Activated on December 24, 1942, the B-17 Flying Fortress-equipped 388thdeployed to England in June 1943 for service with the Eighth Air Force. Constituent units included the 560th, 561st, 562nd, and 563rdbombardment squadrons. The 388thbegan combat operations on July 17 with an attack on an aircraft factory in Amsterdam. Its subsequent targets included industrial facilities, naval installations, oil storage plants, refineries, and communications centers in Germany, France, Poland, Belgium, Norway, Romania, and Holland. The group received a Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC) for fighting its way through fierce opposition to bomb a vital aircraft factory at Regensburg on August 1.
It received another DUC for three further outstanding missions: an attack against a tire and rubber factory in Hannover on July 26, 1943, the bombardment of a synthetic oil refinery in Brux on May 12, 1944, and a strike against a synthetic oil refinery at Ruhland on June 21, requiring a shuttle raid from England to Russia. The 388thattacked aircraft factories in Kassel, Reims, and Brunswick; airfields in Bordeaux, Paris, and Berlin; naval facilities at La Pallice, Emden, and Kiel; chemical industries in Ludwigshafen; ball bearing plants in Schweinfurt; and marshalling yards in Brussels, Osnabruck, and Bielefeld. It flew interdiction missions and attacked coastal guns, field batteries, and transportation facilities in preparation for the Normandy invasion.
During the Normandy campaign it struck supply depots and troop concentrations, and supported the breakthrough at St. Lo and attacks on Caen. The 388thcovered the airborne assault on Holland in September by attacking military installations and airfields at Arnhem. During the final drive into Germany the 388thbombed marshalling yards, rail bridges, and road junctions. After V-E Day, it flew food into Holland to relieve flood-stricken areas. The 388thBombardment Group returned to the United States in August and inactivated on August 28, 1945.
Campaigns: Air Offensive, Europe; Normandy; Northern France; Rhineland; Ardennes-Alsace; Central Europe