USAAF, 491st Bombardment Group; 1943-1945; North Pickenham, Norfolk; Metfield, Suffolk

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USAAF, 491st Bombardment Group; 1943-1945; North Pickenham, Norfolk; Metfield, Suffolk

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  • 491st Bomb Group
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Part of the United States Army Air Force 2nd Air Division, 8th Air Force.
Constituted as the 491st Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 14 September 1943. Activated on 1 October 1943. On 1 January 1944 the group, less the air echelon, was transferred without personnel and equipment to England, where personnel were assigned later. The air echelon joined the group in England in May 1944. Served in combat with 8th Air Force until the end of April 1945. Began operations early in June 1944. Returned to the United States in July 1945. Inactivated on 8 September 1945.
Based at North Pickenham, Norfolk, February 1944; Metfield, Suffolk, March 1944 ;and North Pickenham, Norfolk, 15 August 1944-June 1945.
The 491st Bombardment Group was activated on 1 October 1943 at Davis-Monthan Field, Arizona (hereafter the 491st Bomb Group). On 1 January 1944, the Group, less the air echelon, was transferred without personnel and equipment to England, where personnel were assigned later. Many of its ground personnel came from four 2nd Air Division bomb groups already in England. The air crews trained in the United States at Biggs Field, Texas and at Pueblo, Colorado, before moving overseas on 21 April 1944. The air crews flew their B-24 Liberators to England via the southern route, which included stops in Florida, Brazil, and Morocco. The 491st Bomb Group was assigned to the 95th Combat Wing at Halesworth and stationed at Metfield, Suffolk (Army Air Force Station no. 366) from 25 April 1944-15 August 1944. On 15 August 1944, the 95th Combat Wing was broken up and the 491st Bomb Group was moved to North Pickenham airfield, Norfolk. They flew their first mission on 2 June 1944, against an airfield near Bretigney, France, and their last mission on 25 April 1945. During their period of service, they flew 187 missions, 5005 sorties and lost 47 aircraft in action. Redeployment to the United States began in June 1945. The B-24 Liberators were flown home, 17 June 1945-19 June 1945, and the ground crews left England for New York City on the ship the 'Queen Mary' on 6 July 1945. The 491st Bomb Group was then based at McChord Field until it was deactivated on 8 September 1945.
Key missions and events:
The Group began combat operations early in June 1944 and attacked airfields, bridges, and coastal defences both preceding and during the invasion of Normandy. It then concentrated its attacks on strategic objectives in Germany, striking communication points, oil refineries, storage depots, industrial areas, shipyards, and other targets in Berlin, Hamburg, Kassel, Cologne, Gelsenkirchen, Bielefeld, Hannover, and Magdeburg. On one occasion, the Group attacked the headquarters of the German General Staff at Zossen, Germany. During a mission against the oil refineries at Misburg, Germany, on 26 November 1944, the Group was attacked by large numbers of enemy fighters which destroyed almost half of its aeroplanes; the remainder successfully bombed the target and the Group was awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation. Although engaged primarily in strategic bombardment, the Group also supported ground forces at St Lo, France, in July 1944; assaulted V-weapon sites and communications lines in France during the summer of 1944; dropped supplies to ground troops on 18 September 1944, during the airborne attack in Holland (Netherlands); bombed German supply lines and fortifications during the Battle of the Bulge, December 1944-January 1945; supported Allied forces in the airborne drop across the Rhine in March 1945; and interdicted enemy communications during the Allied drive across Germany in April 1945.
On 15 July 1944, the bomb dump at Metfield blew up, detonating over 1000 tons of bombs and explosives, killing five men, wrecking five B-24 bombers and severely damaging several more.
Bomb Squadrons:
852nd Bomb Squadron: 1943-1945.
853nd Bomb Squadron: 1943-1945.
854th Bomb Squadron: 1943-1945.
855th Bomb Squadrons: 1943-1945.
Attached Units:
For a full list of attached units, see John Hane, 'Second Air Division Memorial: In memory of all those Americans who, flying from these bases and posts, gave their lives defending freedom, 1941-45' (Author, 1963). A reference copy is available in the Norfolk Record Office searchroom.
Davis-Monthan Field, Arizona, 1 October 1943.
El Paso, Texas, 11 November 1943.
England, 1 January 1944.
North Pickenham, England, February 1944.
Metfield, England (Army Air Force Station no. 366), March 1944.
North Pickenham, England (Army Air Force Station no. 143), 15 August 1944-June 1945.
McChord Field, Washington, 17 July 1945-8 September 1945.
Group Commanders:
Col Dwight O. Monteith, 10 October 1943.
Maj. Jack G. Merrell, 20 December 1943.
Col Wilson H. Banks, 5 January 1944.
Maj. Alex E. Burleigh, 19 January 1944.
Lt Col Jack G. Merrell, 29 January 1944.
Lt Col Carl T. Goldenburg, 12 February 1944.
Col F.H. Miller, 26 June 1944.
Col Allen W. Reed, c. 20 October 1944-1945.
Major awards:
Distinguished Unit Citation: Misburg, Germany, 26 November 1944.


North Pickenham, Norfolk; Metfield, Suffolk

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Created on: 10/08/2005 by Drohv




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