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390th Bombardment Group (Heavy)

Activated on January 26, 1943 and equipped with the B-17 Flying Fortress, the 390thdeployed to England in July for service with the Eighth Air Force. Constituent units included the 568th, 569th, 570thand 571stbombardment squadrons. The 390thentered combat on August 12, and earned a Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC) five days later in a daring attack on the Messerschmitt aircraft complex at Regensburg. The 390thearned another DUC on October 14 when it braved unrelenting attacks by enemy fighters to bomb ball bearing plants at Schweinfurt. Participating in the intensive “Big Week” Allied assault (February 20-25) on the German aircraft industry, the group bombed aircraft factories, instrument plants, and airparks.

Flying Fortresses of the 390th Bombardment Group unload their bombs over German targets during an air raid.

Other strategic missions included attacks on marshalling yards at Frankfurt, bridges at Cologne, oil facilities at Zeitz, factories at Mannheim, naval installations in Bremen, and synthetic oil refineries at Merseburg. The 390thflew interdiction and support missions and bombed the coast near Caen shortly before the Normandy landings on June 6. The 390thattacked enemy artillery during the breakthrough at St. Lo in July, and interdicted German supply lines during the Battle of the Bulge from December 1944 through January 1945. It attacked airfields in support of the airborne assault across the Rhine in March, and dropped food supplies to flood stricken Dutch civilians during the week prior to V-E Day. The 390thBombardment Group returned to the United States in August and inactivated on August 28.

Capt. Walter and a crew of the 390th Bombardment Group pose by their B-17 at their base in Framlingham, England on August 23, 1944.

Campaigns: Air Offensive, Europe; Normandy; Northern France; Rhineland; Ardennes-Alsace; Central Europe