Activated on November 3, 1942, the B-17 Flying Fortress-equipped 381stdeployed to England in May 1943 for service with the Eighth Air Force. Constituent units included the 532nd, 533rd, 534thand 535thbombardment squadrons. The 381stbombed an aircraft assembly plant at Villacoublay, an airfield at Amiens, locks at Saint-Nazaire, an aircraft engine factory at Le Mans, nitrate works in Norway, aircraft factories in Brussels, industrial targets around Munster, the submarine construction yard at Kiel, marshalling yards at Offenberg, aircraft factories at Kassel, aircraft assembly plants at Leipzig, oil refineries at Gelsenkirchen, and ball-bearing works at Schweinfurt. It earned a Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC) on October 8 for successfully bombing shipyards at Bremen in spite of persistent fighter attacks and heavy flak. It earned a second DUC on January 11, 1944 during a daring raid on aircraft factories in central Germany.
The 381stparticipated in the intensive “Big Week” campaign (February 20-25) against the German aircraft industry. The group supported the Normandy campaign in June by bombing bridges and airfields near the beachhead. It supported the breakthrough at St. Lo in July and the airborne assault into Holland in September. During the Battle of the Bulge from December 1944 through January 1945 the 381ststruck enemy communications, and then it supported the Allied crossings of the Rhine and the final assaults into Germany. The group also supported the Allied crossing of the Rhine in March and operated against communications and transportation in the final push through Germany. The 381st Bombardment Group returned to the United States in June and July and inactivated on August 28th.
Campaigns: Air Offensive, Europe; Normandy; Northern France; Rhineland; Ardennes-Alsace; Central Europe