597th Bombardment Squadron

Summary

The 597th Bombardment Squadron is an inactive United States Air Force unit. It was activated at MacDill Field, Florida in April 1943. After training in the United States, it transferred to the European Theater of Operations, where it was a component of IX Bomber Command. The squadron served in combat from April 1944 until the end of World War II, earning a Distinguished Unit Citation for an attack on Ediger-Eller, Germany, in December 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge. Following V-E Day the squadron remained in France until December 1945, when it returned to the United States and was inactivated at Camp Shanks in January 1946.

597th Bombardment Squadron
397th Bombardment Group - B-26 Marauders.jpg
397th Bombardment Group B-26 Marauders[note 1]
Active1943–1945
Country United States
BranchUnited States Army Air Forces
RoleBombardment
Part ofNinth Air Force
EngagementsEuropean Theater of Operations
DecorationsDistinguished Unit Citation
Insignia
597th Bombardment Squadron emblem (Approved 20 December 1943)[1]597th Bombardment Squadron - Emblem.png
Group tail marking[2]Yellow diagonal stripe
Squadron fuselage code[2]9F

HistoryEdit

The squadron was established at MacDill Field, Florida in April 1943 as one of the original squadrons of the 397th Bombardment Group, a B-26 Marauder medium bomber group.[1][3] It drew its initial cadre from the 21st Bombardment Group.[4] The squadron trained under Third Air Force at stations in the southeastern United States. After completing its training by participating in the Tennessee Maneuvers, the squadron departed Hunter Field, Georgia for the European Theater of Operations on 14 March 1944.[1][4]

The squadron was temporarily stationed at RAF Gosfield upon its arrival in England in early April 1944. On the 15th of the month, its parent group displaced the 363d Fighter Group at RAF Rivenhall and flew its first combat mission five days later.[3][5] In preparation for Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy, the squadron attacked V-1 flying bomb launch pads, bridges, coastal defenses, marshalling yards and airfields in northern France. On D-Day the squadron attacked strong points and bombed fuel dumps and other objectives to support ground forces throughout the Normandy Campaign.[3]

In July 1944, the squadron attacked German forces near St Lo, France, during the Allied breakout there. In August, the squadron moved from England to Gorges Airfield, an Advanced Landing Ground in France. From there it attacked naval targets at Saint Malo and Brest. Once on the Continent, the squadron made frequent moves forward as the Allied forces advanced during the Northern France Campaign. By September the squadron began flying missions into Germany, attacking depots and defended areas.[3]

During the Battle of the Bulge, the squadron struck enemy lines of communications. On 23 December 1944 the unit severed a railway bridge at Ediger-Eller, Germany, despite heavy flak and fighter opposition from the Luftwaffe. For this action it was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation. The squadron continued to fly missions to support the Allied drive into Germany until 20 April 1945, exactly one year after its first combat mission, having completed 239 combat missions.[3][6]

After V-E Day the squadron returned to its former base at Peronne Airfield, France, and remained there until December, when it returned to the United States. Upon arrival at Camp Shanks, New York in early January 1946, the squadron was inactivated.[3]

LineageEdit

  • Constituted as the 597th Bombardment Squadron (Medium) on 20 March 1943
Activated on 20 April 1943
  • Redesignated 597th Bombardment Squadron, Medium c. April 1944
Inactivated on 5 January 1946[1]

AssignmentsEdit

  • 397th Bombardment Group, 20 April 1943 – 5 January 1946[1]

StationsEdit

  • MacDill Field, Florida, 20 April 1943
  • Avon Park Army Air Field, Florida, 14 October 1943
  • Hunter Field, Georgia, 2 November 1943 – 14 March 1944
  • RAF Gosfield (Station 154),[7] England, 5 April 1944
  • RAF Rivenhall (Station 168),[7] England, 15 April 1944
  • RAF Hurn (AAF-492), England, 5 August 1944
  • Gorges Airfield (A-26),[8] France, 31 August 1944
  • Dreux/Vernouillet Airfield (A-41),[8] France, c. 15 September 1944
  • Peronne Airfield (A-72),[8] France, c. 7 October 1944
  • Venlo Airfield (Y-55),[8] Netherlands, 25 April 1945
  • Peronne Airfield (A-72),[8] France, 30 May – c. December 1945
  • Camp Shanks, New York, 4–5 January 1946[1]

AircraftEdit

Awards and campaignsEdit

Award streamer Award Dates Notes
  Distinguished Unit Citation 23 December 1944 Germany 597th Bombardment Squadron[1]
Campaign Streamer Campaign Dates Notes
  Air Offensive, Europe 5 April 1944 – 5 June 1944 597th Bombardment Squadron[1]
  Normandy 6 June 1944 – 24 July 1944 597th Bombardment Squadron[1]
  Northern France 25 July 1944 – 14 September 1944 597th Bombardment Squadron[1]
  Rhineland 15 September 1944 – 21 March 1945 597th Bombardment Squadron[1]
  Ardennes-Alsace 16 December 1944 – 25 January 1945 597th Bombardment Squadron[1]
  Central Europe 5 April 1944 – 21 May 1945 597th Bombardment Squadron[1]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ The closest two aircraft are B-26B-55-MA serials 42-96137 (9F-Y) and 42-96191 (9F-N) "Milk Run Special" of the 597th Bombardment Squadron.
  2. ^ Maurer says 1943–1946, but the squadron was either at sea or at the port of embarkation for the five days it was active in January 1946, and was not equipped with aircraft.

CitationsEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 678
  2. ^ a b Watkins, pp. 112–113
  3. ^ a b c d e f Maurer, Combat Units, pp. 283–284
  4. ^ a b "Abstract, History 397 bombardment Group Apr 1943 – Mar 1944". Air Force History Index. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  5. ^ "Abstract, History 397 Bombardment Group Apr–May 1944". Air Force History Index. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  6. ^ "Abstract, History 397 Bombardment Group Apr 1945". Air Force History Index. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  7. ^ a b Station numbers in Anderson
  8. ^ a b c d e Station numbers in Johnson

BibliographyEdit

  This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

  • Anderson, Capt. Barry (1985). Army Air Forces Stations: A Guide to the Stations Where U.S. Army Air Forces Personnel Served in the United Kingdom During World War II (PDF). Maxwell AFB, AL: Research Division, USAF Historical Research Center. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
  • Johnson, 1st Lt. David C. (1988). U.S. Army Air Forces Continental Airfields (ETO) D-Day to V-E Day (PDF). Maxwell AFB, AL: Research Division, USAF Historical Research Center. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 September 2015.
  • Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1983) [1961]. Air Force Combat Units of World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-02-1. LCCN 61060979.
  • Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1982) [1969]. Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-405-12194-6. LCCN 70605402. OCLC 72556.
  • Watkins, Robert (2008). Battle Colors. Vol. III Insignia and Markings of the Ninth Air Force in World War II. Atglen, PA: Shiffer Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-0-7643-2938-8.