Brief History of the 381st Bombardment Group (Heavy)
The 381st was was constituted 28 Oct 1942, activated 3 Nov 1942 at Gowen Field, Idaho; actual organization started at Ephrata, Washington 1 Dec 1942. Training commenced at Pyote Army Air Base Texas 3 Jan 1943 and was completed at Pueblo, AAB, Colorado 16 Apr 1943. Ground Echelon moved to Camp Kilmer, NJ arriving 12 May 1943 and embarked on H.M.S. Queen Elizabeth 27 May 1943 arriving at Greenock, UK 2 Jun 1943.
The air echelon flew to Salina, Kansas early May 1943 and started movement to United Kingdom (England) 15 May 1943 by way of Selfridge Field, Michigan; Bangor Maine; Gander Bay, Newfoundland; to Prestwick, Scotland. European Theatre of Operations flight acclimation trained at Bovigdon, England late May 1943. First combat mission flown 22 Jun 1943 and last mission 25 Apr 1945.
A total of 296 missions (Total credit sorties = 9,035) which involved 22,159.5 tons of bombs and 24 tons of leaflets were dropped on Axis installations. 131 B-17 aircraft were lost in action; enemy aircraft claimed were 223-40-162.
The 381st suffered the highest losses of all the groups which participated in the first Schweinfurt, Germany mission 17 Aug 1943 in an effort to cripple the vital ball bearing industry. Operations were chiefly against strategic military targets which included aircraft manufacturing and assembly plants at Villacoublay, Brussels, Kassel and Leipzig; Amiens airdrome, the submarine pens at St. Nazaire, U-boat yards at Kiel, aircraft engine manufacturing plant at LeMans, nitrate works in Norway, oil refineries at Gelsenkirchen, and industrial areas of Munster.
The group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for it's performance 8 Oct 1943 when the Bremen shipyards were bombed accurately in spite of persistent Luftwaffe fighter attacks and extremely heavy and accurate flak. Second Distinguished Unit Citation was received 11 Jan 1944 for decisive raid on aircraft factories in central Germany.
This group also participated in intensive campaign of heavy bombers against enemy aircraft plants during "Big Week" 20-25 Feb 1944. Often supported ground troops and attacked targets of interdiction when not engaged in strategic air attacks. Supported Normandy Invasion in Jun 1944 by bombing bridges and airfields near the beachhead. Also attacked enemy positions in advance of Allied ground forces at St. Lo in July 1944. Assisted airborne assault in Holland Sept 1944.
Struck communications and airfields near battle zone during Battle of the Bulge Dec 44/Jan 45. Supported Allied crossing of the Rhine River Mar 45 and then operated against communications and supply transportation in final push through Germany.
The 381st was re-deployed to USA May/Jun 45. Majority of aircraft left UK 24 May 45. Ground echelon sailed on H.M.S. Queen Elizabeth 24 Jun 45 and arrived New York 29 Jun 45. Group established at Camp Kilmer, NJ and after 30 days R & R some personnel assembled at Sioux Falls AAFB, South Dakota where group was eventually inactivated 28 Aug 45.
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