The 67th Reconnaissance Group flew with the Eighth and Ninth Air Forces during the campaign in Europe in 1944-45, taking part in the D-Day campaign, the advance through France, the battle of the Bulge and the final invasion of Germany.
The group was activated in the United States in September 1941. Only three months later the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the group was pressed into service, flying anti-submarine patrols off the US East Coast.
In January 1942 the group began to train for a move overseas and it moved in August-October 1942. At this point its training was incomplete, and it didn't begin operations until December 1943. By then it had been transferred from the Eighth Air Force to the new Ninth Air Force, which was to provide tactical support for the American army in Europe.
When the group did begin operations it used a number of fast fighter types - the P-39 Airacobra, P-51 Mustang and the F-5 version of the Lightning. It carried out a wide range of reconnaissance activities, ranging from artillery spotting close to the fighting, metrological flights, bomb damage assessment to support the strategic bombing campaign and the medium bombers nearer the front, photographic reconnaissance and visual reconnaissance to directly support fighting units.
The group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for its role in the preparation for the D-Day landings. Between 15 February and 20 March 1944 it carried out a series of dangerous low altitude flights along the French coast, building up a picture of the coastline and the German defences. It eventually photographed 160 miles of coastline and two inland strips each 120 miles long.
During the Normandy campaign the group mainly supported the US First Army, flying a mix of shorter range weather flights, visual reconnaissance in support of the fighting and photo reconnaissance. It was also used to direct the fire of the powerful naval guns lurking just of the coast, helping to dispel a belief that fast fighters would be unable to correct artillery fire. The group began to move to France as early as June 1944, with the first squadron already in Normandy by the end of the month and the entire group across by 31 July.
In September-December 1944 the group supported the attack on the German Siegfried Line (the West Wall).
In December 1944-January 1945 it took part in the Battle of the Bulge. In the period before the German attack the group was the main reconnaissance unit for General Hodge's First US Army. The group did spot some German movements before the battle, but a period of bad weather began on 17 November. Over the next month there were ten days on which no operations were possible, but in the same period the group flew 361 missions, of which 242 were judged to be successful. Increased German activity was noted, but the available information of a German buildup was misinterpreted and the attack still caught the allies by surprise. The bad weather continued into January, and the group was unable to fly on 13 days during the month. It flew 451 sorties on the other eighteen days of the month, a mix of artillery spotting, visual and photographic reconnaissance.
From January-May 1945 the group supported the final advance into Germany. It was used to photograph the Roer River and the Rhine before the crossings of those rivers, and to find German positions during the advance into Germany.
The group returned to the US in July-September 1945 and was inactivated on 31 March 1946.
Bell P-39 Airacobra, North American P-51 Mustang, Lockheed F-5 Lightning
|21 August 1941||Constituted as 67th Observation Group|
|1 September 1941||Activated|
|Aug-Oct 1942||To European Theatre and Eighth Air Force|
|May 1943||Redesignated 67th Reconnaissance Group|
|Oct 1943||To Ninth Air Force|
|Nov 1943||Redesignated 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Group|
|June 1945||Redesignated 67th Reconnaissance Group|
|July-Sept 1945||To US|
|31 March 1946||Inactivated|
Unkn: Sep-Nov 1941
Lt Col Oliver H Stout: c. 21 Nov 1941
Col Frederick R Anderson: c. 4 May 1942
Col George W Peck: 6 Dec 1943
Lt Col Richard S Leghorn: 11 May 1945-unkn
Esler Field, La: 1 Sep 1941
Charleston, SC: Dec 1941
Esler Field, La: Jan-Aug 1942
Membury, England: Sep 1942
Middle Wallop, England: Dec 1943
Le Molay, France: Jul 1944
Toussus le Noble, France: Aug 1944
Gosselies, Belgium: Sep 1944
Vogelsang, Germany: Mar 1945
Limburg an der Lahn, Germany: c. 2 Apr 1945
Eschwege, Germany: c.10 Apr-Jul 1945
Drew Field, Fla: c. 21 Sep 1945
MacDill Field, Fla: Dec 1945;
33rd: 1944, 1945
September 1941-October 1943: Eighth Air Force
October 1943 onwards: IX Tactical Air Command; Ninth Air Force