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455th Bombardment Group (H)

15th AF

Vulgar Vultures


Activated 1 June 1943 at Clovis, NM

Inactivated 9 September 1945 in Italy

Activated 25 March 1947

Inactivated 27 June 1949

Activated 25 July 1956 as 455th Day Fighter Group

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Mark Your Calendar - 2023 Reunion

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We are constantly looking for additional material to post on our website.  If you have any photographs or documents pertaining to the 455th Bomb Group, please send them our way.  The best way to send things is electronically to Hughes Glantzberg, Webmaster for the 455th BG website.  If you need to send something by snailmail, please contact Hughes for the best way of doing so.

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A Brief History of the 455th Bombardment Group (H)

The group was activated July 1943 with four essentially stand-alone bomb squadrons: 740th, 741st, 742nd, and 743rd.  After a somewhat nomadic training regimen with dilapidated equipment, the pieces of the group came together at Langley, VA in October 1943.  They were issued G and H models of the Consolidated B-24 Liberator.

They departed Langley in December 1943 and flew to Tunisia by way of Brazil, arriving in January 1944.  They remained in Tunisia until completion of their airfield at San Giovanni, Italy, about five miles west of Cerignola and 20 miles southwest of Foggia.  The group moved to San Giovanni in February 1944 and flew its first combat mission (Anzio) on 16 February 1944 as part of the 304th Bomb Wing, Fifteenth Air Force.  The group flew its last mission (Linz, Austria) 15 months later on 25 April 1945.  The mission scheduled for the following day was cancelled and the group began preparations to return home.  Probably no one was sorry.

The group had only two commanders during combat operations.  Col. Kenneth A. Cool commanded from July 1943-September 1944.  Col. William I. Snowden then commanded until May 1945.  Both survived the war but both are now deceased.

The 455th flew 252 combat missions over France, Italy, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Austria, and the Balkans.  They dropped 13, 249 tons of munitions with the following approximate targeting breakout:

Marshalling yards, railroads, bridges, rolling stock

6,239 tons

Oil refineries and storage

2,704 tons

Air fields

2,093 tons

Harbors and shipping

1,035 tons

Troop concentrations

974 tons

Gun emplacements

204 tons

Authorized personnel strength was over 4,000 personnel.  The group lost 118 aircraft, 31 directly to fighters, 36 directly to flak, and 51 from all other causes combined.  The figure for combined causes includes causes such as collisions, ditchings, and crashes attributable to fighter or flak damage.  As time passed, the fighter opposition decreased but the Germans concentrated their anti-aircraft guns around the fewer remaining targets, so the threat from flak remained intense.  They suffered 147 KIA, 268 MIA, 179 POW, and 169 wounded in action.  On the other hand, the group is credited with 119 enemy aircraft destroyed and another 78 probables.  Only about 40% of the original crews returned.

Most members would probably agree on the two toughest missions.  The Group hit the ball bearing plant at Steyer, Austria on 2 April 1944.  They lost 4 of 40 aircraft—40 comrades.  In addition to successful target damage, they were credited with 27 enemy aircraft destroyed and 17 probables.  It was their first heavy loss in two months of combat.  The Group received a Distinguished Unit Citation for this mission.  The other consensus mission was the Moosbierbaum oil refinery at Vienna, Austria on 26 June 1944.  Thirty-six planes took off with only 26 returning.  Six of the ten losses were from a single squadron.  Several of those crews were on their 50th mission. The Group received another Distinguished Unit Citation for this mission.

B-24 Liberator "Roger the Lodger"

San Giovanni

San Giovanni airfield, Home of the 455th Bombardment Group


Diary of a Co-Pilot

The diary of James Smith

After entering the Army Air Corps and completing his pilot training, James Smith was assigned as the co-pilot on the Hudson crew. They were part of the 741st Bombardment Squadron (H), 455th Bombardment Group (H). During the next few months, Smith kept a daily diary of the activities of his crew and the rest of the squadron. In 2002, Smith transcribed this diary into a story of what it was like to leave the United States of America and fight against the evil forces of the Third Reich. This book is divided into three stories.

The Hudson crew shared several experiences on their way to Italy and the Fifteenth Air Force. The squadron flew the southern route down through Brazil, across to Dakar in West Africa, up to North Africa and finally to their base at San Giovanni in Italy. This was the same route flown by many other crews, but the experiences Smith describes are atypical.

Once at their base at San Giovanni, Italy and reunited with the rest of the 455th Bombardment Group (H), Smith and the rest of the Hudson crew flew fifty missions against various targets from France to Hungary and Rumania. Smith describes each of these mission in detail.

After completing their tour of fifty missions, the Hudson crew was to return to the States. Initially this was to be by troop ship, but the resourceful crew found another avenue and experienced more adventures as they worked their way back home.