During WW2, the Free French Bomber Group “Lorraine”, RAF 342 squadron, took part in the D-Day assault and served in the North African theater during the war.
Formed on September 24, 1941 the group comprised two squadrons: Nancy and Metz. Led by Commander Corniglion Molinier, and with technical support from the Royal Air Force (RAF) they fought alongside the Allies and worked with underground Resistance groups operating throughout Europe.
To support the British Army, the group were based in Libya from November – December 1941. Though both squadrons served in Syria, they operated from different bases: Metz was based in Rayack, Lebanon while Nancy operated from Damascus.
The group flew Douglas Boston III bombers and engaged in day and night bombing missions at medium and very low altitude. In the spring of 1944, under the command of Major Michel Fourquet, they were taking part in regular night bombardment.
At 6 am on the morning of the Normandy landings, flying at an altitude of 50 feet, the group set up a smoke screen to protect the Allied fleet from the German bombardments.
On October 17, 1944, the group moved to a new base at Vitry-en-Artois, France under the command of Jacques Soufflet.
They went on to take part in all operations commanded by Marshal Montgomery, including Operation Plunder, the primary assault by the Allies to secure the Rhine crossings and establish a bridgehead.
After being re-equipped with American B25 Mitchell bombers, the group carried out its last mission on May 2, 1945 in Gilzerijzen, Holland. During its combat years, the group caused significant damage to the enemy, while suffering the loss of 127 crew members.
On May 28, 1945, bomber group “Lorraine” was awarded the Cross of the Liberation.
Today, the current 3/33 “Lorraine” squadron is stationed in Reims, France.