1943 — Africa
Col Adolph E Tokaz was the Original Commanding Officer of the 340th Bomb Group
***** Major Adolph Tokaz stood up the 340th Bomb Group on August 20, 1942 and became its first commanding officer on September 2, 1942. Maj. Tokaz and Lt Fields were at a meeting in the tiny office of Colonel Robert Knapp, base commander of Columbia Army Air Base on September 3, 1943 where Col Knapp handed Maj Tokaz the orders making official the 340th Bomb Group. Col Tokaz was replaced in late September by Colonel William Mills of the historic 17th Bomb Group from which the Doolittle Raiders were drawn. Maj Tokaz became his executive officer and later operations officer. Col Mills was KIA in North Africa on May 6, 1943 and Col Tokaz again became commanding officer of the 340th Bomb Group on May 7, 1943.
340th Bombardment Group History
The 340th Bombardment Group (Medium) was established on August 10, 1942 and activated on August 20, 1942. The group trained with B-25 Mitchell medium bombers manufactured by North American Aviation. The 340th air echelon flew their B-25s via Ascension Island on the South Atlantic route to Accra on the Gold Coast and the Central African route through Maidurgi, Nigeria and Khartoum, Sudan. The group arrived in the Middle East at Cairo, Egypt in late March of 1943.
Within the official United States Army Air Force organization, the 340th was assigned to the 9th Air Force which was a sub-command of the British Royal Air Force (RAF) Middle East Command. RAF Middle East Command was itself, a major sub-command of the Mediterranean Air Command (MAC), the official Allied air force organization in the North African and Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO). However, for combat, the 340th Bomb Group operated within the Tactical Bomber Force of the Northwest African Tactical Air Force (NATAF). NATAF was a sub-command of the Northwest African Air Forces (NAAF) which like RAF Middle East Command, was a separate sub-command of MAC. On August 22, 1943, the 340th was transferred from the 9th to the 12th Air Force. On December 10, 1943, MAC was disbanded and the 340th became part of the Mediterranean Allied Tactical Air Force in the newly established Mediterranean Allied Air Forces which persisted in the MTO until the end of the war in Europe.
The 340th flew combat missions between April of 1943 and April of 1945. The first missions were flown with the experienced 12th Bombardment Group in tactical support of the British 8th Army. Typical targets were airfields, railroads, bridges, road junctions, supply depots, gun emplacements, troop concentrations, marshalling yards, and factories in Tunisia, Sicily, Italy, France, Austria, Bulgaria, Albania, Yugoslavia, and Greece. Additionally, the group dropped propaganda leaflets behind enemy lines. The 340th bombed Tunisia in April and May of 1943; Pantelleria and Lampedusa in May and June of 1943; German evacuation beaches near Messina in July of 1943; the Salerno beachhead in September of 1943; the road to Rome from January to June of 1944; Southern France in August of 1944; and important lines of enemy communication and transportation in the Brenner Pass and northern Italy between September 1944 and April 1945.
The 340th Bombardment Group received a Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC) for support of the British Eighth Army in Tunisia (April-May, 1943) and the Allied forces in Sicily (June-August, 1943). A second DUC was awarded for a mission that destroyed the light cruiser Taranto before the ship could be used to block the entrance to the heavily-defended harbor at La Spezia, Italy on September 23, 1944.
The 340th was returned to the United States between July and August of 1945; inactivated on November 7, 1945; redesignated the 340th Bombardment Group (Light); allotted to the reserve; activated on October 31, 1947; and inactivated on August 19, 1949.
Lt Col Adolph E Tokaz, 3 Sep 1942
Col William C Mills, 21 Sep 1942
Lt Col Adolph E Tokaz, 7 May 1943
Col Charles D Jones, 8 Jan 1944
Col Willis F Chapman, 16 Mar 1944-7 Nov 1945
AUS / AAC /USAF History