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447th Bombardment Group (Heavy)

Activated on May 1, 1943, the B-17 Flying Fortress-equipped 447thdeployed to England in November for service with the Eighth Air Force. Constituent units included the 708th, 709th, 710thand 711th bombardment squadrons. The 447thentered combat in December, and bombed submarine pens and naval installations in Germany, ports and missile sites in France, and airfields and marshalling yards in France, Belgium, and Germany. During “Big Week” (February 20 - 25, 1944), the group flew in an intensive bombing campaign against the German aircraft industry. The 447thprepared for the invasion of Normandy by bombing airfields and other targets near the beachhead, and supported the breakthrough at St. Lo in July and the assault against Brest in September. 

A B-17 of the 447th Bombardment Group in flight.
Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses of the 447th Bombardment Group fly 22,000 feet over Europe, on March 20, 1944.

The group participated in the airborne invasion of Holland and dropped supplies to Free French forces as well. In October the 447thbegan targeting German oil production. 2ndLt. Robert E. Femoyer, a navigator, earned the Medal of Honor for his actions on November 2. While on a mission over Germany his B-17 was damaged by flak, and he was severely wounded by shell fragments. Determined to navigate the plane out of danger and save the crew, he refused a sedative and, for more than two hours, directed the bomber so effectively it returned to base without further damage. Femoyer died shortly thereafter.

A 708th Bomb Squadron Fortress during a low-altitude drop to the French Marquis in Operation 'Grassy' on September 9, 1944.

During the Battle of the Bulge from December 1944 through January 1945 the 447thbombed marshalling yards, railroad bridges, and communications centers in the combat zone, and then resumed strikes against oil, transportation, communications, and other targets in Germany. During this period, the group also supported the airborne assault across the Rhine in March. The 447thBombardment Group inactivated on November 7.

Smiling aviator Sgt. Clarence Walker, tail gunner, stands in front of 'A Bit o' Lace', damaged on April 4, 1945, from a flak shell over Kiel.

Campaigns: Air Offensive, Europe; Normandy; Northern France; Rhineland; Ardennes-Alsace; Central Europe