The 96thBombardment Group activated on July 15, 1942, and served as a B-17 Flying Fortress training unit initially. The 96thdeployed to England with its constituent squadrons, the 337th, 338th, 339th, and 413thbombardment squadrons in April 1943. Assigned to Eighth Air Force, the group entered combat in May. It attacked shipyards, harbors, railroad yards, airdromes, oil refineries, aircraft factories, and other industrial targets in Germany, France, Holland, Belgium, Norway, Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. The 96thearned a Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC) for fighting its way through fierce resistance from enemy fighters to bomb vital aircraft factories at Regensburg on August 17.
It received another DUC for leading the 45thBombardment Wing (Heavy) through thick clouds and intense antiaircraft fire to raid critical aircraft component factories in Poland on April 9. Other targets included airdromes in Bordeaux and Augsburg, marshalling yards in Kiel, Hamm, Brunswick, and Gdansk, aircraft factories in Chemnitz, Hannover, and Diosgyor, oil refineries in Merseburg and Brux, and chemical works in Weisbaden, Ludwigshafen, and Neunkirchen.
The 96thbombed coastal defenses, railway bridges, gun emplacements, and field batteries during the Normandy invasion of June. It attacked enemy positions in support of the breakthrough at St. Lo in July, reinforced the Allied drive across France in August, and dropped critical supplies to the Maquis during the same period. During the early months of 1945 the 96thattacked German communications along their western front. After V-E Day it flew food to Holland and hauled redeploying personnel to French Morocco, Ireland, France, and Germany. The 96thBombardment Group returned to the United States in December and inactivated on December 21.
Campaigns: Air Offensive, Europe; Normandy; Northern France; Rhineland; Ardennes-Alsace; Central Europe