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394th Bombardment Group
394bg.jpg
394th Bombardment Group Insignia
Active 1943–1946
Country United States
Branch United States Army Air Forces
Role Bombardment
Part of Ninth Air Force
Garrison/HQ European Theatre of World War II

The 394th Bombardment Group is an inactive United States Army Air Force unit. Its last assignment was with the XII Fighter Command stationed at Fliegerhorst Kitzingen (R-6), Germany. It was inactivated on 15 February 1946

During World War II the unit was deployed to Western Europe and fought in combat with Ninth Air Force as a B-26 Marauder medium bomber group. The 394th received a Distinguished Unit Citation for its work during the period 7–9 August 1944 when it made a series of attacks against heavily-defended targets in France, destroying four rail bridges and devastating an ammunition dump.

Contents

History

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Lineage

  • Constituted as 394th Bombardment Group (Medium) on 15 Feb 1943
Activated on 5 Mar 1943
Inactivated on 31 Mar 1946

Assignments

Attached to: XII Fighter Command, Sep 1945-15 Feb 1946

Components

  • 584th Bomb Squadron (K5), 5 Mar 1943-31 Mar 1946
  • 585th Bomb Squadron (4T), 5 Mar 1943-31 Mar 1946
  • 586th Bomb Squadron (H9), 5 Mar 1943-31 Mar 1946
  • 587th Bomb Squadron (5W), 5 Mar 1943-31 Mar 1946

Stations

Aircraft

Operations

B-26 Marauders of the 394th Bomb Group at still-unfinished Boreham Airfield, March 14, 1944.
Martin B-26G-5-MA Marauder Serial 43-34373 of the 587th Bomb Squadron.
Fitting 500 pound bombs to load on Martin B-26B-55-MA Marauder, Serial 42-96213 (586th BS). This aircraft was shot down by AAA March 22, 1945. MACR 13040.
Loading bombs on Martin B-26G-1-MA Marauder Serial 43-34194 of the 584th Bomb Squadron.

Constituted as 394th Bombardment Group (Medium) on February 15, 1943. Activated on March 5, 1943. Trained with B-26's. Moved to RAF Boreham England, February–March 1944, and assigned to Ninth Air Force. Their group marking was a white diagonal band across the fin and rudder.

When the first Martin B-26 Marauders of the Group arrived some hardstands and buildings were still being built. Operations commenced only 12 days after the majority of the group arrived with the initial mission being flown on March 23.

In the weeks that followed, the 394th was repeatedly sent to attack bridges in occupied France and the Low Countries, which led to its dubbing itself 'The Bridge Busters'. A total of 96 missions, on which 5,453 tons of bombs were dropped, were flown from Boreham before the 394th was moved on July 24 to RAF Holmsley South in the New Forest due to the urgent requirement of IX Bomber Command to extend the radius of action of part of its Martin B-26 Marauder force.

There was no break in operations at this critical period when the Saint-Lô offensive was underway. The 394th received a Distinguished Unit Citation for its work during the period August 7–9, when it made a series of attacks against heavily-defended targets, destroying four rail bridges and devastating an ammunition dump.

It was during a bridge attack on August 9 that the Lead B-26. piloted by Captain Darrell Lindsey, was hit by flak and the right engine set alight. Although knowing that the fuel tanks were likely to catch fire and explode, Lindsey did not waver from leading the bomb run or order his crew to bail out until after bombs had been released. The bombardier offered to lower the nosewheel so that Lindsey might escape through the nose hatch but, knowing the likelihood of his losing control if this was done, Lindsey ordered the bombardier to jump. Lindsey did not escape before the aircraft crashed.

The award of a posthumous Medal of Honor was the only occasion that this highest US award for bravery went to a Ninth Air Force bomber crewman living in the ETO. All told, six 394th B-26s were lost in operations from Holmsley South. The group's aircraft began to move to the airfield at Tour-en-Bessin in France (A-13) on August 21 and the last personnel left Holmesley South on the 31st.

On the continent the group hit strong points at Brest and then began to operate against targets in Germany. Took part in the Battle of the Bulge, December 1944 – January 1945, by hitting communications to deprive the enemy of supplies and reinforcements. Bombed transportation, storage facilities, and other objectives until the war ended; also dropped propaganda leaflets.

By VE-Day, the 394th was based at Venlo (Y-55) in the southeastern Netherlands. The group remained in the theater to serve with United States Air Forces in Europe as part of the army of occupation at Kitzingen, Germany. It was transferred, without personnel and equipment, to the United States on February 15, 1946 and was inactivated on March 31, 1946.

References

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  • Freeman, Roger A. UK Airfields of the Ninth: Then and Now 1994. After the Battle, 1994. ISBN 0-90091-380-0.
  • Freeman, Roger A. The Ninth Air Force in Colour: UK and the Continent-World War Two. After the Battle, 1996. ISBN 1-85409-272-3.
  • Maurer, Maurer. Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1983. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
  • Ziegler, J. Guy. Bridge Busters, the Story of the 394th Bomb Group of the 98th Bomb Wing, 9th Bomb Division, 9th Air Force. New York: Ganis and Harris, 1949.
  • Johnson, David C. (1988), U.S. Army Air Forces Continental Airfields (ETO), D-Day to V-E Day; Research Division, USAF Historical Research Center, Maxwell AFB, Alabama.

External links


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