It’s February 10th, 1944. A group of about 2000 men, called the 459th Bombardment Group (Heavy) have arrived in theater at the port of Taranto, Italy, and are making their way to Giulia Field in Cerignola, in the “boot heel” region of the Italian peninsula. It is a place of wheat fields and former Italian military airfields that have been captured by the Germans, and then captured from the Germans and repaired by the US Army.
What follows are transcriptions of the historical records kept by the men of the 459th Group. They weren’t the only Allied troops flying bombers and fighters in that region. The whole area was used for this purpose, first to support local battles at Anzio, Cassino and other Italian targets, then across the Alps and into Europe to bomb railroad marshaling yards, refineries, aerodromes and factories in Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and elsewhere.
459th consisted of 5 units: the Headquarters and 4 squadrons. They were the 756th, 757th, 758th and 759th. My uncle, Edgar “John” Ferguson Jr., flew with the 759th Squadron until he died when his plane was shot down in June of 1944. The military records about his service were destroyed in a fire in 1973. What follows is my best attempt at learning about him from the experiences of the men with whom he fought.
– Bill VanSickle
Brief Summary of activities:
Arrival in Theatre and first month of operation, including:
- Transport of ground crew into theatre via Liberty Ship, marches, train trips, etc.
- Transport of airplanes into theatre via Brazil and Africa
- Set-up of command post infrastructure: HQ, tents, mess, latrines, etc.
- Aerial support of amphibious landings at Anzio and Nettuno (in February). See: https://history.army.mil/brochures/anzio/72-19.htm
- Aerial support of combat operations at Velletri (3/2), Cassino (3/15)
- See Salerno to Cassino, Ch XXV, “The Bombing of Cassino”
- Attack on B/G(?) at Maniago (3/17)
- Attack on aerodromes at Viterbo (3/3, 3/7), Flagenfurt (3/19)
- Attack on marshalling yards at Prato (3/11), Bologna (3/22), Rimini (3/24), Verona East (3/28), Milan Lambreate (3/29)
- Attack on manufacturing facilities at Sofia (3/30)
Historical Narratives for the period from 09 FEB 1944 – 31 MAR, 1944:
- War Diary: 459th Group
- War Diary: 756th Squadron
- War Diary: 757th Squadron
- War Diary: 758th Squadron
- War Diary: 759th Squadron
Historical Records / Unit Histories for the period from 09 FEB 1944 – 31 MAR 1944