The 417th Bombardment Group (Light) was a A-20 unit that operated against the Japanese, fighting on New Guinea and in the Philippines.
The group was activated in March 1943 and trained with the A-20 Havoc. It would operate that aircraft throughout the war.
The group moved to New Guinea between December 1943 and January 1944 and joined the Fifth Air Force. It made its combat debut in March 1944, acting to support the ground troops fighting on New Guinea. It was used to attack Japanese airfields, troop concentrations, general installations and shipping. It took part in the campaign against the Japanese base at Hollandia, and helped pin down the Japanese troops who had been bypassed at Wewak.
Between September and December 1944 the group operated from Noemfoor, attacking targets in western New Guinea and on Ceram and Halmahera. In September the group took part in a two-week long attack on the Moluccas, losing one A-20 to Japanese anti-aircraft fire during an raid on Kaoe airfield on 11 September. The group returned to the same target on D-Day for the invasion of Morotai.
In December 1944 the group moved to the Philippines, and between then and June 1945 it was used to support the ground troops liberating the islands, attacking Japanese airfields, transport and other installations across Luzon, Cebu, Negros and Mindanao. The group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for attacks on Japanese convoys around Lingayen between 30 December 1944 and 2 January 1945 during the preparation for the invasion of Luzon. January 1945 was a costly month for the group in which the group commander (Lt. Col Howard S. Ellmore was killed during an attack on naval targets at San Fernando on 2 January), two squadron commanders and many of its senior crewmen were lost - so many that replacement commanders had to come from outside the group. The dangers of low-level attack were demonstrated during an attack on a Japanese airfield on Luzon on 7 January when three A-20s were destroyed by 50kg bombs that were detonated on the ground by the Japanese. The group provided support for the landings in Lingayen Gulf on 9 January, although was dismissed after forty-five minutes when it became clear that there would be few targets for them.
The group's last operations came in July and saw it drop propaganda leaflets to Japanese troops in Luzon. The group moved to Okinawa in August 1945 and Japan in November, but was inactivated on 15 November 1945.
March 1943-: Douglas A-20 Havoc
|23 March 1943||Constituted as 417th Bombardment Group (Light)|
|28 March 1943||Activated|
|Dec 1943-Jan 1944||To New Guinea and Fifth Air Force|
|Dec 1944||To Philippines|
|July 1945||Last combat missions|
|August 1945||To Okinawa|
|November 1945||To Japan|
|15 November 1945||Inactivated|
Col Jack W Saunders:
31 Mar 1943
Lt Col Howard S Ellmore: 5 Jul 1944
Lt Col Milton W Johnson: 2 Jan 1945
Lt Col Charles W Johnson: 28 Apr 1945
Lt Col James E Sweeney: 10 Oct-15 Nov 1945.
Will Rogers Field, Okla: 28
DeRidder AAB, La: 4 Aug-1o Dec 1943
Cape Sudest, New Guinea: 28 Jan 1944
Dobodura, New Guinea: 7 Feb 1944
Saidor, New Guinea: 8 Apr 1944
Noemfoor, c. 9 Sep 1944
Tacloban, Leyte: 6 Dec 1944
San Jose, Mindoro: 22 Dec 1944
Okinawa: 17 Aug 1945
Itami, Japan: c. 1-15 Nov 1945.
672nd Bombardment Squadron: 1943-45
673rd Bombardment Squadron: 1943-45
674th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-45
675th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-45
1944-1945: V Bomber Command; Fifth Air Force