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.
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!