The 379th Bombardment Group (Heavy)
Bombardment Group was established stateside on 28 October 1942 and moved to England in
April 1943. The Air Echelon via the Northern Atlantic route and the ground echelon
following by ship a month later.
From May 1943 to July 1944, the 379th was primarily engaged in the bombardment of strategic targets including oil refineries, submarine pens and communications centers throughout Europe. Specific targets included a chemical plant in Ludwigshafen, an aircraft assembly plant in Brunswick, the famous ball bearing plant mission to Schweinfurt and
synthetic oil refineries at Merseburg and Gelsenkirchen, marshalling yards at Hamm and
Reims, and airfields at Mesnil au Val and Berlin. During this time, the 379th
was awarded two Distinguished Unit Commendations, the first for sustained operations over
Europe and the second, awarded 11 January 1944, for flying without fighter protection into
central Germany to attack a vital aircraft factory.
In the lead up to the Normandy Invasion, the 379th was busy bombing V-weapon launch sites, airfields and radar stations. After the troops went ashore on 6 June, they were bombing defended positions just ahead of Allied troops. Later they bombed enemy positions in support of the 24-25 July breakout from St. Lo. During the Christmas 1944 Battle of the Bulge, the 379th attacked German communications and fortifications. In the last stages of the war, they bombed bridges in France and Germany to aid in the assault across the Rhine they led to Germanys capitulation.
After the war in Europe was over, the 379th was moved to Casablanca, Morocco in North Africa where it was deactivated on 25 July 1945.
Among its many distinctions, the 379th was awarded the unprecedented "8th Air Force Operational Grand Slam" for operations during May 1944 in recognition for being first in each of the three areas in which Bomb Groups were graded:
They were the only unit ever recognized in this manner.
In addition, the 379th had other distinctions including being quickest Bomb Group to complete its first 300 missions (of a wartime total of 330 missions) and, for a time, holding both the highest sortie count and lowest loss/abort rate in the 8th AF.. They dropped more than 26,000 tons of bombs and claimed the destruction of 315 enemy aircraft. During its history, the 379th operated about 308 total Flying Fortresses losing 149 by the end of the war, a somewhat sombering 48% loss rate.
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