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History of the 489th Bomb Group

Information for this section is taken from the book “A History of the 489th Bomb Group”, by kind permission of Charles H Freudenthal, veteran of the 489th Bomb Group, and copyright remains with him.

489th Veteran Charles Freudenthal, 1998489th Veteran Charles Freudenthal, 1998

The 489th Bomb Group (H) was activated on 1st October 1943. Formed and trained at Wendover Field, Utah, the Group was scheduled to reach full strength by the end of that year. Commanding Officer Ezekiel W Napier was appointed.

In April 1944 the 489th left Utah to travel to England (the Advance Party departed on 28th March). The flight crews in their B24 Liberator Heavy Bombers took the southern route skirting the northern coast of South America and across to Africa then north. The Group were bound for Halesworth, in Suffolk, to the most easterly of all Second Air Division fields.

Charlie Freudenthal reflected, “It was a beautiful morning as we came over the Irish Sea, past Bristol Channel, low enough so that I could see the fields and villages of England on my right, and the same for Ireland on my left. It was a very brief period of time that I truly savoured. I’m sure it meant more to me than to most, because my mother was English, and my brother and I had lived there for several years when we were young. Now it all came back. Up as high as we were there was no hint of the war. We weren’t yet able to see the scars, and had not yet come to understand the hardships the people were living through. It was all sunshiny and sparkling for this little while. How quickly it changed!”

“The base at Halesworth had been prepared well for our arrival. It was the closest airfield to the English Channel, being only eight miles from the coast. We all felt relieved that the long journey was over. We were home.”

USS Wakefield transported 489th ground crews to LiverpoolUSS Wakefield transported 489th ground crews to Liverpool

The ground crews sailed from New York on the USS Wakefield departing on 13th April 1944 (with 7033 troops on board). The ship docked in Liverpool on 21 April. Robert Buck remembered, “ We travelled all night , dozing and eating our K rations, and by morning’s light saw the beautiful green countryside”. The train finally reached Halesworth station. He recalled, “We marched ‘at ease’ along the road. Someone said it would be a six mile march, but it turned out to be only two.”

The 489th BG were stationed at Halesworth between the months of April and November 1944, They flew 106 operational missions in their B24 Liberators. Twenty-six aircraft were lost in combat and number of aircrew became prisoners of war.

After several weeks of practice missions the Group’s first combat mission was to Oldenburg, Germany on 30 May 1944, just prior to the D-Day landings.

Lt Col Leon R Vance Jr of the 489th Bomb Group was awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery during a mission in preparation for D-Day. His name can be found, highlighted in gold, on the Wall of the Missing at the American Cemetery, Madingley, Cambridge.

1992 - The Wall of the Missing, American Cemetery, Madingley, Cambridge, UK1992 - The Wall of the Missing, American Cemetery, Madingley, Cambridge, UK

The Group’s final mission was on 10th November 1944 when the 489th were redeployed to the United States for training for the Pacific, although many of the aircraft and personnel were reassigned to other bomb groups in the 8th Air Force.


The 489th Bomb Group was made up of four Squadrons: 844th, 845th, 846th, 847th. Each with their own identifying tail letter and call sign.

B24 'Special Delivery' - Bodine CrewB24 'Special Delivery' - Bodine Crew (artist: Mike Bailey)

The Group’s B24s could be identified by their tail colour – Green with White vertical stripe, and later all Yellow tail.

The Group Marking was shown on the B24 as a black letter ‘W’ in a white circle on the upper side of the right wing.

Squadron Tail Markings Green Tail: 95th Combat Wing / Yellow Tail: 20th Combat WingSquadron Tail Markings (artwork by Mary Wiley) Copyright Charles H Freudenthal, 1989 Green Tail: 95th Combat Wing / Yellow Tail: 20th Combat Wing

Squadron Codes

  • 844 BS – 4R
  • 845 BS – S4
  • 846 BS – 8R
  • 847 BS – T4


Air Offensive Europe

  • 30 May 1944 Oldenburg, Germany
  • 31 May Longwy, France
  • 2 June Bretigny/Creil, France
  • 4 June Le Touquet, France
  • 5 June Boulogne, Wimereux, Ambleteuse, France


  • 6 June St Lo, France
  • 6 June Coutances, France
  • 7 June L’Aigle, France
  • 8 June Dinan, France
  • 10 June Conches, France
  • 11 June Blois, France
  • 11 June Creil, France
  • 12 June St Andre de L’Eure, France
  • 12 June Ploermel, France
  • 13 June Ploermel, France
  • 13 June Redon, France
  • 14 June Eindhoven, Holland
  • 15 June St Cyr, France
  • 16 June Domleger, Holland
  • 17 June Angers, France
  • 18 June Watten, France
  • 19 June Cauchie D’Ecques, Holque, France
  • 20 June Bachimont, Regnaville, Fleury, France
  • 20 June Fienvillers, Wizernes, Autheux, Gisemont, France
  • 21 June Siracourt, France
  • 22 June Fiefs, Fleury, France
  • 22 June St Cyr, France
  • 24 June Buc, France
  • 24 June Fressin, France
  • 24 June Fression, Tingry, France
  • 25 June Villacoublay, France
  • 28 June Saarbrucken, Germany
  • 29 June Oschersleben, Germany
  • 4 July Evreux-Fauville, France
  • 6 July Kiel, Germany
  • 7 July Aschersleben, Germany
  • 8 July Nanteuil-sur-Marne, France
  • 11 July Munich, Germany
  • 12 July Munich, Germany
  • 13 July Saarbrucken, Germany
  • 17 July Les Foulons, France
  • 17 July La Houssoye, France
  • 18 July Grentheville, France
  • 19 July Kempten, Germany
  • 20 July Erfurt, Germany
  • 21 July Kempten, Germany
  • 23 July Juvincourt, France
  • 24 July St Lo, France

Northern France

  • 25 July St Lo, France
  • 29 July Oslebhausen, Germany
  • 31 July Ludwigshaven, Germany
  • 1 Aug Rouen, France
  • 2 Aug Avesnes-Chaussoy, Bois de Queue Comtesse, Bois St Pierre, France
  • 3 Aug Avesnes Chaussoy, Belloy sur Somme, Bois St Pierre, France
  • 4 Aug Wismar, Germany
  • 5 Aug Brunswick, Germany
  • 6 Aug Schulau, Germany
  • 7 Aug Bois de la Houssiere, Belgium
  • 8 Aug Romilly sur Seine, France
  • 10 Aug Joigny la Roche, Coullanges sur Yvonne, France
  • 11 Aug Saarburcken, Germany
  • 12 Aug Laon, France
  • 13 Aug Seine River area, France
  • 14 Aug Lyon-Brun, France
  • 15 Aug Wittmundhaven, Germany
  • 16 Aug Magdeburg, Germany
  • 24 Aug Brunswick Waggum, Germany
  • 25 Aug Rostock, Germany
  • 26 Aug Ludwigshaven, Germany
  • 27 Aug Oranienburg, Germany
  • 9 Sept Mainz, Germany
  • 10 Sept Ulm-Wasserburg, Germany
  • 11 Sept Magdeburg, Germany
  • 12 Sept Kiel, Germany
  • 13 Sept Ulm, Germany


  • 19 Sept Groesbeck, Holland
  • 21 Sept Koblenz, Germany
  • 22 Sept Kassel, Germany
  • 25 Sept Koblenz, Germany
  • 26 Sept Hamm, Germany
  • 27 Sept Kassel, Germany
  • 28 Sept Kassel, Germany
  • 30 Sept Hamm, Germany
  • 2 Oct Hamm, Germany
  • 3 Oct Lachen-Speyerdorf, Germany
  • 5 Oct Rheine, Germany
  • 6 Oct Hamburg (Harburg), Germany
  • 7 Oct Magdeburg, Germany
  • 9 Oct Koblenz, Germany
  • 12 Oct Osnabruck, Germany
  • 14 Oct Cologne, Germany
  • 15 Oct Cologne, Germany
  • 17 Oct Cologne, Germany
  • 19 Oct Mainz, Germany
  • 22 Oct Hamm, Germany
  • 25 Oct Munster, Germany
  • 26 Oct Minden Canal, Bottrop-Wilheim, Germany
  • 1 Nov Gelsenkirchen, Germany
  • 4 Nov Misburg, Germany
  • 5 Nov Metz, France
  • 6 Nov Sterkrade, Germany
  • 9 Nov Metz, France
  • 10 Nov Hanau, Germany

Books written by 489th veterans

(many of them can be purchased on the Internet)

A History of the 489th Bomb Group by Charles H Freudenthal; American Spirit Graphics Corp.

Death Denied by Keith Turnham; Fairdale Publishing

In Hostile Skies – An American B-24 Pilot in World War II by James M Davis; University of North Texas Press

The Wrong Side of the Fence: a United States Army Air Corps POW in World War II by Eugene E Halmos Jr; White Mane Publishing Company.

Just An 18 Year Old During World War II by Earl Sutherland; Published by Lulu, Morrisville, NC.

The Storm Clouds of War, Reflections of a World War II Bomber Pilot by Wilmer Plate; Published by Vilnius Press LLC, Portsmouth, NI.

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