighters are operating from these three bases to escort enemy bombers from bomber bases on bombing operations farther inland.

c. Heavy flak may be expected at all three simulated targets.

2. Essential elements of info: U.S. Army recaptured SAVANNAH, 1 November 1943, 397th Bombardment Group (M) is now based at Hunter Field, SAVANNAH.

3. Measures to obtain information:

a. Photo reconnaissance.

A photographer operating K-20 will be in last ship in each element. Photos of bomb hits to be made by each element. Photo officer to deliver five (5) copies of finished photos to 598th Sq S-2 by 0900 19 Nov. 1943.

b. Special instructions on Interrogation:

Crews of each plane will, on landing, report immediately to their Squadron S-2 office for interrogation. All crew members will be on the alert to observe, in area of their R/As and in area of Target C, train movements, military truck convoy movements and airdromes not hitherto posted. For all such observations, note position, time, and altitude. Watch especially for enemy planes (P-39s or P-51s) at any distance, whether apparently intending to attack or not.

4. Maps: SAVANNAH, JACKSONVILLE, and BIRMINGHAM sectionals.

ANNEX “C” to FO NO. 5 – 397th BOMB GROUP 17 Nov. 1943.

NAVIGATOR’S INSTRUCTIONS FOR ALL FLIGHTS AND ALL SHIPS

Part I: GROUP FORMATION
Hour TC Dist Time IAS Remarks
Assembly 0928 Over Hunter Fld at 1500’
Departure 0930 310° 23 8 180 2000’ begin 500’/min climb
Level off position 0938 310° 33 11 185 Level off at 6000’ begin cruise
Turn Pt for Vidalia 3236-8158 0949 224° 32 11 185
Vidalia (3213-8225) 1000 Gp form splits into Sq form at Vidalia; take up individual mission

Part II: “A” FLIGHT
Vidalia 1000 300° Begin 300’/min climb to 11000’ also work R/A to reach I.P. at 1055
I.P.: RR bridge 2 mi E Abbeville (3159-8317) 1055 172° 17 5 200’/min dive to 10000’ begin evasive action at I.P.
Fitzgerald (simulated target) (3143-8315) 1100
Fitzgerald 1100 156° 25 8 185 Cruise at 10000’
Willachoochee (3120-8304) 1108 082° 79 25.5 185
IP: Townsend (Act. Target) (3132-8031) 1133.5

Part III: “B” FLIGHT
Vidalia 1000 270° Begin 300’/min climb to 11000’ also work R/A to reach I.P. at 1114
IP: Lumber camp (3147-8256) 1114 167° 17 6 200’/min dive to 10000’ begin evasive action at IP.
Douglas (simu. tar) (3130-8251) 1120
Douglas 1120 090° 69 23.5 180 Cruise at 10000’
IP: Townsend (Actg. Tgt) (3132-8131) 1143.5



Part IV: “C” FLIGHT
Vidalia 1000 210° Begin 300’/min climb to 11000’ also work R/A to reach IP at 1105
IP: Railroad bridge 1 mi E Albany radio (3146-8359) 1105 42° 16 5 200’/min dive to 10000’ begin evasive action at IP.
Cordele (simu. tgt) (3158-8347) 1110
Cordele 1110 135° 25 18 185 Cruise at 10000’
Willachoochee 1128 082° 79 25.5 185
IP: Townsend (act. tgt) (3132-8131) 1153.5

Part V: GROUP (Still in formation.)

IP: Act tgt, Townsend.

Heading for bomb run: 360° (evasive action begins at IP)

Altitude: dive at 200’/min from 10000’ to 9000’

IAS: 200 MPH

Heading after the run: Turn to right and take up heading for Savannah Lightship (3157-3040); patrol at 3000’; work R/A for rendezvous pt.

Rendezvous: Brunswick (3109-8139) at 3500’ at:
A Flt: 1220
B Flt: 1222
C Flt: 1224

Over Hunter Field: 1224.



397th Bomb Gp (M)
Hunter Field, Ga.
24 Nov 1943
F. O. )
No. 6 )

Map: SAVANNAH Sectional CHARLOTTE, JACKSONVILLE

1. a. (1) Manchester, Ga, has marshalling yards that are used to supply large enemy base at Ft. Benning, Ga.

b. (1) Enemy concentration located at Target C (3137 – 8137).

(2) Enemy fighter airdromes protecting Manchester, Ga are at Macon, Ga, Griffin, Ga and Columbus, Ga.

2. a. 397th Bomb Gp employing 18 B-26 aps based at HUNTER FLD, SAVANNAH, GA are to attack and destroy the marshalling yards at said target on 25 Nov 1943.

b. Same mission will also attack enemy concentration located at Target C.

Briefing: 0700

Stations: 0830

Start Engines: 0900

Take Off: 0915

Assembly: Over HUNTER FLD at 0930 at 1000 ft.

Depart: 0932 on course over HUNTER FLD climbing 500 ft per min.

Route: See Navigators instruction annex C.

IP for actual bombing range: EVERETT CITY (3118 – 8138).

Axis of atk: 23 deg.

I.A.S. : (1) During climb on course: 180 MPH.

(2) During level flight: 190 MPH.

(3) During atk: 190 MPH.

Method of Bombing: Each Squadron will bomb individually from its flights of 6 aps. All bombing will be pinpoint. Squadron ldrs will sight for deflection and range, wing men drop on Squadron leader. Release in rapid train. Between IP and target, formation will lose 500 ft in alt and do slight evasive action.

Maneuver after atk: Start let-down 500 – 700 ft per min, on heading of 40 deg with evasive turns until home sta is reached.

Landing: Per Gp S.O.P.

Critique: 1400 in Briefing Room.

Loading: 4 – 100 lb M-38 practice bombs each ap.

3. a. 597th, 598th, and 599th Sqdns will furnish 7 aps and crews each. (Ex. the 7th crew being a replacement if necessary).

b. Cameras will be carried in last ship of each element.

c. (1) Crew: P, CP, BN, E, G, R. (Plus F in ships 23, 43, and 63.) (Plus N in ships 11, 31, and 51.)

(2) Each crew will report immediately upon landing to S-2 office of their respective Sqdn for interrogation.

4. See Annexes.


ROLLIN M. WININGHAM,
Major, Air Corps,
Commanding.
OFFICIAL:

{SIGNED}
FRANK L. WOOD, JR.,
Major, Air Corps,
Operations Officer.

ANNEX “A” TO FO. NO. 6 – 397th Bomb Gp, dtd 24 Nov 43.

COMMUNICATIONS

1. FREQUENCIES:

a. Ship to ship (Command Set: Transmitter on, Receiver on

ANNEX “B” TO FO NO. 6 – 397th Bomb Gp, dtd 24 Nov 1943.

INTELLIGENCE

1. Summary of Enemy Situation:

a. Enemy forces occupy area to west of SAVANNAH with lines established around the city forming a semi-circle identified by the following points: AUGUSTA, GA, DUBLIN, GA, and VALDOSTA, GA. This is a semi-fluid line, men and material being supplied from the permanent base located at FT. BENNING, located some 125 miles west. Intelligence indicates some 100,000 men are stationed at BENNING. Main supply lines to this point are two R.R. from the north with a division point at MANCHESTER where large marshalling yards have been built up. Latest photo recon. indicates huge reserves of supplies concentrated in these yards. Destruction of these supplies will seriously handicap and stifle enemy movement for another 30 days.

b. Enemy fighters located at COCHRANE FIELD (3242-8340), MOULTIE (3110-8348), ALBANY (3133-8340), are providing protection for this concentration of materiel as well as cover for troop movement from BENNING to advance lines to the east. Munitions dump located at Target “C” is protected by fighters based at WAYCROSS (3115-8222).

c. All four of these bases are heavily protected by AA instl. and flack, heavy and intense can be expected.

2. Friendly Situation: US Army recaptured SAVANNAH 1 November 1943. Our forces have taken positions, pending additional reinforcements at points directly East of line established by enemy. 397th Bomb Gp (M) is based at HUNTER FIELD, SAVANNAH, GA.

3. Information Desired, Measures to Obtain.

a. Photographs.

Last ship in each element will carry photographer operating K-20 camera. Photos of bomb hits will be made by each element. Photo Officer to deliver five copies of finished photos to 599th Squadron S-2 by 0900, 26 November 1943.

b. Observation.

Crews of each ship will be on the alert to observe and report all enemy fighters (for this purpose AT-6’s – BT 9, 13 and 15, P-39’s and P-51’s). Locations, height, direction of attack. (2) Train movements, military truck convoys and airdromes not mentioned above. (3) Any unusual circumstance or situation observed in or around large hospital located at WARM SPRINGS just west of marshalling yards. This has been declared “OPEN” and is not to be bombed under any circumstances unless there is evidence of violation of agreement by the enemy. (4) Crew of each plane will, immediately on landing, report to their Squadron S-2 tent, for interrogation, the Bombardier will before landing complete the form supplied at the briefing for results of bombing and turn this in at interrogation.


ANNEX “C” to F. O. NO. 6 – 397th Bomb Gp 24 Nov. 1943.

Part I: GROUP FORMATION
Hour TC Dist Time IAS Remarks
Assy. 0930 Over Hunter Field, 1000’
Dept. 0932 288° 60 22’ 180 1000’ begin to climb to 10000’, 500’ per minute.
Level off position 0954 288° 110 39’ 185 Level off at 10000’ begin cruise
IP 1033 259° 15 5.5 190 IP (THOMASTON) (3254-8419) Dive to 9000’ – Evasive Action.
Target (Simulated) 1038.5 121° 173 1hr. 3min. 185 Make turn & drop to 8500’

1. At 11:03 Elements will go into staggered trail, continuing on same course. Lead element 8500’.

IP 1142 24° 16 3min. 190 IP (EVERETT CITY) 1st Flight do slight evasive, drop to 8000’ – 2nd Flight 7800’, 3rd Flight 7600’.
Target “C” 1147 39° 30 11min. 185 Return to Hunter Field, as Briefed
HUNTER FIELD 1158

2. All distances measured as knots.

3. Airspeed may be changed in flight by lead ship in order to arrive at all points at correct time.

4. Ships will always keep ten feet between wing tips.


HEADQUARTERS 397TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M) AAF
Hunter Field, Georgia

9 December 1943.

GROUP CHAPLAIN’S HISTORICAL REPORT FOR NOVEMBER 1-30, 1943

The month opened with a new scene of activity at Hunter Field, Georgia. The Chaplain’s office was established in Chapel No. 1, sharing it with the Base Catholic Chaplain, Captain R. S. Goshorn who cooperated fully. Services were held regularly Sunday mornings in the Chapel. Also spot services were held on the Line, with groups of men standing around the Chaplain, several times about a fire, when the morning was cool. The men were responsive, reverent, and grateful especially for these brief informal line services.

The Chaplain participated in Physical Training, Squadron parties, Schools, regular visits to the dispersal areas and to the Hangar Line, secured a number of homes for personnel in civilian community, ate in Squadron Mess Halls, and visited offices and Day Rooms and made Pastoral calls in a few homes. The number of men seeking advice on problems was small, indicating high morale. The fact of no weddings, baptisms, or funerals is unusual for a month but has no particular interpretive value. Hospital calls were more frequent than usual.

The attitude of Enlisted Men toward their officers in this group is excellent with practically no complaints coming to the Chaplain. The work schedule seems well balanced, and is intensive enough to make the personnel contented. Activities planned by the Special Service Officer are markedly valuable and successful. The suggestion is respectfully made that more measures should be instigated to make us group conscious, to work together more as a group, and to build loyalty to the group as well as to the squadron.

{SIGNED}
CLARENCE R. COMFORT, JR.,
1st Lt., Air Corps,
Group Chaplain.

HEADQUARTERS 397TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M) AAF J/WR/4
Office of the Group Communications Officer

Hunter Field, Georgia,
10 December 1943.

Arrived Hunter Field 1 November 1943 and found base signal officer very cooperative. The area we were assigned to had very few facilities for telephone communications and it was necessary to set up a sub-switchboard to the base system.

Because of the inconvenient location of the Base Communication School a Group Communication School was set up in the immediate vicinity of Group Operations. It seems to be working very smoothly and over sixty (60) per cent of the combat crews have already been checked out on Code Blinkers and British Procedure. Arrangements are being made to checkout the remainder in the near future.

Lectures have been given to all combat crews on British Procedure. It is receiving a great deal of stress in all communications sections.

Teletype Operators are attending Base Teletype School and will be completely checked out in accordance with Third Air Force Memorandum 50-16 in the near future.

Progress charts are being kept in all squadrons. Sixty (60) per cent of the personnel are fully qualified, thirty (30) per cent in training and ten (10) per cent still short.

Inspection was made by 55th Bombardment Wing and all discrepancies have been corrected.

The moral in the communications sections is very high and everybody is eager to see action. Those still in training are working hard to be completely checked out and ready for combat.

{SIGNED}
WILLIAM RAFKIND,
Captain, Air Corps,
Communications Officer.

HISTORICAL REPORT OF THE 397TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M) AAF
FOR THE PERIOD 1 DECEMBER 1943 TO 31 DECEMBER 1943.

The 397th Bombardment Group (M) AAF remained at Hunter Field, Georgia, for the month of December. Following directives received from Headquarters, 55th Bombardment Wing (M), MacDill Field, Florida, the group underwent a series of missions using various combat procedures by superimposing our bombing flights on the English and European map layouts. This method involved the average flying time, routes out and return, altitudes, and axis of attacks as would be used for actual missions against occupied Europe, within the range of the B-26, Martin “Marauder”. These missions, a total of three, were supplied by the 55th Bombardment Wing Field Orders and our Group Field Orders with the standard reports and procedures following.

Weather conditions, involving ice and low ground haze, delayed flying operations for the most part until noon. However, reports from Headquarters, Third Bomber Command, MacDill Field, Florida, show that this group had seventy percent of our assigned aircraft available for flying. The 397th Bombardment Group averaged in second place within the Bomber Command for pilot time and hours flown for assigned aircraft for the month of December.

On December 14 through 16, the Commanding Officer, Deputy Commanding Officer, Group Staff members and Squadron Intelligence Officers attended a 55th Wing instructional course at MacDill Field, Florida. This course entitled “Theatre of Actual Operational Procedures”, was conducted by B-26 personnel returned from combat.

On December 16, the 598th Bombardment Squadron conducted a search for members of the crew of the YP-246, grounded and sunk off Savannah, Georgia (enclosed as Exhibit “A” in the report of the 598th Bomb Squadron Historical Officer). Re: Letters of appreciation from the Commanding Officer, this Group, and the Commandant, Sixth Naval District, Fort Sumter Hotel, Charleston, South Carolina.

The Squadrons participated in over-water training flights (via Nassau and Cuba) on several occasions. Night flying has been above average with emphasis on administrative and tactical preparations for possible overseas duty.

There were major adjustments in personnel, involving transfers in and out. Along with thirty reclassifications of Enlisted Men, adjustments of personnel included 19 Officers and 34 Enlisted Men transferred from the organization and 7 Officers and 70 Enlisted Men being assigned. These transfers are resulted in a net loss of 12 Officers and a net gain of 36 Enlisted Men.

Christmas and New Years Day and the fact that date of the units being ordered overseas was thought to be not far off, resulted in an increase in the number of leaves and furloughs being granted. The Group Chaplain’s report indicates a higher morale among the Officers and Enlisted Men with attendance at the Chapel far above average. Towards the end of the month various examining and qualification boards from the 55th Bomb Wing, Third Bomber Command and Third Air Force arrived to check over our administrative and tactical certification and procedures.

Since the 26 of December the 596th and 597th Bomb Squadrons were busy preparing to leave for two week’s maneuvers at Atterbury Army Air Field, Columbus, Indiana.

{SIGNED}
TEDSAN L. TIMBERLAKE
2nd Lt., Air Corps,
Group Historical Officer.

HISTORICAL REPORT OF THE PERSONNEL SECTION 397TH BOMB GROUP (M) AAF FOR THE PERIOD 1 DECEMBER 1943 TO 31 DECEMBER 1943.

December saw only minor adjustments, involving a small number of transfers out and in. Thirty reclassifications of Enlisted Men were made. Major adjustments of personnel of the 397th Bomb Group were made in the month preceding. Nineteen Officers and thirty four Enlisted Men were transferred from the organization with seven Officers and seventy Enlisted Men being assigned to the unit, with the net loss of twelve Officers and net gain of thirty six Enlisted Men.

A number of basics were received in to the organization to be trained as telephone switchboard operators, one of our main shortages in Enlisted Men.

December saw an increase in number of furloughs and leaves granted, due to Christmas and New Years Day. Also the fact that date of the unit’s being ordered overseas was thought by most all individuals to be not far off, increased the leave and furlough activity through the latter part of the month.

III Bomber Command Officer’s Qualification board arrived on 27 December to check over the certifications made by the Group and Squadron Commanders on all the officers. The Board consisted of Lt. Col. Everett C. Freer, Flight Surgeon III Bomber Command, Major Simon P. H. Townsend, A-1, III Bomber Command, and Captain Reade R. Pickler, Asst S-3, III Bomber Command. Main proceedings, which lasted into the second day, centered around the disposition of grounded commissioned flying personnel. Brig. General James E. Parker, Commanding General, III Bomber Command, accompanied the Board to Hunter Field but returned the same day.

Personnel and personnel records were among the subjects of two inspections on the 397th Bomb Group during December. Army Air Forces inspectors inspected on 16 December 1943 and the Third Air Force inspectors on 30 December 1943.

{SIGNED}
K. M. MAJORS,
Major, Air Corps,
Adjutant

HISTORICAL REPORT OF THE GROUP INTELLIGENCE SECTION, 397TH BOMB GROUP (M) AAF FOR THE PERIOD 1 DECEMBER 1943 TO 31 DECEMBER 1943.

Routine activities were predominate for the month of December. This Intelligence section coordinated with group S-3 on the three 55th Bomb Wing missions with briefing handled by group, and interrogation covered by squadron personnel. S-2 narrative is submitted in Exhibit “A”.

The only change in Intelligence personnel, for the month of December, was Lt. Berberg of the 599th Bomb Squadron.

In December 14 - 16, the group and squadron Intelligence officers attended a 55th Bomb Wing Instructional course at MacDill Field, Florida. This course entitled “Theatre of Actual Operational Procedures,” was conducted by B-26 personnel returned from combat, and held vast interest for all concerned.

On December 16, a B-26 of the 598th Bomb Squadron conducted a search for crew members of the grounded YP-246. As a result, the YP-246 was found by this aircraft and led to further assistance by Navy blimps and coastal patrol vessels. The B-26 mentioned was the only aircraft aloft at this time due to adverse weather conditions.

Towards the end of the month, various examining and qualification boards from the 55th Bomb Wing, Third Bomber Command, and Third Air Force arrived to check over our administrative and tactical files and procedures.

The last few days of December were in preparation for movement to Atterbury Army Air Field, Columbus, Indiana for a two week maneuver period. The 596th and 597th squadron S-2s and personnel with the group S-2 were transported by air and train the first part of January.

{SIGNED}
TEDSAN L. TIMBERLAKE
2nd Lt., Air Corps,
Assistant Group S-2.

HISTORICAL REPORT FOR 397TH BOMB GROUP SUPPLY AND TRANSPORTATION FOR THE PERIOD 1 DECEMBER 1943 TO 31 DECEMBER 1943.

Packing and Crating School was arranged for the 598th and 599th Bomb Squadrons.

Group Transportation officer and Squadron Transportation officers attended a 4 day Special Purpose Vehicle school at Rantoul, Illinois, from 19 December to 22 December 1943.

Daily inspection of Squadron Motor Pools.

Weekly inspection of Squadron Property Records and storage facilities.

Edited all Group and Squadron requisitions.

Made preparations for movement of 596th and 597th Bomb Squadrons to Columbus, Indiana for 2 week maneuvers.

Group Supply officer attended 2 day meeting at Headquarters, 55th Bomb Wing, MacDill Field, Florida.

Group and Squadron Supply records were inspected by Major Swinson, AAF inspector.

Group and Squadron Supply records were inspected by inspection staff, Third Air Force.

{SIGNED}
CLAUDE L. FUNDERBURK
1st Lt., Air Corps,
Group Supply Officer.

397th Bomb Gp (M)
HUNTER FIELD, GA.
30 December 43
FIELD ORDERS )
(DRILL) :
NO 13 )

Maps: Jacksonville, Savannah Sectional.

1. See Intelligence Annex “B”

2. This Gp atks target No 12 at 1430. Primary target No II target No 12 at 1435. Secondary target ANDREWS at 1441½ on 31 Dec 43.

Briefing: 0900

Stations: 1009

Start Engines and Taxi out: 1039

Take Off: 1054

Assembly Point: 1500 ft over HUNTER FIELD.

Route out: HUNTER FIELD – VALDOSTA – HARRIS NECK

30° 45’ - 32° 05’ - 32° 15’ - 32° 30’ – SUNNTEE
80° 30’ - 79° 30’ - 78° 00’ - 79° 25’ – RIVER MOUTH

GEORGETOWN – TARGET NO 12 – BLACK RIVER - ANDREWS

Point of departure: HARRIS NECK.

Initial point: Primary No I: GEORGETOWN

Primary No II: BLACK RIVER (33° 35’ - 79° 25’)

Secondary: RHEMS

Method of Bombing: Formation will bomb in 18 aps box. The leader will sight for range and deflection. The flight leaders will sight for range only. Precompute data for 10,000 ft.

Number of atks: Two (2) on primary, one (1) on secondary

Time of atks: Primary No I: 1430

Primary No II: 1435

Secondary: 1441½

Axis of atk: Primary No I: 2½ deg

Primary No II: 105 deg

Secondary: 223 deg

Targets: Primary No I: Target No 12

Primary No II: Target No 12

Secondary: ANDREWS

Breakaway: Turn on next course – no change in altitude.

Route back: Direct to HUNTER FIELD

I.A.S. : (1) Assembly - SOP.

(2) Climb - 180 mph

(3) Cruise - 185 mph

(4) Bombing run – 190 mph

Landing: As briefed.

Interrogation: Immediately upon landing.

Critique: 1600

3. 397th Gp will fly all available aps.

a. The 598th Sq will furnish aps for “A” flt, plus all others available.

b. The 599th Sq will furnish aps for “B” flt, plus all others available.

X. (1) Gas load: All wing tanks plus one (1) bomb bay.

(2) Bomb load: Nine (9) 100 lb Demo bombs per ap.

(3) Ammunition load: None

4. a. Supply

(1) Normal

b. Evacuation

(1) Personnel

(a) Gp collecting station is located at 397th Gp Dispensary, HUNTER FIELD

(b) Ap comdrs having dead or wounded crew members aboard will fire a red flare on the approach leg and turn on passing lights.

(c) The surgeon will provide ambulance to evacuate casualties at hardstands.

5. a. Plan of signal communications: Use Annex “A”

b. CP’s

(1) Air

(a) Gp comdr Captain BRONSON flying No 1-1 Flt “A”

(b) Deputy Gp comdr Lt. SMITH flying No 1-2 Flt “A”

(2) Ground: HUNTER FIELD TOWER


RICHARD T. COINER JR
Col., AC
Comdg
OFFICIAL:

{SIGNED}
FRANK L. WOOD, JR.,
Lt Col, AC
S-3

ANNEXES: A – Comm
B – Intel

DISTRIBUTION: “I”

ANNEX “A” to FIELD ORDER NO 13 – 397TH BOMB GP (M) AAF, DTD 30 DEC 43


COMMUNICATIONS


1. British Procedure will be used in accordance with 397th Gp memo 100-11.

2. Call Signs and Frequencies to be given at briefing.

3. Gp Leader will contact Range Control 5 min prior to bombing.

a. If radio contact is not established, mission will be carried out if range appears to be clear.

4. IFF to be carried in all aps. Only the lead ap in each flt to have set turned on.

RICHARD T COINER JR
Col, AC
Comdg.

OFFICIAL:

{SIGNED}
FRANK L. WOOD JR.
Lt. Col, AC
S-3

DISTRIBUTION: “I”

ANNEX “B” to FO #13, 397th Bomb Gp (M).

INTELLIGENCE


1. Summary of the Enemy Situation:

a. Enemy forces have made landings in the GULF OF MEXICO and have pushed inland to VALDOSTA, GA. Where it is thought they are building an air strip. It is also reported that enemy convoys have been sighted heading toward the coast at (30° 45’ N, 80° 30’ W), (32° 05’ N, 79° 30’ W), (32° 15’ N, 78° 00’ W), (32° 36’ N, 79° 25’ W) and that landing barges were seen on the beach at HARRIS NECK. It is definitely known that landings have been made at WAYCROSS and that there is a large concentration of supplies inland ten miles to the north with an advance base at ANDREWS at (33° 35’ N, 79° 25’ W) Target 12.

b. Enemy fighters are based at TALLAHASSEE 70 miles SW of VALDOSTA. Automatic weapons and light AA may be expected at VALDOSTA, HARRIS NECK, GEORGETOWN and supply dump north of GEORGETOWN. Also if convoys are sighted they will be escorted by cruisers and destroyers, and perhaps a pocket battleship.

2. Summary of Friendly Situation:

a. U. S. Ground Forces hold the land from PENSACOLA, FLA. To WAYCROSS, GA. To SAVANNAH. 397th Bomb Group is based at HUNTER FIELD. U. S. fighters are based at TIFTON, GA., WAYCROSS, GA. and FLORENCE, S. C.

3. Measures to Obtain Information:

a. Photo reconnaissance: Two photographers with each Flight in ship 1-3; 2-3; 3-3; 4-3; 5-3; 6-3. Photos will be taken of all bombs dropped. Developed negatives and prints be delivered to Group S-2 within 24 hours after completion of mission.

4. Special Instructions on Interrogation:

a. Interrogation will be immediately after landing at Group Headquarters. Entire crews will attend interrogation. Navigators will bring leg sheets to the Interrogation Room. For the purpose of observation the following will be considered as enemy and reported as such:

1. All single engine fighter planes.
2. All ships wherever located.
3. Any motor truck convoys.

RICHARD T COINER JR
Col AC
Comdg

OFFICIAL:

{SIGNED}
FRANK L WOOD JR
Lt. Col, AC
S-3

DISTRIBUTION: “I”

C O P Y

HEADQUARTERS SIXTH NAVAL DISTRICT
FORT SUMTER HOTEL
P15/MD6 CHARLESTON, S. C.
(39:ne)
Serial 3996
21 December 1943

From: The Commandant, Sixth Naval District.
To The Commanding Officer, 397th Bomb Group,
Hunter Field, Savannah, Georgia.

Subj: Letter of Appreciation for Assistance.

1. The Commandant wishes to express his appreciation for the splendid cooperation of your command in extending their prompt and efficient aid in the search and rescue operations conducted for members of the crew of the YP-426, grounded and sunk off Savannah, Georgia, on December 16, 1943.

JULES JAMES

EXHIBIT “B”

HEADQUARTERS 397TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M) AAF
Office of the Chaplain
Hunter Field, Georgia

GROUP CHAPLAIN’S HISTORICAL REPORT FOR DECEMBER 1-30, 1943

The activities of the Chaplain’s section this month reached a high mark with the Christmas Season. Three weddings in the Group were solemnized in Chapel 1. Regular Sunday services were held on the Hangar Line and in Chapel 1 with the largest attendance record in the Chaplain’s experience since entering military service. A beautiful candle-light service was held on Christmas Eve. The Base Catholic Chaplain has indicated that, due to the attendance at Masses of Catholic men from the 397th Group, at times the Chapel was filled to capacity.

The Chaplain waded through mud and water with the men, to visit each Squadron Mess Hall upon Christmas Day and would report that these were all joyous, festive banquets in the truest sense of the word. Much credit should be given to the Mess Sergeants and their staffs.

The printed Sunday Church Call was issued each week and the magazine, “Bomburst”, contained a Chaplain’s article. Pastoral, educational, and recreational activities as participated in by the Chaplain, were normal this month.

The usual amount of discussion among Officers and Enlisted Men as to duty assignments, transfers, and changes has been observed with the Chaplain an interested listener. One Squadron may have experienced an acceleration of this kind of talk or “buzzing” more so than the other squadrons because of changes in the flight echelon. As compared with a month ago morale seems to be higher.

{SIGNED}
CLARENCE R. COMFORT, JR.,
Chaplain, (1st Lt) AAF.

HEADQUARTERS 397th BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M) AAF
Hunter Field, Georgia
3 January 1944.

SUBJECT: Letter of Appreciation.

TO : Commanding Officer, 598th Bombardment Squadron,
397th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, Hunter Field, Ga.

1. A letter of appreciation for the part you played in the search and rescue operations conducted on 16 December 1943, for members of the crew of the YP-426, has been addressed to your Group Commander. A copy of the letter is attached.

2. I wish to extend you my own expression of appreciation and commendation for the manner in which you carried out the assignment given you. Such performance reflects credit to the service and to the command.

s/ Richard T. Coiner, Jr,
RICHARD T. COINER, JR,
Colonel, Air Corps,
Commanding.
1 Incl:
Incl 1 – Ltr of Appreciation.

A TRUE COPY:

{SIGNED}
CHARLES COOKE,
1st Lt, Air Corps,
Sq Historical Officer.

EXHIBIT “A”

HEADQUARTERS 397th BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M) AAF A/RTC/18
Hunter Field, Georgia

3 January 1943

SUBJECT: Letter of Appreciation.

TO : Crew Members Concerned, 397th Bombardment Group.

1. A letter of appreciation for the part you played in the search and rescue operations conducted on 16 December 1943, for members of the crew of the YP-426, has been addressed to your Group Commander. A copy of the letter is attached.

2. I wish to extend to you my own expression of appreciation and commendation for the manner in which you carried out the assignment given you. Such performance reflects credit to the service and to the command.

{SIGNED}
RICHARD T. COINER, JR,
Colonel, Air Corps,
Commanding.
1 Incl:
Incl 1 – Ltr of Appreciation.

HEADQUARTERS 397TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M) AAF J/WR/1
Office of the Group Communications Officer

Hunter Field, Ga.
8 January 1944

This office has continued the program of training in all phases of communications with special emphasis being placed on British Radio Procedure. Special examinations were given all Combat Crews and the average grade made was 82%. The Group Communications School has nearly completed its function as nearly 85% of combat crew personnel have been checked out in Code and Blinker.
Special instructions in the use of IFF and VHF equipment were given combat crews and communications personnel by the VHF-IFF Mobile Unit of 3AF. These series of courses lasted five days and attendance ran very high.
All teletype operators and teletype mechanics continued the training program set up in November and have been checked out in accordance with 3AF Memo 50-14. Every effort was made to secure direct teletype communication with our higher headquarters in order that all teletype personnel might receive additional practical training.
The Group Telephone System has been functioning on an 18 hour basis. The Squadrons have shortages of telephone operators so other communications personnel were trained in the operation of the Group Switchboard until these shortages can be supplied.
Group Communications and Squadron Communications sections were inspected by Major Fisher, AAF Field Inspector and Lt. Green, 3AF Comm Inspector. Reports of these inspections were satisfactory and discrepancies found have been corrected.
The 596th and 597th Squadron Communications sections are now on Field Maneuvers and will receive extensive practical experience with the operation of radio field equipment.

HEADQUARTERS 397TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M) AAF FE/EGM/2
Hunter Field, Georgia
5 January 1944

Historical Report of Engineering Section, 397th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, for the period 1 December to 31 December 1943.

1. Lectures and meetings have been conducted in all Engineering sections to discuss failures and difficulties in Engineering, and how to prevent further failures and difficulties that may occur.

2. As there was a considerable amount of Hydraulic trouble a school was conducted in Hydraulics and personnel from each Squadron were qualified as Hydraulic Specialists.

3. Personnel from all Engineering sections attended Packing and Crating Schools.

4. A school in Aircraft Carburetors was held and personnel from each Squadron were qualified as Carburetor Specialists.

5. All Tech Supply Officers attended the Personnel Equipment School.

6. Methods were accomplished in checking Hydraulic Pump conditions before failures occur.

7. Engineering sections of the 596th and 597th Bomb Squadrons made preparations for change of station for the purpose of conducting maneuvers.

8. Monthly inspection was made by the Group Technical Inspector through the Group.

{SIGNED}
ELTON G. MORROW,
Captain, Air Corps,
Group Engineering Officer.

HEADQUARTERS 397TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M) AAF FE/FES/2
Hunter Field, Georgia
5 January 1944

Historical Report of Armament Section, 397th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, for the period 1 December to 31 December 1943.

During the month of December 1943, the major object of training was to qualify as many of the personnel as possible. Approximately twenty percent (20%) of the personnel went to the range and fired; fifteen percent (15%) qualified. The present status of personnel firing weapons is as follows:

Headquarters 96%
596th Bombardment Squadron 96%
597th Bombardment Squadron 92%
598th Bombardment Squadron 97%
599th Bombardment Squadron 89%

The estimate date of completion of all small arms firing is 15 January 1944.

All armament personnel have been trained in the correct procedure in loading AN-M-54 Incendiary clusters. Approximately 100 clusters were loaded during the month.

Ordinance sections were trained in fusing and loading 100 pound Demolition bombs. Each Squadron fused and loaded approximately 150 M30 bombs.

{SIGNED}
FRED E. SEALE, JR.,
Captain, Air Corps,
Group Armament Officer.

HISTORICAL REPORT OF 397TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M) AAF FOR PERIOD OF JANUARY 1944.

During the entire month of January, squadrons of the Group participated in maneuvers and demonstrations, and the routine training programs were necessarily subordinated because of this. From 1 January to 15 January, the 596th and 597th Bomb Squadrons underwent training in maneuvers at Atterbury Army Air Field, Columbus, Indiana, being attached to the First Tactical Air Division for this purpose. After a period of unfavorable weather, the combat crews flew several missions successfully. From 16 January to 31 January, the 598th and 599th Bomb Squadrons participated in demonstrations and maneuvers at Lawson Field, Georgia, Sheppard Field, Texas, Godman Field, Kentucky, and Atterbury Army Air Field, Indiana.

A team of III Bomber Command inspectors visited the group during the period 19-23 January, covering all phases of the unit’s activities. Particular emphasis was placed upon stepping-up training activities as necessary to prepare the group fully to meet standards required for overseas duty. This was reflected in the varied training programs carried out by practically all departments and activities.

Making of transfers and reclassification work continued to occupy an important place in the adjustment of personnel shortages and overages. A total of 3 officers and 11 enlisted men joined the Group, and a total of 12 officers and 21 enlisted men were transferred out, for a net loss of 9 officers and 10 enlisted men.

{SIGNED}
THOMAS E. McLEOD,
Major, Air Corps,
Group Historian.

HISTORICAL REPORT OF THE INTELLIGENCE SECTION
397TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M) AAF FOR THE PERIOD OF JANUARY 1944.

The Group Intelligence Section participated in maneuvers throughout the month of January with squadrons of the Group. The Group S-2 and the Group Photo Officer, and part of staffs, accompanied the 596th and 597th Bomb Squadrons to Atterbury Army Air Field, Columbus, Indiana for the first half of the month. The Asst Group S-2, the Photo Interpretation Officer and part of staffs accompanied the 598th and 599th Bomb Squadrons during last half of month, at Lawson Field, Georgia, Sheppard Field, Texas, Godman Field, Kentucky and Atterbury Army Air Field, Indiana.

These field problems afforded excellent opportunity for Group and Squadron Intelligence Officers and men to gain practical experience in performing functions of Intelligence sections under conditions representing combat experience. Work was performed in the planning and preparation of strategic bombing and ground-support missions, in cooperation with Operations Officers and other section heads of group and squadrons. Briefing and Interrogating of combat crews, preparation of mission reports, processing of information, and keeping of ground situation and air situation maps received considerable attention.

Intelligence training was conducted at the home base, and in maneuver areas, as time permitted. Emphasis was placed on aircraft recognition training and security and censorship during the month. During the latter part of the month, a more extensive Group training schedule was adopted to provide coverage of all required training subjects. For January a total of 14 hours intelligence training were scheduled for all personnel; 20 hours for combat crews only; and 2 hours for combat intelligence personnel only. In addition individual squadron intelligence sections conducted additional intelligence training. All Group and Squadron intelligence officers, the Group Photo Officer and Photo Interpreter were scheduled for lectures, as well as non-commissioned officer section heads.

During the period 19-23 January, Lt Col H. A. Johnson, Asst A-2, III Bomber Command, inspected the intelligence offices of Group and Squadrons. Following the inspection, action was taken to correct conditions noted in preparation for POM check at a later date.

Several officers and men of the intelligence sections attended special schools during the month. During the period 10-15 January, 2nd Lt Tedsan S. Timberlake attended Air Ground Support School, Camp Davis, N. C. During period 17-31 January, Capt Gordon C. Hamilton, S-2, 599th Bomb Sq, attended the Escape and Evasion School, Washington, D. C.; Corporal Charles W. Johnson, Hq Intelligence clerk, with two other men from squadron intelligence sections, attended Landfall Techniques School, MacDill Field, Florida, from 19 January to 26 January 1944.

{SIGNED}
THOMAS E. McLEOD,
Major, Air Corps,
Group S-2.

HISTORICAL REPORT OF THE OPERATIONS SECTION
397TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M) AAF FOR THE PERIOD OF JANUARY 1944.

Key Personnel:

Major K. C. Dempster S-3
Major W. D. Snyder Group Bombardier
Captain E. W. Udick Group Navigator
Captain W. Rafkind Group Communications Officer
Captain H. T. Watson Group Tactical Inspector
Captain G. D. Hughes Assistant S-3

Mean average of 43 airplanes assigned; 30, or 72% flyable.

5492 pilot hours. 2746 plane hours. 89.29 plane hours per day. 2.08 hours per plane per day.

Average number of pilots assigned: 130. Average number of hours per day per assigned pilot: 1.36.

All Squadrons participated in maneuvers from Atterbury Army Air Field during this period.

Aircraft accidents: 1 (8 casualties).

Change in personnel: Lt Col F. W. Wood, Jr. transferred to 597th Bombardment Squadron.

{SIGNED}
GEORGE D. HUGHES,
Captain, Air Corps,
Assistant S-3.

HISTORICAL REPORT OF THE COMMUNICATIONS SECTION
397TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M) AAF FOR THE PERIOD OF JANUARY 1944.

During the month of January the communications personnel received intensive field training while on maneuvers at Atterbury Army Air Field; especially all radio operator gunners, ground radio operators, and the telephone and teletype operators. Actual field equipment was used and much valuable experience gained in the setting up and the operation of this equipment.

The shortage of telephone operators was solved by setting up a Telephone Operators School. The necessary personnel (12 EM) were trained and reclassified as telephone operators.

A school for cryptographers was conducted by the Group Cryptographers for the purpose of training officers and enlisted men to complete the T/O of the Squadrons. A total of 2 officers and 6 enlisted men have already completed this course. Special emphasis was placed on AR 380-5 and other current security regulations.

The Group Communications School has continued its program of training and at present approximately 90% of all combat personnel have completed the necessary training in Code and Blinker.

The Group and Squadron Communications Sections were inspected by III Bomber Command Communications Inspector. Discrepancies as noted by the Inspector were corrected.

A shortage of communications personnel still exists and plans for further training and reclassifications are being formulated.

{SIGNED}
WILLIAM RAFKIND,
Captain, Air Corps,
Communications Officer.

HISTORICAL REPORT OF THE ENGINEERING SECTION
397TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M) AAF FOR THE PERIOD OF JANUARY 1944.


Airplanes carried out scheduled maneuvers favorably, accompanied by Captain E. G. Morrow (Group Engineering Officer).

Monthly inspections were conducted by the Group Technical Inspector throughout the Group.

A school was held by III Bomber Command Headquarters on spark plugs, ignition, and electrical systems of the B-26 aircraft. Personnel were instructed on proper methods for reconditioning spark plugs.

A report on trouble caused by Vickers Pumps, on B-26 aircraft, was submitted to Major Kelly, ASC, Patterson Field, Fairfield, Ohio.

A school was held by a factory representative of Vickers Manufacturing Company on hydraulic and accessories. All Squadron Engineering Personnel attended the school on 14 January 1944.

A school was conducted by Captain E. G. Morrow, on AAF Form 41-B’s. All Squadron Flight Chiefs, Crew Chiefs, and Squadron Inspectors attended this course.

A school on type A-2 lighting equipment and operation was conducted in this Group and all Engineering Personnel instructed.

A school on emergency refueling of aircraft was conducted in this Group and all Engineering Personnel instructed.

{SIGNED}
ELTON G. MORROW,
Captain, Air Corps,
Group Engineering Officer.

HISTORICAL REPORT OF THE SUPPLY & TRANSPORTATION SECTION
397TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M) AAF FOR THE PERIOD OF JANUARY 1944.


On 1 January 1944 this office made arrangements for movement of the 596th and 597th Bombardment Squadrons to Atterbury Army Air Field, Indiana.

On 2 January 1944 a meeting of the Base Project Supply Board was held with Squadron Commanders and Supply Officers as a result of moving orders received by 397th Bombardment Group. On or about January third a showdown inspection was held in accordance with POM, dated 1 August 1943.

On 15 January 1944 preparation was made for movement of the 598th and 599th Bombardment Squadrons to Atterbury Army Air Field, Indiana. The Group Commander and Group Supply Officer traveled on the 599th troop train to Atterbury Army Air Field, Indiana.

Inspection by III Bomber Command of 596th and 597th Bombardment Squadron Supply Sections.

Weekly inspections were conducted by the Group Supply and Transportation Officer of the Squadron Supply and Transportation sections.

Three hours of instruction on POM, AIR-POM, and IO & I was given by the Group Supply Officer to Squadron Supply personnel.

All requisitions of the four squadrons were edited by the Group Supply Officer.

{SIGNED}
CLAUD S. FUNDERBURK,
Captain, Air Corps,
Group Supply and
Transportation Officer.

HISTORICAL REPORT OF THE ARMAMENT SECTION
397TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M) AAF FOR THE PERIOD OF JANUARY 1944.

Airplanes carried out scheduled maneuvers and put on demonstrations at various fields to show the effectiveness of Medium Altitude Precision Bombing.

Monthly inspections were conducted by Group Technical Inspector throughout the Group.

A school was held by the Squadron Armament Officers on caliber .50 machine guns, bomb racks, power turrets, and gunsights. All armament personnel, bombardier navigators, radio gunners, engineer gunners, flight chiefs, and crew chiefs attended this course.

Flight chiefs and crew chiefs were instructed in Position Firing and fired Familiarization Course on Towed Targets and Ground Targets at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

The 3-A2 Gunnery Trainer (Jam Handy) was operated 14 hours daily with an average operating time of two hours per week for each Bombardier navigator, engineer gunner, radio gunner, and armorer gunner.

Sixteen airdrome defense crews fired the familiarization course on .50 Machine Gun (Heavy Barrel).

{SIGNED}
Earl Trull, 18042317,
T/Sgt, Hq 397th Bomb Gp.

HISTORICAL REPORT OF THE CHAPLAIN’S SECTION
397TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M) AAF
for the period 1 January 1-31, 1944.

While the several squadrons of the 397th Bombardment Group were on maneuvers this month the personnel on the home base was reduced with a corresponding decrease in the Chaplain’s personal contacts. The regular schedule of service was held and the usual publicity program and promotion activities were maintained.

Late in the month occurred a tragic accident when a plane of the 598th Squadron crashed killing four officers and four enlisted men. The Chaplain knew each one personally and corresponded with each of the bereaved families. While it is difficult to estimate what good can come from this sad experience the Chaplain has experienced a strengthening of friendship with many of the comrades of the men who were lost and in numerous instances there can be seen evidence of more thoughtfulness among the men as well as heightened care and determination in the performance of duty. We can only believe God knows best.

The Chaplain’s promotion from 1st Lieutenant to Captain was effective December 29, 1943.

{SIGNED}
CLARENCE R. COMFORT, JR.,
Chaplain (Capt) AAC

HISTORICAL REPORT OF THE 397TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M) AAF, FOR THE PERIOD OF FEBRUARY 1944.

The month of February was a period of great activity for all squadrons and departments of the group, completing final training and organizing for movement overseas.

On 9 February 1944, the inspectors of the III Bomber Command arrived for final inspection. On 10 February the AAF inspectors arrived to begin POM check. Having satisfactorily passed these very thorough examinations, the personnel of the group felt they were well on the road to accomplish their primary mission.

New planes arrived for the squadrons, and were checked and placed into operation. Issuance of equipment, completion of physical tests, and last minute scrutiny of personnel records were the all-important matters before the group, and were completed with smoothness and efficiency.

On 24 February 1944, the Commanding Officer, Colonel Richard T. Coiner, Jr., with the Base Commanding Officer, Colonel L. L. Koontz, reviewed the troops of the 397th Group. Colonel Koontz delivered an address of commendation and delivered an inscribed trophy award to Colonel Coiner for the 397th Group. This commendation (copies of which are attached as Exhibit 1) warmly praised the personnel of the 397th for their exemplary conduct and spirit of cooperation while stationed for four months at Hunter Field. Colonel Coiner responded to the presentation and commendation, and expressed, for his men, the friendly feeling which they hold for officers and men of Hunter Field.

During the latter part of the month, the Unit Publication “Bomburst” was distributed by the Special Services Officer, Captain J. A. D’Andrea, in the form of a souvenir issue. This contains photographs of key officer and non-commissioned officer personnel and articles by certain staff members. Since this issue of “Bomburst” is a good representation of the 397th Group, copies are being attached as Exhibit 2.

On 24 February 1944, Colonel Richard T. Coiner, Jr., with the first contingent of the air echelon, departed from Hunter Field in the newly-proven B-26 Martin “Marauders” for overseas duty. The following day, 25 February, the remainder of the air echelon, which was authorized to leave at that time, took off with the remaining planes for the same destination.

The remainder of the personnel in the group under the command of Major F. E. Ebeling, and the several squadron executive officers, acting for the squadron commanders who departed by air, remained at Hunter Field for the balance of the month to complete final details and prepare for the day when they, too, would proceed on a journey to re-join the air echelon. Thus the month of February proved to be one of the most varied in the life of the group. Morale has continued high, and officers and men are in good spirit to perform whatever duties lie ahead.

{SIGNED}
THOMAS E. McLEOD,
Major, Air Corps,
Actg Gp Historical Officer.

HEADQUARTERS
THIRD AIR FORCE STAGING WING G-C-k

OFFICE OF THE COMMANDING OFFICER

IN REPLY REFER TO: HUNTER FIELD, GEORGIA

3AFSW 201.22 (21 Feb 44) 21 February 1944

Subject: Commendation.

TO : Commanding Officer, 397th Bomb Group, Hunter Field, Georgia.

1. The Commanding Officer, his staff officers, non-commissioned officers, and all other military personnel of the 397th Bomb Group, Hunter Field, Georgia, are hereby commended for their excellent conduct, attention to duty, and observance of regulations while they were stationed at this base under the administration supervision of Headquarters Third Air Force Staging Wing from the period of approximately 28 November 1943 to 24 February 1944.

2. Military personnel of the 397th Bomb Group, which includes the 596th, 597th, 598th, and 599th Bomb Squadrons, have maintained rigid training schedules while at Hunter Field under many adverse circumstances and have performed their duties in a manner to bring credit to themselves and the favorable attention of this command. In addition, the cooperation extended by every member of the 397th Bomb Group toward the military personnel of this command while the Bomb Group was being processed and staged for overseas movement was accomplished in a superior manner never before equaled by any unit being processed or staged at Hunter Field, Georgia.

3. In token of the high regard this command has for members of the 397th Bomb Group, and in particular to its commanding officer, Colonel Richard T. Coiner, AC, this commendation is exemplified in the presentation of an inscribed trophy award which is hereby entrusted to the care of Colonel Richard T. Coiner, and given through this means to each member of the 397th Bomb Group.

4. The good wishes of this command will follow you wherever the missions of your group will take you. May your endeavors constantly be crowned with further success and achievement of credit.

{SIGNED}
L. L. KOONTZ
Colonel, Air Corps,
Commanding.

HEADQUARTERS 397TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M) AAF F/CSF/7
Office of Group Transportation and Supply Section
HUNTER FIELD, GEORGIA

MEMORANDUM) 5 March 1944
:
RE ) Historical Report of the Group Supply and Transportation Section, Headquarters, 397th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, for the period of February 1944

1. Weekly meetings were held with the Squadron Supply and Squadron Tech Supply Officers

2. Movement Orders dated 5 February 1944, Washington, D. C. were received and explained to Squadron Supply personnel.

3. Weekly inspections were made of Squadron Supply sections.

4. This office supervised squadron activity in turning in training equipment listed in O.E.R., and TO & E.

5. Strict supervision was conducted by this office over Squadrons’ Packing and Crating for overseas movement.

6. Arrangements were made by this office with Base Rail Transportation Officer for movement of Group personnel and equipment to Port of Embarkation.

7. Weekly inspections of Squadron Transportation sections were conducted. Group Motor pool was closed and Squadrons instructed to dispatch all vehicles from Squadron Supply rooms.

8. All buildings occupied by Squadron and Group activity were cleaned and turned over to Base except Group Headquarters Building and Squadron Area buildings.

{SIGNED}
CLAUD S. FUNDERBURK,
Captain, Air Corps,
Group Supply &
Transportation Officer.

HEADQUARTERS 397TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M) AAF Q/FES/7
Office of the Group Armament
HUNTER FIELD, GEORGIA

MEMORANDUM) 5 March 1944
:
RE ) Historical Report of the Group Armament Section, 397th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, for period of February, 1944.

1. Orders were received to transfer all airplanes in the Group. Each airplane was given a one hundred hour inspection before transfer.

2. New airplanes were received and inspected. All planes are ready for bombing and gunnery. Only a few minor technical order changes are necessary before each is ready for combat.

3. Small arms were issued to all personnel in Group Headquarters.

4. All gunnery training equipment was returned to the 93rd Sub-Depot.

5. The table of organization for a medium bombardment group was changed to include a Group Ordnance Officer and two non-commissioned officers. This relieves the Group Armament Officer from Ordnance responsibilities.

{SIGNED}
FRED E. SEALE, JR.,
Captain, Air Corps,
Group Armament Officer.

HISTORICAL REPORT OF THE CHAPLAIN’S SECTION
397TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M) AAF
for the period 1 February 1-29, 1944.

In addition to the regularly scheduled services for each Sunday of the month there was held: (a) a memorial service for the brave men of the 598th Squadron killed the preceding month in a plane crash (held in Theatre # 3 with Colonel Coiner assisting and a large number attending), (b) four new planes blessed at the request of the pilots, (c) two adult baptisms at impressive services in the Chapel, (d) the preparation and distribution of the Group Chaplain’s Prayer Book for wives, mothers, and sweethearts, (e) and the distribution of Testaments of the three faiths during the staging of the air Echelon. These above mentioned items are of more practical religious value than any number of formal worship services in the Chaplain’s opinion and represent most satisfying labor expended.

The departure of the Air Echelon on two successive days was magnificent. The Chaplain (and Mrs. Chaplain) aided many families during these tense hours and would pay a high tribute to their courage and bravery. They smiled through tears. Their example in the hardest of farewells would make anyone proud. Such hardihood would shame any who display a failure of devotion to our country’s cause. God bless them. It is a great privilege to be their Chaplain as well as the Chaplain of their men.

{SIGNED}
CLARENCE R. COMFORT, JR.,
Chaplain (Capt) AAF

HISTORICAL REPORT OF SPECIAL SERVICES OF THE
397TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M) AAF FOR THE PERIOD
OF FEBRUARY 1944.

The physical training program was stepped up during the month of February. The departure of the air echelon accounted for more time being devoted to both calisthenics and recreation. The post physical training area accommodated the large classes very satisfactory.

The Group basketball team was entered in the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament. The playoffs are to start early in March.

Weekly orientation lectures were given throughout the month. Background of World War I and World War II, current events, English customs and their monetary system, and other topics were discussed at these sessions. Maps showing the latest positions of the Allies and their attacks on enemy territory helped in making the talks interesting.

The social functions of the Group called for weekly Squadron Dances for enlisted men at the Enlisted Mens Service Club. These affairs were very well attended. A Group officer’s party was held February 13 at the Hunter Field Officers Club.

The 397th “talent group” provided the entertainment at the enlisted men’s and officer’s parties. The members of the “group” also participated in the weekly soldier shows given at the Enlisted Mens Service Club.

A souvenir issue of Bomburst, the Group publication, made its appearance the latter part of the month. This issue included pictures of the Group Commanding Officer, Group Staff, Squadron Staffs, the Marauder, and other pictures. The demand for extra copies exceeded the first run which was sufficient to provide one copy for each man.

New athletic equipment was distributed to the Squadrons for distribution among the men pending overseas shipment. Arrangements were made for the mailing of many periodicals (popular magazines and newspapers) to this Group when it reaches its proper destination.

Captain Joseph A. D’Andrea is the officer in charge of all Special Service events in the Group. Lt. Arnold L. Mahlum is the Assistant Special Service Officer. Corporal Raymond G. Nemoff is the Special Service non-com.

{SIGNED}
JOSEPH A. D’ANDREA,
Captain, AAF,
Special Service Officer.

ANNUAL REPORT OF MEDICAL ACTIVITIES

The following is an Annual Report of Medical Department activities of the 397th Bombardment Group (M). As this is the first annual report in the ETO, the date of activation of the Group and the summary of the Early History of the Group is included.

ACTIVATION AND EARLY HISTORY

The 397th Bombardment Group (M) was activated on paper at MacDill Field, Tampa, Florida, 20 April 1943. The Group consisted of Headquarters Detachment, 596th, 597th, 598th, and 599th Bombardment Squadrons. Actually the first personnel gathered on 10 May 1943 at MacDill Field and the following day about 300 personnel, mostly officers, including the Group Surgeon and four (4) Squadron Surgeons, were sent for a months course in “Applied Combat Tactics” at the School of Applied Tactics at Orlando, Florida. The five (5) medical officers had a two (2) weeks didactic course at Orlando, mainly concerned in the problems and diseases Flight Surgeons could expect in the field. This was embellished by talks and lectures by Flight Surgeons recently returned from various War Theatres. Following this the Medical Officers and remaining personnel taking the course were sent for two (2) weeks in the field at Montbrook, Florida. During this two week period the Bomb Group started its first actual flying and the five (5) Medical Officers under the supervision of the local Flight Surgeon and Medical Dispensary Surgeon worked out some general medical problems that might be encountered while working with a Bomb Group in the field. This two (2) week period was important as it gave the Medical Officers a chance to become familiar with their respective Squadron flying personnel. Another feature of this two week period that was helpful from a medical standpoint was the fact that all our more seriously ill personnel or other casualties were evacuated by Air Evacuation Planes to the Air Force Hospital at Orlando. This gave us an early chance to see the effectiveness of Air Evacuation of casualties in the field. During the month period new personnel came from the 21st Bomb Group (Parent Group) and other groups at Elgin Field, Florida, with individuals and small groups being added daily from all over the country.
Upon the return of the personnel taking the course at the School of Applied Tactics 15 June 1943, the training of the Group in all phases of activity began in earnest. The Medical Detachment at this time consisted of sixteen (16) enlisted men, four (4) Squadron Surgeons, the Group Dental Surgeon and Group Surgeon. In ten (10) days another group of twenty (20) medical enlisted personnel were added to the detachment from Lawsen General Hospital. The Bomb Group at this time was designated an O.T.U. or Operational Training Unit in the 1st phase of training. Medical Department activities at this time consisted of processing all personnel with overseas physical examinations and weeding out the unfit for overseas duty. At the same time, those with physical defects that needed corrections to make them eligible for overseas duty were being cared for. All personnel were being given the necessary immunizations required for overseas service. Flying personnel were being checked over with the required WD GO Form 64 examination in the case of officers, and the required combat crew physical in the case of the enlisted men. In the meantime, these flying personnel with a fear of flying, anxiety states, or lack of aptitude for flying were being weeded out. The Group and Squadron Surgeons were making every effort to know their flying personnel for future reference. In addition to this, the Medical Detachment personnel were being given lectures, practical demonstrations, training films and strips, in First Aid Procedures including treatment of wounds, control of hemorrhage, treatment of burns, fractures, evacuation of patients, pharmacology, and also Field Sanitation, including water supply, disposal of waste, mess hall sanitation and personal hygiene. Other topics taken up were Hygiene in the Tropics, Artic, Desert and Tropical Medicine, Aviation Medicine, Venereal Disease and its prophylaxis, demonstrations and erection of sanitary devices, First Aid in Flight, Artificial Respiration, Insect Control, Malaria and its control and studies of various common diseases encountered in the Army. These lectures and demonstrations were usually carried out in small groups so the men could get personal instructions. Current AAF, 3rd Air Force, and 3rd Bomber Command directives concerning medical training were used for these courses. References included TM 8-220, TM 21-10, TM 8-010, AR 40-205, FM 6-40, FM 21-10, amongst others and FS 8-3, 8-6, 8-35 and TF 8-155, 1-487,1-313, 8-154, 8-150. Other manuals, film strips and films were shown but complete record of these is not available at present.
Other duties of the medical detachment personnel at this time were manning ambulances covering airplane crashes both on and off the field. At this early stage of training in the B-26, aircraft accidents were not uncommon. The Group and Squadron medical clerks were kept fairly busy with the weekly and monthly reports and were learning the proper procedures for handling aircraft accident reports.

The Bomb Group spent in the neighborhood of six (6) months at MacDill Field completing the first and second phase of O.T.U. training. During this time the flying, ground and medical personnel were becoming proficient in their respective fields. The personnel lived in barracks. The mess, general health and sanitation were good and there were no unusual epidemics or diseases encountered. A good many of the soldiers seen in sick call were suffering from Trichophytosis or “Athletes Foot“ commonly seen in warmer climates, but this never had serious proportions. During this period, twenty six (26) flying personnel were killed in Aircraft Accidents, including Lt. Paul Johnson, Squadron Surgeon for the 599th Bombardment Squadron. He was replaced in two (2) weeks by Lt. Glenn L. Judson.
Medical training courses in Basic and Advanced Sanitation and First Aid were started for all flying personnel and ground personnel to meet all current training directives. These were kept up through all three (3) phases of training and were usually accompanied by practical demonstrations by the medical detachment personnel.
Second phase training was completed August 28th and third phase started on the 12th October 1943. The Groups first change of station came with the movement from MacDill Field to the Avon Park Bombing Range, Avon Park, Florida. While at Avon Park the personnel were medically reprocessed by the Station Hospital Staff. Immunizations, blood types, Spectacle surveys, dental surveys including MD Form 79 for flying personnel, identification tags, first aid training, altitude training, instructions in treatment of gas casualties and overseas physical examinations were all brought up to date.

The stay at Avon Park was brief and 1 November 1943 the Group moved by Air, Rail and Motor convoy to Hunter Field, Georgia. These two moves in relatively short time gave the medical department a chance to work out standard operational procedures for group movements. Previously group SOP’s had been prepared for operations in the field. While the group was at Hunter Field it completed third phase training and had its Pre P.O.M., and P.O.M. inspections and the air echelon was staged for overseas movement. During November and December of this period, the medical department, which was now up to full strength completed the prescribed courses in advanced first aid and sanitation for the flying and ground personnel. An excellent Air Force Film on first aid for combat crew casualties in flight was shown several times. Several malaria and venereal disease films were shown to all personnel with accompanying lectures by medical officers. The first aid and sanitation courses were accompanied by many hours of practical demonstrations in the field by the medical detachment personnel. In the meantime the medical detachment personnel completed, under the guidance of the medical officers, their training programs.

In January 1944 the 596th and 597th Bombardment Squadrons underwent training maneuvers at Atterbury Army Air Field, Columbus, Indiana; from 1 January to 15 January being attached to the First Tactical Air Division for this purpose. From 16 January to 31 January the 598th and 599th Bombardment Squadrons participated in demonstrations and maneuvers at Lawson Field, Georgia, Sheppard Field, Texas, Godman Field, Kentucky and Atterbury Field, Indiana. During this period the 598th Bombardment Squadron lost eight (8) men killed in aircraft accident while on maneuvers.

The medical detachment personnel were split up in January during the maneuver period. The squadron personnel made the trip to Atterbury Army Air Field with their respective squadrons in rotation, while the rest of the personnel remained at Hunter Field. An extensive dental survey was made at this period in an attempt to get all personnel in Class IV prior to departure for overseas.

In February 1944 the Group made its final preparations for overseas movement. The medical detachment completed all the necessary immunizations and the MD Form 61’s were brought up to date. All personnel physically unqualified for overseas were transferred out. Spectacle and dental surveys were completed and identification tags also made complete. During this four (4) month period there were no unusual diseases. The Group venereal disease rates were consistently low. In December there was the usual increased incidence in upper respiratory infection met with at this season of the year. The Group personnel lived in barracks and the messing and sanitary facilities were adequate. The final 3rd Bomber Command inspection was held 9 February 1944 and the final P.O.M. inspection 10 February 1944. During the period from activation up to the time of departure for overseas thirty-four (34) flying personnel were killed in aircraft accidents. All of these personnel were killed outright. In one plane, the tail gunner escaped uninjured and the rest were killed. In another, four (4) men parachuted to safety after the plane collided with a P-51, but the pilot and tail gunner went down with the plane and were killed. In the remaining planes that crashed all died immediately, so no medical aid could be administered.

The final staging for the flying personnel was held at Hunter Field from 20 February 1944 until 24 February 1944. All flying personnel were given a final physical inspection at the Station Hospital and a check-up in the staging line within the forty-eight (48) hour period prior to departure for overseas.

On 24 February 1944, Colonel Richard T. Coiner, Jr., the Group Commanding Officer, with the first contingent of the air echelon, in new B-26 Martin Marauders departed from Hunter Field for overseas. The Group Surgeon departed on the same day with the air echelon, the remainder of the medical detachment personnel including the Squadron Surgeons remained behind to go overseas with the ground echelon. The following day, 25 February 1944, the remainder of the air echelon departed for overseas after a thorough briefing on Malaria, Venereal Disease, Insect Control, Personal Hygiene, and other medical problems which might be encountered on the Southern Route to England. Particular stress was given to problems which might be encountered if forced down at sea, in the jungle or on the desert. On the trip overseas the group left Morrison Field, Florida 25 and 26 February 1944 and proceeded by way of Puerto Rico, South America, Africa and then North to the final destination in Southeastern England arriving at Station 154, Gosfield, on the 7th, 9th, and 11th March 1944. The Group had one (1) plane crash and burn up on take off in South America but no one was hurt. One pilot was seized with a convulsion in mid-air after leaving Atkinson Field in British Guiana. The co-pilot took over and brought the plane back to the field safely. At first this seizure was thought to be on an epileptic basis, but subsequently he was returned to the U.S. and it was decided, anxiety, lack of sleep, tension and inability to digest his food because of the impending overseas move had brought on the convulsion. He has since been returned to flying in the Zone of Interior. No other illnesses of any consequences were encountered on the overseas move. There were no casualties and none of the personnel contracted Malaria or Venereal Disease. They had been well briefed prior to departure by their Squadron Surgeons and they were continuously briefed at every field en-route by the local Flight Surgeons as to the local diseases and methods of preventing them. They all took Atabrine tablets daily en-route and in the Tropics slept under mosquito netting. Aerosol Pyrathrum Bombs were used to spray the planes at departure and landing.

The ground personnel including the medical detachment personnel remained at Hunter Field until 13 March 1944 when they left by rail for Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. The final staging of the ground personnel took place at Camp Kilmer. The final physical inspection was held and three (3) ill personnel were left behind. On the 23 March 1944 the ground personnel of the Bombardment Group boarded the Italian liner SATURNIA in New York Harbor. The trip to England via Scotland was uneventful and the personnel arrived safely at Station 154, Gosfield, East Anglia, 4 April 1944. There were no casualties or illnesses of any consequence on the trip over.

ETO--------------MARCH 1944 to SEPTEMBER 1944
ENGLAND

The air echelon of the 397th Bombardment Group had all arrived at Station 154, Gosfield, England, by March 1944. Immediate flying and ground training to prepare the group for operational missions was instituted. The Group Surgeon at this time was the only member of the medical section overseas, but the medical section of the 304th Service Group and the 206th Medical Dispensary (Avn) had arrived a few days previously and were established in the Station Sick Quarters. The Station Sick Quarters were ample with two twelve bed wards, emergency surgery room, and suitable office space for the medical personnel. These sick quarters were of a similar pattern to those at all RAF Fields and American Fields located in England and were superior to any we had occupied in the U.S. Several lectures on first aid in flight, local health problems including venereal disease and personal hygiene were given at this time by the Group Surgeon. The main medical problem at this time was the frequency of upper respiratory infections amongst the flying personnel. This was mainly due to the usual seasonal incidence. Other medical problems were mainly concerned with improving the general sanitation of the station and establishing the officers and enlisted mens messes on a sound sanitary basis. The personnel were all housed in Niessen Huts and there was no crowding. On 5 April 1944 the ground personnel arrived at AAF Station154, Gosfield, England, after a trip by rail from the disembarkation point in Scotland. The Squadron Surgeons and entire medical detachment set up for operation in the Station Sick Quarters in conjunction with the Service Group medical detachment. On the 15th of April 1944 the entire personnel of the 397th Bombardment Group departed from AAF Station 154 and transferred to AAF Station 168, Rivenhall, Essex, by air, truck and ambulance. By this time the medical detachment which had left its T/BA equipment in the U.S., had received complete Group and Squadron T/BA equipment from the supply platoon and one (1) ambulance had been turned over to each Squadron. Medical supplies were readily obtainable on requisition through the 204th Service Group Surgeon. After preliminary reconnaissance four (4) Squadron aid stations and one (1) service squadron aid station were set up in Picket Posts in the new squadron living sites. The Squadron Surgeons, one medical NCO, one medical clerk, one ambulance driver and one ambulance aid man staffed these Picket Post aid stations. A medical charge of quarters was present at all times and the squadron surgeon lived in the Squadron site. The remaining four (4) medical detachment personnel in each squadron were assigned to duty at the Station Sick Quarters. This meant there were sixteen (16) squadron medical detachment personnel along with five headquarters detachment personnel working in the Station Sick Quarters in conjunction with the Group Surgeon and Dental Surgeon. At the same time the Service Group had twenty-four (24) medical detachment personnel and their Group Surgeon and Dental Officer working in the Station Sick Quarters working in conjunction with the 397th medical personnel. The Bomb Group used one 12 bed ward for their quarters sick cases and the Service Group another. A third ward was shared by both Service Group and Bomb Group officers. Sick, wounded or injured personnel were not kept at the Sick Quarters for more than seven (7) days. The more serious casualties were evacuated by ambulance direct to the 121st Station Hospital, about five (5) miles away. Hospital laundry was cleaned through the Station Quartermaster. It was felt that the above medical set-up functioned very well on the station. The Bomb Group Surgeon acted as Station Surgeon and the Bomb Group and Service Group medical personnel worked well together. The dispersed squadron aid stations in the squadron sites functioned exceptionally well. All personnel on the base were housed in Niessen Huts which were adequate and comfortable. The Bomb Group and Service Group each had a large consolidated enlisted mens mess and one large consolidated mess for officers which also housed a large comfortable officer’s club. Standard British plumbing and latrines were used with adequate showers as well. These were all indoors and presented no serious sanitary problems. The water supply was from a reservoir in a neighboring town and it was chlorinated at the source. Sewage disposal was by means of the Standard British Air Field Sewage Disposal Plant. British Standard grease traps of the “Baffle type” were used outside the mess hall. It was felt by this office that these never were entirely satisfactory for grease disposal. Garbage disposal was by contract with local farmers. Insect control was practically limited to fly control. Most British constructed bases had no screening in the messes, so flies were a problem to a certain extent. Fly paper, pyrethrum sprays and bombs were used and where possible screening was used to protect food. Fly born diseases presented no real problem. An extensive Venereal Disease control program was instituted under the Group Venereal Disease Control Officer. The use of individual mechanical and chemical prophylaxis was encouraged. Prophylactic stations were set up at the Station Sick Quarters and Squadron Aid Stations. These were supplemented with lectures, films and posters at frequent intervals. In the first two months in the ETO the station Venereal Disease rate was zero (0) and in the following two (2) months it was in the neighborhood of 30 per 1000 per annum.
During this period the base and Station Sick quarters were manned almost exclusively by U.S. military personnel. A small number of British civilians were used on the base under supervision of the Clerk of the Works to care for utilities, furnaces, plumbing, electricity and the sewage disposal plant; as well as laborers for care of the runways, etc.
The Station Dental care was very adequately handled under the supervision of the Bomb Group Dental Surgeon and the Service Group Dental Surgeon. The latter alternated between two fields caring for the Service Group personnel on each base. The regular T/BA Dental equipment was used.

The Bomb Group T/BA equipment, medical, was supplemented on the Station by British AtoZ Station Sick Quarters equipment which included beds, mattresses, blankets and accessory medical supplies and kitchen utensils and dishes. Hot food was carried from the consolidated mess hall in thermos containers and kept hot in the Station Sick Quarters kitchen prior to dispensing it to the patients. No accessory nurses were used other than medical detachment personnel or have been used by this Group. A Veterinary officer has always been available for consultation on call from the 9th Bombardment Division (M).

On the 20th April 1944 the Bomb Group flew its first operational mission over enemy occupied France and subsequently during the rest of the month completed nine (9) operational missions. There were no casualties and no planes lost.

In May the Group flew twenty-nine (29) combat missions and the first casualties and fatalities were incurred. Two were killed by Flak and several wounded or injured in crash landings. A summary of Battle Casualties will be included further on in this report. The medical detachment now had five (5) ambulances in the Bomb Group and there were two in the Service Group. One ambulance was stationed with each squadron aid station and two kept at the Station Sick Quarters. The Squadrons would alternate covering the line with one (1) ambulance whenever flying was in progress. For missions one squadron ambulance with a squadron surgeon would be at flying control and one at the end of the runway for takeoff. These would remain throughout the mission. One half (½) an hour prior to expected time of return of the mission the other two squadron ambulances complete with drivers, aid men and squadron surgeons would report to the line, ready to remove any wounded or proceed to a crash landing. In the latter respect, medical personnel have been cautioned to keep their ambulances at a safe distance from crashed planes that catch on fire with live bombs. The Group Surgeon would usually station himself at the control tower with a jeep readily available. One surgeon remained at the Station Sick Quarters with two (2) ambulances available in case any casualties were brought in. Wounded were usually evacuated to the 121st Station Hospital after emergency treatment and plasma were given, if necessary. This S.O.P. for missions and casualties seemed to work very well.

In June and July the Group was very busy flying missions both before and after D-Day. In this period there were more casualties and some planes missing. In over two thousand (2000) sorties, this Group lost only one aircraft over enemy territory setting the safety record for Medium Bombardment. The occupants of the lost plane were seen to parachute to safety after the plane was hit by Flak. By the end of July the Group had completed eighty-one (81) combat missions.

On 5 August 1944 the Group proceeded by rail, air and motor to Station 492, Hurn, England. Medical personnel were included in the Reconnaissance and Advanced echelon as well as the rear echelon. The physical set-up at Hurn was somewhat similar to that at Rivenhall, however, the Service Group had a separate Sick Quarters and their medical detachment worked independently of that of the Bomb Group. The Bomb Group was further augmented at this point by the 198th Medical Dispensary (Avn) with thirteen (13) enlisted men, a Flight Surgeon, Dental Surgeon, and Medical Administrative Officer in preparation for the cross channel movement. The four (4) squadrons continued to run their independent squadron aid stations and the Medical Dispensary (Avn) and Bomb Group personnel combined to run the Station Sick Quarters. Food, messing, bathing facilities, sewage disposal and waste disposal, water supply, laundry, etc were similar to Station 168. The Group continued to fly combat missions, completing 108 prior to departure for France. A P.O.M. inspection was held, immunizations were brought up to date, and final physical inspections held prior to the Group leaving for France, the end of August.

During our stay in England the Bomb Group had adequate officer’s clubs and enlisted men’s day rooms. The Red Cross and Special Service did excellent work providing entertainment, moving pictures, volleyball and other games for all personnel. The morale of the unit was good. The flying personnel had at least two (2) days leave a month and in most cases at least seven (7) days leave on rest at the 9th Air Force Rest Home during their stay in England. This served a definite beneficial purpose in relieving the tension of combat flying.

There were no serious epidemics or illnesses encountered during this period other than the usual incidence of infection in a temperate zone. During June following an evening meal at the consolidated mess, about three hundred (300) men came down with severe toxic food poisoning. The symptoms included diarrhea, vomiting, muscle cramps and in a few cases moderate shock and delirium. Thirty-two (32) cases were evacuated to the Station Hospital and fifty-six (56) treated at the Station Sick Quarters, the remainder were treated at the Squadron Aid Stations. The following morning most of the men returned to duty and within two (2) days all were back to duty. The epidemic was attributed to bread pudding which was prepared too far in advance and cultures showed Staphylococcus Albus. Steps were taken to prevent future outbreaks of this sort.

Aside from battle casualties there were occasional bicycle and jeep accidents, but these were of a minor nature and no fatalities resulted.

ETO--------------SEPTEMBER 1944 to JANUARY 1945
FRANCE

The Reconnaissance party, including a medical officer and two (2) medical detachment enlisted men, left for France on the 17th of August 1944 and the 198th Medical Dispensary (Avn) with its entire personnel left 21st of August 1944, to proceed by boat, truck and ambulance to Strip A-26 on the Normandy Peninsula. The main body of the Group including the ground and air echelon left 30th of August and 1st of September 1944 for France by boat and air. The Group and one Squadron Surgeon went by air and the remainder of the medical detachment personnel proceeded by boat. The Squadron now had a total of seven (7) ambulances and the Aviation Dispensary one (1). These along with all T/BA equipment and the necessary tentage were taken to France.

At Strip A-26 near Gorges, France, the entire Bomb Group and Services Group were housed in tents and all personnel were eating out of mess kits in Squadron messes. Rations for a few days were MCM, Ten in One (10 in 1), and later field ration “b” was obtained by the Quartermaster from a depot nearby. The airstrip had steel runways and was exceedingly muddy and was a considerable distance from the front so that only a few missions were flown and the Group only remained here two (2) weeks. During this time, the Medical Dispensary (Avn) had four (4) ward tents set up. One was used for sick call, two (2) for wards, and one (1) for medical personnel. The Bomb Group headquarters medical detachment had one (1) ward tent set up for sick call, offices and supplies. The Aviation Dispensary had a mess tent, cook tent, two (2) supply tents and two (2) command tents set up in conjunction with a Dental tent, and a Command Tent used by headquarters medical personnel. The Aviation Dispensary Surgeon and Dental Surgeon, the Bomb Group Surgeon and Group Dental Surgeon lived in close proximity to these tents so medical aid was always nearby. The Service Group had a similar set-up on a smaller scale on the other side of the Airstrip. The Squadrons had their aid station set up in Pyramidal Tents in their respective sites. The Group standard S.O.P. for ambulances covering the line and the Sick Quarters was the same as in England. There were no casualties amongst flying personnel during this period. There were several casualties due to personnel investigating live German ammunition picked up as souvenirs. There were no serious epidemics and the Aviation Dispensary was able to handle about ten (10) to fifteen (15) bed patients, routinely, very capably. These patients were also fed by the Aviation Dispensary personnel from their own mess. More seriously ill patients were evacuated over rough roads to the 5th or 50th General Hospital located about ten (10) miles away. A goodly number of French people without any of their own medical aid available were treated by our dispensary or Squadron Surgeons.

At this station, pit latrines were used with standard covers. Soaking pit grease was used by the messes, and garbage was taken away by local farmers. Drinking water was obtained from an Engineering Water Point about five (5) miles away and hauled to our station in water trailers. It was chlorinated at the source. There was no serious insect problem. Hornets were prevalent and a source of annoyance to all.

On the 15th of September 1944, the air echelon left Strip A-26, and moved to Strip A-41 near Dreux, France. The ground echelon left the following day. The Medical Dispensary (Avn) personnel had left with the advance party in order to be set up to receive patients at the new post. Strip A-41 had been occupied by the Germans prior to the rapid advance of the Allies and it was damaged to some extent, but the runways were paved and the Group was able to become operational immediately. The personnel of the Group were again housed almost entirely in tents. Squadron messes and mess kits were used and garbage was again disposed of by contract with local farmers. Water was obtained from the Service Group Chlorination and Filtration Unit set up in a fast moving clear stream nearby. The Medical Dispensary (Avn) was set up in a former German barracks building. There were numerous emergency calls for ambulances and medical personnel, because of road accidents on a nearby Red Ball Highway. A Railway Battalion operating near Dreux without medical personnel kept our Dispensary active. The Bomb Group personnel were being cared for as usual. Squadron Aid Stations were set up in tents as previously. Upper respiratory infections and Gastro Enteritis cases, as usual, formed the majority of cases in sick call and bed patients in the Dispensary. Several casualties and seriously ill patients were evacuated by ambulance to the 39th Field Hospital at Chartres. There were on two (2) slightly wounded flying personnel casualties incurred while at this Strip.

A local house of prostitution in Dreux created a Venereal Disease problem and eight (8) cases of Gonorrhea were contracted before the house was effectively kept OFF LIMITS to all army personnel.

In October the Group had another change of station. On 4th of October the reconnaissance party moved from Strip A-41 Dreux, to Strip A-72, Mons-en-Chaussee, France. On 5th October and 6th of October the advanced echelon moved on to the new base. The move was made by air, truck and ambulance. This was the last move for the Group in 1944. The new Station was spread out over a considerable area. It also was a former German Base and various buildings and installations had either been previously bombed by Allied aircraft or partially or completely demolished by the retreating Germans. One problem on all these moves was the difficulty in securing adequate trucking for the extensive field equipment of the Medical Dispensary (Avn), and, to a less extent, that of the headquarters medical detachment. Four (4) two and one-half (2½) ton trucks were needed by the Dispensary and one by the Headquarters medical detachment.

The Medical Dispensary (Avn) set up a sick call and Sick Quarters in a former German building which was large enough to have two (2) twelve (12) bed wards, one for officers and one for enlisted men, in conjunction with a large room for emergency surgery, consultation, fluoroscopy and sick call. Running water with flush bowl latrines and hot water radiator heating was available in the same building. The headquarters medical detachment of the Bomb Group set up in this building in conjunction with the Aviation Dispensary. It was fairly centrally located and it functioned as a smooth running small hospital. Four (4) Bomb Group Squadrons and one (1) Service Squadron set up aid stations in their respective sites, which were widely dispersed about the field. The Squadron ground personnel lived in tents situated fairly close to their plane dispersal areas. The Combat Crew personnel of all four (4) Squadrons lived in one area in barracks buildings put up by the Germans. In this area they had a centrally located Combat Crew mess where a mixture of army and civilian mess personnel were used. The Squadron ground personnel had messes in tents in their respective sites. Mess kits were used, pit grease traps, and improvised mess rear cleaning facilities, with gasoline lines under the G.I. cans to heat the water. The headquarters detachment, Service Group, Station Complement, and attached units, were quartered in barracks or billeted in houses in small towns around the field. Latrines were of the pit type with standard Quartermaster boxes, unless the units were fortunate enough to have plumbing and flush bowl type latrines. In the Combat Crew area French squat type latrines were used. Showers were provided in four (4) different areas. Three (3) of these were improvised indoor affairs which functioned fairly well. One was the shower unit supplied to the Medical Dispensary as part of its Group Aid Station equipment.
In view of the approaching cold weather, an attempt was made to house as many personnel as possible. Tents were winterized and supplied with “Pot Bellied” stoves. Wood and coal were rationed out to all personnel for heating purposes. Drinking water was obtained from a deep well located in a neighboring town and chlorinated by the Service Group Water Purification unit.

The medical personnel of the dispensary lived in close proximity to the Sick Quarters and cook, supply, and mess tents were set up. Patients food was brought in hot and served on the wards.

The Group became operational the day after arrival and in spite of bad weather conditions in October, November and December, the Group was able to complete its 150th mission on the 27 December 1944. Casualties amongst flying personnel were light during October and November, but with the beginning of the air attacks against the German counter-offensive 23 to 27 December 1944, casualties were high and ten (10) planes with their entire personnel were missing in action on 23 December alone. Airplane crashes on take off and landings were more frequent, mainly due to bad weather conditions, and to battle damage. A few were due to the fact that many new inexperienced flying personnel were coming into the Group to replace more experienced crews that had completed their operational tour of sixty-five (65) combat missions. In view of the fact that the field was located not too far from the front it was occasionally used by planes of other Groups to drop off Flak casualties.

The Squadron’s ambulances and Surgeons were kept busy covering the line on mission days. Wounded or injured were taken from the planes as rapidly as possible, after being given first aid. They were evacuated to the Medical Dispensary (Avn) where they were given plasma if necessary, and prepared for evacuation to the 39th Field Hospital in St. Quentin, fifteen (15) miles away. The less serious cases, who required less than a weeks hospitalization, were kept at the Medical Dispensary.

The following is a review of CASUALTIES sustained since the Group became operational 20 April 1944 up to the present, 25 January, 1945.
1. Number of Missions: 158
2. Sorties: 5442
3. Total number of Personnel dispatched on missions: 32,486
4. Total Casualties: 275
5. Killed in Action: 27
a. 13 from plane crashes.
b. 6 from wounds.
c. 7 from drowning after crash landings.
d. 1 from parachute jump.
6. Missing in Action: 160
a. Subsequently returned after escaping from enemy hands: 17.
b. Known to be Prisoners of War: 35.
c. Many more of the missing in action are believed to have parachuted from their planes and are now Prisoners of War.
7. Wounded in Action: 40
8. Injured in Action: 48 in Plane crashes.
9. Returned to Duty following Wounds or Injuries: 34
10. Position of Wounded or Injured in Plane
PILOTS CO-PILOTS BOMB & NAV RADIO G ENGR G ARMOR G
Wounded 1 8 11 7 8 5
Injured 8 7 7 10 9 7
11. Location and severity of wounds (47 wounds in 40 personnel)
SLIGHT MOD SEVERE SEVERE FATAL TOTAL
Head & Neck 2 3 1 4 10
Arms 2 7 0 0 9
Body 1 7 0 2 10
Legs 7 10 1 0 18

12. Location and severity of injuries (47 injuries sustained in crashes)
SLIGHT MOD SEVERE SEVERE FATAL TOTAL
Head & Neck 0 10 3 0 13
Arms 3 7 0 0 10
Body 2 3 1 2 8
Legs 6 10 0 0 16

Considering the total number of missions flown, 158, and the total casualties in the Group, 275, the casualty average is a little less than two (2) per mission. Actually the casualties usually occur in large numbers on special missions over targets where the Flak is heavy and accurate, or when fighter opposition is encountered. The Group had very many missions where no casualties occurred at all. It is felt that the B-26 is a very sturdy plane in combat and many were brought home safely with extensive Flak damage and without casualties.

The Body Armor or Flak suits worn by the personnel undoubtedly were instrumental in saving several lives. The Flak helmets used may have saved one or two of our personnel from serious injury, although two were killed when their helmets were pierced by large fragments of Flak.

Of the twenty-seven (27) killed in action all died almost immediately from their wounds or injuries. One that was hit by Flak in the shoulder died within two (2) hours, while on the way to the hospital after emergency treatment. Of the remaining eighty-seven (87) wounded or injured in action who were given medical attention, none died and thirty-four (34) have since returned to duty.

There have been 182 combat crew personnel who have completed their tour of duty of 65 missions and returned to the Zone of Interior presently. Five of these were suffering from border line Combat Flying Reaction.

Twenty-five (25) flying personnel have been sent to the Ninth Air Force Central Medical Establishment since the Group has been in the ETO, for review of medical problems on the recommendation of their Squadron Surgeons and Commanding Officers. Of these, fifteen (15) were suffering from Combat Flying Reaction, one (1) had a fear of flying, five (5) had medical disease and four (4) were recovering from injuries sustained in crashes. Twenty (20) of the twenty-five (25) cases were sent to the Zone of Interior. Of the five (5) remaining cases, three (3) were permanently disqualified for flying and remained in the ETO and two (2) returned to duty. Of the twenty (20) cases sent back to the Zone of Interior, twelve (12) were temporarily suspended from flying and eight (8) were kept on full flying status.

Eleven (11) members of the Group have recently been returned to the Zone of Interior on operational leaves. During the Groups period in France the combat personnel had an opportunity during September and October to get five (5) days operational leave in England and in November and early December two (2) days leave in Paris. This helped relieve the strain and tension of combat flying. The Red Cross and Special Service helped provide movies, volleyball, basketball games, and other entertainment to keep up the physical well being and morale of the personnel.

During October, November and December, the bulk of cases treated in the Sick Quarters were upper respiratory infections with Gastro Enteritis cases following next in line. There were the usual numerous minor injuries. One case of Jaundice subsequently turned out to be Vails disease and was evacuated to England. There were no epidemics. Scabies was fairly common and treated with Benayl Benzoate.

A rigid Venereal Disease program was instituted with emphasis on the use of mechanical and chemical prophylaxis and in spite of frequent exposures, the Group rate remained consistently low in France.

The Group finished the year in a series of missions in the last week of December. Casualties were fairly high due to the fury of the attempts to stem the German counter offensive, but the morale on the whole remained consistently good and the general health of the command was excellent. The entire medical personnel of the Bomb Group and Medical Dispensary (Avn) had a good year and gained much experience in handling combat casualties and working under field conditions.

{SIGNED}
ROBERT L. MCCOLLOM
Major, AC
Surgeon
397th Bomb Group

APRIL INSTALLMENT
Historical Report of Headquarters Detachment, 397th Bombardment Group (M)
(From 1 April 1944 to 30 April 1944)

* * *
For the members of the ground echelon, the month began somewhere at sea on board the SS Saturnia carrying troops from New York to Scotland. The air echelon which had arrived in the United Kingdom prior to the ground movement was busy in indoctrination and preparation for combat duty. Instructors from various groups in this command were present at station 154 to familiarize the newly arrived unit in combat procedure, tactics, navigation, communications and gunnery. While modifications were being made on the aircraft by the engineering and communications section, local “doughnut” missions were run daily.

The Saturnia anchored at Gourick, Scotland in the afternoon of Monday, 3 April 1944, but disembarkation didn’t begin until the next morning. Three o’clock Wednesday morning, 5 April 1944, the main contingent of the Headquarters detachment arrived at Halstead, Essex. This contingent arrived in the first section of the rail movement that brought the Group from Scotland. Members of the advance air echelon assisted in unloading the cars and directing the movement by truck to AAF Station 154, Gosfield, Essex. Various sites on the field were assigned to the respective squadrons, and the Headquarters Detachment billeted with the 597th Bombardment Squadron. By authority ASFCKH 370.5, dated 20 March 1944, the boat movement of Headquarters detachment had transferred from the continental limits of the United States 22 March 44 and arrived AAF Station 154, 5 April 44 at 0315. Strength of the ship movement for Headquarters was 16 officers and 57 Enlisted Men.

The officers of the air echelon acting in the capacity of Headquarters and Squadron staffs were relieved by the regular assigned officers of the ground echelon, and the change was affected with the minimum amount of difficulty. OEL equipment and supplies began to flow in from various sub-depots in the United Kingdom, modifications on the aircraft were almost complete, and the combat crews were ready for their initiation in aerial combat.

15 April 1944 at 0930 the entire personnel of the 397th Bombardment Group departed from AAF Station 154 and transferred to AAF Station 168 Rivenhall, Essex. Twenty-seven officers and 65 Enlisted Men of Headquarters Detachment left AAF Station 154 at 0930, 15 April 1944 and arrived at AAF Station 168, 15 April 1944 at 1025.

19 April 1944, the Group participated in a diversionary mission as the 98th Combat Wing carried out an attack on a target in Belgium. Colonel Coiner led the first box with Major Snyder as Bombardier and Captain Udick as Navigator.

Eighteen B-26 Marauders emptied a load of bombs on a German Noball installation near LePlouy Ferme, France, on the 20th day of April, 1944. The attack on LePlouy Ferme was a double celebration for the men of the 397th Bomb Group. It was their coming out party marking their debut into combat and it was a birthday party, celebrating the completion of one year since the activation of the Group at MacDill Field, Florida. LePlouy Ferme summed up the work of over 1300 men for a year. It was graduation exercises for a year of schooling and training in the technique of survival and attack in the world of aerial warfare and it was the Group’s matriculation day in the college of actual warfare from which all military units learn their most valuable lessons. Colonel Coiner led he box of eighteen with Major Snyder as bombardier and Captain Udick as Navigator.

21 April 1944, 37 B-26’s dropped bombs on the gun positions at BERCK SUR MER. The first box was led by Colonel Coiner and the second box was led by Major Dempster. Major Dempster is the Group Operations Officer. Lead bombardier was Major Snyder and Captain Udick was the lead Navigator. The results of this mission were good and the gun positions were suspended category “A”.

22 April 1944, 38 aircraft attacked a Noball target at VACQUERIETTE. Colonel Coiner led the first box with Major Snyder and Captain Udick as his Bombardier and Navigator. The results of this mission were poor.

23 April 1944, 37 aircraft attacked the Noball at RUISSEAUVILLE. The team of Coiner, Snyder and Udick led the first box and Lt Colonel Winingham led the second box.

25 April 1944, 41 B-26’s were dispatched against the Noball Target installation at BONNIERES. No bombs were dropped as the target was obscured by clouds. Colonel Coiner and team led the first box and Major Dempster the second.

26 April 1944, 37 aircraft attacked the marshalling yard at GHISLAIN. Four Marauders bombed the target. Major Dempster led the first box.

27 April 1944, 37 aircraft bombed the defense works and coastal defense emplacements at OUISTREHAM-CAEN with very good results. Lt. Timberlake flew as observer.

28 April 1944, 37 B-26’s were dispatched against the marshalling yards at MANTES-GASSICOURT, but failed to bomb due to ten tenths cloud cover over the target.

29 April 1944, the target for the mission was a repeat performance against the marshalling yards at MANTES-GASSICOURT. This mission was recalled because of weather after it had penetrated approximately thirty-five miles into France. Lt. Col. Winingham led the first box and Colonel Coiner led the second.

30 April 1944, the missions for the month were ended with the attack on the noball installation at LOTTINGHEM. Lt. Col. Winingham led the second box. Results were good.

Changes in the strength of Headquarters Detachment included: 10 April, 1944, 1st Lt. Joe W. Coleman relieved from assignment Headquarters and transferred to the 597th Bombardment Squadron. (par 1, SO 74, Hq 397th, 6 Apr 44); 11 April 1944, 2nd Lt Benjamin J. Dontzin, 2nd Lt Robert J. Aker assigned Headquarters (SO 76, Hq 397th, 11 April 1944); 11 April 1944, S/Sgt Robert F. Coxey transferred to Headquarters from Headquarters Ninth Air Force (par 2, SO 78, Hq 397th, 11 April 1944); 18 April 1944, Captain Northrop asgd per par 4, SO 83, Hq Ninth Bomber Command and asgd to Hq Detachment (par 3, SO 83, Hq 397th, 18 April 44); 24 April 1944, Captain Northrop trnfd to 314th Sta Compl Sq as of 19 April 44 (par 4, SO 110, Hq IX BC, 19 April 44); 27 April 1944, Sgt Henry P. Kastner and Cpl Francis B. Barton asgd to 397th Bomb Gp (par 1, SO 115, Hq IX BC, 24 April 44); 29 April 1944, High incidence on sick call due to food poisoning from Enlisted Men’s Consolidated Mess, Source undetermined; 30 April 44, Cpl Bower trfd this Group in compliance with par 8, SO 118, Hq IX BC, 27 Apr 44. The strength of Headquarters Detachment on 30 April 1944 was 29 Officers and 63 Enlisted Men.

During April S/Sgts Ellis and Turner were promoted to the grade of Tech Sergeant.

The Headquarters Detachment suffered no losses in action for the month of April, nor were any awards received by members of this detachment.


Compiled 20 June 1944
By
1st Lt TEDSAN S. TIMBERLAKE
Sgt Charles W. Johnson, Jr.

MAY INSTALLMENT
Historical Report of Headquarters Detachment of 397th Bombardment Group (M)
(From 1 May 1944 to 31 May 1944)

* * *
Considering the missions flown and the objectives destroyed, the month of May was obviously a month of preparation for the long awaited D-Day. This month, the 397th Bombardment Group attacked targets ranging as deep as Paris, Chartres, and Liege, with the emphasis placed on the destruction of the enemy’s communications and supply lines, coastal defenses, airdromes and Noball installations. During the month, one thousand five hundred and twelve tons of bombs were dropped on the enemy’s Fortress Europe by this group alone. Among the medium bomber units of the Ninth Bomber Command, the 397th Bombardment Group placed second in the bomb results for the month of May. Considering the 397th to be the newest Marauder group in the United Kingdom, these facts show the amount of training carried over by our combat personnel.

Sir Stafford Leigh-Mallory, Air Vice Marshall and Commander in Chief of the Allied Expeditionary Air Force, accompanied by Brigadier General Samuel E. Anderson, Commanding General, IX Bomber Command, visited this station in the middle of May.

During May, this Group set an all time IX Bomber Command record in dropping bombs within a two thousand foot circular area. Likewise, this Group placed second within a circular error of 4,000 feet. In over two thousand sorties, this Group lost only one aircraft over enemy territory setting a new safety record for medium bombardment. The occupants of the lost plane were seen to parachute to safety after the plane was hit by heavy flak on the run to target.

The Group missions for this month included:

1 May 44. 38 a/c attacked the MANTES-GASSICOURT marshalling yard with good results.
2 May 44. 36 Marauders dropped on BUSIGNY marshalling yards with excellent results. Major Dempster led the first box and the team of Coiner, Snyder, and Udick paced the second.
4 May 44. 33 a/c attacked gun emplacements at ETAPLES with poor results.
8 May 44. 24 B-26’s attacked railway bridges at OISSEL. Results were fair.
9 May 44. The first box led by Colonel Coiner and the second by Lt. Col. Winingham attacked the Noball installation at LE GRISMONT. Results were poor, as 18 a/c dropped on target out of the 40 dispatched.
10 May 44. 37 a/c bombed with excellent results the marshalling yard at CREIL.
11 May 44. Major Dempster led the first box on the airfield at BEAUMONT-LE ROGER. 34 a/c bombed the target with good results.
12 May 44. 36 B-26’s attacked the gun emplacements at ETAPLES with poor results. Major Dempster flew window.
13 May 44. The coastal defenses at GRAVELINES were attacked by 21 aircraft. Four aircraft bombed on a casual target. Mission scored fair results.
15 May 44. 36 a/c dispatched on the airfield at DENAIN-PROUVY. All aircraft returned without bombing due to weather.
19 May 44. The gun emplacements at ETAPLES-ST CECILY were attacked by 37 aircraft with fair results.
20 May 44. 32 Marauders bombed the gun positions at ST. MARIE AUBOSC. Results were poor.
20 May 44. 12 out of 37 a/c dispatched dropped on the gun positions at VARENGEVILLE SUR MER with excellent results.
22 May 44. Major Dempster led the second box and 34 a/c dropped on the Coastal defenses at ST. MARIE AUBOSC for fair to good results. (See Ex 1)
24 May 44. Dempster again led second box. 34 aircraft dropped on the Coastal defenses at ST. MARIE AUBOSC for fair to good results.
24 May 44. 37 Aircraft dropped on the port area at DIEPPE with good results. Lt. Timberlake flew as observer.
25 May 44. With Colonel Coiner leading first box and Major Dempster included in this formation, 36 B-26’s attacked the railroad bridge at LEIGE with good results.
26 May 44. Of 27 a/c dispatched on the airdrome at CHARTRES, all dropped with poor results. Lt. Timberlake flew as observer.
27 May 44. 37 Marauders attacked the LE MANOIR railway bridge with excellent results.
27 May 44. Of 36 aircraft bombing the ORIVAL railway bridge, the results were good.
28 May 44. 29 a/c dispatched against the railway bridge at LIEGE-RENORY for excellent results. Major Dempster was in the second box.
28 May 44. 13 a/c dropped on the railway bridge at MAISSONS-LAFITE for good to excellent results.
29 May 44. 31 Marauders bombed a railway bridge at CONFLAINS. Results were fair to good.
29 May 44. 31 B-26’s bombed the noball target at BEAUVOIR for fair results.
30 May 44. Major Dempster led box I and of the 24 a/c dispatched on MEULAN highway bridge, results were excellent. Lt. Timberlake flew as observer.
31 May 44. 35 aircraft dropped on the ROUEN highway bridge for excellent results.

As of the 31st of May the Headquarters detachment had a strength of 30 officers and 64 enlisted men. During the period 1 May-31 May 1944, this Group had no change of station. There were no losses in action among the personnel of Headquarters Detachment.

On 6 May 1944, T/Sgt Estrella was transferred to the 597th Bombardment Squadron. 21 May Captain Ward was transferred from Headquarters, Ninth Bomber Command to Headquarters, 397th Bombardment Group where he became Group Transportation Officer.

Awards to members of Headquarters Detachment included (sec 5, par 1, GO 41, Hq, 9th AF, 18 May 1944.) Air Medals to the following:

Col. RICHARD T. COINER, JR.
Maj. WALTER D. SNYDER, JR.
Capt. EARL W. UDICK
S/Sgt Robert F. Coxey
Sgt Earle C. Fox.

The first Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster was awarded (sec 5, GO 41, Hq, 9AF, 18 May 1944) to Major Kenneth C. Dempster.

Per par 1, section 9, GO 146, Hq 9th AF, 23 May 44, Air Medals were awarded to the following:

Capt. GEORGE D. HUGHES
1st Lt BENJAMIN D. DONTZIN

Compiled 20 June 1944
By
1st LT TEDSAN S. TIMBERLAKE
Sgt Charles W. Johnson, Jr.

EXHIBIT ONE
MAY 23, 1944
FROM: COMBOMCOM NINE 23/1120B
TO : CO, 397TH BOMB GROUP
CO, 1ST PATHFINDER SQUADRON
INF CPY TO CO, 98TH COMBAT WING
CONFIDENTIAL BT

IX BC M897A THE HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL ATTACK OF 22 MAY AGAINST ST MARIE AUBOSC C/D REFLECTS GREAT CREDIT ON BOTH THE PATHFINDER SQUADRON AND THE 397TH BOMB GROUP. IT IS AN OUTSTANDING EXAMPLE OF TECHNICAL PROFICIENCY AND TEAM WORK. I CONGRATULATE YOU BOTH.

ANDERSON

JUNE INSTALLMENT
Unit History of: Headquarters Detachment,
397th Bombardment Group (M) AAF

For Period of: 1 June - 30 June 1944

* * *

D-Day

For a month and a half previous, the 397th had fitted its task into the plan of the Ninth Air Force, upturning rail centers, battering bridges, striking with all the intensity of the Marauders at the vital communication lines and coastal defenses of Hitler’s West Wall. Through the latter part of April and all through May, the B-26’s of the Group had been preparing for a day, the day that had been coming ever since the Allies began mounting strength and determination for revenge of Dunkirk and the last bitter stand on the beaches of Western Europe. And as June came to 1944, the expectancy of the past few months was keener than before, and the men of Station 168 were tense for the day that could not be far in the offing.

Finally, the day came on the first Tuesday in June. The five days preceding had seen the Marauders over gun emplacements at Octeville Sur Mer and Camiers, and on the day before the planes had departed for a GAF operational headquarters in France but were recalled because of weather. On the ground, guards were posted over secret materials stored in the Operations Block while conferences were held behind locked doors. From the huts to the line, all over the base there was the calm presaging a big event. The signal for action was given on the sixth.

In the cool damp darkness of the early morning, the moment arrived. And even as the invasion armada was moving closer to the shores of Normandy, air crews of the 397th were turning out of their bunks and moving to the briefing rooms, there to learn the details of the D-Day missions. There were to be three boxes of 18 planes each. Each was to attack a separate defended locality in the Normandy area. It was an important mission and the airmen were well aware of that. In the briefing room, the crews listened to their commanding officer, Colonel Richard T. Coiner, Jr, and heard from Brigadier General Samuel E. Anderson, commanding general of the IX Bomber Command. And they bowed their heads as the Group Chaplain, Captain Clarence R. Comfort, Jr, still clad in pajama tops after a sudden call from bed, led them in prayer (See Exhibit I for text of prayer.)

The day was yet in its infancy as they went out to their planes, the B-26’s standing in readiness, striped black and white with their invasion markings and bellies loaded with bombs. And the preparedness of the planes and their bomb loads spoke for the men who had worked for hours before hand pre-flighting the Marauders and wrestling with the 250 pounders that filled the bomb bays.
At 0407 the second box led by Lt Colonel Berkenkamp was off the runway. Seven minutes later, Lt Colonel McLeod’s first box was off, followed by the third box with Major Allen leading at 0421. They were on their way despite the drizzle of rain and prevailing bad weather conditions at the base, and for the men who remained behind began the traditional air force routine of sweating them out.

By the time the news of the Invasion had broken behind the lines, the Marauders were ranging over France. By 0620 they were dropping their bombs on Les Dunes Verreville, Madeleine, and Beau Guillot, while the air crews were catching glimpses of the spectacle of the Allied landings on the beachhead. Fifty-one planes bombed from altitudes varying from 4,000 to 7,000 feet with poor to good results and by 0836 the last plane had landed at the home base.

Routine life was broken that day for the men of Headquarters detachment. All enlisted men who could be spared from their normal duties went to work either loading bombs or helping in the consolidated mess.

Three war correspondents were assigned to the 397th for the D-Day missions. William W. Wade of International News Service and Roelif A. Loveland of the Cleveland Plain Dealer flew with the Marauders while Frederick D. Graham, representing the New York Times, missed the flight when the plane to which he was assigned aborted.

Later in the day, the second mission was flown. At 1705, two boxes were dispatched for Trouville coastal defenses and 36 planes dropped on the primary target for fair to excellent results.

Other Missions

The next day the Marauders were over enemy territory twice. In the morning, 37 planes were dispatched against Le Mans Railroad Bridge, but weather prevented 29 planes from making the attack. One Marauder was attacked by a FW 190 in the vicinity of Mamer and the enemy aircraft made four passes at the 397th plane. In the evening, 38 planes of the Group led by Lt Colonel Dempster attacked marshalling yards at Flers with excellent results. One flight bombed a target of opportunity at Conde Sur Noireau.

On the eighth, 397th planes were dispatched against Rennes Railroad Bridge, but were forced to hit targets of opportunity with fair to excellent results. On the 10th, a coastal defense battery at Quineville was the target of 32 Marauders bombing with fair to excellent results. The excellent results of the five flights bombing a highway bridge at St. Lo on the twelfth brought the group a commendation from General Anderson. Bombing by 6’s from 3000 to 4300 feet, 35 of 37 aircraft dispatched bombed the bridge. (See Exhibit II for text of commendation.)

With the exception of three Noball installations, the targets for the Group the rest of the month were communications lines, fuel dumps, and strong points in the enemy’s lines. (For a complete list of missions flown this month and names of Headquarters men who participated, see Exhibit III.)

Visit by Assistant Secretary of War

The 397th was host to the assistant Secretary of War for air on 13 June 1944. Taking time out from a busy schedule that brought him from the Pentagon Building in Washington to London for invasion conferences, Mr. Robert A. Lovett, inspected the base and the group at the request of the Group Commander. It was a reunion for Mr. Lovett and Colonel Coiner, since the Colonel was associated with the Assistant Secretary for 16 months from 1941 to 1943, first as assistant executive, then as executive.

Under motorcycle escort, the Assistant Secretary arrived in his official car and went directly to station headquarters. He was warmly welcomed by Colonel Coiner, who presented the Group’s Squadron Commanders and various other Group officers. Accompanied by Colonel Stovall and Captain Sheffield from USTAAF, Mr. Lovett inspected the Operations and Intelligence buildings; then the Bombsight Vault, and finally the briefing and interrogation rooms on the base. During the course of the visit, Brigadier General Samuel E. Anderson arrived to pay his respects to Mr. Lovett.

A brochure of pictures and notes covering Mr. Lovett’s visit on the base was by the Group’s Public Relations Office for the Assistant Secretary’s files.

Strength

Changes in the strength of Headquarters Detachment for the month brought the strength of the detachment on the last day of June to 32 Officers, 95 Enlisted Men, and 1 Civilian.
1 June, 2nd Lt Richard M. Spangler was transferred into the detachment. 14 June Capt. Francis D. Meinke was transferred from Headquarters, IX Bomber Command and went on detached service with the 1st Pathfinder Squadron (Prov.), and on the 14th Capt. Meinke was reassigned to the 597th Bombardment Squadron. 2nd Lt Herbert J. Hartson, who had been on an attached basis with Headquarters, was assigned to the Group on 18 June. 1st Lt John H. Shaffer was reassigned to Headquarters from the 599th Bombardment Squadron. On the 26th and 29th of the month, a total of 32 enlisted men were assigned to Headquarters.

Promotions

Promotions announced during the month included: 2 June, Sgt Grant O. Amundson to S/Sgt and Pvt Wilbur G. Dabbert to Pfc; 15 June, 2nd Lt Charles H. Schultz promoted to 1st Lt as of 15 May 1944, 16 June, 2nd Lt Tedsan S. Timberlake to 1st Lt as of 15 May 44; 29 June 44, S/Sgt Frank G. Yernell to T/Sgt, Sgt J.C. Bowden to S/Sgt, Cpls Howard Tindel and Edwin J. Thayer to Sgt; 30 June, Capt Earl W. Udick to Major, effective 24 June 44.

There were no casualties in Headquarters Detachment during June.

Decorations and awards to members of Headquarters Detachment are listed in Exhibit IV.

Station 168
Rivenhall (Essex)

Compiled by
1st Lt Tedsan S. Timberlake
Sgt Charles W. Johnson, Jr.

PRAYER FOR D-DAY

Prepared at the request of Colonel Coiner by Chaplain Comfort.

Lord God of Hosts, the God of battle, whose Almighty hand forth to the conflict leads us, hear our prayer in this silent moment before the storm. We come to our God to ask for strength and power. Give to these men of the air steady hands, keen eyes and clear heads. Oh God, bless their weapons, and these wonderful ships for their appointed use. Give Thine own presence to fly with them upon their mission and make the crew members to know that the God of Justice and Omnipotence is very near them. Let them mount up with wings like eagles, unwearied, sustained by a calm trust in destiny. Unite our hearts with those at home so that each binding link is forged for eternity; so that in life and in death Lord, love may live on and God’s Love may hold us in the hollow of his Hand. We pray that the armed might of all our forces, working in harmonious cooperation, may prove to be invincible, and that we shall breach the enemy stronghold in Europe to bring speedily the day of victory. Merciful Father each individual stands before thee, asking forgiveness of sins, seeking the courage of pardoned, inspired men. Grant it in loving kindness, and consecrate them for this task, through Jesus Christ. Amen.

Given at briefing 3:25 A.M. 6/6/44.

Exhibit II

RIV V MON 03/14 R

FROM: 98TH COMBAT BOMB WING 14/1055B
TO : COBGAAF 397

RESTRICTED BT


Exhibit III

GROUP MISSIONS IN JUNE

June Mission
No.

1 37 OCTEVILLE SUR MER Gun emplacements. 30 to 37 planes dispatched dropped on primary with gross to excellent results. Lt. Col Dempster, Lt Schultz, Lt Dontzin, S/Sgt Coxey flew.
2 38 CAMIERS Gun position. 32 of 41 B-26’s dispatched dropped on target. Results – Gross to Good. Lt. Dontzin and Sgt Fox flew.
3 39 OCTEVILLE SUR MER Coastal Defenses. 27 of 40 a/c dispatched attacked target. Nineteen ships sustained flak battle damage and one crew member was wounded. Gross to fair results. Lt Shaffer, Lt Dontzin flew.
5 40 JOUY-EN-JOSAS (GAF Operational Headquarters). 41 a/c were dispatched, none bombed. Formation was recalled without attacking due to weather. S/Sgt Coxey and Sgt Fox flew.
6 41 1st Box – LES DUNES DE VERREVILLE. Poor-good results.
2nd Box – MADELAINE. Fair-good results.
3rd Box – BEAU GUILLET. Gross results.
6 41A TROUVILLE (C/D Btry). 36 of 38 a/c attacking with fair-excellent results.
On 6 June following participated in flights: Colonel Coiner, Lt Col Dempster, Lt Col Winingham, Lt Schultz, Lt Dontzin, S/Sgt Coxey, and Sgt Fox.
7 42 LE MANS Railroad Bridge. 37 dispatched, but 29 failed to attack due to weather. One flight of six bombed with fair results. One Marauder was attacked by a FW 190 in the vicinity of MAMER, the e/a making four passes, after an exchange of fire on the final pass, the fighter did a complete spin and dove back into the clouds, believed to have been damaged.
7 43 FLERS M/Y. Four flights bombed with excellent results, one with gross and one with good. Box 1, flight 1, bombed target of opportunity at CONDE SUR NOIREAC
On 7 June the following participated in flights: Lt Col Dempster, Lt Col Winingham, Major Hughes, Major Udick, Lt Shaffer, Lt Dontzin, S/Sgt Coxey, and Sgt Fox.
8 44 RENNES RR Bridge. Dropped on targets of opportunity. 19 a/c on ST GANTON RR Bridge. 12 on ST SENOUI RR Bridge. 6 on CHATEAURRANT M/Y. Fair to excellent results. One crew member wounded. Lt Col Winingham, Lt Shaffer, Lt Dontzin, and Sgt Fox flew.
10 45 QUINEVILLE C/D Battery. 32 a/c bombed with fair to excellent results. Major Hughes, Lt Col Winingham, and S/Sgt Coxey flew.
11 46 1st Box – ST LO Road Junction.
2nd Box – ST LO Highway Bridge.
Recalled because of weather. Major McCollum, Lt Shaffer, and S/Sgt Coxey flew.
12 47 ST LO Highway Bridge. Five of six flights bombed with excellent results. One flight with good. Lt Col Dempster, Lt Col Winingham, Lt Schultz, Lt Dontzin, S/Sgt Coxey flew.
13 48 FORET D’ANDAINE Fuel Dump. 36 a/c attacked target with gross to excellent results. Lt Shaffer and Sgt Fox flew.
14 49 CHARTRES RR Bridge Embankment. 34 planes bombed.
14 50 ST HILAIRE Highway Bridge. 36 of 37 a/c attacked with fair to good results. One of a group of 4 ME-109’s attacked the formation near CABOURG, firing 2 or 3 bursts with no effect. Three Marauders opened fire, apparently hitting the fighter as its engine began smoking badly and it disappeared in a vertical bank and subsequent dive.

On 14 June following participated in flights: Lt Col Dempster, Major Hughes, Lt Shaffer, Lt Dontzin, S/Sgt Coxey and Sgt Fox.
15 51 COLTAINVILLE Bridge. Gross to good results. Major Hughes, Lt Dontzin, and S/Sgt Coxey flew.
17 52 COLTAINVILLE RR Bridge. 39 a/c dispatched. 18 dropped on primary, 11 on targets of opportunity. 2 a/c were lost, 1 ditched in Channel near Brighton on return, 1 crash landed and burned at base. 7 crewmen missing from ditched plane. Gross-good results. Lt Col Dempster, Lt Shaffer, Lt Dontzin, and Sgt Fox flew.
18 53 MEZIDON M/Y. Recall because of weather.
18 54 BACHIMONT Noball. PPF mission. 31 planes dropped on primary.

On 18 June following participated in flights: Lt Col Winingham, Lt Dontzin,, and Sgt Fox flew.
21 55 GORENFIOS Noball. Recall because of bad weather. S/Sgt Coxey and Sgt Fox flew.
22 56 STRONG POINT (Grid Coord 0-090218) 34 of 39 a/c bombed. 1 a/c and 7 crewmen missing. 18 other a/c battle damaged. 1 crewman wounded. Lt Col Dempster, Lt Col Winginham, Lt Dontzin, and Sgt Fox flew.
23 57 LAMBUS Noball. Gross results. Major Hughes, Lt Dontzin, and Sgt Fox flew.
24 58 MAISSONS-LAFITTE RR Bridge. 20 of 39 dropped on primary. 2 lost, 3 missing, 3 landed away from base. 1 plane attacked by 6 FW 190’s after being ignited by flak. 32 other a/c flak battle damaged. 1 crewman killed, 6 wounded, 33 missing. Results fair-excellent. Lt Dontzin flew.
30 59 THURY-HARCOURT Highway Bridges and Road Junction. Weather bad. All planes failed to bomb.
30 60 CONDE SUR NOIREAU Road Centers. 15 of 33 planes dispatched bombed.

On 30 June, the following participated in flights: Major Hughes.

Exhibit IV

AWARDS TO MEMBERS OF HEADQUARTERS DETACHMENT DURING JUNE:

Col Richard T. Coiner, Jr 1st Oak Leaf Cluster
(GO 156, 9AF, 4 June 44)
Lt Col Rollin R. Winingham 1st Oak Leaf Cluster
(GO 101, IX BC, 11 June 44)
Lt Col Kenneth C. Dempster 2nd Oak Leaf Cluster
(GO 156, 9AF, 4 June 44)
3rd Oak Leaf Cluster
(GO 111, IX BC, 23 June 44)
Major Earl W. Udick 1st Oak Leaf Cluster
(GO 99, IX BC, 9 June 44)
Major George D. Hughes 1st Oak Leaf Cluster
(GO 105, IX BC, 15 June 44)
1st Lt Charles S. Schultz Air Medal
(GO 105, IX BC, 15 June 44)
1st Lt J. R. Shaffer 1st Oak Leaf Cluster
(GO 95, IX BC, 5 June 44)
2nd Oak Leaf Cluster
(GO 105, IX BC, 15 June 44)
3rd Oak Leaf Cluster
(GO 111, IX BC, 23 June 44)
1st Lt Benjamin J. Dontzin 1st Oak Leaf Cluster
(GO 105, IX BC, 15 June 44)
2nd Oak Leaf Cluster
(GO 105, IX BC, 15 June 44)
3rd Oak Leaf Cluster
(GO 111, IX BC, 23 June 44)
4th Oak Leaf Cluster
(GO 114, IX BC, 29 June 44)
Silver Oak Leaf Cluster
(GO 111, IX BC, 23 June 44)
S/Sgt Robert F. Coxey 1st Oak Leaf Cluster
(GO 99, IX BC, 9 June 44)
2nd Oak Leaf Cluster
(GO 99, IX BC, 9 June 44)
3rd Oak Leaf Cluster
(GO 99, IX BC, 9 June 44)
4th Oak Leaf Cluster
(GO 111, IX BC, 23 June 44)
Sgt Earl C. Fox 1st Oak Leaf Cluster
(GO 99, IX BC, 9 June 44)
2nd Oak Leaf Cluster
(GO 99, IX BC, 9 June 44)
3rd Oak Leaf Cluster
(GO 111, IX BC, 23 June 44)

* * *

The Good Conduct Medal was awarded to the following members of Headquarters Detachment on 18 June per GO 5, Headquarters 397th Bomb Gp:

T/Sgt Charles R. Allison, Jr.
T/Sgt James E. Calaonia
T/Sgt Robert B. Irvin
T/Sgt Arnold B. Dodson
T/Sgt Fred F. Turner
S/Sgt Donald J. Frantz
S/Sgt David Jacobs
S/Sgt Grant O. Amundson
Sgt William P. Cagle
Sgt James Gaffney
Sgt Horace O. Jacobs
Sgt Stanley J. Kuziel
Sgt Dale L. Hammack
Sgt George J. Konloky, Jr.
Sgt Clyde L. Sunnquist
Sgt Charles W. Johnson, Jr.
M/Sgt Henry C. Seymour
Cpl Louis Georgecocopoulos
Cpl Lawrence Girgenti
Cpl Leroy B. Lea
Pfc Wilbur G. Dabbert

JULY INSTALLMENT
Unit History of: Headquarters Detachment,
397th Bombardment Group (M) AAF

For Period of: 1 July - 31 July 1944

* * *

Although July, the second month of the invasion of western Europe, was characterized by weather unfavorable for flying, the group flew twenty-two combat missions during the month. Over enemy territory on sixteen different days during this period, the Group completed its eighty-second combat mission.

A number of the missions were in close support of the ground forces operating on the western front, while others reached behind the lines at road and rail communication lines.

The complete list of missions conducted by the Group during July follows:
Date Miss. No. Target Results
6 July 61 DOL-RENNES RR LINE (RR Embk.) Gross-Excellent
“ “ 62 FORET de CONCHES (Fuel Dump) Area Bombing
7 “ 63 USSY (Motor Transport Area) No bombs dropped
8 “ 64 SAUMUR (RR Bridge) Gross-Excellent
8 “ 65 SAUMUR (RR Bridge) Not bombed
9 “ 66 ABLIS (Target of Opportunity) Excellent
11 “ 67 CHATEAU de TERTU (Fuel Dump) No photo coverage
12 “ 68 FORET D’ECOUVES (Fuel Dump) PPF, No coverage
16 “ 69 BOISSEI le Londe (RR Emb) Fair-excellent
16 “ 70 NANTES (RR Bridge) Gross-Good
18 “ 71 DEMOUVILLE (Defended Area) P.N.B.
18 “ 72 CHERISY (RR Bridge) Fair-Good
19 “ 73 LA PASSONNIERE (RR Bridge) Good-Excellent
23 “ 74 ARGENTAN (RR Bridge) PPF (No Cover)
24 “ 75 LIVAROT (Ammunition Stores) PPF (No Cover)
25 “ 76 MONTREUIL (Defended Area) Area Bombing
25 “ 77 CLOYES (RR Bridge) Good-Excellent
26 “ 78 EPERNON (RR Bridge & Embkt) I.B.
28 “ 79 COURCELLES (RR Bridge) PPF (No Cover)
30 “ 80 CAUMONT (Defended Area) PPF (No Cover)
30 “ 81 CAUMONT (Defended Area) PPF (No Cover)
31 “ 82 MAYONNE (RR Viaduct) PPF, Good-Gross

Headquarters Detachment had no losses in action during July.

On 13 July Captain William H. Bond was assigned to Headquarters from the 599th Bombardment Squadron (par 1, SO 146, Hq 397th Bomb Gp, 11 July 44.) 1st Lt John H. Shaffer was transferred to the 599th from Headquarters (par 6, SO 153, Hq 397th Bomb Gp, 19 July 44.) Sgt Earl C. Fox was transferred from Headquarters to the 599th on 25 July (par 2, GO 157, Hq 397th Bomb Gp, 24 July 44.)

The strength of the detachment on 31 July was 34 Officers and 100 Enlisted Men.

Six members of Headquarters celebrated promotions during the month. 1st Lts Henry C. Beck, Jr and James M. Snow were promoted to the temporary grade of Captain effective 1 July (SO 183, Hq ETOUSA, 1 July 44), and 2nd Lt Herbert J. Hartson was promoted to 1st Lt effective the same date. (SO 183, Hq ETOUSA, 1 July 44.) Effective 3 July, Major Kenneth C. Dempster and Captain George D. Hughes both advanced one rank (SO 185, Hq ETOUSA, 3 July 44.) S/Sgt Harold D. LaForge was appointed to the temporary grade of T/Sgt on the 15th (par 1, SO 150, Hqs 397th Bomb Gp, 15 July 44.)

The list of awards to Headquarters men during the month follows:
Name Award Order

Lt. Col Rollin M. Winingham 2nd Oak Leaf Cluster GO 120, IX BC, 6 July
Lt. Col Kenneth C. Dempster 4th Oak Leaf Cluster GO 120, IX BC, 6 July
Maj Walter D. Snyder 1st Oak Leaf Cluster GO 122, IX BC, 9 July
Maj George D. Hughes 2nd Oak Leaf Cluster GO 120, IX BC, 6 July
3rd Oak Leaf Cluster GO 131, IX BC, 20 July
Capt William H. Bond 4th Oak Leaf Cluster GO 122, IX BC, 9 July
1st Lt Benjamin J. Dontzin 7th Oak Leaf Cluster GO 133, IX BC, 22 July
1st Lt Tedsan S. Timberlake Air Medal GO 120, IX BC, 6 July
T/Sgt Ernest E. Claridge Air Medal GO 133, IX BC, 22 July
S/Sgt Robert F. Coxey Silver Oak Leaf Cluster GO 120, IX BC, 6 July

Preparations for another change of station were underway in the closing days of the month. From Station 168 at Rivenhall, the 397th was to go to Station 492 at Hurn.

The future base was visited by executives of the Group and a reconnaissance party was dispatched on 28 July. Headquarters men in the party were: Major William Rafkind, Captain Elton G. Morrow, Captain Fred F. Seale, T/Sgt Arnold B. Dodson, S/Sgt Victor A. Sindoni, Cpl Jack Hamilton.

{SIGNED}
THOMAS E. McLEOD
Major, Air Corps,
Acting Group Historian.

AUGUST INSTALLMENT
UNIT HISTORY OF: HEADQUARTERS DETACHMENT
397th BMOBARDMENT GROUP (M) AAF

FOR PERIOD OF: 1 AUGUST - 31 AUGUST 1944

* * *

AUGUST WAS THE 397TH’S LAST MONTH IN ENDLAND BEFORE DEPARTURE FOR FRANCE. IT WAS THE MONTH THAT SAW THE GROUP FLY ITS ONE HUNDREDTH COMBAT MISSION. AND IT WAS THE ONTH THAT SAW THE MARAUDERS CHANGE THEIR STATION FROM EAST ANGLIA TO SOUTHERN ENGLAND. DESPITE THE CHANGE OF STATION AND PREPARATIONS FOR OVERSEAS MOVEMENT THAT WERE MADE DURING THE MONTH, THE GROUP DIDN’T LOSE SIGHT OF ITS PRIMARY OBJECT IN THIS THEATRE OF OPERATIONS AND IN ALL 26 MISSIONS WERE FLOWN DURING AUGUST.

THE RECONNAISSANCE AND ADVANCE PARTIES THAT LEFT STATION 168 DURING JULY MET THE REAR ECHELON OF HEADQUARTERS DETACHMENT ARRIVING AT STATION 492, HURN, HANTS ON 5 AUGUST. THE REAR PARTY DEPARTED FROM STATION 168 AT RIVENHALL, ESSEX AT 0945 ON THE FIFTH AND REACHED HURN AT 1845 THE SAME DAY. THE MAIN BODY OF THE DETACHMENT TRAVELLED BY RAIL, AFTER MARCHING FROM RIVENHALL TO THE TRAIN STATION AT KELVEDON. TRUCKS MET THE TRAINS AT CHRISTCHURCH AND TRANSPORTED PERSONNEL TO THE FIELD AT HURN, WHICH HAD BEEN A RAF BASE AND STILL MAINTAINED A NUMBER OF RAF PERSONNEL. (THE MOVEMENT FROM RIVENHALL TO HURN WAS IN ACCORDANCE WITH MOVEMENT ORDER #1, IX BC, 12 JULY 44 AND TWX IX BC Y564E.)

BEFORE THE PLANES LEFT RIVENHALL, THEY CARRIED OUT FOUR MISSIONS DURING AUGUST. THE SORTIES SERVED TO UPHOLD THE “BRIDGE BUSTERS” REPUTATION OF THE 397TH, SINCE THREE OF THE MISSIONS WERE AGAINST RR BRIDGES AND THE OTHER AGAINST A RR EMBANKMENT AT LE PONTE DE CE, CINQ MARS, COURTALAIN, AND EPERNON. TWO DAYS AFTER THE GROUP ARRIVED AT HURN, THE PLANES WERE IN OPERATION AGAIN.

THROUGHOUT THE MONTH, THE GREATER SHARE OF THE TARGETS ALLOTTED THIS GROUP WERE RAILROAD AND HIGHWAY BRIDGES BEHIND THE GERMAN LINES IN FRANCE. OTHER BRIDGE TARGETS OF THE 397TH WERE LOCATED AT MANTES-GASSICOURT, PONTOISE, NOGENT, OISSEL, NOTRE DAME DE COURSON, ST. MARTIN, BRIONNE, AND LA RABELLERIE. AMMUNITION DUMPS, MARSHALLING YARDS, AND TROUP CONCENTRATIONS WERE ALSO BOMBED AS THE GROUP CONTINUED ITS AIR SUPPORT FOR THE ARMIES ON THE WESTERN FRONT.

IN ADDITION TO THE GP’S, FRAGS, AND INCENDIARIES, THE GROUP ALSO DROPPED A NUMBER OF LEAFLET BOMBS ON THE ENEMY.

ON THE 16TH, THE GROUP CONDUCTED ITS 100TH COMBAT MISSION. COLONEL COINER LED THE GROUP AGAINST A RR BRIDGE AT NEUVY SUR LOIRE, BUT THE PLANES WERE FORCED TO TURN BACK WITHOUT BOMBING BECAUSE OF BAD WEATHER. THE 100TH MISSION WAS FLOWN LESS THAN FOUR MONTHS AFTER THE GROUP’S 1ST COMBAT MISSION. (FOR A COMPLETE LIST OF MISSIONS FLOWN IN AUGUST SEE APPENDIX 1.)

ON THE 15TH THE GROUP WAS ALERTED FOR OVERSEAS MOVEMENT, AND THE RECONNAISSANCE PARTY LEFT FOR FRANCE. ON THE 17TH THREE OFFICERS AND SEVEN ENLISTED MEN FROM HEADQUARTERS DETACHMENT WERE IN THE ADVANCE PARTY. SEVEN OFFICERS AND 27 ENLISTED MEN IN THE ADVANCE PARTY LEFT HURN ON THE 21ST. (THESE MOVE WERE MADE IN ACCORDANCE WITH LTR, IX BC, 370.5, DTD 16 AUG 44. A COMPLETE LIST OF PERSONNEL IN THESE MOVEMENTS IS CONTAINED IN APPENDIX 2.)

MAJOR WALTER D. SNYDER WAS TRANSFERRED TO THE 322ND BOMB GROUP FROM HEADQUARTERS DETACHMENT BY SO 211, HQ IX BC, DTD 29 JULY 44. THERE WERE NO CASUALTIES IN HEADQUARTERS DETACHMENT. THE STRENGTH OF THE DETACHMENT ON 31 AUGUST WAS 32 OFFICERS AND 101 ENLISTED MEN.

COLONEL COINER WAS AWARDED THE DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS ON THE 15TH. (GO 205, HQ IX AF, DTD 15 AUG 1944.) THE AWARD CITED COLONEL COINER’S “HEROISM AND EXTRAORDINARY ACHIEVEMENT WHILE LEADING A GROUP OF B-26 TYPE AIRCRAFT OVER HEAVILY DEFENDED ENEMY INSTALLATIONS ON 25 MAY 1944.” “DESPITE HEAVY AND INTENSE FLAK AT THE TARGET,” THE CITATION CONTINUED, “COLONEL COINER HELD TO HIS COURSE DURING THE BOMBING RUN AND BY HIS SUPERB LEADERSHIP PLACED THE GROUP’S BOMBS ON THE TARGET WITH EXCELLENT RESULTS. ENGAGED BY HEAVY FLAK FIRE AS HE TURNED AWAY FROM THE TARGET, COLONEL COINER SUCCESSFULLY AVOIDED ENEMY FIRE WITHOUT LOSS. THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THIS VITAL MISSION WAS DUE TO HIS CALM COURAGE, SKILL AND DETERMINATION UNDER FIRE. HIS ACTION REFLECTS THE UTMOST CREDIT UPON HIMSELF AND UPON THE ARMED FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES.”

LT COL WININGHAM WAS AWARDED HIS 3RD OAK LEAF CLUSTER, MAJOR HUGHES WAS AWARDED HIS 4TH OAK LEAF CLUSTER, CAPT BOND WAS AWARDED THE SILVER OAK LEAF CLUSTER, AND S/SGT COXEY WAS AWARDED THE 6TH OAK LEAF CLUSTER (ALL BY GO 145, IX BC, DTD 4 AUG 44.) COL COINER WAS AWARDED THE SECOND OAK LEAF CLUSTER BY GO 150, IX BC, DTD 10 AUG 44.

APPENDIX ONE

AUGUST MISSIONS

* * *

MISSION AUGUST TARGET
NO.
83 1 LE PNTS DE CE (RR BR) – LINE BOMBING TECHNIQUE EMPLOYED.
84 2 CINQ MARS (RR BR) – LINE BOMBING TECHNIQUE EMPLOYED.
85 3 COURTALAIN (RR BR). 14 A/C BOMBED, 20 A/C FAILED TO BOMB BECAUSE OF WEATHER. MAJOR HUGHES FLEW.
86 4 EPERNON (RR EMBKMT). LT COL DEMPSTER LED FIRST BOX.
87 7 NEUVY SUR LOIRE (RR BR) – FAIR-EXCELLENT RESULTS.
88 7 FORET DE BLOIS (AMMO DUMP) – LINE BOMBING.
89 8 MANTES GASSICOURT (RR BR & EMKMT) – FAIR-EXCELLENT RESULTS.
90 8 ST MALO/ST SERVAN (C/D BTRY). FAIR-EXCELLENT RESULTS.
91 9 PONTOISE (RR BR & EMBKMT) – LT COL DEMPSTER PARTICIPATED. FAIR-EXCELLENT RESULTS.
92 9 BEAUGENCY/ORLEANS (AMMO DUMP). NO BOMBS DROPPED (WEATHER.)
93 10 NOGENT (RR BR) – MAJOR HUGHES FLEW. 4 FLIGHTS HAD EXCELLENT RESULTS.
94 11 OISSEL (RR BR) – PFF MISSION.
95 13 LISIEUX AREA (ROAD CHOKEPOINTS) – GROSS-FAIR RESULTS. MAJ HUGHES FLEW.
96 13 CORBEIL (M/Y) – LT COL DEMPSTER LED BOX 1. GROSS-EXCELLENT RESULTS.
97 14 NOTRE DAME DE COURSON (HWY BR). FAIR-GOOD RESULTS.
98 14 ST MARTIN (RD BR). POOR-EXCELLENT RESULTS.
99 15 ST MALO (GUN DEF). LT COL DEMPSTER LED BOX 1. FAIR-EXCELLENT RESULTS.
100 16 NEUVY SUR LOIRE (RR BR) – COL COINER LED BOX 1. FAILED TO BOMB (WEATHER).
101 16 BOX 1 – BRIONNE HWY BRIDGE. BOX II – PORT AUTHOU HWY BRIDGE. MAJ HUGHES FLEW. PFF MISSION. FAIR-GOOD RESULTS.
102 17 BRIONNE (RD BR). PFF. FAIR-GOOD RESULTS.
103 17 LA RABELLERIE (RR BR). PFF
104 20 FORET DE LA FONDE. PFF. MAJOR HUGHES FLEW.
105 25 KERDREIN (GUN EMPL). LT COL DEMPSTER FLEW.
106 26 COMPIEGNE FOREST (FUEL DUMP). MAJOR HUGHES FLEW.
107 26 ROUEN (TROOP AND VEHICLE CONCENTRATION). FAIR-GOOD RESULTS. LT COL DEMPSTER FLEW WINDOW.
108 28 BARISIS (FUEL TANKS) AREA BOMBING METHODS EMPLOYED.


APPENDIX TWO


MEMBERS IN RECONNAISSANCE PARTY FROM HURN TO FRANCE:

LT COL WININGHAM, 1ST LT HAUPT, 1ST LT TIMBERLAKE,
SGT GAFFNEY, SGT KUZIEL, PFC BOEKHOUT, PFC
CAMPBELL, PVT MCKEAN, PVT VALLAS, PVT PENDERGAST.



MEMBERS IN ADVANCE PARTY:

CAPT BECK, CAPT COMFORT, CAPT GREGOLINE, 1ST LT
DONTZIN, 1ST LT MAHLUM, 1ST LT WEINBERG, CWO
MERIWEATHER.

M/SGT SEYMOUR, T/SGT CALABRIA, T/SGT TURNER, T/SGT
TRULL, S/SGT P. JACOBS, S/SGT KEIL, S/SGT LAFORGE,
S/SGT RAIFORD, SGT HAMMACK, SGT JOHNSON, SGT SERA,
CPL ABNER, CPL DONNINI, CPL GIRGENTI, CPL HOLMES,
CPL LEE, CPL MARMORSTEIN, CPL MCGRATH, CPL NEMOFF,
CPL SWENSON, CPL VOLZ, PFC FORSYTH, PFC JOHNSON,
PFC LITTLE, PVT JACOBS, PVT KELSO, PVT WRIGHT.

SEPTEMBER INSTALLMENT
Unit History of Headquarters Detachment, 397th Bombardment Group (M)
1 September – 30 September 1944.


It was in September that the morning report of Headquarters Detachment changed its date line from England to France. Reconnaissance and advance parties of the 397th had already begun the occupation of the A-26 landing field at Gorges while the main movement of the Group on 1 September found itself in Marshaling area D-12 near Portsmouth, England. The movement began at 0800 on the 1st and the morning report carries the notation that the troops arriving at USA Camp D-12 at 1000, “made camp and issued rations to personnel.”

By ten o’clock in the morning of the 2nd, the Headquarters rear party was aboard the USCG LCI 350. LCI 350, however, hovered at anchor in Weymouth harbor for four days and four nights and it wasn’t until 0445 on the 6th of September – 3 months after D-Day – that the LCI headed across the Channel for Normandy. The rear party of Headquarters Detachment arrived in France at 1535 on the 7th.

The men disembarked on the Normandy beaches and began a weary trek through a cleft in the dunes of the beach and along dusty ruin-surrounded roads to “Transit Area B.” Weighted by packs and field equipment, the men made the longest march in their history as a unit, and they fell out along the sides of the road many times in the course of the march. Sleeping under pup tents in “Transit Area B” that night, they were thankful for the restful ground beneath them.

But sleep was not long. Early in the morning, tracks from the new station arrived at the transit area and by 0430 the day following debarkation, they were introduced to A-26. It was a muddy introduction. The landing strip was little more than a path of level muddy ground in the midst of a sea of mud and in time the wire matting forming the surface of the runway was condemned as it broke under the pressure of 30,000 pound B-26’s shoving it into the ooze beneath. Located at Gorge near the base of the Cherbourg peninsula in the Periers-Carantan region, A-26 had few conveniences to offer the men of the Group. All quarters were in tents arranged in a quadrangle on the sides of hedge-fenced fields. Only the Message Center and S-2 situation room had substantial accommodations, located as they were in the school building at Gorge. Other offices were housed in tents. Headquarters messed with the 597th Bombardment Squadron at A-26 and the food at the base was judged by many as being better than that in England.

As the Normandy rains continued to soak the field, it became more and more unsuitable for both men and airplanes. Despite bad weather conditions and despite the constantly fluid battle line that was nearly out of the range of the Marauders at the time they landed at A-26, four missions were added to the Group’s score at this base. All four missions were aimed at the stubborn German Brittany stronghold of Brest. Group mission 109 on September 1st took off for Brest, but did not attack when bad weather obscured the target. On September 5th, Mission number 110 led by Lt. Col. Dempster bombed the German fort with fair to excellent results. The next day Missions 111 and 112 were carried out against Brest, the morning mission scoring poor to excellent, the afternoon mission having unknown results. After the missions of the 6th of September, there followed thirteen days of operational inactivity for the Group.

It soon became apparent that A-26 was not to be the permanent home of the 397th Marauders in France, and on the 11th the advance party was on its way to landing field A-41 near Dreux. Part of the advance and rear movements were conducted by air, but the majority of the men in the rear party which left on the 14th traveled by motor vehicle. The combat crew air echelon flew to the new base in B-26’s. The motor convoy traveled via the famed Red Ball highway and men piled on trucks and seated in jeeps and command cars glimpsed the ravages of war that lay in the wake of the battle. They were talking for many days of destruction in places like St. Lo, Vire and Argentan.

A-41 was an evacuated German airfield situated on the Dreux-Nogent highway. Battered by Allied raiders, hangers and buildings were in a badly damaged condition. However, the runways were in a good state of repair and office buildings were suitable for housing the Group headquarters. Because the landing field and quarters were situated on either side of a main highway from Dreux, the base became a popular Sunday afternoon target for the people of the city. Eventually, however, the road became so crowded with sightseers watching the planes and inspecting the field that it was necessary for security reasons to utilize local FFI guards to keep the people from lingering in the vicinity.

Dreux became the most popular after-duty spot for the members of the base. Convoys took men to the Cathedral on Sunday mornings and afternoons for Mass, and the Red Cross sponsored dances at the “La Salle des Fetes” in Dreux. French girls, some of whom said they hadn’t attended a public dance in four years, were partners for the Bomb Group men, while the “Melody Marauders”, a band composed of men from the base, furnished the music. At A-41, the 397th Public Relations office sponsored French classes for base personnel.

However incidental these things may be in the painting of the picture of group activity, nevertheless they serve to reflect the life that surrounded the aerial operations. In large, the move to France seem to react as a stimulus to the personnel, and the constant moves were bringing the Group to a high degree of mobility. Indeed, it seemed in September that the ground activity almost overshadowed the aerial operations of the Group which this month flew its lowest number of missions since April. Only eleven missions were flown, but one important point is to be noted that while stationed at A-41, the Group’s Marauders made their first appearance over German territory.

On 19 September the 397th employing area bombing techniques hit the marshalling yards at Bitburg, Germany. The next day the planes again using area bombing methods, struck at the Trier marshalling yards. On 21 September area bombing was employed against the marshalling yard at Garolstein. On the 27th the Marauders were dispatched against troop concentrations at Foret de Parroy but weather prevented an attack. The next day weather again prevented an attack on the same target. Mission number was carried out on the 29th against the German troop concentration at Bitburg with poor to excellent results, and the same day the final mission of the month was directed with fair to poor results against the warehouses at Julich.

A Ninth Bombardment Division Intelligence Report dated 30 September gave some idea of the damage inflicted on the Corbeil marshalling area by the 397th raid on 13 August. Citing an Operational Research section report, the IR said that the first flight of the 397th formation hit 5 railroad cars at the A.P. – five cars filled with 200,000 pounds of explosives. The explosion of these cars created an elliptical crater 360 feet long, 120 feet wide, and 60 feet deep. In the immediate vicinity were three trains with military equipment and about 45 Germans, 2 trains of tank cars carrying benzene and gasoline, while in another part of the yard were five other trains – a total of 15 trains, approximately 250 cars, destroyed by the explosion. ORS reported: “Those close to the explosion were thrown into an arc of wreckage 30 to 150 feet beyond the crater. Factories adjacent to the explosion were completely destroyed. Those farther away had roofs and windows completely blown out. This damage extended to 2500 feet from the crater and rendered everything inoperative.”

Promotions in Headquarters this month went to T/Sgts Allison and Turner who were both made M/Sgts on the 29th. Lt. Dontzin was awarded his 8th and 9th Oak Leaf Clusters; Lt. Col. Dempster received his 6th Oak Leaf Cluster, and Major Hughes was awarded the Silver Oak Leaf Cluster on the 6th of September.

There were no losses or casualties in the Detachment during the month and the strength of the Detachment on September 30th was 39 officers and 73 enlisted men.


20 October 1944
A-72, Peronne

1st. Lt Tedsan S. Timberlake
Sgt Charles W. Johnson, Jr.

OCTOBER INSTALLMENT

UNIT HISTORY OF HEADQUARTERS DETACHMENT, 397TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M)
AAF, FOR THE PERIOD 1 October to 31 October 1944.


1. The group movement from AAF Station A-41, Dreux, France, to AAF Station A-72, Mons En Chaussee, France, was of main historical importance for the month of October. The reconnaissance party of the Headquarters Detachment departed 4 October 1944 from AAF Station A-41 and the entire personnel of the detachment (exclusive of the personnel that remained behind as a holding party), completed the move in three days. The main transportation facilities were supplied by organizational vehicles, with various section personnel, priority equipment and supplies transported by troop transport (C-47). The new field at A-72 had been recently evacuated by the Germans, with a P-38 Fighter Group occupying the field after the German withdrawal. Housing facilities for the officers and enlisted men of the detachment were available in Mons En Chaussee, a small French community adjacent to the field. There were two main building sites taken over by the various staff sections and the 198th Medical Detachment. Various other buildings and structures had been previously bombed by allied aircraft, and partially destroyed before departure by the retreating enemy. With remarkable rehabilitation, the group ran its first mission from the new field on 12 October 1944; one mission being completed before departure from A-41 on 2 October 1944.

A record of the movement of personnel for the Headquarters Detachment is as follows:

The reconnaissance party of five (5) officers and seven (7) enlisted men departed from AAF Station A-41 (Dreux) at 1100, and arrived AAF Station A-72 (Mons En Chaussee) at 1750, 4 October 1944. The following officers and enlisted men comprised the reconnaissance party:

LT. COL. WININGHAM S/Sgt Sinconi
MAJOR MAJORS Pfc Campbell
MAJOR RAFKIND Pfc Johnson
1ST LT. TIMBERLAKE Pfc Hendrix
CWO MERIWETHER Pvt Jacobs
S/Sgt Moore Pvt Vallas

The advanced party of twenty (20) enlisted men departed at 1330, from AAF Station A-41 (Dreux), and arrived AAF Station A-72 (Mons En Chaussee), 6 October 1944. The following enlisted men comprised the advanced party:

M/Sgt Seymour T/Sgt Calabria T/Sgt Samet
T/Sgt Burke S/Sgt Frantz S/Sgt Jacobs
S/Sgt Johns S/Sgt Ralford S/Sgt Hammack
Sgt Sera Cpl Sargenti Cpl Lee
Cpl Prendergast Cpl Holmes Cpl McGrath
Cpl Semoff Pfc Forsyth
Pfc Little Pvt Deleo
Pvt Brigit

One (1) officer and five (5) enlisted men departed AAF Station A-41 (Dreux), and arrived AAF Station A-72 (Mons En Chaussee), on 7 October 1944. This movement was composed of the following personnel:

MAJOR EBELING M/Sgt Hardy
T/Sgt Word Cpl Georgecocopoulos
Cpl Graves Cpl Howard

2. Weather seriously hampered the operational activity of the group. In all, four missions were flown for the period covering 1 October 1944 to 31 October 1944. The objectives for the month were defended areas, highway and railway bridges in Germany. The following missions in which Headquarters Detachment personnel participated are listed below:

Mission # 120. 2 October 1944. Target: Kerbach Defended Area, Germany. No attacked was made due to weather conditions. Captain Shaffer and S/Sgt Jerome.

Mission # 121. 12 October 1944. Target: Ahrweiler RR Bridge, Germany. Bombed with good to excellent results. Lt. Col. Dempster lead 1st box, and Lt. Dontzin flew window.

Mission # 122. 20 October 1944. Target: Geertruidenberg Highway Bridge, Germany. Bombed on PPF. Lt. Col. Dempster and Lt. Dontzin flew window.

Mission # 123. 29 October 1944. Target: Euskirchen RR Bridge, Germany. Bombed on PPF. Lt. Col. Winingham flew co-pilot and Lt. Dontzin flew window.

Colonel Coiner, Maj. Udick, and Maj. Bond flew abortive mission 6 October 1944. This mission not included in records as mission was recalled due to weather.

3. The following personnel changes were recorded for the period covered:

S/Sgt Maddox, reld fr asgd Hq 397 BG, 12 Oct 44, & trfd to 70th Replacement Depot, Station 579 for return to ZI, pp 11, SO 274, Hq 9th AF, dated 30 Sept 44.

Captain Murphy, reld asgd 599th Bomb Sq, 13 Oct 44, & reasgd to 397 BG, pp 2, SO 216, Hq 397 BG, dated 12 Oct 44.

S/Sgt Keil and Pfc Malo, reld fr asgd Hq 397 BG, 15 Oct 44, and reasgd 597th Bomb Sq, this group, pp 5, SO 218, this hq, dated 14 Oct 44.

S/Sgt Kijowski, reld fr asgd Hq 397 BG, 15 Oct 44, and reasgd 598th Bomb Sq, this group, pp 5, SO 218, this hq, dated 14 Oct 44.

Cpl McGrath and Pfc Moore, reld fr asgd, this group, 15 Oct 44, pp 5, SO 218, Hq 397 BG, dated 14 Oct 44.

4. 2nd silver OLC to Lt. Dontzin, per GO 7, 9th Bomb Division, dated 2 October 44.

7th OLC to Lt. Col. Dempster, per GO 7, 9th Bomb Division, dated 2 October 44.

6th OLC to Maj. Hughes, per GO 7, 9th Bomb Division, dated 2 October 44.

4th OLC to Lt. Col. Winingham, per GO 7, 9th Bomb Division, dated 2 October 44.

1st OLC to Lt. Schultz, per SO 12, 9th Bomb Division, dated 9 October 44.

7th OLC to S/Sgt Coxey, SO 12, 9th Bomb Division, dated 9 October 44.

Air Medal to S/Sgt Amundson, SO 12, 9th Bomb Division, dated 9 October 44.

5. Cpl Donnini and Cpl Hamilton to Sgt as 1 October 1944.

Pfc Dabbert, Pfc Horn, Pvt Jacobs and Pvt Prendergast to Cpl as of 1 October 1944.

Pvt Fioto, Pvt Jenner and Pvt McKean to Pfc as of 1 October 44.

Capt. Bond and Capt. Morrow to Major as of 1 October 1944, with date of rank fr 1 Oct 44, pp 11, SO 275, Hq 9th AF, 1 Oct 44.

6. The strength of the Headquarters Detachment of 31 October 1944 was thirty-five (35) officers and seventy-three (73) enlisted men.

20 November 1944
A-72, Mons En Chaussee (Peronne, France)
{SIGNED}
1st Lt. Ted S. Timberlake
Sgt. Charles W. Johnson, Jr.
Pfc. Frank O. Forsyth, Jr.

NOVEMBER INSTALLMENT

Unit History
Headquarters Detachment, 397th Bombardment Group (M) AAF

For Period 1 November to 30 November 1944

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For the first time since entering France, the 397th spent an entire month at one base. Settled down at airbase A-72, five miles southeast of Peronne, the group prepared for the winter, while at the same time undertaking as many missions as possible under the present weather conditions.

Enlisted men of Headquarters Detachment quartered in a former German barracks in the village of Mons en Chaussee turned their attention toward making a livable home out of their quarters. Officers quartered in various houses in the town, found in the month a different aspect from the previous few months when constant moves were in order for the group to keep up with the ground situation.

Now supporting the third, the first, and the ninth armies, the group had reached a point where it was well within reach of the battle lines, and the ground situation at the base was more permanent.

In many respects, life on the base was beginning to resemble the life in England. There was a movie theatre – one with leather seats – and movies were shown six nights a week. The Red Cross Aero Club was operating, and several parties were held in mess halls. On the 23rd, the Detachment celebrated its first Thanksgiving Day overseas. Gastronomically speaking, it was a gala occasion. There was nothing C-rationistic about the turkey or the trimmings that went with it. The mess hall was hung with Thanksgiving pictures and in the evening the enlisted men held a dance in honor of the occasion.

November rains mixed with a few hours of sunshine formed the background for the month.
* * *

In all, fourteen missions were carried out during the month, all in direct support of the northern and central armies of the armies on the western front.

On the fourth of November, the 397th in conjunction with the 410th Bombardment Group attacked the BAUMHOLDER Stores Depot. Thirty-four planes of this group dropped 149,700 pounds of bombs. Two planes accidentally dropped bombs inside the bombline, two miles short of the target area, when a near flak burst caused the bombardier to push the toggle switch and another ship dropped on his plane.

The next day, the 397th following a pathfinder plane, attacked the ordnance depot at Homburg. The target contained ammunition and ordnance supplies earmarked for future use by German divisions in the Luxembourg, Metz, and Belfort sectors. Homburg is fifteen miles northeast of Saarbrucken, then under attack by the American Third Army.

The LANDAU ammunition depot was set as the next target of the 397th, but weather foiled three attempts made by the group. On the ninth, two missions returned from this target without bombing, and on the tenth, weather again intervened and the mission returned from the vicinity of the target without bombing.

One hundred and twenty-one thousand pounds of bombs were dropped on the MAYEN railroad bridge, fifteen miles west of Coblenz on 11 November. There was no visual observation of results because of clouds.

On the sixteenth, a mission was scheduled against the DUREN defended area. There was no attack. The mission was cancelled after six planes were airborne, and these six planes were later recalled.

The REICHENBACH ammunition dump was the target for the 18th of November, and the 397th took part in one of the greatest tactical air efforts of the war. Reichenbach was a German military camp east of the Third Army’s zone of operations. Thirty-three planes dropped two hundred and fifty pound bombs for fair to excellent results. One gunner was killed and one bombardier was wounded on this mission.

Using area bombing techniques, twenty planes dropped 302 – 260 pound bombs on the MARIAEILER defended locality on the morning of November 19th. In the afternoon, the 397th bombed PIRMASENS ordnance depot. Fourteen planes failed to bomb because of cloud coverage, but twelve planes dropped. One box of the two boxes dispatched against BERGSTEIN defended village on the 21st dropped with undetermined results while the other box made no attack.

Nine miles north of DUREN, the defended town of ELSDORF was bombed by sixteen planes of the group on the 29th. Nineteen planes did not take off when a plane blew a tire and blocked the remaining planes on the perimeter track: Another defended town, STOCKHEIM, blocking the advance of the 4th, 8th, and 1st divisions of the First army, was bombed on the 30th.

* * *

The only awards to members of Headquarters during the November were the awarding of the 11th Oak Leaf Cluster to Lt. Dontzin and the 6th Oak Leaf Cluster to Captain Shaffer. (both, per GO 31, IX BC, 17 Nov.)

1 Nov. Private Walter E. Kelso was transferred from the group to the 1058th MP Co. (AVN.); 6 Nov. 2nd Lt Richard M. Spangler was transferred from Headquarters to 134th Repl Bn (AVN) (pp 23, SO 302, Hq IX AF, 28 Oct.); 22 Nov, Cpl Samuel E. Furman transferred from Headquarters to 98th Sta. Compl Sq., pp 7, SO 54, Hq IX BC, 19 Nov);

2 Nov. Captain Josiah G. Chatham (Chaplain) was transferred to Headquarters from the 90th Sta. Compl Sq., and Pfc William Luckett was transferred from the 90th Sta. Compl Sq to this group as the chaplain’s assistant; 11 Nov Pvt Francis J. Rowan transferred from the 596th Bomb Sq to Headquarters, and Pfc James F. Beilfuss transferred from 597th Bomb Sq to Headquarters; 14 Nov. T/Sgt Clarence C. Cheek transferred from 597th Bomb Sq to Headquarters.

2 Nov. Cpl Lawrence Girgenti was appointed sergeant.; 17 Nov. Pfc James L. Beilfuss and Pvt Francis J. Rowan appointed corporals; 19 November, Sgt Dale M. Hammack reduced from Sergeant to private for cause; 20 November, Major Franklin E. Ebeling promoted to temporary grade of Lt. Colonel AUS eff 15 November 1944 (pp1, SO 320, Hq IX Air Force, dated 15 Nov 1944); 14 Nov. T/Sgt Gerald S. Samet reduced to grade of private for cause. Pvt Gerald S. Samet appointed sergeant from private with date of rank from 1 August 1942.

The morning report showed the strength of the detachment of 30 November as 73 Enlisted Men and 34 Officers.

{SIGNED}
TEDSAN S. TIMBERLAKE
1st Lt., Air Corps
Historical Officer

DECEMBER INSTALLMENT

UNIT HISTORY OF HEADQUARTERS DETACHMENT, 397TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M)

For The Period 1 December -- 31 December 1944.

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1. For the month of December, the 397th Bombardment Group remained at A-72, Mons En Chaussee, France. The usual operational activity for the month was limited considerably by weather, with the Germans taking advantage of this change in climate to launch a strong counter-offensive in the 12th Army Group Sector. The attack began the 16th of December, under the protective cover of low fog and conditions unsuitable for our air forces to oppose the drive. However, on the 23rd of December, medium bombardment aircraft were out in strength, striking important communication zones directly behind the German onslaught. On this day, the mission to the ELLER RR Bridge in Germany, the group suffered its first major losses by enemy aircraft and anti-aircraft. After the turn off from target, on course to home base, approximately 25 single engine fighters attacked our formation. The group’s records show a loss of eight B-26’s to enemy aircraft encounters and two B-26’s to heavy flak. Our gunners hit back for a total tally of four enemy aircraft destroyed, three enemy aircraft probably destroyed, and eight enemy aircraft damaged. This total does not include enemy aircraft presumably destroyed or damaged by the ten missing bombers.

25 December marked the occasion of Christmas, the group’s “first” overseas. Two missions were completed against the break-through area, and the returning afternoon mission was diverted to other fields, because of weather conditions over the base. Most of the personnel celebrated the event with turkey dinners except those combat crew members who had the misfortune to spend the evening away from their base. Candle-light services were held for all denominations by Chaplain’s Comfort and Chatham, and the aspect for Christmas at home in ’45 was predominate in everyone’s mind.

26 December 1944, at 2250 hours, an enemy intruder aircraft attacked this field, but inflicted no damage to personnel, aircraft, or ground installations. 27 December, the group flew and bombed the KALL Railhead, and this marked the last mission for the month of December and the year of 1944. Four days later the entire base celebrated the New Year – a year that will bring inevitable defeat to the enemy.

2. In all, fourteen missions were flown during the month. A total of 725 tons of bombs were dropped during the period covered. A summary of missions No. 137 through 150 follows………..

1 December – SAARLAUTERN Defended Area. Failed to bomb due to PPF failure.

2 December – SAARLAUTERN Defended Area. Poor results on PPF A/C.

5 December – HUCHEN Defended Village. Fair bombing on PPF A/C.

6 December – NIDEGGEN Defended Town. Poor results on PPF A/C.

9 December – (AM) – LOSHEIM Defended Town. Results undetermined on PPF A/C.

9 December – (PM) – WEISBACH Defended Town. Results undetermined on PPF A/C.

12 December – GEMUND Defended Town. Results undetermined on PPF A/C.

13 December – HELLENTHAL Defended Town. Results undetermined on PPF A/C.

15 December – RUTHEN Oil Depot. Results undetermined on PPF A/C.

23 December – ELLER RR Bridge. Results undetermined on PPF A/C.

25 December – (AM) – VIANDEN Road Junction. Bombed visually by flights of six for excellent results.

25 December – (PM) – AHRDORF Defended Area. 18 a/c bombed visually by flights of six for undetermined results.

27 December – KALL Railhead. Bombed visually by flights of six for excellent results.

3. The following personnel changes were recorded for the period covered:

1st Lt. Robert J. Blotcher, attached and joined Headquarters Detachment, 397th Bombardment Group, par 2, SO 243, this Hq, dtd 8 Dec 44.

Lt. Col. Franklyn S. Allen, Jr., trfd fr 63rd Fighter Wing to asgd & jd Hq, 397BG, par 1, SO 244, this Hq, dtd 9 Dec 44, as of 9 Dec 44.

Lt. Col. Franklyn S. Allen, Jr., tdy to reld fr asgnt atch unasgd 127th Repl Btn AAF, sta 591, for return to Z. of I, par 12, SO 75, Hq 9BD.

S/Sgt Ralph D. Martin reld fr asgd Hq 397BG and trfd to 596th Bomb Sq, this Gp, par 7, SO 247, this Hq, dtd 15 Dec 44.
S/Sgt Lester V. Moore and Pvt Harry K. Wright reld fr asgd Hq 397BG and trfd to 599th Bomb Sq, this Gp, par 7, SO 247, this Hq, dtd 15 Dec 44.

S/Sgt Thad M. Ralford asgd and jd fr 99th Gen Hosp, under provisions of Sec II, Cir 69, Hq, ETOUSA dtd 13 June 44. M/R as of 18 Dec 44.

Sgt Carlos M. Sera reld fd asgd Hq, and trfd to 597th Bomb Sq, this Gp, par 7, SO 247, this Hq, dtd 15 December 44.

Cpl Joseph C. Volz and Pfc Carrol K. Little reld fr asgd Hq, and trfd to 598th Bomb Sq, this Gp, par 7, SO 247, this Hq, dtd 15 Dec 44.

4. The following awards and decorations were given to Headquarters personnel during the period:

Lt. Col. Dempster 6th Oak Leaf Cluster GO 37, 9th BD, 8 Dec 44
Lt. Col. Winingham 6th Oak Leaf Cluster GO 46, 9th BD, 22 Dec 44
Major Bond 7th Oak Leaf Cluster GO 46, 9th BD, 22 Dec 44
Major Hughes 7th Oak Leaf Cluster GO 46, 9th BD, 22 Dec 44
Major Udick 3rd Oak Leaf Cluster GO 46, 9th BD, 22 Dec 44
Captain Shaffer 7th Oak Leaf Cluster GO 46, 9th BD, 22 Dec 44
S/Sgt Coxey 8th Oak Leaf Cluster GO 46, 9th BD, 22 Dec 44
S/Sgt Coxey 9th Oak Leaf Cluster GO 46, 9th BD, 22 Dec 44

5. The following promotions were recorded this month:

1st Lts. Benjamin J. Dontzin, Charles H. Schultz, and Herbert W. Yount were promoted to temporary grade of Captain AUS, effective 15 December 1944 with date of rank from 13 December 1944, par 1, SO 350, Hq, Ninth Air Force, dated 15 December 1944.

6. The strength of the Headquarters Detachment on 31 December
1944 was thirty-six (36) officers and sixty-eight (68) enlisted men.

20 January 1945
A-72, Mons En Chaussee, France
1st Lt. Tedsan S. Timberlake
Sgt. Charles W. Johnson, Jr.

***

JANUARY INSTALLMENT

UNIT HISTORY OF HEADQUARTERS DETACHMENT, 397TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M)

For The Period 1 January -- 31 January 1945.

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1. For the month of January 1945, the 397th Bombardment Group (M) remained at AAF Station A-72, Mons En Chaussee, France. Operational activity for the month was considerably limited due to inclement weather. However, every method was employed to strike at enemy lines of communications, supply depots and other objectives immediately related to the defeat of the German counter offensive in the Ardennes Sector. Two hundred and eighty three (283) aircraft were dispatched on a total of ten (10) missions and one hundred and forty four (144) of those dispatched bombed their objectives with six hundred and seventy six thousand (676,000) pounds of general purpose bombs. Total tonnage dropped by this Group, to include the thirty first (31) of January 1945, totals seven thousand five hundred and forty six (7,546) tons of bombs. Of the ten (10) missions executed for the month of January, five (5) missions employed Pathfinder procedure, two (2) missions on Gee bombing, and the three (3) remaining missions employed visual bombing technique. Our losses were light with only three (3) aircraft crashing in friendly territory and forty one (41) aircraft battle damaged. Inclusive of twenty eight (28) January 1945, the total of missions flown by this group was one hundred and fifty eight (158), with five thousand four hundred and forty two (5,442) operational sorties. Total number of personnel dispatched on operational missions was thirty two thousand four hundred and eighty six (32,486). Total casualties in the Group were two hundred and seventy five (275), or an average of less than two (2) per mission.

Aside from the regular operational activity, the problems of mud and snow control received first priority. The runway and taxi strips necessitated constant upkeep due to ice and snow conditions. Overnight thaws tended to make various sections of these strips unserviceable. Personnel of this station would clear the runway and taxi strips of snow and ice and follow this treatment with sprinklings of ashes, sand or salt. However, aircraft skidding on take off and landings was a constant hazard to the air crews. A few accidents were due to the fact that many new inexperienced flying personnel were coming into the Group to replace more experienced crews that had completed their operational tour of sixty five (65) missions.

2. A summary of missions, No. 151 through No. 160 follows:

1 January – BULLAY Rail Bridge. 30 A/C did not bomb as PPF did not drop.

5 January – Trois Vierges Road Junction. 33 A/C failed to bomb after equipment failure in PPF A/C.

11 January – Clervaux Communications Center. 33 A/C did not attack as PPF A/C did not drop.

13 January – Dasburg Rail Bridge. 22 A/C dropped on primary target by PPF. Results no identified.

14 January – Ahrweiler Rail Bridge. 23 A/C bombed the primary target visually by flights of six. 2nd Box received excellent to superior results.

16 January – Erkelenz Railway Siding. 26 A/C attacked and bombed primary target by boxes for excellent to superior results.

22 January – Bullay Rail Bridge. 29 A/C attacked and bombed primary target on PPF for fair results.

25 January – Eller Rail Bridge. 17 A/C bombed primary target visually for good to excellent results.

29 January – Engers Rail Bridge. 21 A/C attacked and bombed secondary target on “GEE” as PPF abandoned ops. Results unidentified.

29 January – Rinnthal Rail Bridge. 6 A/C bombed on primary target by “GEE” as “C” flight in a box made up of a/c from different groups.

3. The following personnel changes were recorded for the period covered:

9 – January – PFC Max Smith, trfd fr 599th Bomb Sq. to Hq, pp 4, SO #4, this Hq, dtd 6 Jan 45.

21 January – 1st Lt. Herbert J. Hartson, trfd to 596th Bomb Sq, pp 3, SO #12, this Hq, dtd 21 Jan 45.

22 January – Major Raymond P. Steiner & T/4 John P. Hanley, atchd & jd fr Triumph, pp 14, SO #18, Hq 9BD, dtd 18 Jan 45.

29 January – Capt. Charles T. Cervenska (Ord), atchd & jd fr Hq & Hq Sq, 9BD, pp 8, SO #26, Hq, 9BD, dtd 26 Jan 45.

30 January – Pvt Robert S. Isabel, trfd fr 596th Bomb Sq, to asgd & jd Hq, 397BG, pp 5, SO #20, this Hq, dtd 28 Jan 45.

4. The following awards and decorations were given to Headquarters personnel for the month of January:

Capt. Benjamin J. Dontzin, O-871159, awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross per 9AF GO #15, dtd 24 Jan 45.

Col. Richard T. Coiner, Jr. awarded the 3rd Oak Leaf Cluster to the Air Medal per GO #10, 9BD, dtd 17 Jan 45.

The Group received the following commendation:

FROM: 98th BOMB WING
TO : COMBOMGP 397

BEAUTIFUL BOMBING ON A DIFFICULT TARGET ON AHRWEILER RAILROAD BRIDGE ON 14 JAN. PHOTO RECONNAISSANCE SHOWS BRIDGE TO BE OUT. MY HEARTY CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU AND YOUR CREWS.

MACE

5. The following promotions were recorded this month:

22 January – Pvt Bernard P. Vallas to Pfc, pp 3, SO #9, this Hq, dtd 15 Jan 1945.

29 January – CWO Milburn P. Meriwether, commissioned 2nd Lt. AUS, 0001, this date, with date of rank fr 29 Jan 45.

6. The strength of the Headquarters Detachment on 31 January 1945 was thirty-four (34) officers and seventy (70) enlisted men. No casualties for the period covered.


20 February 1945
A-72, Mons En Chaussee, France

Compiled by: {SIGNED}
1st Lt. Tedsan S. Timberlake, Group Historical Officer
Sgt. Charles W. Johnson, Jr.


FEBRUARY INSTALLMENT

UNIT HISTORY FOR HEADQUARTERS DETACHMENT, 397TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M)

For The Period 1 February – 28 February 1945

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Despite continued bad flying weather over the battle fronts during February, this group flew 22 missions during the shortened month. Marauders of the 397th were in the air on 20 of the month’s 28 days. The majority of the missions employed pathfinders to locate the targets through thick cloud cover. Bridges behind the enemy’s hard pressed Western Front headed the list of objectives during the month, and as the Allied push unfolded in the Ninth and First Army sectors defended towns, strong points, and troop and vehicle concentrations were attacked in advance of the land armies.

A summary of the missions flown by the group during the month follows:

Miss. No. Feb. Target Results

161 1 ENGERS (RR Br.) PFF Undetermined
162 2 ROSBACH (RR Br.) P.N.B
163 3 AHRWEILER (RR Br.) PFF Undetermined
164 6 SOTENICH (Def. Town) PFF Undetermined
165 8 MATERBORN (Def. Town) On Gee Undetermined
166 9 VIERSEN (Rd Jcts) PFF Undetermined
167 10 BERG-GLADBACH (M/T Center) PFF Undetermined
168 11 MODRATH (M/Y) Poor and P.N.B.
169 13 SCHWELM (M/T Park) PFF Undetermined
170 14 MAYEN (RR Br.) P.N.B.
171 14 GREVENBROICH ( Comm Center) P.N.B.
172 15 MAYEN (RR Br.) PFF Poor
173 19 IRLICH (RR Br.) PFF Undetermined
174 21 HERFORD (RR Br.) Superior-Excellent
175 22 RHEDA (RR and Rd Br.) P.N.B.-Good
SCHERFEDE (Pltf and Br.) Good-Superior. (Also strafed, on first strafing mission of this group)
NEUBEKEN (RR Via) Undetermined
176 23 ELSDORF (Def. Town) PFF Undetermined
177 23 JACKERATH (Def. Town) Undetermined
178 24 IRLICH (RR Br.) On Gee Undetermined
179 25 GREVENBROICH (Def. Town) Excellent-Superior
180 26 BERGHEIM (RR & Rd Jct) Gee Undetermined
181 27 AHRWEILER (RR Br.) PFF Undetermined
182 28 MAYEN (RR Br.) PFF Undetermined

Although unfavorable weather prevented visual observation of results of most missions and made the taking of photos impossible by bombers or by photo reconnaissance planes later, the advancing Allied armies are giving interesting reports as to the effectiveness of the work of the B-26’s. Each new thrust toward the Rhine in February resulted in the over running of many positions previously assigned as targets for the 397th.

Colonel Coiner participated in missions 175 and 182. Major Hughes participated in missions 169 and 180. Major Bond and Major Udick took part in mission 28, and Captain Murphy flew on missions 180 and 159.

The months’ operations where conducted from Station A-72, near Peronne. By the end of February, Headquarters detachment had been quartered in the village on Mons En Chaussee for four months. French classes for personnel of the station were resumed during the month and semi-weekly sessions were conducted at the school in Mons, the Red Cross Aero Club, and the combat crew center. A civilian instructor from St. Quentin conducted the classes.

On 14 February, Headquarters detachment enlisted men sponsored a dance at St. Quentin.

During the month, ground force officers and enlisted men visited the 397th under the current ground-liaison orientation program. Members of the 10th armored division, 94 infantry division, and 3rd Cavalry group were the guests of the base during February. The ground personnel inspected the installations of the base and flew on missions. Major R. P. Steiner, CAC, and T/4 Handley continued their duties in GLO assignment and arranged for programs for visiting ground forces personnel.

Pvt. Raymond I. Hanson, of the 10th Armored Division, flying on the mission of 22 February was listed as missing in action after the bomber he was aboard failed to return from the mission.

Two groups of Eighth Air Force Liberators were diverted to A-72 on 16 February. A total of fifty B-24’s of the 44th and 392nd groups landed on this field after fog conditions closed in English bases. The Eighth Air Force men were quartered in the existing accommodations on the field, a number of them staying with in the Headquarters Barracks. Three days after the planes landed, weather conditions improved and the Liberators took off for England.

Lt. Col. Rollin M. Winingham, deputy group commander, became commanding officer of the 323rd Bombardment Group during the month. (Trnfd fr Hqs pp 8, SO 31, HQ IX BD, Dtd 31 Jan 45). Lt. Col. Frank L. Wood, Jr. commanding officer of the 597th Bombardment Squadron, was transferred to headquarters and subsequently appointed deputy CO. (Rld 597, trfd Hqs, pp 5, SO 25, this Hqs, dtd 2 Feb. 45.)

Lt. Col Kenneth C. Dempster, operations officer of the 397th, was transferred to Hqs 9th Air Force on 10 Feb. (pp 8, SO 41, Hq IX Bomb Div, dtd 10 Feb.). Major George D. Hughes, stepped up from his position as assistant operations officer to become operations officer. Captain John R. Shaffer, group training officer, succeeded him as assistant operations officer. Captain Charles Pinkerton, of the 597th Bombardment Squadron, was appointed group training officer, and Captain George Parker, of the 596th Squadron, was appointed Tactical Inspector and Group Controller.

Other personnel changes in February included the following: S/Sgt Frank W. Bailes was transferred from the 598th Bomb Squadron to Headquarters (pp 10, SO 28, this Hq, dtd 11 Feb 45); 2nd Lt. Milburn P. Meriwether was transferred from Hq to the 598th Bombardment Squadron (pp 6, SO 32, this Hq, dtd 18 Feb 45). Captain John W. Ward, Jr., of Headquarters, was transferred to the 64th Station Complement Squadron (pp 7, SO 54, Hq IX BD, dtd 8 Feb. 45.) Pfc Jessie B. Campbell and Pfc Oscar E. Knudson, were transferred from Headquarters to the 96th Station Complement Unit (pp 12, SO 48, Hq IX BD, Dtd 17 Feb. 45).

No awards or decorations were recorded for Headquarters men during the month. The only promotion was the promotion of Private Robert S. Lindahl to the grade of private first class on 1 February.

There were no casualties during the month and the strength of Headquarters Detachment on 28 February was 30 officers and 68 Enlisted Men.

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20 March 1945
A-72, Mons En Chaussee, France

Compiled By:
Major Thomas E. McLeod, acting Group Historical Officer
Sgt. Charles W. Johnson, Jr.

MARCH INSTALLMENT

UNIT HISTORY FOR HEADQUARTERS DETACHMENT
397TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M)

FOR THE PERIOD 1 MARCH – 31 MARCH 1945.

* * *

WHEN THE LAST MARAUDER OF THE 397TH BOMB GROUP RETURNED TO A-72 (PERONNE) AFTER BOMBING AN OIL STORAGE DEPOT AT EBENHAUSEN, GERMANY ON 30 MARCH, IT CLOSED THE GROUP’S BUSIEST MONTH IN ELEVEN MONTHS OF COMBAT OPERATIONS.
THE GROUP WAS OVER ENEMY TERRITORY ON ALL BY 4 DAYS IN MARCH, SENDING OUT TWO MISSIONS ON EACH OF 13 DAYS. BY THE MONTH’S END, 39 MISSIONS WERE RECORDED – THE LARGEST TOTAL FOR ANY SINGLE MONTH IN THE GROUP’S HISTORY – REPRESENTING 2002 TONS OF BOMBS DROPPED.
LESS THAN 11 MONTHS AFTER JOINING COMBAT, THE 397TH FLEW ITS 200TH COMBAT MISSION AS IT STRUCK AT THE NIEDER-WARBERG RAILROAD BRIDGE ON 14 MARCH. PILOTS BROUGHT BACK THE 18 B-26’S FROM THE TARGET AREA, BUZZED THE FIELD AND DROPPED FLARES TO CELEBRATE THE OCCASION. BUT SUCH HAD BEEN THE TURNOVER IN FLYING PERSONNEL THAT THERE WERE ONLY A FEW AMONG THE AIRCREWS ON THAT DAY WHO HAD BEEN WITH THE GROUP AT THE OUTSTART.
ON THE GROUND, THE INTENSIFIED AIR WAR MEANT ADDED WORK FOR THOSE EMPLOYED IN THE MAINTENANCE, ORDNANCE AND ARMAMENT, AND PLANNING SECTIONS – MEN WHO WERE KEPT ON THE JOB DAY AND NIGHT. PROOF THAT THE QUALITY OF THE WORK DID NOT SUFFER WITH INCREASED QUANTITY WAS TYPIFIED BY A REPORT FROM THE 397TH ENGINEERING SECTION. ALTHOUGH THE GROUP’S MAINTENANCE RECORD WAS LAST IN IX BOMBARDMENT DIVISION AT THE BEGINNING OF THE MONTH, BY THE END OF MARCH THE GROUP HAD THE SECOND BEST MAINTENANCE RECORD IN DIVISION.
THE GROUND OFFENSIVE, GENERALLY HERALDED AS THE FINAL DRIVE ON BERLIN, WAS FOLLOWED VICARIOUSLY BY GROUND CREWS AND IN THE AIR BY COMBAT CREWS. FOR THE LATTER, SWEEPING ADVANCES MEANT ADVANCING BOMBLINES AND MORE DISTANT TARGETS. INSTEAD OF ONE OR TWO HOUR SORTIES, MISSIONS TOWARDS THE END OF THE MONTH CONSUMED THREE HOURS OR MORE FLYING TIME. THERE WAS A CALL FOR MAPS OF THE WESTERN FRONT FROM S-2 AND SPECIAL SERVICE, AND SITUATION MAPS BEGAN TO APPEAR IN ORDERLY ROOMS, OFFICES, AND ON BARRACKS WALLS. FOR MANY, THE MAP OF THE WESTERN FRONT WAS A FAVORITE PIN-UP. INTERESTED GROUPS CLUSTERED AROUND THE NEWS SHEETS CIRCULATED ON THE BASE EVERY MORNING. STARS AND STRIPES HEADLINES WERE SEARCHED AVIDLY EVERY AFTERNOON, AND GENERALLY THERE WERE NO COMPLAINTS ABOUT THE WAY THE WAR WAS MOVING.
THE GROUND LIAISON SECTION WAS THE OBJECT OF NEW INTEREST. COMBAT CREWS AND GROUND PERSONNEL FORMED AN INFORMAL AUDIENCE AS GROUND GAINS WERE POSTED BY THE GLO OFFICER ON THE LARGE WALLMAP IN THE S-2 READING ROOM. FOR FIRST HAND EXPERIENCE WITH TWO SIDES OF THE BATTLE, COMBAT CREWS CONTINUED TO MAKE TRIPS TO THE FRONT, WHILE GROUND FORCES PERSONNEL INSPECTED THE LIFE ON THE AIR BASE. MAJOR STEINER, GLO ON DUTY WITH THE GROUP FROM THE 15TH ARMY, WAS REPLACED BY CAPTAIN JAMES Y. TINDALL FROM 12TH ARMY GROUP. MAJOR STEINER LEFT FOR THE 404TH FIGHTER GROUP. (CAPTAIN TINDALL TRFD FR 12TH ARMY GROUP TO ATCHD AND JD HQ DET PP2 SO 56 THIS HQ DTD 27 MAR 45.) FOR A COMPLETE LIST OF GROUND FORCES PERSONNEL ATTACHED TO HEADQUARTERS DETACHMENT DURING THE MONTH, SEE APPENDIX “A”.
FIGURING IN THE OFFENSIVE WAS THE 397TH’S BOMBING OF TARGETS AHEAD OF THE ADVANCE. AS IN PREVIOUS MONTHS, THE MAJORITY OF THE TARGETS WERE TRANSPORTATION TARGETS – RAILROAD BRIDGES AND MARSHALLING YARDS USED TO FERRY TROOPS AND SUPPLIES TO THE ENEMY’S LINES. TO HAMSTRING FURTHER THE ENEMY’S EFFORT, OIL AND ORDANCE DEPOTS WERE BOMBED, AND TWO AIRFIELDS WERE ALSO ON THE TARGET LIST. (FOR A SUMMARY OF MARCH OPERATIONS, SEE APPENDIX “B”.)
IMPORTANT CHANGES IN PERSONNEL BROUGHT ABOUT THE TRANSFER OF MANY MEMBERS OF HEADQUARTERS DETACHMENT.
FORMER ASSISTANT GROUP INTELLIGENCE OFFICER, FIRST LIEUTENTANT TEDSAN S. TIMBERLAKE WAS ON 9 MARCH TRANSFERRED FROM HEADQUARTERS DETACHMENT TO 9TH REINFORCEMENT DEPOT, GROUND FORCES TRAINING CENTER (P2, SO 64, HQ IX AIR FORCE, DTD 5 MAR 1945.) AS AN ENLISTED MAN, LT. TIMBERLAKE SERVED IN THE COAST ARTILLERY; LATER ATTENDED AIR FORCE ADMINISTRATIVE OCS AND GRADUATED FROM THE AAF INTELLIGENCE SCHOOL AT HARRISBURG, PENN. COMING TO THE 397TH FROM THE 21ST BOMB GROUP, HE WAS ASSISTANT INTELLIGENCE OFFICER UP TO THE TIME HE VOLUNTEERED FOR INFANTRY SERVICE.
CAPTAIN JOHN D. SHAFFER, ASSISTANT GROUP OPERATIONS OFFICER, RETURNED TO THE UNITED STATES IN MARCH TO ATTEND THE AAF ENGINEERING SCHOOL AT WRIGHT FIELD, DAYTON, OHIO. WEST POINT GRADUATE AND FORMER GROUP TRAINING OFFICER, CAPTAIN SHAFFER LEFT THE GROUP ON 9 MARCH, (TRFD TO 70TH REPL DEPOT FOR RETURN TO ZI, PER LTR Q, HQ USTAAF IN EUROPE (MAIN), DTD 10 MARCH 1945.)
THE FIRST HEADQUARTERS MAN TO COMPLETE HIS TOUR OF DUTY IN THIS THEATER, S/SGT ROBERT F. COXEY LEFT THE GROUP FOR RETURN TO THE STATES ON 12 MARCH. S/SGT COXEY FLEW 65 MISSIONS AS AN AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHER WITH THE 397TH, AFTER JOINING THE GROUP AT GOSFIELD, ENGLAND. (TRFD TO 70TH REPL DEPOT, FOR RETURN TO ZI, PP 14 SO 39, HQ 9TH BD DTD 6 MAR 45.)
OTHER CHANGES IN PERSONNEL WERE AS FOLLOWS:
1 MARCH – CPL JOSEPH N. GRECCO, TRFD FR 597TH SQ TO HQ (PP 4, SO 38, THIS HQ, DTD 25 FEB 45); SGT JOSEPH L. PETERS TRFD FR 598TH SQ TO HQ (PP 4, SO 38 THIS HQ DTD 25 FEB 45)
8 MARCH – PFC VERNON L. HENDRIX, TRFD TO 323RD BOMB GP (PP 10 SO 63 HQ 9TH BD, DTD 4 MAR 45).
18 MARCH – 2ND LT MILBURN P. MERIWETHER, TRFD TO 596TH SQ FR HQ (PP 6, SO 32, THIS HQ DTD 16 FEB 45).
23 MARCH – CAPT GEORGE S. MURPHY, JR., TRFD 596TH (PP 6, SO 52, THIS HQ, DTD 20 MARCH 1945); CAPT CHARLES K. AGAN, TRFD FR 597TH (PP 6, SO 52 THIS HQ DTD 20 MARCH 45.)

WITH THE DEPARTURE OF LT. COL KENNETH C. DEMPSTER (SEE LAST MONTH’S INSTALLMENT), MAJOR GEORGE D. HUGHES WAS ANNOUNCED AS GROUP OPERATIONS OFFICER ON 13 MARCH. ON 11 MARCH, CAPT. ALVIN E. HIXON REJOINED THE GROUP FROM THE 98TH COMBAT WING (PP 3 SO 45 THIS HQ DTD 10 MAR 45) AND ON 20 MARCH WAS APPOINTED ASSISTANT GROUP OPERATIONS OFFICER.
GROUP ORDNANCE OFFICER, JOHN E. HAUPT, JR., WAS PROMOTED TO CAPTAIN (PP 1, SO 74, HQ IX AFX, DTD 15 MARCH 1945). PVT ROBERT S. ISABEL WAS PROMOTED TO PFC (PP1 SO 39 THIS HQ DTD 1 MAR 45), AND CPL JOSEPH N. GRECCO, WAS APPOINTED SGT (SO 49 THIS HQ DTD 15 MAR 45.)
THERE WERE NO AWARDS OR DECORATIONS FOR MEMBERS OF HEADQUARTERS DETACHMENT DURING MARCH.
FURLOUGHS TO ENGLAND FOR GROUND PERSONNEL WERE OFFERED IN MARCH. FURLOUGHS LASTED A WEEK. IN ADDITION TWO WEEKS TRAVEL TIME WAS USUALLY NECESSARY. ON 9 MARCH, T/SGT ERNEST E. CLARIDGE AND T/SGT JAMES R. ELLIS LEFT FOR ENGLAND. ON 10 MARCH, M/SGT CHARLES R. ALLISON, JR., AND PFC EARL C. BOEKHOUT, WHO LEFT WITH THE FEBRUARY QUOTA, RETURNED FROM ENGLAND. ON 24 MARCH, MAJ WILLIAM RAFKIND, S/SGT BENTON K. JOHNS, AND CPL HORACE C. JACOBS WENT ON LEAVE.
THE 397TH GROUP BASKETBALL TEAM WON THE 9TH BOMBARDMENT DIVISION TOURNEY HELD IN MARCH, BUT BOWED OUT IN THE NINTH AIR FORCE TOURNAMENT HELD AT CHANTILLY. AFTER DEFEATING THE 9TH TAC 67-45 IN THE FIRST ROUND, THE BRIDGE BUSTERS LOST A 59-53 GAME TO THE TEAM OF THE NINTH AIR SERVICE COMMAND. ON THE TEAM THAT COMPLETED THE SEASON WITH 17 WINS AND FOUR DEFEATS WERE T/SGT TURNER, LT. MAHLUM, AND PFC MAX SMITH FROM HEADQUARTERS.
THE STRENGTH OF HEADQUARTERS DETACHMENT ON 31 MARCH WAS 29 OFFICERS AND 68 ENLISTED MEN.

20 APRIL 1945
A-72 (PERONNE)

MAJ THOMAS E. MCLEOD,
ACTNG GP HISTORIAN
SGT CHARLES W. JOHNSON, JR.

APPENDIX “A”

GROUND FORCE PERSONNEL ATTACHED TO HEADQUARTERS DETACHMENT ON GLO PROGRAM:

MAJOR JAMES C. COTHRAN, MAJOR JOSEPH E. MCDOWELL, T/4 ALVIN H. BEHN, PFC LIONEL H. ABSHIRE.
(PER LTR O #9, HQ 3RD ARMY DTD 4 MARCH 1945)

1ST LT OIVA R. NISKA, WOJG ROLLAND H. HICKMAN, T/SGT GUY L. STATZER, T/4 JOSE A. SANDFORD, PVT ROBERT J. MITCHELL.
(PER LTR O #29, HQ 3RD ARMY, DTD 11 MARCH 45).

M/SGT HAROLD F. BEALE, T/5 HERMAN B. BOUDREAUX
(PP 2, LTR O. AG 300.4 HQ 3RD US ARMY DTD 18 MAR 45)

CAPT. FRANK KOWAR, 1ST LT GEORGE C. MCARTHUR, S/SGT PERALEY F. WILSON, CPL JAMES K. MARKWELL, T/5 DIONYSIUS G. RUSHING, PFC JAMES W. GROSS.
(PER LTR O 300.4/80 HQ 39TH AA BRIGADE, DTD 18 MAR 45)

# # #

APPENDIX “B”

MISSION SUMMARY FOR MARCH

* * *

MARCH MISS. NO. TGT RESULTS
1 183 PULHEIM (COMM CENTER) UNDET (PFF) GEE
2 (AM) 184 ELLER (RR BRIDGE) N.A.O.
2 (PM) 185 SINZIG (RR BRIDGE) UNDET (PFF)
3 RECALL GIESSEN SUPPLY DUMP NO ATTACK
4 186 BRUHL (RD JCTS) UNDET (PFF)
5 (AM) 187 UNNA (ORD DEPOT) UNDET (PFF)
5 (PM) 188 BINGEN (M/Y) NAO (GEE)
6 189 SIEGBURG (M/Y) UNDET (PFF)
8 190 WULFRATH (M/T DEPOT) UNDET (PFF)
9 (AM) 191 WIESBADEN (M/Y) UNDET (PFF)
9 (PM) 192 DORTMUND/LUNEN
(AMMO FILLING PLNT) UNDET (PFF)
10 193 ALTENKITCHEN (COMM CENTER) UNDET (PFF)
11 (AM) 194 BREITSCHEID (A/F) NAO
11 (PM) 195 WEYERBUSCH (COMM CEN) UNDET (PFF)
12 (AM) 196 ARNSBERG (M/Y) UNDET (PFF)
12 (PM) 197 SYNTHEN (AMMO FILLING PLANT) UNDET (PFF)
13 (AM) 198 WESTERBURG (M/Y) UNDET (PFF)
13 (PM) 199 FRANKFURT/RHEIN-MAIN (A/F) EXCELL-UNSAT
14 200 NIEDER-MARBERG (RR BR) SUP-UNSAT
15 (AM) 201 PIRMASENS (COMM CNTR) EX-SUP
16 202 NIEDERSCHELD (RR BR) EX-UNSAT
17 (AM) 203 SIEGEN M/Y UNDET (PFF)
17 (PM) 204 GIESSEN (ORD DEPOT) UNDET (PFF)
18 205 WORMS (M/Y) EX
19 (AM) 206 ENGELSKIRCHEN (M/Y) POOR
19 (PM) 207 BARMEN (M/Y) EX-UNDET
20 (AM) 208 GEISECKE (M/Y) PFF (GOOD-EXCELLENT)
21 (AM) 209 GOESFELD (COMM CENT) UNDET-EX
21 (PM) 210 HALTERN (COMM CENT) UNSAT,NAO,UNSAT,SUP
22 (AM) 211 AHAUSE (COMM CENT) EX-GOOD
23 (AM) 212 HALTERN (COMM CENT) SUP-UNDET
23 (PM) 214 SCHERMBECK (COMM CENT) GOOD-UNDET
24 (AM) 215 BECHOLT FLAK POS. NAO
24 (PM) 216 VLOTHO (RR BR) SUP-POOR
25 (AM) 217 LIMBURG (M/Y) SUP-UNSAT
25 (PM) 218 FRIEDBURG (M/Y) SUP-UNDET
26 219 FLIEDEN (M/Y) EX
28 220 EBRACH OIL DEPOT UNDET (PFF) NAO
30 221 EBENHAUSEN
(OIL STORAGE PLANT) UNDET

* * *

COLONEL COINER FLEW ON MISSIONS #196, AND 208
MAJOR HUGHES FLEW ON MISSIONS #202 AND 211
CAPT AGAN FLEW ON MISSION #189.
MAJ BOND FLEW ON MISSIONS #193,198,206,208,209,215,217,219, & 221
CAPT HIXON FLEW ON MISSIONS #194,198,201,205,212,215, & 219
MAJ UDICK FLEW ON MISSIONS #193, 208, & 219.


APRIL INSTALLMENT

UNIT HISTORY OF HEADQUARTERS DETACHMENT, 397TH BOMBARDMENT GP (M)
FOR PERIOD 1 APRIL 1945 – 30 APRIL 1945

* * *

THE FOLLOWING IS INFORMATION REQUIRED BY PAR 4 (B), IX BOMBARDMENT DIVISION MEMO 20-3:

(1) NEGATIVE.

(2) STRENGTH OF THE ORGANIZATION ON THE LAST DAY OF THE MONTH WAS 31 OFFICERS AND 67 ENLISTED MEN.

(3) THE UNIT MOVED FROM A-72, PERONNE, FRANCE, TO Y-55, GERMANY, THE MOVEMENT BEING COMPLETED 25 APRIL 1945.

(4) NEGATIVE.

(5) COLONEL COINER WAS AWARDED THE BRONZE STAR PER GO 66, IX BD, DTD 1 MAY 1945; MAJOR BOND WAS AWARDED THE DFC PER GO 56, 9TH AF, DTD 24 APR 45; T/SGT CHEEK WAS AWARDED THE BRONZE STAR PER GO 50, IX BD, DTD 4 APR 45.

CAPTAIN NIXON WAS AWARDED THE SILVER OAK LEAF CLUSTER TO THE AIR MEDAL PER GO 51, IX BD, DTD 2 APR 45 AND THE SIXTH OAK LEAF CLUSTER PER GO 38, IX BD, DTD 21 APR 45; MAJOR HUGHES WAS AWARDED THE EIGHTH OAK LEAF CLUSTER, PER GO 51, IX BD, AND THE NINTH OAK LEAF CLUSTER PER GO 58, IX BD; MAJOR BOND WAS AWARDED THE EIGHTH AND NINTH OAK LEAF CLUSTERS ON THE SAME ORDERS AS ABOVE; CAPTAIN CRESON WAS AWARDED HIS 8TH OAK LEAF CLUSTER PER GO 51, IX BD.

THE UNIT WAS AUTHORIZED THE BRONZE BATTLE STAR – GERMANY PER LTR ETOUSA FILE AG 200.6, OPGA DTD 14 APR 45.

* * *

THE BATTLE OF GERMANY WAS WELL INTO ITS FINAL PHASE AS THE MONTH BEGAN. OPERATING FROM A-72, FRANCE, THE 397TH CONTINUED ITS TACTICAL BOMBING AHEAD OF THE GROUND TROOPS WITH MARSHALLING YARDS COMPOSING THE LARGER SHARE OF THE MONTH’S TARGETS.

ON 25 APRIL, THE GROUP MOVED INTO GERMANY, OCCUPYING THE FORMER LUFTWAFFE AIRDROME NEAR VENLO, HOLLAND, ADVERSE WEATHER PREVENTED THE GROUP FROM CARRYING OUT COMBAT OPERATIONS FROM THIS FIELD, AND THE GROUP’S MISSION OF 20 APRIL FROM A-72 WAS ITS LAST MISSION IN THE WAR AGAINST GERMANY.

(20 APRIL IS A SIGNIFICANT DATE IN THE HISTORY OF THE 397TH FOR TWO OTHER REASONS. THE GROUP WAS ACTIVATED ON 20 APRIL 1943 AND FLEW ITS FIRST COMBAT MISSION ON 20 APRIL 1944.)

MISSION #222 WAS FLOWN ON 3 APRIL AGAINST HOLZWINDEN MARSHALLING YARD. ON THE 4TH A MISSION WAS CARRIED OUT AGAINST THE OIL STORAGE DEPOT AT EBRACH. ON THE 7TH, THE 397TH STRUCK AT THE NORTHEIM MARSHALLING YARD AND THE NEXT DAY BOMBED THE OIL REFINERY AT NIIMHAGAN.

TWO MISSIONS WERE FLOWN ON 9 APRIL. IN THE MORNING, THE OIL STORAGE DEPOT AT BAD BERKA WAS THE TARGET. IN THE AFTERNOON, THE MARSHALLING YARDS AT JENA WERE HIT. THE FOLLOWING DAY, THE MARAUDERS BOMBED THE RUDELSTADT ORDNANCE DEPOT WITH EXCELLENT TO SUPERIOR RESULTS.

11 APRIL WAS ANOTHER DOUBLE MISSION DAY. THE MARSHALLING YARD AT ASCHERSLEBEN WAS BOMBED IN THE MORNING AND A RAID WAS MADE ON THE BAMBERG MOTOR TRANSPORT ASSEMBLY PLANT LATER IN THE DAY.

THE ORDNANCE DEPOT AT KEMPTEN WAS BOMBED ON THE 12TH, THE MARSHALLING YARD AT GUNZBURG ON THE 15TH, AND ON THE 16TH RAIDS WERE MADE ON THE GUZENHAUSEN M/Y AND THE ORDNANCE DEPOT AT KEMPTEN. THE 397TH WAS ONE OF THE ELEVEN GROUPS THAT BOMBED MAGDEBURG ON 17 APRIL. THE MARSHALLING YARDS AT ULM AND GUNZBURG WERE THE OBJECTIVES FOR 397TH MISSIONS ON 19 APRIL. TWO MORE MARSHALLING YARDS, THOSE AT MEMINGEN AND NORDLINGEN WERE RAIDED ON 20 APRIL. WITH THE RETURN OF THE MISSION AGAINST NORDLINGEN, THE 397TH COMPLETED ITS 239TH MISSION.

IN APRIL, BUILDING ACTIVITIES AT A-72 WERE HALTED AND HEADQUARTERS AND SQUADRONS MADE PREPARATIONS FOR A CHANGE OF STATION. HEADQUARTERS DETACHMENT MOVED BY AIR, TRUCK, AND JEEP, AND SOME EQUIPMENT WAS MOVED BY RAIL. THE MOVEMENT WAS AUTHORIZED BY IX BD MOVEMENT ORDER 31, DTD 23 APRIL, AND BY 25 APRIL HEADQUARTERS DETACHMENT WAS OCCUPYING A TENT SITE AT STATION Y-55, 2 MILES EAST OF VENLO, HOLLAND. THE FIELD STRADDLED THE DUTCH-GERMAN BORDER, AND TWO SQUADRONS AND HEADQUARTERS DETACHMENT TOGETHER WITH GROUP OFFICES WERE LOCATED IN GERMANY. BECAUSE OF THIS IT WAS POSSIBLE FOR SOME MEN IN THE GROUP TO SAY THAT THEY LIVED IN HOLLAND, BUT WORKED IN GERMANY.

THE NEWS OF THE DEATH OF PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT SPREAD OVER THE BASE ON 13 APRIL. THE FLAG IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE SITE AT A-72 WAS LOWERED TO HALF MAST FOR THIRTY DAYS MOURNING. ON 15 APRIL SPECIAL MEMORIAL SERVICES WERE CONDUCTED OUTSIDE THE GROUP HEADQUARTERS BUILDING BY CHAPLAIN COMFORT.

RAIN AND COLD WEATHER FILLED THE REMAINDER OF THE MONTH AFTER THE DETACHMENT LEFT FRANCE. AT FIRST, RECREATIONAL FACILITIES WERE ALMOST NIL, BUT AFTER A FEW DAYS SPECIAL SERVICE SET UP A MOVIE PROJECTOR IN THE S-2 BRIEFING ROOM WHERE MOVIES WERE SHOWN TWICE NIGHTLY.

THE INFORMATION AND EDUCATION PROGRAM FOR HEADQUARTERS DETACHMENT GOT UNDER WAY IN APRIL. CAPTAIN CHARLES H. SMITH WAS TRANSFERRED FROM THE 598TH SQUADRON TO HEADQUARTERS AND BECAME GROUP INFORMATION AND EDUCATION OFFICER. (PP7, SO 66, THIS HQS, DTD 13 APR 45). DISCUSSION AND ORIENTATION PERIOD WERE HELD TWICE A WEEK AT A-72, BUT THE PROGRAM WAS TEMPORARILY INTERRUPTED BY THE CHANGE OF STATION.

MAJOR WILLIAM H. BOND, GROUP BOMBARDIER, WAS TRANSFERRED FROM HEADQUARTERS DETACHMENT TO THE 70TH REINFORCEMENT DEPOT FOR RETURN TO THE Z. OF I., AFTER COMPLETING 65 MISSIONS WITH THIS GROUP. (PP 3, SO 96, HQ 98D, DTD 6 APR 45). HE WAS SUCCEEDED BY CAPTAIN WALTER F. CRESON, TRANSFERRED TO HEADQUARTERS FROM THE 597TH SQUADRON. (PP 4, SO 69, THIS HQ, DTD 4 APR 45.)

FILLING THE VACANCY LEFT BY THE TRANSFER OF LT. TEDSAN S. TIMBERLAKE TO THE INFANTRY, CAPTAIN JOHN R. NEALE, 596TH SQUADRON INTELLIGENCE OFFICER, WAS ASSIGNED TO HEADQUARTERS ATTACHMENT AND APPOINTED ASSISTANT GROUP S-2. (PP 5 SO 71 THIS HQ DTD 19 APR 45). CAPTAIN NEALE WAS LATER APPOINTED GROUP HISTORICAL OFFICER.

CAPTAIN JAMES M. LYNCH, JR., GROUP ASSISTANT ADJUTANT, WAS SELECTED FOR A 9TH BOMBARDMENT DIVISION PERSONNEL AND AUDIT INSPECTION TEAM, AND WAS PLACED ON 15 DAYS TEMPORARY DUTY WITH 9TH BOMBARDMENT DIVISION. (PP 20, SO 191, HQ 98D, DTD 12 APR 45.)

PRIVATE STEPHEN PAJOR WAS TRANSFERRED FROM THE 598TH BOMB SQUADRON TO HQS PP 5, SO 61, THIS HQ, DTD 6 APR 45. CPL OSCAR ABNER AND PFC SYLVESTER FIOTO WERE TRANSFERRED TO THE 64TH STA COMPL SQ (PP 3, SO 95, HQ 98D, DTD 8 APR 45) AND SUBSEQUENTLY WERE TRANSFERRED TO THE INFANTRY.

SGT GERALD S. SAMET WAS APPOINTED S/SGT PP SO 60, THIS HQS, DTD 4 APR 45.

* * *

20 MAY 1945
Y-55, 2 MI E. OF VENLO, HOLLAND

CAPT. JOHN R. NEALE, GP HISTORICAL O.
Sgt. CHARLES W. JOHNSON, JR.

MAY INSTALLMENT
* * *
Unit History of Headquarters Detachment, 397TH Bombardment Group (M)

For Period 1 May 1945 -- 31 May 1945.

* * *

The following is information required by par 4 (b), IX Bombardment Division memo 20-3:

(1) Negative.

(2) Strength of the unit on the 31st day of May was 38 Officers and 66 enlisted men.

(3) Advance and flight echelons of the unit moved from Y-55 to AAF Station A-72 on the 24th and 31st of May respectively.

(4) Negative.

(5) 2nd Lt. Forest H. Stout was awarded the 3rd Oak Leaf Cluster to the Air Medal (par Go 5, Hq, 9th Air Division, dtd 4 May 1945.)

* * *

Soaked by continuous spring rains, AAF Station Y-55 at Venlo was cold, wet and uncomfortable from the time the 397th landed there until the day the war ended. The last group mission had been flown from A-72 on 20 April, but after the group moved closer to the swiftly flowing front it met its greatest enemy in the weather. Missions were set up, sometimes air crews were briefed, but in the end every mission was scrubbed and life on the station settled down to waiting for the end that was not far away.

Headquarters Detachment, officers and enlisted men, dwelled in pyramidal tents huddled in a grove of pines. Recreational facilities were limited. There were coffee and doughnuts at the tent that served as the Red Cross Aero Club and movies in the S-2 briefing room. The non-coms club was set up on the field. Headquarters enlisted men imported several kegs of Belgian beer and some of the evenings were passed in congenial drinking under the pines.

The end of hostilities was anti-climatical. Radio Flensburg reports followed by BBC announcements were received on the 7th and preceded official announcements. The news came as no great surprise, although in the backs of the minds of many was a feeling of relief and the most often-heard question was “what now?” Happily, the sun broke through the gloomy skies on the 8th, V-E Day, a holiday, and a day of celebration. Taking advantage of the holiday period, men struck out for Brussels, Paris or into Germany. In time unit censorship was abolished. Sunday was established as a group holiday. Black-out restrictions were lifted. Headquarters men viewed a showing of the War Department film “Two Down and One to Go”, and ninety percent of all bull sessions were devoted to either one of two topics – the point system and where do we go from here – home, the Pacific, or into the army of occupation.

As the war ended, the complete story of the group’s participation in the war against Germany could be related, statistically at least. Group Intelligence records showed that in the 239 missions flown by the 397th in its year of combat operations, more than 7,000 planes were over enemy territory, while more than a thousand were battle-damaged by flak and 12 damaged by enemy aircraft. An additional 23 planes crashed in friendly territory because of battle damage or weather. S-2 casualty records listed 49 men killed, 119 men wounded, and 203 men missing. However, with the overrunning of prison camps within the Reich, many of those previously listed as missing in action were found alive.

With the cessation of hostilities rumor was rampant on the airfield. Each day brought a new rumor that was passed from mouth to ear as authentic and unimpeachable. Largely the stories had to do with the disposition of the group. However, such was the changing current of the rumors that the same fate was never in store for the group on two successive days.

Towards the end of the month it became evident that the group was scheduled to move back to France. Finally, 9th Air Division Movement Order Number 11 (dtd 17 May 1945) determined that the group was to move back to its former base at A-72, Peronne. The advanced echelon of Headquarters left on 24 May and was followed a week later by the flight echelon. Headquarters came back to Mons en Chaussee where the enlisted men moved into the same barracks they had occupied in their first stay at the base. However, all staff sections held offices in one block formerly occupied only by S-2 and S-3. As the month ended, the read echelon of Headquarters Detachment remained at Y-55 scheduled to return to France on 3 June 1945.

* * *

On 2 May, Lt. Col. Robert M. McLeod was transferred to Headquarters from the 596th Bomb Sq. as of the 24th of April. His principal duty was that of acting deputy commander. (PP 1 SO 74 this Hq dtd 24 Apr 45). On the 11th Lt. Col. McLeod was trfd to the 70th Reinforcement Depot for return to the Z.I. (pp 1, SO 124, Hq 9th Bomb Div dtd 5 May 45.) A new medical administrative officer, 2nd Lt. Homer L. Bright, was trfd from the 10th Photo Group Rcn (pp 2 SO 77 Hq 10th Photo Gp dtd 5 May 45). Captain James Tindall, ground-liaison officer, was trfd to 9th Air Force per VOCO 12th Army Gp dtd 11 May 45. On the 15th, 1st Lt. Robert S. Askew was trfd to Headquarters from the 64th Sta Compl Sq (pp 18 SO 128 Hq 9th Bomb Div dtd 9 May 45). Lt. Col. Frank L. Wood, Jr., was trfd to the 70th Reinforcement Depot for return to Z. of I. (pp 19 SO 3, Hq 9th Air Div dtd 12 May 45.) Capt. George W. Parker was trfd to Hqs from the 596th Bomb Sq and became Group Air Inspector (pp 7 SO 80 this Hq dtd 15 May 45.) 2nd Lt Forrest H. Stout was trfd to Hqs fr 597th Bomb Sq and became group technical inspector (pp 8 SO 80 this Hq dtd 15 May 45.) Capt. John L. Krueger, 1st Lt. Frederick N. Fitting, and 1st Lt. Clifford T. Whidden were trfd to Hqs from the 96th Sta Compl Sq (pp 2 SO 81 this Hq dtd 19 May 45.) Pfc Milten Mintz was trfd to Hqs from the 96th Sta. Compl Sq (pp 2 SO 81 this Hq dtd 19 May 1945.)

Major George D. Hughes was promoted to Lt. Col (pp 11 SO 136 Hq IX AF dtd 16 May 45) and Captain Alvin E. Hixon was promoted to Major (pp 12 SO 136 Hq 9th AF dtd 16 May 45.)

Major Robert L. McCollum, group surgeon, attended an inter-allied conference of war medicine in London, 1st Lt. Arnold Mahlum attended an instructor’s training school at Chantilly, and Master Sergeant Fred J. Turner attended an instructor training school at Chantilly during the month.

* * *

Captain John R. Neale,
Group Historical Officer
Sgt. Charles W. Johnson, Jr.


JUNE INSTALLMENT

Unit History of Headquarters Detachment, 397TH Bombardment Group (M)
For Period 1 June 1945 -- 30 June 1945.


The following is information required by par 4 (b), IX Bombardment Division memo 20-3:

(1) Negative.

(2) Strength of the unit on the 30th day of June was 42 officers (40 assigned & 2 attached) and 157 enlisted men (91 assigned & 66 attached).

(3) Negative.

(4) Negative.

(5) Capt WALTER F. CRESON was awarded the 9th Oak Leaf Cluster to the Air Medal (9AD GO 30, dated 14 June 45). Capt BENJAMIN J. DONTZIN was awarded the 14th Oak Leaf Cluster to the Air Medal (9AD GO 30, dated 14 June 45).

The following enlisted men were awarded the Bronze Star (9AD GO 38, dated 23 June 45):

M/Sgt Fred G. Turner, Operations
M/Sgt Charles H. Allison, Communications
T/Sgt Fincher E. Nork, Supply

The first week of June was devoted to the unpacking of supplies and equipment and general arrangement and locating of departments. Group Headquarters consolidated all departments within one area. This was the site and buildings formerly used by S-2 and S-3. The Medical Department occupied the area previously used by Command, S-1, S-4 and affiliated sections. Two Niessen huts were erected in the administrative area for use of S-2 and the Group Inspection Section.

Upon receipt of 9th Air Division memo 50-11, dated 6 June 1945, all section and squadrons collaborated upon the general outline of the extensive training program as outlined in the memorandum. Approximately two weeks were needed for planning, outlining and preparing the overall program.

The first classes were hold on the 25th of June. This comprised a lecture on Safeguarding Military Information and Instructions in aircraft recognition. The remainder of the month was devoted to similar instructions to all squadrons. One additional subject was added, namely the History of the Nazi Party.

The following listed personnel were assigned during June on the dates indicated:

5 June – 1st Lt PETER R. ROSTOCKY, 2nd Lt FRANK W. KLINGES
11 June – Cpl Maurice E. Bouchard
13 June – 1st Sgt Robert N. Law
18 June – S/Sgt Walter D. Nigham, Pfc Harold E. Puergin and Pvt Anselme A. Petit.
19 June – Capt ROBERT P. BURNS
20 June – Lt Col JERALD W. BRITT, and Capt CYRIL A. COHEN
21 June – Capt MILTON W. MOORSON and Capt ALVIN J. LOWE
30 June – 1st Lt STANLEY I. L. DOW, T/Sgt William F. Wyatt, T/Sgt Edward J. Russo, T/Sgt Jack R. Jablonaky, S/Sgt Paul S. Leming, S/Sgt Harold Goodman, S/Sgt Allan J. Desmond, S/Sgt Herbert W. Wood, Sgt Leon R. Condran, Cpl Howard W. Calhoun, Cpl William R. Emory.

The following named men were transferred on the dates indicated:

7 June – M/Sgt Henry C. Seymour, M/Sgt John C. Hardy, T/Sgt Harnet Womick, Jr.
14 June – Lt Col FRANK L. WOOD, Jr, Lt Col GEORGE S. HUGHES, Capt GEORGE W. PARKER, Capt WALTER F. CRESON, and Cpl Paul R. Vramisky.
22 June – 2nd Lt FRANK W. KACINSKY
25 June – Cpl Maurice Bouchard and Pvt Stephen Pajor.
28 June – 1st Lt JOHN P. SPENCER and Pfc Earl C. Hoekout.
29 June – 1st Lt PETER R. ROSTOCKY, Pfc Robert S. Isabel, Pfc Nobert R. Koppert.
30 June – Sgt Joseph H. Larson.

James R. Calabria was appointed M/Sgt as of 6 June 1945.


{SIGNED}
JOHN R. NEALE,
Captain, Air Corps
Group Historical Officer


JULY INSTALLMENT

Unit History of Headquarters Detachment, 397TH Bombardment Group (M)
For Period 1 July 1945 -- 31 July 1945.


The following is information required by par 4 (b), IX Bombardment Division memo 20-3:

(1) Negative.

(2) Strength of the unit on the 31st day of July was 41 Officers (39 assigned & 2 attached), and 155 enlisted men (90 assigned & 65 attached).

(3) Negative.

(4) Negative.

(5) Lt Col FRANKLIN E. ROWLING, Major KENNETH R. MAJORS, Major WILLIAM RAFKIND, Capt CLAUDE S. FUNDERRAK, and Capt ROBERT S. ASKEW were awarded the Bronze Star ( 9th AD GO #42 dated 4 July 1945).

The month of July was uneventful. All departments carried out normal duties with emphasis still being placed on the training program. Numerous passes, leaves and furloughs were granted to eligible personnel.

On the 23rd of July Lt Col JIMMIE W. BRITT assumed command of the 397th Bombardment Group (M) vice Col. RICHARD T. COINER, Jr. who was transferred to the ZOI.

The following listed personnel were assigned during the month of July:

Capt FRANK B. WATSON Capt JOHN A. NOONE
Lt Col RAYMOND J. WAGNER 1st Lt JOHN R. LEONARD
1st Lt JOSEPH L. MILLER 2nd Lt KENNETH N. TERWILLEGER
M/Sgt Ralph N. Brown T/Sgt Harold F. Kent
S/Sgt Louis C. Mercangeli Sgt Norbert M. Johnson, Jr.
Cpl Asa A. Faulkner Pfc Benjamin Agin
Pfc Luther D. Powers

The following listed personnel were transferred during the month of July:

Col RICHARD T. COINER, Jr. Major Alvin E. Nixon
Major EARL W. UDICK Capt ROBERT P. HOLMES
Capt JOSIAH G. CHATEAU Capt CLARENCE E. COMFORT, Jr.
1st Lt JOHN P. SPACER T/Sgt James R. Ellis
S/Sgt Orville L. Floyd S/Sgt William J. Rendall
Sgt Charles W. Johnson, Jr. Sgt Clyde L. Sundguist
Cpl Louis Georgecocopoulos Cpl Francis J. Brown
Cpl Ernest A. Swenson Pfc Michael J. Sistare
Pfc Edward A. Sweeney Pfc William J. L. Lackett
Pfc Milton Mintz Pfc James A. Anderson
Pfc Charles Greif, Jr. Pvt Willard E. Garner
Pvt Dale M. Niemack

There were no promotions during the month of July 1945.


{SIGNED}
JOHN R. NEALE,
Captain, Air Corps,
Group Historical Officer.



HEADQUARTERS
397TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M)

APO 140 U. S. ARMY
30 September 1945

SUBJECT: August 1945 installment of Headquarters Detachment, 397TH Bomb. Gp

TO : Commanding General, 98th Bomb. Wing, APO 140, U. S. Army,
Att. Historical Officer.

(1) The following is information is submitted with reference required by par 4 (b), 9th Air Division memo 20-3:

(a) Negative.

(b) The strength of the unit on the 31st day of August was 40 officers (38 assigned and 2 attached), and 160 enlisted men (82 assigned and 78 attached).

(c) Negative.

(d) Negative.

(e) Capt John F. Caldwell was awarded the Bronze Star Medal per GO #60, 9 AD dd 21 August ‘45. 2nd Lt. Kenneth W. Terwilleger was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross per GO #151, 9 AD, dd 4 Aug. ’45.

The 397th Bombardment Group received the Presidential Unit Citation for conspicuous action against the enemy on December 23, 1944, per GO #152 9 AF, dd 4 Aug. ’45.

The month of August was uneventful. All departments carried out normal duties with emphasis on the training program. Passes, leaves and furloughs were granted to eligible personnel.

There was some turnover in the personnel. 5 new men were assigned to Headquarters and 15 high point men have left for the ZI.

There were no promotions during the month of August 1945.


FRANK B. WATSON,
Capt. Air Corps,
Group Historical Officer.

HEADQUARTERS, NINTH AIR FORCE
APO 696, U. S. Army
4 August 1945

GENERAL ORDERS)
NUMBER 152)
E X T R A C T
Section
BATTLE HONORS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I

I. – BATTLE HONORS – Under the provisions of Section IV, Circular No. 333, War Department, 1943, the following-named units of the Ninth Air Force are cited for extraordinary heroism in action against the enemy. The citations read as follows:

* * * * * * * * * * *

“The 397th Bombardment Group (M). For extraordinary heroism in armed conflict with the enemy on 23 December 1944. At the height of the German counterattack in the Ardennes sector the 397th Bombardment Group was assigned the hazardous mission of attacking the railway bridge at Eller, Germany which was a vital link in the enemy’s supply line across the Moselle River. In a desperate attempt to ward off the attackers the enemy threw up an intense hail of antiaircraft fire which exacted a toll of 3 B-26 bombers and damaged many more. Despite the tremendous odds encountered and the lack of protection from fighter escorts, the determined pilots performed their sighting operations with a high degree of accuracy and succeeded in completely severing the bridge. Although the formation was viciously attacked by 25 Messerschmitt aircraft, the airmen of the 397th Bombardment Group met the attack with such vigor and aggressiveness that a total of 4 hostile planes were destroyed, 3 probably destroyed, and 5 were extensively damaged, forcing them to withdraw from the engagement. The intensity of the hostile attacks is evidenced by the fact that only 5 Marauder bombers escaped battle damage from enemy fire. The aerial skill, courage, and esprit de corps displayed by the officers and men of the 397th Bombardment Group in attacking a vital and strongly defended enemy target reflect great distinction upon the 397th Bombardment Group and the Army Air Forces.”

BY COMMAND OF MAJOR GENERAL KEPMER:

ROBERT M. LEE
Brig Gen, USA
OFFICIAL: Chief of Staff

s/ F. H. Monahan
t/ F. H. MONAHAN
Lt Col, AGD
Adjutant General

A TRUE EXTRACT COPY:

JAMES M. LYNCH, JR.
Captain, Air Corps.
HEADQUARTERS
397TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M)

APO 140 U. S. ARMY
30 October 1945

SUBJECT: September 1945 Installment Unit History of Headquarters Detachment, 397th Bombardment Group (M).

TO : Commanding General, 98th Bomb. Wing (M), APO 140, U. S. Army,
Attn. Historical Officer.

1. The following information is submitted with reference required by par 4 (b), 9th Air Division memo 20-3:

(a) Negative.

(b) Strength of Unit on 30th day September, 352 officers and 194 Enlisted Men.

(c) Negative.

(d) Negative.

(e) There were no awards to Hq. Det. during the month of September.

This group, 397th Bomb Gp (M), located A-72 Reld for Tactical asgn to Hq. 9th Air Division effective 15 Sept 45 and asgn to 98th Bomb Wing (M) per Ltr. Order 370.5 dtd 15 Sept 45.

The month of September was uneventful. All departments carried out normal duties. Passes, leaves and furloughs were granted to eligible personnel. There is an increased interest in the furloughs and leaves to Switzerland but few get to go due to the low quotas. Increased quotas would help out.

There was considerable turn over in personnel. 229 officers were assigned to Hq. Det. and 26 shipped out. A large percentage of those leaving were high point men who are returning to the ZI. For EM 159 were assigned and 81 shipped out. The large percentage of those men also were high point men also returning to the ZI. In reading this one would observe the large amount of men assigned to Hq. Det.. This is due to the fact that Hq. Det, Morning Report absorbed the Casual Pool which has been established here at A-72 for administration. Those men were not assigned to duties on this base. It (Casual Pool) is just a relocation center for both low and high point men.

2. Two promotions came through during the month of September for Capts. Charles A. Agan and John C. Thayer, both were promoted to Major, AUS, effective 1 Sept 45 with date of rank from 1 Sept 45, pp 1 SO 244, Hq. Ninth Air Force dtd 1 Sept 1945. No promotions for enlisted men.


{SIGNED}
FRANK B. WATSON
Capt. Air Corps,
Group Historical Officer.

HEADQUARTERS NINTH AIR FORCE
Office of the Commanding General

In reply refer APO 696, U S Army
To: 370.5 20 September 1945

SUBJECT: Assignment and Attachment Order (No. 114)

TO : Commanding General, IX Air Force Service Command, APO 149, U S Army
Commanding General, 98th Bomb Wing (M), APO 140, U S Army

6. The following units are relieved from assigned to 9th Air Division and are assigned to 98th Bomb Wing (M), effective as of 15 September 1945:

Hq, 344th Bomb Gp (M) Hq, 394th Bomb Gp (M) Hq, 387th Bomb Gp (M)
474th Bomb Sq 584th Bomb Sq 556th Bomb Sq
495th Bomb Sq 585th Bomb Sq 557th Bomb Sq
496th Bomb Sq 586th Bomb Sq 558th Bomb Sq
497th Bomb Sq 587th Bomb Sq 559th Bomb Sq

Hq, 397th Bomb Gp (M) * Hq, 306th Bomb Gp (H) Hq, 305th Bomb Gp (H)
596th Bomb Sq 367th Bomb Sq 364th Bomb Sq
597th Bomb Sq 368th Bomb Sq 365th Bomb Sq
598th Bomb Sq 369th Bomb Sq 366th Bomb Sq
599th Bomb Sq 423rd Bomb Sq 422nd Bomb Sq

305th and 306th Groups under operations control, Hq Ninth Air Force.

5th Gunnery & Tow Target Flt (SP) 140th Army Postal Unit
6th Gunnery & Tow Target Flt (SP) 580th Army Postal Unit
7th Gunnery & Tow Target Flt (SP) 125th Army Postal Unit
217th Med Dispensary 739th AAF Band
1145th MP Co Avn 399th Sig Co
305th Sta Com Sq 342nd Sig Co Wg

7. The following units are relieved from attached to the 9th Air Division and are attached to the 98th Bomb Wing (M), effective as of 15 September 1945:

Det “DD”, 9th Base Opr Sq (Prov) Det “CC”, 21st Weather Sq
Det “FF”, 9th Base Opr Sq (Prov) Det “ZF”, 21st Weather Sq
Det “HH”, 9th Base Opr Sq (Prov) Det “QQ”, 21st Weather Sq
Det “MM”, 9th Base Opr Sq (Prov) Det “UU”, 21st Weather Sq
Det “E”, 9th Base Opr Sq (Prov) Det “ZD”, 21st Weather Sq
Det “II”, 9th Base Opr Sq (Prov) Det “B”, 21st Weather Sq
Det “V”, 21st Weather Sq
Det “D”, 40th Mobile Comm Sq
Det “V”, 40th Mobile Comm Sq Det “A”, 1241st QM Co Sv Gp
Det “ZD”, 40th Mobile Comm Sq
Det “ZF”, 40th Mobile Comm Sq

* Units attached to VIII Fighter Command for administration.
BY COMMAND OF MAJOR GENERAL KEPNER:

{SIGNED}
RITA M. DURAND
1st Lt, A C
Actg Asst Adj Gen

DISTRIBUTION: “A”

Plus: 6 cys TAG (1 cy mrkd attn: Opr Dr); CG, U S Air Forces in Europe; CG, Combined Allied Liquidating Agency, APO 757; CG, Seventh U S Army, CG, Fifteenth Army; CG, Third U S Army
10 cys ea AAF (attn: Air AG, Publications Dr); CG, Air Tech Sv Area, ASC, U S Air Forces in Europe; CG, IX Air Force Sv Comd (add)
26 cys CG, U S Forces, European Theater (1 cy mrkd attn: Chief of Supply Service, APO 757)
2 cys CO, 26th Statistical Control Unit (Type “H”)

HEADQUARTERS
397TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M)

APO 140 U. S. ARMY
30 November 1945

SUBJECT: October 1945 Installment of Unit History of Headquarters Detachment 397th Bombardment Group (M).

TO : Commanding General, 98th Bombardment Wing (M), APO 140, U. S. Army, Attn. Historical Officer.

1. The following information is submitted with reference required by par 4 (b), 9th Air Division memo 20-3:

(a) Negative.
(b) Strength of unit on 31st day of October was, 44 Officers and 187 Enlisted Men.
(c) Negative.
(d) Negative.
(e) Negative.

This group was changed to a Category IV unit per message from USFET dtd 6 October 1945.

The month of October was uneventful. All departments carried out normal duties. Passes, leaves and furloughs were granted to eligible personnel. However during the later part of the month the furloughs and leaves to the Riviera and Switzerland were withdrawn. This was necessary in order to process the men going home..

Again this month the same as last month there was a large turnover of personnel. 3 Officers and 42 Enlisted Men were assigned to Hq. Det. and 138 Officers and 348 Enlisted Men were shipped out of the unit to other Category IV units. Also an even percentage of those shipped out were low point men who went to Occupational units. With the transfer of this large amount of men the Casual Pool which has been carried under Hq Det was dissolved. The few high point men remaining were transferred to the Hq Det to continue the processing line that was set up to handle the change in personnel and prepare the group for shipment to the ZI.

2. 17 Enlisted Men received promotions this month per SO 177, par 12 dtd 1 October 1945 and SO 193, par 4, dtd 21 October 1945. Ratings are as follows, S/Sgt to T/Sgt 6 men, Sgt to T/Sgt 1 man, Sgt to S/Sgt 3 men, Cpl to Sgt 4 men, and Pfc to Cpl 3 men..


{SIGNED}
GORDON C. HAMILTON
Captain Air Corps
Group Intelligence Officer.




Ltr, Hq, USEAT (Rear), AG 370.5 CCT-AGO (265), subject: Movement Orders, Shipment RE 7421, dated 11 October 1945.

370.5 1st Ind.
HEADQUARTERS, UNITED STATES AIR FORCES IN EUROPE, APO 633, US ARMY.

TO: Commanding General, Ninth Air Force, APO 696, US Army.
Commanding General, European Air Transport Service (Prov), APO 744, US Army.

1. For necessary action.

2. Personnel who are absent without leave or in desertion on the date of units departure will be transferred in grade to the AAF/ET Reinforcement Depot (Prov) Casual Pool. All personnel in excess of strength authorized by this movement order will be transferred within the command to fill existing shortages, or when this is not feasible, transferred to the AAF/ET Reinforcement Depot (Prov) Casual Pool.

3. The provisions of USAET Regulation 80-10, dated 21 April 1945, insofar as pertains to personnel records to accompany unit, will govern in lieu of those specific instructions on records set out in ETO-PDK-RKD.

BY COMMAND OF LIEUTENANT GENERAL CROGAN

{SIGNED}

HEADQUARTERS
US FORCES, EUROPEAN THEATRE

(Rear)-APO 887
AG 370.5 GCT-AGO (26) 11 October 1945

SUBJECT: Movement Orders, Shipment RE7421.

TO: Commanding General, Theater Service Forces, European Theater
Commanding General, US Air Forces in Europe
Commanding General, Oiso Intermediate Section
Commanding General, Delta Base Section
Commanding General, Ground Force Reinforcement Command
Chief of Transportation, US Forces, European Theater

1. Pursuant to authority and instructions contained in War Department cable , WIRX-7101.1, dated 8 October 1945, it is desired you take without delay the action for which you are responsible under the provisions of ETO-POW-??D to prepare for shipment and move to the appropriate port of embarkation for further movement by water transportation to a United States port at which the units will be demobilized in accordance with orders to be issued by the War Department.

Code Des-
ignation Agency Approximate
Shipment Present Controlling Strength Stat
Unit Number Location Unit Off WO EM TOT T/O & I Code

Hq & Hq Sq 71st Ftr Wg RE7421-A Dormstadt
WN-7042 CG, Ninth Air Force 80 1 286 367 1-10-1
24 Sep 44
w/1 C SMU

Hq & Hq Sq 397th Bomb Gp (M) RE7421-B Peronne
VN-6152 “ 48 1 111 160 1-112
29 Jun 44
w/4 C “

596th Bomb Sq (M) RE7421-C “ “ 99 448 547 1-127
18 Aug 44 “

597th Bomb Sq (M) RE7421-D “ “ 99 448 547 “ “

598th Bomb Sq (M) RE7421-E “ “ 99 448 547 “ “

599th Bomb Sq (M) RE7421-F “ “ 99 448 547 “ “

Hq 474th Ftr Gp (TL) RE7421-G Schweinfurt
WN-7464 “ 44 1 106 150 1-13
29 Dec 43
w/4-O “

428th Ftr Sq (TL) RE7421-H “ “ 58 411 469 1-37
22 Dec 43
w/2-O “

Code Des-
Ignation Agency Approximate
Shipment Present Controlling Strength Stat
Unit Number Location Unit Off WO EM TOT T/O & I Code

429th Ftr Sq (TL) RE7421-J Schweinfurt
WN-7464 CG, Ninth Air Force 58 411 469 1-37
22 Dec 43
w/2-O SMU

430th Ftr Sq (TL) RE7421-K “ “ 58 411 469 “ “

Hq & Base Sv Sq 474th Air Sv Gp RE7421-L Industrie-
hafen
WO-3328 “ 36 1 393 430 1-452 T
15 Apr 44
w/4-O “

892nd Air Engr Sq RE7421-M “ “ 12 1 328 341 1-457 T
15 Apr 44
w/4-O “

716th Air Material Sq RE7421-N “ “ 11 1 201 213 1-458 T
15 Apr 44
w/3-O “

Hq & Base Sv Sq 482nd Air Sv Gp RE7421-P Peronne
VN-6152 “ 36 1 393 430 1-452 T
15 Apr 44
w/3-O “

900th Air Engr Sq RE7421-R “ “ 12 1 328 341 1-457 T
15 Apr 44
w/4-O “

724th Air Material Sq RE7421-S “ “ 11 1 201 213 1-458 T
15 Apr 44
w/3-O “

24th Mo-bile R&R Sq (H) RE7421-T Olastros
VN-7838 “ 11 1 262 274 1-356 S
6 Apr 44
w/1-O “

31st Mo-bile R&R Sq (H) RE7421-U “ “ 11 1 262 274 “ “

48th Mo-bile R&R Sq (H) RE7421-V “ “ 11 1 262 274 “ “

807th Surgical
Sq, Air Cos RE7421-W Harlou
VN-0027 “ 6 195 201 3-437
29 Sep 44 “


2. Readiness Date: Units will be processed for overseas movement at home stations and be prepared for such movement on and after 10 November 1945 and will move from temporary or unit stations upon call of Commanding General, Theater Service Forces, European Theater (commanding officer of port concerned).

3. Instructions and details regarding the preparation and movement of the above units are contained in Parts V and IX, ETO-POM-RED, dated 19 Nov 1945, unless modified herein, in which case this order will govern.

4. a. A personnel roster will be prepared by each unit on dual mimeograph stencils in the manner proscribed in paragraph 14a, Readjustment Regulations 1-2. Such roster will provide the personnel data required by paragraph 13b of these regulations and in the form indicated in Enclosure No. 3 hereto. Two (2) copies of the roster (produced from the No. 2 stencils), the No. 1 stencils marked “Advance Copy”, and two (2) copies of this directive, together with a certified WD AGO Form 66-2, 66-3 or 66-4 for each officer being returned as a member of a Reception Station group will be furnished by the unit commander to the Commanding General, Theater Service Forces, European Theater (port commander concerned) in such time as will enable dispatch by air mail or air courier at least five (5) days prior to embarkation. One (1) copy of the rosters (produced from the No. 2 stencils), the No. 1 stencil marked “Advance Copy” and one (1) copy of this directive will be forwarded to the port of debarkation commander concerned. The other documents referred to will be forwarded to The Adjutant General, Attention: Officers Branch (PC-A), Washington 25, D. C. A copy of the corrected personnel roster (produced from the No. 2 stencils, corrected as of embarkation), together with additional forms 66-2, 66-3 and 66-4, as necessary, will be furnished to the Commanding General, Theater Service Forces, European Theater (commanding officer of port) for dispatch within twenty-four (24) hours after embarkation by air mail or air courier to The Adjutant General, Attention: Officers Branch (PC-A), Washington 25, D. C. The No. 2 stencils of the personnel rosters and two (2) copies of the roster corrected as of embarkation will be retained by unit commanders and will be corrected aboard ship to agree with the Transport Commander’s certified passenger list. The No. 2 stencils will be delivered by the unit commanders to the proper authority at the United States port (disposition center). At the appropriate time, the No. 2 stencils of this directive will be furnished the commanding officer of each unit concerned for delivery to the proper authority at the United States port.

b. Category IV units returned to the United States under the provisions of this directive will be processed under Part V, ETO-POM-RED, 19 May 1945, except as provided herein. All officer and enlisted personnel with ASR scores above the appropriate critical score who do not possess MOS appearing on current War Department lists of critical specialists and who have not volunteered in writing for further service, and all other officer and enlisted personnel being returned for discharge or separation from the service under specific directives other than RR 1-1, except those indicated in Circular 188, War Department, 1945, will be listed on rosters by Separation Center groups in the manner prescribed in paragraph 130b of ETO-POM-RED. All other officer and enlisted personnel will be listed on rosters, by Reception Station groups as prescribed in paragraph 130a of ETO-POM-RED. Reception Station groups of officer and enlisted personnel below appropriate ASR critical score, moving as part of Category IV units, will be formed on basis of address at which individual desires recuperation instead of address to which individual is entitled transportation on separation. Separation Center groups, moving as part of Category IV units, will be formed on basis of address to which individual is entitled transportation on separation in accordance with EX-71043, this headquarters, relative to the return of individuals to new permanent address or place of offered employment. EX-71043 is hereby amended as to substitute “separation center” and “separation center group” for “reception station” and “reception station group” respectively wherever these phrases occur therein. Identical administrative procedures will be followed for both types of groups except that personnel rosters for Separation Center groups will bear a heading similar to: “FOR SEPARATION CENTER NUMBER 26, FORT DIX, NEW JERSEY”. For these purposes List A of Appendix M, ETO-POM-RED, as amended, will be used and the appropriate Separation Center code destination will be taken from List B, Appendix M, ETO-POM-RED, as amended. It is essential that Separation Center groups be carefully screened to avoid including low-score personnel and personnel with critical MOS, since upon arrival in the United States, those groups will proceed directly to Separation Centers.

c. Instructions contained in paragraphs 147 and 155, as amended by ETX-9002, 8 July 1945, ETO-POM-RED, 19 May 1945, are superseded as set forth in Enclosure No. 1 hereto. Model forms for preparation of passenger lists are also attached to Enclosure No. 1. Detailed instructions for preparation of personnel rosters are set forth in Enclosure No. 2.

5. a. Clothing and Equipment:

(1) Organization equipment will accompany units as prescribed in paragraph 125c, less sub-paragraph (3), ETO-POM-RED, 19 May 1945.

(2) Clothing and individual equipment is authorized as prescribed in columns 5 and 6, Enclosure 1c, Appendix I, Change 5 to ETO-POM-RED. Clothing and individual equipment accounts will be adjusted in accordance with the O and E Adjustment Form prescribed in Circular 72, War Department, 1945.

(3) All other clothing and equipment (except individually owned items) will be turned in to collecting points designated in Messageforms RED-206 and RED-207, this headquarters, 6 October 1945.

b. Prior to turn-in, all equipment will be returned to serviceable condition to the extent possible with available maintenance facilities, and prepared for temporary storage.

c. Unit impediments will be packed, tagged and marked as directed in paragraph 127, ETO-POM-RED, 19 May 1945 (sub-paragraphs 35h and 36b are rescinded). Paragraph 127b, ETO-POM-RED, 19 May 1945, is changed to read: “b. The baggage of personnel of the units will be tagged and packed as prescribed in Standard Operating Procedure No. 45 (Baggage), Headquarters, European Theater of Operations, US Army, dated 1 July 1945.”

d. Paragraph 126o, ETO-POM-RED, 19 May 1945, is changed to read:

“Five (5) copies of the Report of Equipment Authorized for Return (Appendix J) will be prepared by units returning to the United States for demobilization, copies to be distributed as follows:
(1) One (1) copy to Headquarters, US Forces, European Theater (Rear) (AC of S, G-4), through Staging Area Commander.

(2) One (1) copy to port commander prior to embarkation.

(3) Two (2) copies will be returned to the United States with unit.

(4) One (1) copy to port air officer at port through which equipment is to move.

6. Shipment RE7421 will be under the control of the Commanding General, Army Service Forces, from time of departure from oversea station until released to proper authority in the United States.

7. Mail:

a. Paragraph 135, ETO-POM-RED, dated 19 May 1945, is rescinded. Postal instructions contained in Section V, ETO-SOP No. 17b, subject: “Postal Procedures for Redeployment and Readjustment” dated 9 May 1945, are to be followed.

b. Immediately prior to departure for a staging area the unit commander will prepare a roster in triplicate, in alphabetical order regardless of rank, of personnel transferred from the unit during the proceeding sixty (60) days, showing rank, name, serial number, new unit and new APO number. If no personnel transfers were made during this period, a negative report will be submitted to that effect. One (1) copy of the roster, or negative report, will be forwarded by official air mail to The Adjutant General, the Army Postal Service, Washington 25, D. C. One (1) copy will be sent by official air mail to the commander of the port of debarkation in the United States, Attention: Port Postal Officer. If the port of debarkation is not known, the roster or negative report will be sent to the Commanding General, New York Port of Embarkation, New York, New York, Attention: Port Postal Officer. One (1) copy of the roster or negative report will be delivered to the APO postal officer serving the unit.

8. Movement to the port will be by rail and/or motor transportation, as provided by the Commanding General, Theater Service Forces, European Theater (Chief of Transportation, US Forces, European Theater). Organic transportation will be utilized to the fullest extent practicable.

9. The shipment number and letter (for example RE7421-A) will be used in referring to the movement in lieu of any unit designation or destination and will also be used in the marking of equipment and supplies.

10. The agency responsible for initial movement will, as early as practicable and not later than readiness date, report by teleprinter to this headquarters and the Commanding General, theater Service Forces, European Theater, with information copies to the Commanding General, Delta Base Section; Commanding General, 89th Infantry Division, and Commanding Officer, 16th Port for each Category IV unit.

a. Date of departure of unit from home station.

b. Strength (officer, warrant officer and enlisted men, male and Female) to indicate number of each type personnel by color with ASR scores in groups as follows, with a separate breakdown showing personnel being returned for discharge on over-age basis included in the three lowest ASR score groups:

80 or over
79 – 70
69 – 65
64 – 60
59 – 56
55 – 0, all inclusive.

c. Expected time of arrival at port of embarkation.

11. The commanding officer of the port concerned will prepare and submit the report required by Section 5, Part V, ETO-POM-RED, 19 May 1945.

12. This is a PERMANENT change of station.

13. Direct communication among all concerned is authorized.

14. TDN 60-510 106, 114, 115, 136 P 433-02 A 212/60425.

BY COMMAND OF GENERAL EISENHOWER:

{SIGNED}
R. E. LEWIS
Major, AGD
Assistant Adjutant General

2 Incls:
Incl 1 – Amendment of paragraphs 147 and 155,
ETO-POM-RED, and Model Forms for
preparation of passenger lists.
Incl 2 – Instructions and Model Forms for
preparation of personnel rosters.

DISTRIBUTION: VI

HEADQUARTERS
US FORCES, EUROPEAN THEATRE

(Rear)-APO 887
19 August 1945

SUBJECT: Enclosure No. 1 to Movement Directives for Category IV Units
returning to the United States from the European Theater for
Remobilization.

1. ETO-POM-RED, dated 19 May 1945 is amended as indicated below:

“147. PASSENGER LISTS AND FINAL PERSONNEL REPORTS.

Passenger lists are required for embarkation. It is essential that the lists be prepared accurately and be immediately available upon arrival at the port in order to ensure a rapid and orderly embarkation and an accurate record of the personnel departing.

a. As near to the embarkation date as practical (not less than five days), each unit or regularly constituted detachment will prepare passenger list stencils precisely in the form illustrated in attached Model Form No. 1.


b. Deletions from the passenger list stencils will not be made but after copies have been mimeographed personnel transferred from the unit or detachment will be redlined on all copies. Personnel assigned to the unit or detachment after the preparation of the list will be added in red pencil, on all copies.

c. Fifty (50) copies of the list and a recapitulation of the contents showing the unit serial number, officers nurses, civilians, females and enlisted men together with a recapitulation of the total number of enlisted personnel above the critical score will be delivered to the Port Commander upon arrival in the port area.

d. Army Air Force units will prepare seven (7) copies of final report of AAF personnel (WD AAF Form 127) in every detail except for the insertion of the date, immediately prior to departure from the port. Passenger List will be attached to the two final personnel reports. Final personnel reports are to be prepared on each separate coded unit, even though the coded unit be a squadron within a group. These final reports will be taken to the port and delivered at the time of embarkation to the AAF Statistical Control Officer on duty there.

e. All action by AAF units in sub-paragraphs a through d above will be accomplished at the unit station immediately prior to departure for the staging area by AAF units stationed in the United Kingdom and those stationed on the continent which by-pass the Assembly Area.

“155. o. Two copies of passenger lists will be checked and corrected at the gang-plank as personnel embark. One corrected copy will be reserved for the Transport Commander and the other utilized by the Port Commander for the purpose of correcting two additional copies to be distributed with the remaining uncorrected copies as follows:

Port of Embarkation -- 1 (Corrected copy)
AG, MRU, POE -- 1 (Corrected copy)
Transport Commander
Navy -- 16 (On naval transport)
Army -- 16 (Including two C.O.)
*COT, Washington (Att: Mov. Div) -- 2
*AGO, Washington (Att: E. M. Pr.) -- 1
*Port of Discharge -- 1
US Navy, Overseas Transportation, Paris -- 2
W.S.A., Paris -- 1 (When Mer. Seamen embark)
S/Surgeon, TSFET -- 1 (When patients embark)
TPE, POW Div -- 1 (When POW embark)
HOWT, London -- 1 (When British vessel is used)

* Via Air Courier

f. Each corrected copy of the passenger list will be broken down by sections (I.E.: an index tab on a blank sheet between each organization or category of personnel) and contain index and cover sheets as illustrated in attached Model Form #2. All other copies (uncorrected) will contain only the cover sheet.

HEADQUARTERS
US AIR FORCES IN EUROPE
Office of the Commanding General

APO 633, US Army,
19 November 1945.
AG 322

SUBJECT: Assignment of Units (No 138).

TO : Commanding General, Ninth Air Force, APO 696, US Army.
Commanding General, XII Tactical Air Command, APO 374, US Army.

The following listed units are relieved from assignment to the Ninth Air Force and are assigned to the XII Tactical Air Command, effective 17 Nov 1945. These units will not be further assigned to subordinate units of the XII Tactical Air Command.

Hq, 344th Bomb Gp Hq, 394th Bomb Gp Hq, 397th Bomb Gp
494th Bomb Sq 584th Bomb Sq 596th Bomb Sq
495th Bomb Sq 585th Bomb Sq 597th Bomb Sq
496th Bomb Sq 586th Bomb Sq 598th Bomb Sq
497th Bomb Sq 587th Bomb Sq 599th Bomb Sq
769th AAF Band

BY COMMAND OF LIEUTENANT GENERAL CANNON:

{SIGNED}
THOMAS G. KRONBERG
Major, Air Corps
Actg Asst Adj Gen

DISTRIBUTION:
TAG (Attn: Opns Branch)
CG, AAF (Attn: Air AG Pub Branch) (10)
CG, US Forces, European Theater (10)
CG, Theater Service Forces, European Theater APO 887 (Attn: OCE Capt Maggi)
CG, US Theater Sig Comm Service, APO 757 (Attn: Misc Comm Branch)
CG, Ninth Air Force (10)
CG, XII Tactical Air Command (10)
CG, IX Air Force Service Command (5)
CO, units concerned (3)
A-1 (5); JA; A-2 (2); A-3; A-4 (2); A-5; A-6; Wea O; Armament O; Engr O; Air Surgeon; Postal O; Stat O (3); Historian; Transp O; QM
AG Misc Sec, US Forces, European Theater
AG Misc Sec, US Air Forces in Europe
AG Central Files

HEADQUARTERS
397TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (M)

APO # 140
5 May 1945

SUBJECT: Operation of Group Intelligence Section on the Continent.

TO : Commanding General, 9th Bombardment Division (M), APO #140,
U. S. Army.
ATTENTION: A. C. of S. A-2.

1. After the 397th Bomb Gp (M) arrived on the Continent, the Group Intelligence Section continued to function along the general lines established in final phase training and practiced on maneuvers in the U. S. and later adapted to combat during period April to August 1944 while the Group operated from three different bases in England. Since all of the Group and Squadron officers were graduates of the Air Intelligence School at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and many of the S-2 officers and enlisted men received special training in the U. S. and the United Kingdom for their particular work, the organization and operation of the section followed closely the recommended lines and was further standardized by the supervision of the Wing and Division A-2 personnel. The twelve officers (plus one photo interpretation officer assigned from the Division) and 37 enlisted men (including Group Photo officer and men) were organized for efficient operation into the following sub-sections: Administrative, Mission Planning, Maps and Target Materials, Contact, Security, Photo Interpretation, Public Relations and Photo. A chart showing the sub-division of personnel into the working units and the channels for assignment of duties is attached.

2. Method of Operating and Physical Facilities Available for Intelligence at Various Air Bases on the Continent:

a. When the Group crossed the English Channel in August 1944 and established itself at landing strip A-26, Gorges, France near the small village of Gonfreville, France (T-277781) there were no buildings or other permanent facilities for setting up an S-2 section. It therefore became necessary to make radical changes in the manner of safeguarding the highly classified documents and protecting maps, photos, target illustrations and equipment. In common with other Group and Squadron sections, the S-2 Section operated principally from tents erected on muddy ground while the rains continued. One of the chief difficulties was handling the boxed equipment and supplies unloaded on the pierced plank runways from C-47’s; or unloaded from the channel boats on the Normandy Beaches in the rain. The total damage was minor, however, and the section was fortunate in having sufficient tentage to properly shelter materials. A total of seven pyramidal tents and one squad tent, plus the photo trailer and canvas lean-to were used, in addition to one room in the community school house. One squad tent could have been substituted for several smaller tents. The S-2 tent area was laid out in close proximity to the school and adjacent to the Group Headquarters, Group S-3, Group Communications, and Group Personal Equipment.

The brick school had been damaged by ground fighting and a French family still occupied two or three rooms in it. But the Group Communications Office and Switchboard were set up on the lower floor; and the S-2 Situation was established on the second floor. After a passageway was opened with a bulldozer in the high mounds of earth supporting the hawthorne hedges, the heavy map boxes were carried up the winding stairway to the Situation Room, the maps being removed and toted up separately. (A rope & tackle simplified the job of removing these boxes of maps and photos a few days later, the full containers being lowered through the windows.) Extra materials were kept in a tent near the building.

Target Study and pre-briefing were held in the Situation Room & pilots and lead team personnel were briefed in a squad tent. The pilots in turn briefed their crews after arrival at their planes. A large assembly tent was ordered for briefing but was not delivered until the Group reached the next base. Interrogations were held in the tents, or in the open, weather permitting.

Some of the difficulties encountered are probably typical of the experience of other groups. The lights failed at various times necessitating use of gasoline lanterns, flashlights and candles for preparing and briefing missions, preparing reports and doing routine office work. Water for use of photo lab was a problem. The photo officer collected jettisonable gas tanks for storage of several hundred gallons of water. The Squadrons were widely dispersed, roads were poor, and chow lines were long when messes were first set up, making for loss of an abnormal amount of time from the S-2 work. The small generators for the photo lab and P. I. gave considerable trouble. Crowds of curiosity seeking civilians living in the immediate area posed a new security problem. Notwithstanding these problems the section attempted to keep situation maps posted and to make target information readily available during the two-week stay at this base.

The difficulties noted in this first experience on the Continent stressed the need for: destroying all unnecessary or obsolete supplies, photos and maps and traveling as light as possible; adequate strong containers for maps and photos; portable folding boards for situation maps and flak maps; adequate specialist supplies; ample maps and illustrations to cover anticipated needs. The shortage of chairs or benches was overcome by use of wooden mortar shell boxes or metal bomb fin covers for seats in briefing and training tents. Tables and bulletin boards for display of Intelligence reading materials and news reports received by radio were constructed or improvised from scrap materials found in the area.
b. The Group moved from -26 to A-41 at Dreux, France (VR-313302) for another brief pause. At the new location one of the few brick buildings formerly used by the G.A.F. and not destroyed by Allied bombing or by enemy demolition squads was prepared for S-2, S-3, S-4 and Communications. This was a large garage close to the main highway going south from Dreux and located near the center of the Squadron and Service Group living sites. It was also convenient to the runways, hardstands areas and to the Headquarters area.

One large room was prepared as a S-2 Situation Room. This room & two smaller rooms housed practically all Intelligence activity. The Public Relations office was placed in a small tent house nearby; Photo and P.I. operated from a vacant dwelling one-half mile to the North on highway, utilizing the photo trailer. The large garage room proved ample to store all target materials and maps and provided room for pre-briefing. It was not sufficiently large, however, for all crews to attend briefing. So the system of briefing lead teams and pilots was continued; and pilots took necessary information to crews at the hardstands. The large assembly tent, intended for accommodation of all crews at briefing, arrived but had certain parts missing and could not be used immediately. For the limited period of approximately three weeks at A-41 (September-October 1944) the situation room served as the place for preparation, pre-briefing and briefing of missions.

Experience indicated that it was a handicap to attempt to squeeze too many S-2 functions into a too limited space, especially where proper partitions are not provided between such diverse activities as Security, Administrative and clerical work, crew information room, situation room and maps and target materials work. Had the Group remained at this base it would have definitely been necessary to secure or build other structures or erect and winterize tents for proper discharge of S-2 duties. The location directly on a main highway also proved less desirable from a security standpoint as pedestrian and vehicular traffic was heavy. French civilians attempted to visit the air-base and crowd onto the perimeter track and hardstands in great numbers. M.P’s and Intelligence personnel impounded many cameras and did extensive patrolling before the civilians learned to keep away from the planes. FFI guards were employed to aid in patrolling the area.

At A-41 a ta noy system was set up by the Group Communications Section for ready operational contact with Squadron areas. This was used also for daily news broadcasts by Public Relations Personnel, supplementing the news bulletins that were posted in various places. For the first time formal French language classes were scheduled and Public Relations Personnel assisted in instruction work.

c. In October, 1944, the Group moved to A-72 near Peronne, France where the sprawling base used by the Germans engulfed several small towns, most central of which was Mons-En-Chaussee (VN-618521). The S-2 Section was fortunate enough to fall heir to approximately one-half of a large U-shaped permanent brick building with a ground floor space of approximately 5000 square feet which had suffered little damage from the bombing and demolition work which had so completely destroyed most of the other buildings and well camouflaged hangers. Other sections in the same building were Group S-3, Bombardier, Navigator, Gunnery Officer, Weather, Radar & Bombsight Maintenance. While the site was close to one squadron, it was from one to two miles from Group Headquarters, Communications, S-4 and the other three squadron’s ground personnel. The flying personnel lived in one combat-crew area two miles away, all of which placed a burden upon transportation for bringing crews to briefing and interrogation. This also slowed down the receipt and dispatch of intelligence mail and teletype messages.

Despite the above disadvantages the working facilities were ideal in many respects for the S-2 Section functioning on a Group basis. Of the four large rooms, approximately 30’ X 50’, and two smaller rooms, one was utilized for the situation room; one for briefing and training; one for an Intelligence Library and reading room (also housing Security and Ground Liaison Office and as storage for some maps and target materials); one served as photo lab and P.I. office, supplemented by pyramidal storage tent and photo trailer. One squad tent was erected in which to brief gunners. This tent was later replaced by a steel-mesh and roofing-material hut which was much more satisfactory. The Public Relations Office was established in the village Mairie office building and school house.

The water supply system had been wrecked by the retreating enemy and all water for use of Photo Lab had to be hauled in water trailer. The municipal electricity varied greatly and often failed entirely during the first few weeks. This destroyed many light globes, including some opidiascope globes not replaceable for many months. Emergency lights were installed, using small generators and transformers supplied by the Group Communications section; but these sometimes occasioned delays in use. All of these factors interfered with the speed and accuracy with which S-2 work would be done; but with the steam heating unit finally in operation, this proved to be an ideal location for the cold months that the section operated here – October 1944 to April 1945. In some respects facilities were better than any used by the section even in the United Kingdom or the U. S. Because of this there was greater disposition on the part of the S-2 officers and enlisted men to elaborate in the filing and arrangement of operational maps and photos and for a more orderly display of strike attack photos, recognition training and security posters and situation maps of proper scale to depict the day by day changes on war fronts in all theaters.

By direct of the Group Commander, the Group S-2 Officers and Weather Officers gave a daily situation report to the CO, usually attended by members of his staff and the Squadron Commanders, during the severe weather period when operations were somewhat curtailed. After the assignment to the Group of a Ground Liaison Officer, he took over the primary responsibility for these formal presentations and gave informal presentations daily to small groups of officers and enlisted men.

Several hundred civilian employees were engaged for construction, repair, maintenance work and in various unit activities. This required a great amount of loyalty investigation work by CIC personnel in cooperation with the Group Security Officer. Many individuals were not employed, or were discharged, because of unfavorable findings from these investigations. No known incidents or loss or damage were traceable to sabotage during this period, although many civilians lived and worked in close proximity to planes and base installations.

d. During the last week of April 1945, the Group moved to Y-55, Venlo, Holland (QE-941066). Actually the Group had two squadrons in Holland and two squadrons across the line in Germany. Group headquarters and staff sections were located on the German side of the border. The large base was also shared by the 394th Bomb Group (M) and 1st PFF Squadron, close to 98th Combat Bombardment Wing (M).

Most of the permanent buildings and hangers were destroyed by Allied bombing and by the Germans before leaving area. Several wooden buildings had been erected by the fighter group which preceded the mediums and these were utilized for various purposes. The Group S-2 section again was very fortunate in securing two semi-permanent buildings, 20’ X 50’, and two other smaller buildings. The former were arranged as Situation Room and briefing room; the latter as Security Office and Public Relations Office. The large assembly tent was erected for gunners’ briefing, interrogation and general purposes. A squad tent and two pyramidal tents were erected near the photo trailer for the Photo Lab, P.I. Office and storage. This gave a very compact and convenient arrangement of S-2 sub-sections, all within a stone’s throw of Group Headquarters, Communications, Operations, Weather and related offices. All headquarters and most of the squadron officers and men live in tents nearby; and this promises to be one of the most ideal set-ups for S-2 functioning, especially in it relations with other staff sections in mission planning, briefing and interrogating.

3. The group intelligence section has never operated on a squadron basis. All briefings and interrogations have been on a group basis throughout combat operations. After the first ten months of combat, the briefing procedure was changed to comply in general with that recommended in IX Bomber Command letter, subject: Briefing, dated 7 May 1944. This reduced the number of officers participating in the presentation, and shortened the briefing time.

When Group S-2 reports the target designated by Division and Wing, Intelligence officers and non-commissioned assistants draw the proper photos, illustrations, supplemental information and maps of required series from map and target materials files and assemble in situation room. When route is designated, it is plotted in yarn or grease pencil on six different maps; on one 1:250,000 wallmap in situation room and on some scale flak map; and on some scale map in briefing room. It is then laid out on a 1:500,000 portable map for use in gunners’ briefings. Then from I.P. to target on a 1:100,000 (or 1:50,000) for use in opidiascope and on a similar scale map in stationary positions on table for detailed study. The best available photos and all pertinent information are displayed by the S-2 personnel for study. A P.I. Officer makes a final check to see that Areas or Aiming Points assigned are correctly pin-pointed on the briefing maps, and that photos are correctly related to the maps. Mosaics are prepared for photographing when necessary. The Group Photo Officer keeps men on duty at all times, and has been able to duplicate photos for the target folders very speedily. Important points regarding the flak and enemy aircraft situation etc., are given to the operations briefing officer. Thirty minutes is then devoted to pre-briefing, using the opidiascope as an aid.

The Commanding Officer, Operations Officer, Navigator, Bombardier and Weather Officer then brief pilots, co-pilots and bombardiers. The intelligence officer (and gunnery officer, and radar officer as required) brief the gunners in a separate tent or building. Specialists briefings are carried on immediately following.

For interrogation all crews are transported direct from planes to briefing room where all S-2 officers from group and squadrons assemble to interrogate combat men, with the necessary number of non-commissioned S-2 personnel to assist in collecting and summarizing results. The GLO is present to tabulate and forward hot news of ground observations. The photo interpreter interrogates along with the group bombardier or duty officer. The S-2 officers handle other specialist interrogation forms: communications; radar counter measures; navigation; operations. Most of these special forms are completed by box or flight lead; and box lead navigators then trace route flown on overlay for use in preparation of Flak Overlay and report. The preparation and forwarding of opflashes and mission summaries is handled by the Group S-2 or his assistants and several non-commissioned men who rotate the duty, typing reports also for Photo and P.I. Officers, and acting as strike-attack laydown couriers.

4. Filing Target Materials: Tactical target illustrations are filed in folders provided, according to area designation. Industrial targets and airfield materials are filed in folders according to countries, alphabetically as to their locations. Basic cover photos are filed in folders marked with 1:250,000 map sheet designations; and arranged within the folder according to sortie and print numbers. When the photos were originally supplied from higher echelon by area designation, the folders were marked and photos filed accordingly. The Group P.I. officers inked-out the uncovered portions of photo-plots in order to facilitate location of areas actually covered. Second phase, strike attack and recon photos are marked (if not already labeled) with six-digit grid coordinates and placed in folders marked with appropriate 1:100,000 map sheet. Special photos and mosaics are frequently placed on target study boards, and later filed. Flare-boxes were found to be excellent for filing photos and illustrations, after arrangement within the folders.

5. The Intelligence Training Officer drafts plans for all types of training and coordinates with Group Training Officer. A/C Recognition for flying crews has received more attention than any other single subject. In cooperation with the Group P/W and E & E Officer, and the Group Exec Officer, special talks are given to all incoming new crews. The Intelligence Training Officer is also responsible for arranging details for scheduling attendance at all A-2 lectures by Wing, Division and Air Force speakers; and for arranging special periodic training for S-2 personnel within the group.

The Contact Intelligence Officer and Assistants display Intelligence publications in the Crew Information Room and supervise situation maps kept at orderly rooms of squadrons and other units. He gives talks on the current war news from time to time. The GLO in recent months has covered this field well in the crew information room. He also has scheduled talks to base personnel by visiting ground force men and by air crew members returning from the front lines under the Air-Ground Liaison visits program. Squadron intelligence officers give talks to squadron personnel as directed by Squadron Commanders. Group officers distribute publications to Group Commanding Officer and staff; and to other units on the base, not an integral part of the bomb group. Talks on intelligence matters are given by S-2 officers as a part of the training program of these allied units.

Two Public Relations Officer and assistants assemble radio shows and post daily bulletins throughout the base. In those locations where public address systems were used throughout the base, public relations office personnel made one or more newscasts each day. They also give a summary of the news before each showing of a movie at base theaters. The PRO office is located as a rule in the most convenient place for extensive displays of news clippings, photos and newsmaps on outdoor bulletin boards.

To stimulate the interest of combat crews in the results of their bombing missions, the laydown boards prepared by the Group P.I. section are posted in the Group S-3 Office for a couple of days for men to study the strike attack photos. Strike attack photos, reconnaissance photos and second phase reports illustrating examples of outstanding bombing results by this and other groups. Photo results of the Group’s Missions, and commendations by group and higher commanders have sometimes been projected on the screen by use of the opidiascope for combat crews and for ground crews, ordnance and communications men, etc.

6. Suggestions: The wisdom of stressing the importance of keeping mobile has been well demonstrated in the frequent moves experienced by this group. Since the S-2 section is required to be operational at some new locations after having only a single twenty-four hour stand-down period, a useful organization of the entire personnel and division of the supplies is mandatory. A visit by Group S-2 or his assistant to the new base in the reconnaissance party has materially aided in making plans for the movement of the section. The most satisfactory division of personnel is approximately one-fourth of S-2 Officers (including Group S-2 or Assistant, one officer from Situation Room team, and the Security Officer) and one-third of enlisted men in advance echelon. Remaining personnel can well handle mission work up at the time the air echelon moves. One half to two thirds of remaining officer and enlisted personnel then move by air and motor convoy as quickly as possible to new site, leaving small force to see that final equipment and supplies are forwarded and office closed. The division of target materials into advance, air and rear echelons is carefully made on the basis of what is needed last at old site, and first at new site. Assignment of high priority transportation to S-2 along with other sections dealing with mission planning is necessary if group is to be operational with a minimum loss of time. Failure to receive adequate transportation on time can be the most serious single problem in efficient operation. At least one house of some type, rather than a tent, is very important for part of S-2 sections operation, even though most of the section may operate in tents. Every step that can be taken to improve water and lighting facilities, as well as reduce delay in long distance telephone calls, will greatly expedite S-2 work and efficiency at any base.

7. Photos to accompany this report are being sent under separate cover and illustrate lay-out of S-2 section at new site occupied within past week.

THOMAS E. McLEOD
Major, Air Corps,
Group S-2.


 
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