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The 456th Bombardment Group in WWII

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We are pleased to announce that we’ve added the unit history of the 456th Bombardment Group (Heavy) to our Fold3 archives. These records contain extensive information on the 456th Bombardment Group which included the 744th, 745th, 746th, and 747th Bomb Squadrons.

The 456th was activated on June 1, 1943, at Wendover Field, Utah. After being assigned to serve in the European Theater, they moved their B-24s to Italy from December 1943 – January 1944, where they were assigned to the Fifteenth Air Force. They flew their first combat mission on February 10, 1944, to Grottaferrata, Italy. Overcast skies caused them to abort the mission, but they returned to the same town on February 17th, where the first combat casualties occurred with the loss of two aircraft.

On May 10, 1944, the 456th Bombardment Group flew in a formation of B-24s on a mission to bomb an aircraft factory at Wiener Neustadt, Austria. While crossing the Adriatic Sea, they encountered intense rough weather and decreased visibility. Heavy cloud cover caused some planes in the formation to turn back, but the 456th continued towards the target. As they neared Wiener Neustadt, a break in the clouds opened up and the formation endured wave after wave of enemy attacks. Intense aerial flak, heavy-caliber machine-gun fire, rocket guns, and cannons led to the loss of six aircraft and left the surviving planes riddled with flak. Despite this, the 456th managed to obliterate the target in a highly successful bombing run. Their “outstanding performance of duty” earned them the first of two Distinguished Unit Citations received during WWII. The 456th earned a second Distinguished Unit Citation after a bombing mission to Hungary on July 2, 1944.

Here are a few things you might find in this archive:

Medical History: Personnel suffered from extreme cold during the winter and spring of 1943-44. When the group first arrived in Italy, there were inadequate supplies. The group slept on the ground under pup-tents and dug trenches for latrines. There was insufficient stoves, vehicles, and tools. Frostbite was a challenge, temperatures dropped to -22 Fahrenheit, and aviators did not have heated flying suits. Waist gunners were exposed to freezing winds and anyone without silk glove liners was at risk of frostbite. We also learn that personnel from the 456th took extra precautions to prevent malaria in the summer months. Soldiers were issued mosquito nets, required to keep their shirts buttoned, and to wear long trousers tucked into their boots between dusk and dawn.

Biographies: This unit history contains biographies and photographs of key personnel in each squadron.

Chronology: You’ll also find chronologies and timelines of daily activities and missions.

Personnel Photographs and Newspaper Clippings: While in Italy, the 456th published a service newspaper called 456 Bomb Run. You can find articles from this paper and additional personnel photographs within this archive.

To learn more about the 456th Bombardment Group, search their unit history today. Do you have a unit history or a military yearbook that belonged to a family member? If so, you can participate in helping us to preserve this important history. Please contact us at [email protected] and we’ll arrange to digitize your book and return it to you intact. These records will then be available for anyone to view for free of charge. See our growing list of unit histories in our User Contributed Collections on Fold3 today!

45 Comments

  1. My father, TSgt James F. Howell, waist gunner/flight engineer served in the 456th during the summer of 1944. Finished his 50 missions and back home in the USA by Aug 1, 1944. His crew picked up their plane, O’Rielly Daughter” at Willow Run and flew it to S. America then on to N. Africa before crossing over to Italy.

    I have a copy of the “456Th Bomb Group, 1943-Steed’s Flying Colts-1945.

    • Hello James Howell! I wonder If your father took photos when he went to South America. He most likely spent several days at Parnamirim field. I would have interest in receiving any information, or copies of the pictures, since I contribute to a Museum in Brazil about the US and Brazilian relations in Natal during the WWII. My granduncle was an air pilot that served in Natal by 1944, and then moved to Italy to fight against the Germans under the US 350th FG command in Pisa. Thanks!

  2. Thanks for sharing your Father’s military info. Be proud, he is one of the greatest generation! God bless your Dad!

    • My dad Captain James Glover was training pilots at Campeche when your uncle was in Brazil Luciano. He flew the first flight of B24’s out to Foster the day the Japs bombed Pearl. He landed his squad just before the Japs started the bombing. I have a few pictures of him and his crew at Campeche.

  3. I will send my Uncle John Gordon history. WW2 history with maps and books.He landed on Omaha Beach 1st wave.

  4. I just found this site by pure luck.. what a tribute to remember these heroes and this particular unit.. For as many stories from the war that are told it is intriguing to hear new information of service,valour and sacrifice . I have been trying to get info for my uncles army unit, the 77th Division who fought in the s pacific in places such as Leyte, Ryukas and the Phillipines . He was awarded the Bronze Star medal which I have along with many others but don’t know if their story has ever been told publicly.

  5. S/Sgt Jim Downing is 95 years young and still lives in his own home in Maryland. He was the nose gunner in a B-24J of the 744th Bomb Squadron He flew 50 missions from May – Sept 1944. Some Of his sorties to heavily defended cities counted for 2 missions.

  6. I have been intrigued learning about the personal stories of these brave men and their stories. A lot of the men did not talk about their experiences, just as the Vietnam vets and those from the Middle East do not want to relive their experiences. My father’s group was in Luzon, Phillipines, and that is about all I know about his experience as he passed in 1970. Thank you all for sharing the stories of your relatives and may their memories be a blessing for you all.

  7. I will be following Fold3 for updates in the hope that I will find a clue to which bomber group my Uncle, Charles Kenneth Pierce, flew with. I believe he was a top turret gunner on B-17’s. I have possession of a pair of wings that has a bomb in the center that he made while in the hospital and later gave to my Mother. I believe he flew raids from England to Germany…and that’s about all I know. Unfortunately, relatives gave away all his military possessions when he passed away and before I could do anything to save them. I have other uncles in WWII but this is the only Air Corps member. There were so many bomber groups. Without help, I will never find which one he was in. I keep hoping that a member of his flight crew might still be here and can identify him…but that’s such a long shot. He was a red-headed Irishman who smiled alot. My interest is (1) I loved my uncle so much and (2) my genealogy research includes the role of my family in the military and I would like to keep that knowledge recorded for our family in the future.

    • Geraldine, have you searched different archives in Fold3? Many WWII personnel records were destroyed in a fire, but you can filter the search by military ID number or search individual collections like the US Air Force collection or Missing Crew Aircraft Reports (his enlistment records will have his military ID number). Another option that I often have success with is to search Newspapers.com and check his hometown papers. Sometimes they talked about what unit, bomb group, etc. the soldier served with. Good luck!

    • Are you sure he wasn’t a 467th BG (heavy) Liberator crewman based in Rackheath?

    • Ms Habitz Where did your uncle live?

    • I think He was with my Pops ( step father) Renee Fernandez. Aka Renard. The name looks familiar I have only seen his military history once. Another family member has all of it. I will see what I can Do

    • Geraldine, try contacting the 8th Air Force Historical Society. If your uncle served in England, he was likely either in the 8th or the 9th Air Force. I am a member and they helped me find information on my uncle, Lt Paul Ireland, who had been a pilot in the 95th BG based at Horham airbase in Suffolk. They also publish a quarterly magazine recounting stories of 8th AF veterans, English air bases, etc. Good luck!

      https://www.8thafhs.org/

  8. Is there anyway to purchase a printed copy of these documents?Im having difficulty downloading and printing them?

    In Memoriam Lt. Lester E. Carlson, 744th Squadron, 1931-April 25, 1944

  9. Though 456BG was assigned to the 15th Air Force, perhaps for some of you it may be interesting to know that there is a very detailed website on what happened to crashed 8th Air Force aircraft in the Holland / North Sea area…
    Just have a look at https://www.airwar4045.nl

    Website/database is not (yet) complete but it is updated on a weekly (at times daily) basis; Just press the “Modifications” button to see the latest updates…

  10. Nothing for Canadians again

  11. I may have some items of interest for Mr. Fernandes regarding U.S. – Brazilian relations during WW II in Natal. My father was stationed in Brazil with the U.S. Navy from 1943-1944.

  12. God Bless Fold-3 for their steady work of uncovering these stories. My father was U. S. Army, was in the Battle of the Bulge never talked about his time served, like so many of our Hero’s. His records were destroyed by fire set by un-American activists at Kent State University, May of 1970

    • Using Google I was able to find declassified 10th MP morning reports with Patton’s 3rd Army movements, which included Battle of the Bulge, which note where the military police unit was bivouaced and how far they traveled each day as well as giving actions of individuals attached or detached with the unit.

  13. My uncle Bert Edward White (1920-1982) Council Bluffs, Iowa. He was in 5th Armored Division under Gen Eisenhower. He drove a halftrack vehicle mostly also in Battle of the Bulge. Basic training at Camp Cooke, northern California desert. Then
    sent to the European Theater of War starting in England. His group went ashore
    the second day of the Normandy invasion. He spent time in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, and Sicily. He was honorably discharged at the end of the war in 1945.

  14. Missed it by thatmuch. My uncle was with the 465th BG (H), 15th AF. But this new set of records should still give me valuable information. Thank you..

  15. Trying to find info on B24 bomber called the “Royal Shaft”. My daughter- in – law’s grandfather, Louis Ceddia, of Watertown Massachusetts was a nose gunner on this plane and completed 50 missions and returned home after WW2

  16. We watch all the time hoping to see something about 11th Airborne Angels. We knew my husband’s Papa was involved from day 1. 2 March 1943 until 10 May 47. He was one of the brave men that jumped 23 Feb 1945 in the ‘Raid at Los Banos’. We weren’t allowed to talk about any of this while he was alive. After his death, my husband inherited all his things including every piece of paper during his duty. We never knew how involved Papa was in WWII. We even received his medals, ribbons and the Japanese flag he brought home.
    Thank you for all the work you guys do to help people like us find more history on our grandfathers. Still looking for info on my granddad. About all I know is he traveled all over working on the vehicles used in Germany.
    Thank you again for everything you do.
    donna dickerson.

    • My uncle Albert “Jake” Mallett
      Was in the 11 th
      I’m always looking for information as we have none about him

  17. My father was a tailgunner on a B-24 that flew from Sicily I believe. He passed when I was 21, so I don’t have a lot of info… his name was Edgar Eugene Mills. I know he trained in Texas, San Antonio and El paso. He received a bronze star with oak leaf clusters and I believe his plane was crash landed on mainland Italy. His records are incomplete at best due to the fire in St. Louis, MO…any help will be greatly appreciated. Matt Mills [email protected]

  18. I have several pictures of his plane and him “Purple Shaft”

  19. Dad is 98 and was a navigator on a B-24 out of India. He flew “The Hump” with their bomb bays loaded with gasoline to China. He has a few photos out the window of the Himalaya’s.

    After the war he finished college and did research in the D.C. area. He then went into the Naval Physiology program and eventually became the Chief Physiologist in the Navy. He has been retired 41 years now. He knew several of the early astronauts and worked on developing pressure suits in the 50’s

  20. My father, Lt. Thomas R. Leslie,III, was in the 450 BG, based in Foggia ,Italy, I believe.
    Would appreciate any information on his group, if available.
    He died in 1988.
    Thank you
    P.S. Pilot of the “Mighty Mouse”

  21. I wish I knew what my dad was in. I knew he flew but I know for sure he was an airplane mechanic in WWII. He never talked much about his life and growing up, or the war. The one thing he did tell me was he flew over Pearl Harbor the day after. That’s all I knew, besides he was a Sgt. in US Army Air Corp from May 1943 to Feb.1946. I have a picture of him in a plane, looks like he was getting ready to go somewhere.
    How do I go about finding out where exactly he was in the service?

    • What was his name…I had an Uncle stationed over there. His plane went down on into the side of a mountain…There were some other men and also some Observers who were on the plane. They think the weight was too heavy for the plane to get high enough to get over the top. They did not take in consideration the extra weight of the observers who flew that day with them. Luzon in the Philippines, he was stationed. I spoke years ago with a John R Joseph who was in the crew who serviced the planes in their squadron. He was stationed with the 318th Troop Carrier Squadron They were stationed at “Honey” Airstrip, Lingayen Gulf on the island of Luzon in the Philippines. My uncles’ name was Thomas Patrick Sneckner. My uncles plane crashed on Feb. 14, 1944….He was 23 years old, when he died.

    • My Uncle Tom, joined the 443rd Troop Carrier Group as an original member of the cadre sent to AAFSAT by the 437th Troop Carrier. Also further assignment to the 310th Troop Carrier Squadron. He was deactivation from the 318th Troop Carrier Squadron as its318th Troop Carrier Squadron Commando. Even being young, they said he must have been a good pilot. His pilot Col. Tyson….have to look up more of his name and rank. His pilot let him fly a great deal…of the time. This plane was the only one lost out of that Squadron…

  22. My father, Dudley B. Field, was captain of a B24 (Madam Zig Zig) crew in the 456th. They were shot down on his 49th mission in 1944. After 11 months as a POW, he was liberated from Stalag VII-A, near Moosburg. Married in June 1946, and flew 33 years for American Airlines. Proud father of 4 boys and 3 grandchildren. He passed away just over 6 years ago, just shy of his 91st birthday. A member of his normal crew, Ralph Dykstra, was not on his flight that was shot down, and completed his 50 missions shortly afterward. Ralph passed away last year.

  23. Plane photos of the different groups?…some had red tails etc..thx!.. for sharing!!..:)

  24. My dad was a tail gunner in a B-25 with 78 missions in the south pacific. He was in the 13TH Air Force–42ND Bomb Group–69TH Bombardment Squadron.His name is George J.Bean Jr. from Linden N.J. His pilot who is still with us is Lloyd E.Davis from Lampasas Texas.He just turned 100 years old.

    Brian Bean

  25. I do have some names of his people who were on the plane and they are also on the headstone where they are all buried in a communal grave…The gentleman who remembered them each year around Valentines Day and whom my daughter found had written some things about the accident. If I could get a copy of the things she found…I think he must have passed away…About 5 or 6 years ago, he never wrote me back, when I let him know…I was remembering him and thanking him for a Mass he always had said for him and the plane of men to honor them…..
    him. His name was Joseph Brojek….John Joseph Brojek….

  26. Below is my email., if anyone has info for myself or any of these commentators

  27. My Dad, Capt. Charles A. Temple, was a gunnery instructor for both gunners and fighter pilots 1943-45, and may have trained some of the crew members involved in this story. He spent most of his time in Texas, but was also briefly stationed in Florida and Georgia. He repeatedly requested a combat assignment, but was told he was needed as an instructor. By the end of the war he was serving as a P-63 “Pinball Pilot”. https://www.airspacemag.com/military-aviation/just-shoot-me-57581298/

  28. James Edward Andrews. B/4 pilot in Italy. 26 missions. Also served in Korean War as rescue pilot piking pilots who had ditched in the ocean. Also served in the Vietnam War ferrying military to US bases.

  29. I HAD TWO COUSINS THAT FOUGHT IN THE GROUP. THEY WERE CORPORAL EARL “RUSTY” SPENCER AND SERGEANT VIRGIL LEE PIOTT. IF ANYONE KNEW EITHER OF THESE TWO MEN, PLEASE RESPOND.

  30. Was there a McElderry among the crew?

  31. Why is the image of Robert E. Lee on the masthead — along with Generals Washington, Pershing and Eisenhower? Shouldn’t General Grant appear instead?

    General Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the administration’s senior military advisor, just yesterday called for “taking a hard look” at changing the names of ten Army bases — including Fort Lee — honoring Confederate officers who had fought against the Union during the Civil War. General Milley told Congress, “There is no place in our armed forces for manifestations, or symbols of racism, bias or discrimination.”

    As the general explained at the House hearing, “The Confederacy, the American Civil War, was fought, and it was an act of rebellion. . . . It was an act of treason, at the time, against the Union, against the Stars and Stripes, against the U.S. Constitution. Those officers turned their back on their oath.”

    It has been reported that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, as well as other senior officers and officials of the Army, Navy and Air Force, are in agreement. I hope to see the bases renamed — and the removal of all other divisive Confederate symbols on military installations — in the next year or so. I believe Fold3 should join the military and support ALL our troops.

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