380th Bombardment Group, USAAF

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History

The 380th Bombardment Group was a B-24 unit that entered combat from Australia and that was attached to the RAAF for most of its operational career, fighting over New Guinea, the Dutch East Indies, Bornea, the Philippines, Formosa and eventually Japan.

The group was activated on 3 November 1942 and moved to Australia in April-May 1943. The group was part of the Fifth Air Force, controlled operationally by the RAAF but under the overall command of the Allied Air Forces, South West Pacific Area.

The group began to fly armed reconnaissance patrols in May 1943.

The group began offensive operations in mid-July, after enough B-24s reached Australia. It was based at Darwin, and its early operations took it over the Dutch East Indies. One early attack saw it attack Soerabaja, a 1,200 mile raid that involved fourteen hours of flight. Late in the summer of 1943 it also made a few attacks on the oil refineries at Balikpapan on Borneo, earning a Distinguished Unit Citation for its efforts.

On 18 October 1943 two of the group's squadrons joined with the 43rd and 90th groups to take part in a major attack on the Japanese base at Rabaul. Weather prevented them from reaching their target, but some of the aircraft were able to attack targets of opportunity in western New Britain.

In December the group took part in operations to support the Allied landings on New Britain. Bad weather protected Cape Hoskins on 13 December, but the bomber force moved to Lindenhafen instead. On 15 December, Z-Day for the landings at Arawe, the group was on alert in case they were needed, and were to attack Cape Gloucester if not.

Next came the landings at Cape Gloucester. On 18 December the group attacked the Japanese airfield at Cape Hoskins, while on the day of the invasion the group dropped sixty-seven tons of bombs on Target Ridge, where the Japanese were believed to have troops.

In the spring of 1944 the Allies prepared to invade Hollandia. The 380th was part of the air force allocated to this mission, when the group came under the command of RAAF Command. Its main role was to attack the Japanese on the Vogelkop peninsula and protect the western flank of the Allied line of advance, mainly by neutralising Japanese airfields. This involved the group in very long missions, largely unconnected to the rest of air effort. The attacks on the Vogelkop peninsula continued in May, as the Allies prepared to invade Biak. A raid on 19 May saw thirteen of the group's aircraft run into six Japanese fighters (Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki (Demon) Tojos), five of which were shot down (four by the group's escort fighters). A second DUC was awarded for the groups efforts in April and May.

On 6 June the group found and attacked a force of Japanese cruisers that were in the vicinity of the invasion targets, but the attack was unsuccessful. The raids also continued in June, this time to cover the invasion of Noemfoor.

Despite being based in Australia the 380th had a role in the invasion of the Palaus. It was given the task of neutralising the Japanese airfields on the Ambon, Boeroe and Ceram islands and in the Timor and Arafura seas, to prevent Japanese aircraft based there from interfering with the rear areas of the invasion.

On 4 September 1944 the group raided Kendari airfield on the Celebes, filling a gap in the bombardment programme left by bad weather over the Allied bases on Biak and Owi.

At the start of 1945 the 380th moved from Darwin to Mindoro in the Philippines. This brought many more targets into range. On 18 February it attacked Formosa for the first time. On 15 April Giran airfield on Formosa was the target. The group also acted in support of the ground forces fighting on the Philippines.

On 22 April the group hit the naval yards at Saigon, three days after the first in a series of USAAF raids on the city. In May the group attacked railways in Indo-China.

In June 1945 the group joined in the attack on Brunei, bombing the island on 3, 5, 8 and 9 June, as part of the pre-invasion bombardment.

On 23 July 1945 the group's aircraft reached Okinawa, but the ground echelon didn't arrive until August. The group did become operational from its new base, but only for a short period. After the end of the war it was used to fly reconnaissance missions over Japan and to transport liberated POWs from Japan to Manila.

The group returned to the Philippines in November 1945 and was inactivated on 20 February 1946.

Books

To Follow

Aircraft

1942-: Consolidated B-24 Liberator

Timeline

28 October 1942 Constituted as 380th Bombardment Group (Heavy)
3 November 1942 Activated
April-May 1943 To Asia-Pacific Theatre and Fifth Air Force, attached to RAAF
January 1945 Period of attachment to RAAF ends
20 February 1946 Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

528th Bombardment Squadron: 1942-1946; 1947-1951
529th Bombardment Squadron: 1942-1946; 1947-1949
530th Bombardment Squadron: 1942-1946; 1947-1949
531st Bombardment Squadron: 1942- 1946; 1947-1951

Main Bases

Davis-Monthan Field, Ark: 3 Nov 1942
Biggs Field, Tex: 2 Dec 1942
Lowry Field, Colo: 4 Mar-c. 17 Apr 1943
Fenton, Australia: May 1943
Darwin, Australia: 9 Aug 1944
San Jose, Mindoro: 20 Feb 1945
Okinawa: c. 9 Aug 1945
Ft William McKinley, Luzon: 28 Nov 1945-20 Feb 1946.

Component Units

Col William A Miller: 3 Nov 1942
Col Forrest L Brissey: 10 Feb 1944
Lt Col Gayle S Cox: 30 Aug 1945
Col David A Tate: 8 Sep 1945-unkn

Assigned To

1943-1945: V Bomber Command; Fifth Air Force
1945: VII Bomber Command; Seventh Air Force

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (24 October 2013), 380th Bombardment Group, USAAF , http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/380th_Bombardment_Group.html

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