491st BG (H)
491st BG Database
from the U.S. Army Air Force Archives
June, 1944 - April, 1945
Process 491st Bomb Group
The first of many groups to come to McChord field for assembly and redeployment processing is the 491st Bomb Group, formerly a B-24 "Liberator" Bomb group with the 8th Air Force in England.
Having been given redeployment leaves upon arriving in the United States, this group will undergo a thorough checking of records, present army status, back pay, awards due, and any personal affairs problems, during their processing at this Fourth Air Force base.
The 491st is very proud of its record and achievements in the time spent in the European Theatre of Operations. Arriving in England 2 June 1944, just in time for the "knock-out" blow to the axis, this group dropped 13,697 tons of bombs on 187 missions flown before VE Day was declared. Originally activated in October of '43 from the 17th Anti-Submarine Squadron, the group has received in addition to many individual awards, a unit citation.
This is the story of the 491st Bombardment group, heavy, recent arrival at McChord Field.
Activated in September of 1943 at Davis-Monthan field, and originally commanded by Col Dwight O Montieth, the 491st was skeletonized on aircraft and crews who were veterans of the anti-submarine campaign in the Caribbean and South Atlantic. Early in 1944 the group was moved from Pueblo, Colorado, for completion of phase training, and on April 12, 1944, the first contingent of the unit, which at that time was solely air echelon, departed for its POE. On May 1, 1944, under secret orders and with Group Commander Lt Col Carl T. Goldenberg at the controls, the first B-24 of the 491st cleared Morrison Field, Florida, bound for England. On arrival at Metfield, East Anglia, the air echelon merged with ground forces which had been formed overseas, and the completed group went to work.
As a member of the 95th Combat wing in the second division of the Eighth Air Force, the 491st flew its first operational mission to Bretigny, France on the second day of June, well ahead of schedule, and went on to complete 187 operational sorties of every description over Austria, Holland, Belgium, France and Germany. Two of these missions were spectacular low-level supply runs in support of ground troops. First crew to be lost to enemy action was that of Lt Evans of the 852nd squadron. Four men from this crew later turned up safe.
In August, the unit was moved to North Pickenham near Swaffham where the balance of its history was made.
Six battle participation stars were awarded the group during its stay in the ETO, representing the air offensive of Europe and the Normandy, northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland and central Germany campaigns. Highest distinction won by the group is the Distinguished Unit citation, bestowed for the mission of 26 November 1944 against Misburg. On this unforgettable day, three squadrons of the group were attacked during the bomb run by pursuits of the Luftwaffe, and 16 ships were sent down. Despite the loss, remnants of the formation went on to complete the run. The harsh returns were softened in later months with news that most of the crew members who went down had been able to parachute safely.
The groups final mission was flown 25 April 1945 against Bad Reichenhall, railhead for Berchtesgaden. For several months in the early part of 1945, records of strikes placed the 491st in the lead of the entire 8th Air force for bombing accuracy.
Commanding officers of the group, in addition to Cols Montieth and Goldenberg, have included Lt Col Jack G Merrell and Col Frederic H Miller and Col Allen W Reed. Squadron commanders are Lt Cols Kenneth R Strauss, 852; Harry M Stephey, 853rd; Charles C Parmele, 854th; and Escar Watts Jr., 855th. Ground and service units which supplied the group were headed by the 379th Air Service group commanded by Lt Col Leroy E Everett.
One Congressional Medal of Honor is credited to the 491st, though its recipient, Lt Col Vance, was only attached to the group at the time of its achievement. A round dozen of Silver Stars, and numerous DFC's, Soldier medals, Bronze Stars and Air Medals are scattered among both ground and air personnel.
Originally scheduled for redeployment to the pacific when ordered home last July 4th, the 491st shared in the joyous news of Japan's surrender during rest and recuperation leaves. With Lt Col Lyman H Goff, Jr., now in command, the unit is undergoing deactivation at McChord field.
Squadrons of the 491st BG:
852nd Bombardment Squadron - Heavy
853rd Bombardment Squadron - Heavy
854th Bombardment Squadron -Heavy
855th Bombardment Squadron - Heavy
Assigned 8th AAF: 1 January 1944
2 BD, 95 CBW 5 May 1944
2 BD, 14 CBW 14 Aug 1944
2 AD, 14 CBW 1 Jan 1945
METFIELD 25 April 1944 - 15 August 1944
NORTH PICKENHAM 15 August 1944 - 4 July 1945
Lt Col Carl T. Goidenberg: 12 Feb. 1944 - 26 Jun. 1944.
Col Frederick H. Miller: 26 Jun. 1944 - 16 Oct. 1944.
Col Allen W. Reed: 20 Oct. 1944 - 18 Jun. 1945.
First Mission: 2 June 1944
Last Mission: 25 April 1945
Total Sorties: 5,005
Total Bomb Tonnage: 12,304 Tons
Aircraft MIA: 47
Other Op Loses: 23
Distinguished Unit Citation: 26 Nov. 44: Misburg
Claims to Fame:
Highest rate of operations of all B-24 groups.
Activated 1 Oct. 1943 at Davis-Monthan Fd, Ariz. Moved to Biggs Fd, Texas 11 Nov. 1943. Most of ground unit transferred to B-29 groups. Group transferred less personnel and equipment to 2BD Hq. as of 1 Jan. 1944 Apparently planned for 14CBW and North Pickenham designated a base in Feb. 1944, but in view of advanced state of training of 492BG 491BG rescheduled for Metfield. Four established groups in 2BD ordered to raise and train an additional squadron ground unit each one of the five ground echelons in each group then selected for 491 BG. These transferred to Metfield on 25 April 1944. Aircraft continued training in US, moving to Pueblo AAB, CO. in early Jan. 1944. Began movement overseas on the 21 April 1944 via Florida, Trinidad, Brazil, Dakar an' Marrakesh.
Redeployed US June 1945. The aircraft left 17 June 1945. Ground unit sailed on Queen Mary on the 6th of July 1945 arriving in New York 11 July 1945. The Group established McChord Fd, Wash. but inactivated there 8 Sep. 1945.