Activated on March 5, 1943, the B-26 Marauder-equipped 394thdeployed to England in February 1944 for service with the Ninth Air Force. Constituent units included the 584th, 585th, 586thand 587thbombardment squadrons. The group entered combat in March, and prepared for the invasion of Normandy by attacking V-weapon sites, marshalling yards, bridges, airfields, and gun emplacements. On D-Day it bombed gun positions at Cherbourg, and then struck communications, fuel supplies, and strong points in support of the Normandy campaign. The 394thsupported the breakthrough at St. Lo on July 25, and received a Distinguished Unit Citation for operations from August 7 to 9. During this period it made five attacks against strongly fortified targets in northern France, knocking out an ammunition dump and four railroad bridges. Capt. Darrell R. Lindsey earned the Medal of Honor for his actions while leading a formation of B-26s over one of these bridges on August 9.
Lindsey’s plane was hit and its right engine burst into flames. Knowing the gasoline tanks could explode at any moment, he continued to lead the formation until the bomb run was complete, and then ordered his crew to bail out. The bombardier, the last man to leave the plane, offered to lower the wheels so that Lindsey might escape through the nose of the aircraft. Knowing that this could throw the plane into a spin and hinder the bombardier’s chances to escape, Lindsey refused the offer and remained with his B-26 until it crashed. Lindsey died in the explosion. Lindsey is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at the Ardennes American Cemetery. After moving to Europe in August, the 394thhit strong points at Brest and targets in Germany.
It participated in the Battle of the Bulge from December 1944 to January 1945, bombing enemy supplies and reinforcements. The 394thbombed transportation targets, storage facilities, and other objectives until the end of the war and also dropped propaganda leaflets. The group remained in the theater to serve with the U.S. Air Forces in Europe as part of the army of occupation. It was re-designated as the 394thBombardment Group (Light) in December 1945 and began training with A-26s. The 394thBombardment Group transferred, without personnel and equipment, to the United States on February 15, 1946 and inactivated on March 31.
Campaigns: American Theater, Air Offensive, Europe; Normandy; Northern France; Rhineland; Ardennes-Alsace; Central Europe