855th Bombardment Squadron

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855th Bombardment Squadron
491bg-b24-1.jpg
Formation of 491st Group B-24 Liberators
Active1942-1945
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
RoleHeavy Bomber
Part ofEighth Air Force
EngagementsEuropean Theater of Operations[1]
DecorationsDistinguished Unit Citation[1]
Insignia
855th Bombardment Squadron emblem[2]855thbombsquadron-emblem.jpg
European Theater fuselage code[2]V2

The 855th Bombardment Squadron is an inactive United States Air Force unit. The squadron was first activated at Lantana Airport, Florida, in October 1942, as the 522nd Bombardment Squadron. It was inactivated on 8 September 1945.

History[edit]

Organization and antisubmarine warfare[edit]

Lockheed B-34 in flight

The squadron was first activated at Lantana Airport, Florida in October 1942 as the 522nd Bombardment Squadron, where it took over the antisubmarine warfare mission, personnel and equipment of the 112th Observation Squadron, a federalized Ohio National Guard unit that had been mobilized in 1940, and which was simultaneously inactivated.[1][3] It was briefly assigned directly to Army Air Forces Antisubmarine Command, but soon became part of the 378th Bombardment Group, located at Langley Field, Virginia, but with squadrons dispersed along the southern Atlantic coast. The squadron was equipped with a mix of Douglas B-18 Bolos, Lockheed B-34s and North American B-25 Mitchells.[1][4] The squadron mission was to search for German U-Boats off the southeast Atlantic coast. Although the Navy was responsible for long range antisubmarine patrolling, it lacked the aircraft to perform the mission and the Army Air Forces (AAF) performed the mission, even though its crews lacked proper training.[5]

In November 1942, Army Air Forces Antisubmarine Command had established the 26th Antisubmarine Wing to control its forces operating over the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea.[6] Its bombardment group headquarters, including the 378th, were inactivated and the squadron, redesignated the 17th Antisubmarine Squadron in November, was assigned directly to the 26th Wing in December.[1][4] The squadron continued its mission from Boca Chica Field, Florida in January 1943. In July 1943, the AAF and Navy reached an agreement to transfer the coastal antisubmarine mission to the Navy. This mission transfer also included an exchange of AAF long-range bombers equipped for antisubmarine warfare for Navy Consolidated B-24 Liberators without such equipment.[7]

Combat in the European Theater[edit]

The squadron moved to Alamogordo Army Air Field, New Mexico in late September 1943 and was redesignated the 855th Bombardment Squadron. On 1 October 1943 it formed the cadre for the 491st Bombardment Group, which was activated at Davis-Monthan Field, Arizona. The following month, the squadron moved to El Paso Army Air Field, Texas and began training with Consolidated B-24 Liberator heavy bombers.[1][8] In January, most of the ground echelon of the squadron was withdrawn and reassigned to Boeing B-29 Superfortress units being organized by Second Air Force, with the largest group moving to Pratt Army Air Field, Kansas. Many of the unit's remaining personnel were transferred to other B-24 groups as well, and by the end of December, the squadron had no assigned aircraft.[9] While the air echelon continued training in the United States, Eighth Air Force began organizing a new ground echelon in England, directing each of the four groups assigned to its 2d Bombardment Division to form a squadron ground echelon.[10][note 1] The air echelon moved to Pueblo Army Air Base, Colorado to complete its training with the 471st Bombardment Group.[9] Key personnel of the unit departed the United States on 11 April, while the crews began ferrying the squadron's B-24s via the southern ferry route on 21 April.[10]

The squadron was assembled at RAF Metfield with the arrival of the air echelon by 15 May 1944, although the last plane of the 491st Group did not arrive until the 30th.[11] It began operations starting on 2 June, with an attack on Bretigny Airfield.[12] It initially attacked airfields, coastal defenses and lines of communication to support Operation Overlord, the invasion of France. After the D-Day landings,[note 2] the squadron concentrated on the strategic bombing missions. Its targets included communications centers, oil refineries, shipyards, depots and other industrial targets. While targets included Berlin, Bielefeld, Cologne, Gelsenkirchen, Hamburg, Hanover, Kassel and Magdeburg. On one occasion, the squadron was tasked with attacking German General Staff headquarters at Zossen, south of Berlin.[8][10]

In August 1944, the 492d Bombardment Group was taken off normal operations and moved on paper to replace the 801st Bombardment Group (Provisional) on Operation Carpetbagger operations. As a result, the 491st group, including the squadron, moved to the 492d's base at RAF North Pickenham.[13] On 26 November 1944, the group raided an oil refinery at Misburg. It was attacked by large numbers of enemy interceptors, which shot down approximately half of the aircraft in the 491st Group formation. The remaining aircraft fought off the enemy planes and successfully bombed the target, earning the unit a Distinguished Unit Citation.[8]

The squadron was occasionally diverted from the strategic bombing campaign. it supported ground forces during Operation Cobra the breakout at Saint Lo; dropped supplies to beleaguered paratroopers during Operation Market Garden, the attempt to seize a bridgehead across the Rhine River; and attacked supply lines and fortifications during the Battle of the Bulge. It supported Operation Varsity, the airborne assault across the Rhine and Allied forces driving across Germany.[8] The squadron's final combat mission was flown on 25 April 1945.[10]

Following V-E Day, the squadron began flying its aircraft back to the United States on 17 June 1945. The ground echelon sailed on the RMS Queen Mary on 6 July, arriving in New York City five days later.[10] The squadron reassembled at McChord Field, Washington later that month and was inactivated there on 8 September.[1]

Lineage[edit]

  • Constituted as the 522d Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 13 October 1942
Activated on 18 October 1942
Redesignated 17th Antisubmarine Squadron (Heavy) on 29 November 1942
Redesignated 17th Antisubmarine Squadron (Medium) on 3 March 1943
Redesignated 17th Antisubmarine Squadron (Heavy) on 20 April 1943
Redesignated 855th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 24 September 1943
Redesignated 855th Bombardment Squadron, Heavy c. 1944
Inactivated on 8 September 1945[1]

Assignments[edit]

  • Army Air Forces Antisubmarine Command, 18 October 1942
  • 378th Bombardment Group, 20 November 1942
  • 26th Antisubmarine Wing, 14 December 1942
  • 491st Bombardment Group, 1 October 1943 – 8 September 1945[1]

Stations[edit]

  • Lantana Airport, Florida, 18 October 1942
  • Boca Chica Field, Florida, 9 January 1943
  • Miami Army Air Field, Florida, 3 July 1943
  • Alamogordo Army Air Field, New Mexico, 24 September 1943
  • El Paso Army Air Field, Texas, 11 November 1943 – 1 February 1944
  • RAF North Pickenham (Station 143),[14] England, February 1944
  • RAF Metfeld (Station 366),[14] England, April 1944
  • RAF North Pickenham (Station 143),[14] England, 15 August 1944 – 5 July 1945
  • McChord Field, Washington, 17 July-8 September 1945[15]

Aircraft[edit]

  • Douglas B-18 Bolo, 1942-1943
  • North American B-25 Mitchell, 1942-1943
  • Lockheed B-34 Ventura, 1942-1943
  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator, 1943-1945[1]

Awards and campaigns[edit]

Award streamer Award Dates Notes
Streamer PUC Army.PNG Distinguished Unit Citation 26 November 1944 Misburg, 855th Bombardment Squadron[1]
Campaign Streamer Campaign Dates Notes
American Campaign Streamer.png Antisubmarine 7 December 1941–1 August 1943 522d Bombardment Squadron (later 17th Antisubmarine Squadron)[1]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png Air Offensive, Europe 25 April 1944–5 June 1944 855th Bombardment Squadron[1]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png Air Combat, EAME Theater 25 April 1944–11 May 1945 855th Bombardment Squadron[1]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png Normandy 6 June 1944–24 July 1944 855th Bombardment Squadron[1]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png Northern France 25 July 1944–14 September 1944 855th Bombardment Squadron[1]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png Rhineland 15 September 1944–21 March 1945 855th Bombardment Squadron[1]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png Ardennes-Alsace 16 December 1944–25 January 1945 855th Bombardment Squadron[1]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png Central Europe 22 March 1944–21 May 1945 855th Bombardment Squadron[1]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

Explanatory notes
  1. ^ The four groups providing the ground echelon were the 93d 389th, 446th and 448th Bombardment Groups. Blue, p. 82.
  2. ^ The squadron's assigned target was obscured by cloud cover and it returned to base without bombing. Blue, p. 85.
Citations
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 783
  2. ^ a b Watkins, pp. 118-119
  3. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 341-343
  4. ^ a b Maurer, Combat Units, p. 266
  5. ^ Ferguson, p. 4
  6. ^ Maurer, Combat Units, p. 389
  7. ^ Ferguson, pp. 82–83
  8. ^ a b c d Maurer, Combat Units, pp. 360-261
  9. ^ a b Blue, p. 80
  10. ^ a b c d e Freeman, p. 261
  11. ^ Blue, p. 82
  12. ^ Blue, p. 83
  13. ^ Blue, p. 90
  14. ^ a b c Station number in Anderson.
  15. ^ Station information in Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 783, except as noted.

Bibliography[edit]

 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 yes: Research Division, USAF Historical Research Center. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 January 2016. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  • Blue, Allan O. (Summer 1964). "Ringmasters: A History of the 491st Bombardment Group (H)" (PDF). AAHS Journal. American Aviation Historical Society. 9 (2).
  • Ferguson, Arthur B. (April 1945). "The Antisubmarine Command, USAF Historical Study No. 107" (PDF). Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Intelligence Historical Division. Retrieved 12 September 2016.
  • 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: Insignia and Markings of the Eighth Air Force In World War II. Vol I (VIII) Bomber Command. Atglen, PA: Shiffer Publishing Ltd. ISBN 0-7643-1987-6.