To the Ninth Air Force, with further assignment:
to the IX Bomber Command, (9) and
"Stationed in" the 99th Combat Bombardment Wing (Medium) during its European tour of duty, from 15 February 1944 to 3 June 1945. For a brief period, the 391st Bombardment Group (M) was assigned to the 98th Combat Bombardment Group (Medium), after which, on 14 March 1944, the Group was reassigned to the 99th Combat Bombardment Wing (Medium) for tactical purposes.
To the 98th Combat Bombardment Wing (Medium) on 3 June 1945.
After a short period of training in the United Kingdom, the 391st Bombardment Group (M) commenced operations on 15 and 21 February with missions to France. In both instances, after the flights were airborne, they were recalled, due to adverse weather conditions. The first completed mission took place on 23 February 1944, when the group attacked the Gilze/Rijin airdrome in Holland. The summary of the operations for the day credited the Group with direct hits on four or possibly five aircraft shelters, along with damage to the South/North runway.
During the early months of combat operations, missions consisted of the bombing of enemy airdromes, coastal defenses, submarine pens, and marshalling yards, as well as railroad and highway bridges. Later, rocket sites, gun emplacements, and troop concentration locations were added to the list of objectives. The targets assigned were principally in the district north of Paris, in the Pas de Callis area, as well as in adjacent regions in Belgium. As a part of the pre-invasion assault on German-held Europe, disruption of transportation and lines of communications was the primary aim of the 391st Bombardment Group.
The bombing of coastal defenses in northern France occupied the first five days of June 1944. On the morning of D-Day (6 June), the Group struck at coastal defenses commanding the beaches on which Allied Ground Forces were landing. At that time more than fifty aircraft were dispatched in a three-fold mission, striking simultaneously on Benerville, St. Pierre du Mont and Miasy, France. Later on the same day, the 391 st Bombardment Group bombed the highway bridge at Caen, France - an enemy communications center which led to the invasion front. Following D-Day missions, which closely supported troop action, consisted of bombing transportation and communications facilities vital to the continuous flow of German troops and supplies.
During the St. Lo phase of the western France and Brittany campaign 24 July - 26 August 1944), the Group worked in close conjunction with ground forces in the eastern sector of Normandy, Attacks were directed against a fuel dump in the Forest de Conches on the evening of 23 July; a railroad embankment and viaduct at Laval the following night; and on the morning of 25 July, against troop concentrations in a heavily defended area near St. Lo. August missions were designed to assist in blocking the enemy's retreat to the east and to prevent him from bringing up adequate replacements and supplies, an effort that met with some degree of success.
On 20 September, following the invasion of Holland, the 391st Bombardment Group engaged in a leaflet mission, during which eight aircraft dropped forty bombs containing propaganda leaflets, over enemy-held territory in France and Holland. Both before and after this particular mission, bombing flights often would drop a single "propaganda"bomb at a specified point, for the purpose of informing the native population of the course of events. It has since become common knowledge that the information herein contained was of value to underground movements in planning their "attacks."
After moving from England to the Royal Army airfield, France, the Group became operational overnight. For the first time the target was Germany. With the flight airborne on the morning of 2 October, adverse weather conditions forced the recall of the aircraft, and cancellation of the operation. Not until 6 Oct. did a mission over Germany become an actuality, when the unit bombed the communications center at Aldenhoven. Heavy concentrations of flak, encountered in the immediate vicinity of the target, damaged the majority of the participating aircraft.
The heaviest losses sustained by the 391st Bombardment Group in a single operation occurred on 23 December 1944, after an attack on the railroad viaduct at Ahrweiler, Germany (11). Upon completion of the second bomb run, the formation was attacked by an estimated fifty to seventy-five FW-19Us and ME-109's. As a result, sixteen aircraft were missing in action, and the returning planes were badly battle-damaged. Despite the morning losses, all available aircraft flew on the afternoon of the same day against the communications center at Neuerberg, Germany, which was vitally important to the German forces fighting in the Ardennes Bulge. Interpretation of the strike photos credited the Group with destruction at the road intersection and with damage to three main highways leading into the intersection.
The low accident rate of the 391 st Bombardment Group during the period from 15 December 1944 to 21 January 1945 won for the Group a commendation from General Hoyt Vandenberg, Commanding General of the Ninth Air Force. The unit record, reported several times as the lowest accident rate in the Ninth Air Force, was accounted for in part by the superior work performed by the ground crews in aircraft inaintenance. (12)
In the early months of 1945, disruption of the transportaion and communications system of western Germany, to the extent or complete paralysis, was the goal of the Army Air Forces. During March, the 391st Bombardment Group attained its operational peak for the war period - a total of 37 missions Attacks continued against railroad bridges and marshalling yards, highway intersections and bridges, troop concentrations, ammunition and fuel dumps, as well as against industrial areas throughout Germany.
The last mission flown by the Group - the bombing of an ammunition plant at Stod (Staab) on 3 May 1945 - was the only mission to Czechoslovakia. This attack completed the combat record of the 391st Bombardment Group. During its period of operations (15 Feb 1944 - 3 May 1945) the Group had flown 294 missions and had dropped a total of 15,841.39 tons of bombs on assigned targets.
Battle credits were awarded for participation in the following campaigns:
Air Offensive, Europe - WDG0 No.85, 1945
Normandy - WDG0 No. 102, 1945
Northern France - WDG0 No.103, 1945
Ardennes (13) - WDGO No.114, 1945
Central Europe - WDGO No.116, 1945
Rhineland - WDGO No.118, 1945
Distinguished Unit Citation
Awarded for outstanding service WD G O No.12, 1945; 23-26 December 1944, during "Battle of the Bulge."
The 391st Bombardment Group (Light) was inactivated on 25 October 1945, per GO No. 74, Headquarters, Army Service Forces, New York Port of Embarkation, Camp Shanks, New York, dated 25 October 1945.
On 20 December 1948, the 391st Bombardment Group (L) was redesignated as the 111 th Bombardment Group-(L), and allotted to the Air National Guard. Induction into Federal Service took place on 1 April 1951 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
(9) IX Bomber Command was redesignated the 9th Bombardment Division (M) on 16 September 1944, and on 10 May 1945, the 9th Air Division.
(10) Success of the effort to which the 391st Bombardment Group contributed may be
gauged by comments of Field Marshal von Rundstedt, German Commander-in-Chief in the West.
In his "Summary of -Operations' directed to the German High Command, it was stated:
(11) This was the first mission of the 391st Bombardment Group after the German Counter-offensive commenced in the Ardennes (Battle of the Bulge.)
(12) An excellent example of maintenance work is the record of the following aircraft: On 26 December 1944, a B-26 Marauder "Ruthless" completed 125 combat missions without once having returned to base because of mechanical failure, and was flying the original engines which brought the aircraft overseas. Total engine flying time: 573
(13) Campaign now known as Ardennes-Alsace. (See D/A GO No. 63, dated 20 September 1948).