Activated on November 12, 1942, the 355thFighter Group and its three P-47 Thunderbolt-equipped squadrons, the 354th, 357th, and 358thmoved to England in July 1943. Assigned to the Eighth Air Force, the group flew its first combat mission, a fighter sweep over Belgium, on September 14. It served primarily as escort for bombers attacking industrial areas of Berlin, marshalling yards at Karlsruhe, an airfield at Neuberg, oil refineries at Misburg, synthetic oil plants at Gelsenkirchen, locks at Minden, and other objectives. The 355th also flew fighter sweeps, area patrols, and ground attack missions, striking such targets as airfields, locomotives, bridges, radio stations, and armored cars.
On April 5, 1944, shortly after converting to P-51 Mustangs, the group successfully bombed and strafed German airdromes during a serious snow squall. It was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for this daring mission. The group provided fighter cover for Allied forces landing in Normandy on June 6, and afterwards hit transportation facilities and cut enemy supply lines. It attacked fuel dumps, locomotives, and other targets in support of ground forces during the breakthrough at St. Lo in July.
The 355thcontinued operations until April 25, 1945 and remained in the theater after the war for duty with U.S. Air Forces in Europe. It moved to Germany in July as part of the army of occupation. The 355thFighter Group transferred, without personnel and equipment, to the United States on August 1, 1946 and inactivated on November 20.
Campaigns: Air Offensive, Europe; Normandy; Northern France; Rhineland; Ardennes-Alsace; Central Europe