388th Bombardment Group (Second World War)

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History

The 388th Bombardment Group was a B-17 unit that took part in the strategic bombing campaign over Europe, as well as flying a number of tactical missions to support the Allied armies fighting in Europe after D-Day.

The group was activated in the United States in December 1942 and moved to England in June 1943. The 385th and 388th Bombardment Groups joined the 4th Bombardment Wing in the summer of 1943, bringing it up to six groups.

The group's combat debut came on 17 July 1943 when it took part in an attack on Hannover in which 332 bombers participated, making it the largest Eighth Air Force mission to that date. The bomber force reached the Dutch coast but was then recalled.

The group spent most of the war taking part in the strategic bombing campaign over Europe, attacking the usual wide range of industrial and transport targets across Germany and occupied Europe, reaching as far afield as Poland and Romania.

The group was also used for a number of tactical missions. It attacked German military installations in France before D-Day. On D-Day it attacked coastal gun emplacements, field artillery and German transport. It was used to support the American attacks at St Lo in July 1944 and the British at Caen in August 1944. The group attacked German airfields and other military targets around Arnhem in September 1944 and was used to attack transport links in Germany during the final advance in 1945.

After the end of the fighting the group was used to fly supplies to Holland. It returned to the United States in August 1945 and was inactivated in the same month.

The group won two Distinquished Unit Citations. The first came for its part in the infamous attack on the aircraft factory at Regensburg on 17 August 1943, where it was one of the luckier units, only losing a single aircraft. The second was awarded for the group's part in three seperate raids - an attack on a tire and rubber factory at Hannover on 26 July 1943, and two attacks on synthetic oil refineries - one at Brux on 12 May 1944 and one at Ruhland on 21 June 1944. This third attack came during a shuttle raid which saw the group fly from England to Russia and back, attacking targets that would otherwise have been outside its range.

Books

The Schweinfurt-Regensburg Mission, Martin Middlebrook. A very detailed account of the costly American daylight raids on Regensburg and Schweinfurt of 17 August 1943, a pair of maximum effort attacks that were meant to cripple parts of German industry but instead made it clear that even the heavily armed B-17 Flying Fortress couldn't operate without fighter escort. [read full review]
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Aircraft

1942-1945: Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress

Timeline

19 December 1942 Constituted as 388th Bombardment Group (Heavy)
24 December 1942 Activated
June 1943 To England and Eighth Air Force
August 1945 To United States
28 August 1945 Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Col William B David: 1 Feb 1943
Col Chester C Cox: 7 Oct 1944- c. 28 Aug 1945.

Main Bases

Gowen Field, Idaho: 24 Dec 1942
Wendover Field, Utah: 1 Feb 1943
Sioux City AAB, Iowa: c. 29 Apr-10 Jun 1943
Knettishall, England: Jun 1943-Aug 1945
Sioux Falls AA Fld, SD: 13-28 Aug 1945

Component Units

560th Bombardment Squadron: 24 December 1942-28 August 1945
561st Bombardment Squadron: 24 December 1942-28 August 1945
562nd Bombardment Squadron: 24 December 1942-28 August 1945
563rd Bombardment Squadron: 24 December 1942-28 August 1945

Assigned To

1943: 4th Bombardment Wing; VIII Bomber Command; Eighth Air Force
1943-February 1944: 45th Bombardment Wing; 3rd Air Division; VIII Bomber Command; Eighth Air Force
February 1944-1945: 45th Bombardment Wing; 3rd Air Division; Eighth Air Force; US Strategic Air Forces Europe
1945: 20th Bombardment Wing; 2nd Air Division; Eighth Air Force

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (10 October 2012), 388th Bombardment Group (Second World War), http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/388th_Bombardment_Group.html

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