Activated on September 8, 1942 and equipped with B-26 Marauders, the 344th served as a replacement training unit before deploying to England in January 1944. Constituent units included the 494th, 495th, 496thand 497thbombardment squadrons. The 344thbegan operations with the Ninth Air Force in March, attacking airfields, missile sites, marshalling yards, submarine shelters, coastal defenses, and other targets in France, Belgium, and Holland. Beginning in May, the group prepared for the Normandy invasion by striking bridges in France. On D-Day it attacked coastal batteries at Cherbourg, and then supported drives that resulted in the seizures of the Cotentin Peninsula and Caen.
The 344thearned a Distinguished Unit Citation during the period July 24 through 26, , when it struck troop concentrations, supply dumps, a bridge, and a railroad viaduct in support of the breakthrough at St. Lo. The group attacked bridges to hinder enemy withdrawal from the Falaise Gap, and bombed ships and strong points in and around Brest from August through September. The 344thattacked bridges, rail lines, fortifications, supply dumps, and ordnance depots in Germany, supported Allied forces during the Battle of the Bulge from December 1944 through January 1945, and struck supply points, communications, bridges, marshalling yards, roads, and oil storage through April 1945.
The group made training flights and participated in air demonstrations after the war. It moved to Germany in September and, as part of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe, served with the army of occupation. The group began training in A-26 but continued to use B-26 aircraft. It was re-designated as the 344thBombardment Group (Light) in December and transferred, without personnel and equipment, to the United States on February 15, 1946. The 344thBombardment group inactivated on March 31.
Campaigns: American Theater; Air Offensive, Europe; Normandy; Northern France; Rhineland; Ardennes-Alsace; Central Europe