The 459th Bombardment Group (Heavy) activated on July 1, 1943. The group trained for combat with B-24s and moved to Italy in January and February 1944, where it was assigned to the Fifteenth Air Force. It engaged primarily in strategic bombardment from March 1944 to April 1945, attacking such targets as oil refineries, munitions and aircraft factories, industrial areas, airfields, and communications centers in Italy, France, Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Austria, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Greece. The 459thBombardment Group received a Distinguished Unit Citation for leading the 304thWing through enemy interceptors and intense flak to raid an airfield and aircraft assembly plant at Bad Voslau on April 23, 1944. During combat the group also flew some support and interdictory missions.
The 459th struck railroads in March 1944 to cut enemy supply lines leading to the Anzio beachhead. It not only participated in the pre-invasion bombing of southern France in August 1944 but the group also hit railroad bridges, depots, and marshalling yards during April 1945 to assist Allied forces in northern Italy. The 459thBombardment Group returned to the United States in August and inactivated on August 28, 1945.
Campaigns: Air Combat, EAME Theater; Air Offensive, Europe; Rome-Arno; Normandy; Northern France; Southern France; North Apennines; Rhineland; Central Europe; Po Valley