The 358th Fighter Group (USAAF) fought with the Eighth and then Ninth Air Forces, taking part in the D-Day invasion, and carrying out ground attack and fighter sweep missions as the Allies advanced across Europe.
The 358th was one of three fighter groups to became operational with the Eighth Air Force in December 1943. It made its combat debut on 20 December 1943, but on 3 February 1944 it moved to the Ninth Air Force, the second fighter group to join the new organisation. Despite the move the group continued to fly bomber escort missions until April 1944 to give the Eighth Air Force time to build up its strength.
In April 1944 the group attacked marshalling yards and airfields in France and the Low Countries as part of the build-up to D-Day. This continued in May, along with a number of escort missions.
On D-Day and D+1 the group escorted the transport units flying to the Cotentin Peninsula, on the right of the Allied beachhead. For the rest of June it attacked transport links behind the German lines as part of the attempt to isolate the German front lines. In July the group moved to the Continent and took part in the Allied breakthrough at St Lo. It then supported the armies as they advanced across France.
During the Battle of the Bulge the group supported the US Seventh Army, attacking German transport links. It also helped fight off the last major Luftwaffe offensive, Operation Bodenplatte. The group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for its efforts on 24 December 1944-2 January 1945.
The group was awarded a second Distinguished Unit Citation for a series of attacks on German transport on 19-20 March 1945 as the Germans were attempting to retreat across the Rhine.
A third Distinguished Unit Citation came for a series of attacks on airfields around Munich and Ingolstadt on 8-25 April 1945.
The group was always awarded the French Croix de Guerre with Palm for its efforts during the liberation of France.
The group returned to the United States on July 1945, and was inactivated on 7 November 1945.
1943-1945: Republic P-47 Thunderbolt
|20 December 1942||Constituted as 358th Fighter Group|
|1 January 1943||Activated|
|Sept-Oct 1943||To England and Eighth Air Force|
|20 December 1943||Combat Debut|
|April 1944||To Ninth Air Force|
|July 1945||To United States|
|7 November 1945||Inactivated|
Col Cecil L. Wells: 1 Jan 1943
Col James B Tipton: 20 Sep 1944-unkn
Lt Col John M Thacker: 1945
Richmond AAB, Va: 1 Jan 1943
Baltimore, Md: 28 April 1943
Camp Springs AAFld, Md: 28 May 1943
Philadephia Mun Aprt, Pa: 16 June 1943
Richmond AAB, Va: 13 August-25 September 1943
Goxhill, England: 20 Oct 1943
Leiston, England: 29 Nov 1943
Raydon, England: 31 Jan 1944
High Halden, England: 13 Apr 1944
Cretteville, France: 3 July 1944
Pontorson, France: 14 August 1944
Vitry-le-Francois, France: 14 Sep 1944
Mourmelon, France: 16 Oct 1944
Toul, France: 9 Nov 1944
Sandhofen, Germany: 2 Apr 1945
Reims, France: c.23 Jun-Jul 1945
La Junta AAFld, Colo: 3 Aug-7 Nov 1945
April -September 1943: Philadephia Fighter Wing; I Fighter Command; First Air Force
1943-1944: 66th Fighter Wing; VIII Fighter Command; Eighth Air Force
3-15 April 1944: 100th Fighter Wing; IX Fighter Command; Ninth Air Force
15 April-3 July 1944: 100th Fighter Wing; XIX Air Support Command; Ninth Air Force, under operational control of IX Fighter Command
16 August-5 November 1944: 100th Fighter Wing; XIX Tactical Air Command