7th Bomb Group continued.


On June 29th, combat crews and ground men from the 9th Bomb Squadron departed from India for the Middle East for duty in that theater, to repulse the Nazis then attempting an offensive against the new invasion forces of the U.S. Upon their departure from the theater, they were placed on detached service with the Middle East Air Force. About this time the Group headquarters were moved to Calcutta and a drastic change took place. Hq. Hq. Squadron was disbanded and formed Headquarters, 7th Bomb Group, while the 341st Bomb Group (M) was formed from the llth and the 22nd Bomb Squadrons, long members of the veteran 7th Bomb Group. The remaining personnel of the 436th Bomb Squadron stayed on in Calcutta awaiting orders to activate two new heavy bombardment squadrons. On October 7, 1942, the 9th Bomb Squadron began returning to Karachi from their tour of duty in the Middle East. Some personnel of this Squadron remained in Africa where they formed a new Bombardment Group.

On October 25, 1942, by order of the commanding general, Army Air Forces, the 492nd and 493d Bomb Squadrons (H) were activated from the squadrons and headquarters of the 7th Bomb Group and joined the Group, making the total strength four squadrons and headquarters. The Group was now prepared for increased action with the enemy now in control of the majority of Burma. In December, 1942, the Group began moving to their new base, set up especially for them at Pandaveswar, India, where later they were again to set bombing records, inaugurate new bombing techniques and receive high praise from the leaders of the Allied Armed Forces in Southeast Asia. At the end of 1942 the Squadrons of the 7th were still on the move to Pandaveswar, though the 492nd and 493d Squadrons were awaiting new men in Karachi. During the year 1942 the Group had participated in action against the enemy from bases in India and China, and spent several months carrying out raids in the Middle East.

As the second full year of World War II got under way, the 7th was still engaged in moving, though they continued to strike the enemy from various India bases. Col. Necrason, commanding officer, was wounded on a mission to the Pyinmany railroad yards when heavy ack-ack was encountered. Besides the wounded, two ships were lost through enemy action. In May 1943, a formation was held honoring the famed Eddie Rickenbacher who spoke to the men and awarded medals to those who were hitting the enemy constantly in all types of weather. During the ensuing months, the bomber crews distinguished themselves by undertaking every possible type of mission, practical or impractical, for missions deep into Thailand, Burma and the Andaman Islands, flew over shark-infested waters, jungles notorious for head hunters, and through skies filled with enemy fighters. Individual planes flew alone against heavily fortified Rangoon at altitudes as low as 6,000 feet, virtually making that port useless to the Japanese. Many losses were sustained by the Group during this period.

In the latter part of the year (1943), the Group began also to hit Japanese shipping in the Bay of Bengal, along with hitting airfields at Meiktila, Lashio and Rangoon, as well as destroying much enemy material stored at various points throughout Burma. During this period the Group was operating with the new type bomber, B-24, which replaced the delapidated B-17's brought from the States by the Group in 1942. On December 19, 1943, the heavies of the 7th flew the longest known bomber mission at that time to Bangkok, Thailand. The planes were in the air for a total period of 14 to 15 hours.

During the early stages of 1944, the 7th, now a part of the newly formed 10th Air Force, continued to strike the enemy in Burma, Thailand and the Andaman Islands, inflicting heavy damage to their installations. At the start of the monsoon season, when it is impractical and impossible to fly deep into Burma and Thailand, the Group again moved, this time to Tezgaon and Kurmitola, located near Dacca, India.