|Summary of Operations
During the month of March, the 391st Bomb Group dispatched 570 aircraft against enemy targets on a total of 13 missions. Of the aircraft dispatched, 567 were credited sorties, and of the missions ordered, only two were not completed because of weather over the Continent. During the month 752.11 tons of bombs were dropped enemy-held territory. A total of 3459 combat crewmen took part in these operations, whom six were wounded and twelve are listed as missing in action. A cumulative total 117 of the Group's B-26's suffered battle damage in category `A', and one suffered category `AC' battle damage. Two Marauders were shot down by enemy anti-aircraft fire Twenty-one enemy aircraft were encountered by the Group during the month, and unit's gunners were officially credited with two destroyed and seven damaged. On Mar 31, the Group's Box Score showed the following statistical record for its complete operations in the air offensive over Europe since it arrived in the Theater:
For the 391 st Bombardment Group, March 1944 was the month in which it became battle-tried and equal to the task assigned to it in the European Theater. The feeling of unknown expectancy which preceded the first missions gradually wore away as the men began to accept each succeeding mission as a "job to be done", and knew that their training and growing experience would not let them down. This touches briefly on the psychological change which occurred during this month, on which there can be no great elaboration and for which there is no need, since the pages which follow describe the Group's accomplishments in battle during the month.
In addition to combat missions, the following events were entered in the Group's log book:
I. STARS AND STRIPES OVER STATION 166
In a short, impressive ceremony at noon on March 4,1944, AAF Station 166 became an "American Island in England" for the duration of the war. The seasonal wind whipped at the RAF flag which flew over the field as the RAF Guard of Honor squared off beside the American Guard of Honor. In staccato orders, their commanders brought them to attention. Lt. Colonel David S. Blackwell, Group ground executive officer, and Wing Commander Martin of the RAF took their position in front of the flagpole, facing the Honor Guard. The call to colors rose and fell across the British fields. Slowly, the RAF Color Guards lowered the RAF flag, and two American Color Guards raised the Stars and Stripes. Squadron Leader Nelson spoke briefly in presenting the deed to the field to Major John Dillinger, Commanding Officer of the Station complement. Members of the two Honor Guards passed in review before the American flag, and Station 166 was under complete operational control of the United States Army Air Forces.
II. ASSIGNMENT TO 99TH WING
After a short period of assignment to the 99th Combat Bombardment Wing (M), followed by assignment to the 98th Combat Bombardment Wing, the 391st Group was 17 reassigned to the 99th Wing for tactical purposes, effective 14 March 1944, per Par. General Order No. 44, Hq, IX Bomber Command, of the same date.
III. MOBILITY EXERCISE
Subject for unofficial discussion and much thought throughout this period was part which the Group would play during the "Invasion of Europe" - a topic which v being fostered publicly as psychological warfare against the enemy by the All Command, and one which apparently was preparing the armed forces stationed in. I European Theater for a gigantic offensive. The Group felt these preparations not only continual training of aerial crews and in completing its knowledge on such things defense against gas attacks, but also in a mobility exercise. In accordance with Ninth, Force Memorandum 50-3, the group demonstrated that it could move from its b within short notice, and by carrying all organizational equipment and personnel, be a to operate from another assigned base. The exercise took place on 28 March, with Group evacuating Station 166 and moving to AAF Station 485 at Great Saling. In meantime, the 322nd Bomb Group, occupant of Station 485, moved to Station 166.1 move was made by motor convoy and air. Although it was intended that a corn' mission would be flown if weather permitted, this latter factor was unfavorable, am practice mission over England was flown instead. The following afternoon the Group returned to Station 166. While the move was hot accomplished without some flaws, exercise proved in large measure that the job could be done without too much difficulty Posters bearing the slogan "Stay Mobile, Don't Dig In" took on an added significance Group personnel.
Several commendations received during the month for accomplishments in corn deserve mention. They are quoted here from teletype messages received from higher headquarters:
FROM: COMBOMCOM IX
9 BC RI 10A
YOUR BOMBING OF AMIENS MARSHALLING YARD ON AFTERNOON 2 MARCH WAS THE BEST DONE BY ANY GROUP OF IX BOMBER COMMAND. IN VIEW OF YOUR SHORT EXPERIENCE IN THIS THEATER THIS IS PARTICULARLY COMMENDABLE. CONGRATULATIONS.
BT 031100A ANDERSON
FROM COMBOMCOM NINE 081800A
9 BC R361A THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE RECEIVED FROM THE SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER REFERS TO THE MISSIONS OF MONDAY 6 MARCH 1944 QUOTE I DESIRE THAT YOU EXPRESS TO ALL PERSONNEL OF THE EIGHTH AND NINTH AIR FORCES MY ADMIRATION FOR THEIR MAGNIFICENT EFFORTS AGAINST THE ENEMY YESTERDAY. CONTINUED BLOWS LIKE THIS WILL GO FARTHER TOWARD HASTENING OUR FINAL VICTORY. UNQUOTE. TO THIS THE COMMANDING GENERAL NINTH AIR FORCE, ADDS HIS PERSONAL APPRECIATION AND ADMIRATION. I ADD MY OWN APPRECIATION AND PARTICULARLY CONGRATULATE THE 323RD AND 391ST BOMB GROUPS ON THE BOMBING OF THEIR TARGET THAT DAY.
BT 081800A COMBOMCOM NINE
FROM COBOMWG 99 24/115A
R-039-A 99CBW MY HEARTIEST CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR EXCELLENT BOMBING RESULTS ON THE MISSION OF TWENTY-THIRD OF MARCH AGAINST CREIL MARSHALLING YARDS PD YOUR HOURS OF PLANNING AND TRAINING HAVE PAID DIVIDENDS 1N ELIMINATING THIS TARGET FROM THE ACTIVE LIST PD OUR TARGETS ARE BECOMING EVER MORE IMPORTANT AND YOUR SUPERIOR WORK YESTERDAY INDICATES YOUR ABILITY AND READINESS FOR OUR INCREASING PART IN EXTERMINATING THE GERMAN WAR MACHINE PD I PARTICULARLY DESIRE TO COMMEND THE LEAD CREW FOR THEIR TIMING AND ACCURACY IN FLYING AND BOMBING EXACTLY AS BRIEFED PD END
BT 24/1145A COBOMWIG 99
FROM 99TH COMBAT WING 27/1600A 99CBW R-046-A
QUOTE. THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE FROM THE COMMANDING GENERAL NINTH AIR FORCE IS PASSED ON TO YOU WITH GREAT PRIDE: SUB QUOTE. CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT AND MAGNIFICENTLY SUCCESSFUL BOMBING WHICH RESULTED IN THE COMPLETE OBLITERATION OF THE LOCOMOTIVE WORKS, TRACKAGE AND OTHER INSTALLATIONS AT CREIL MARSHALLING YARDS ON 23 MARCH 1944. THE DARING COURAGE AND UNEXCELLED ACCURACY HAD DEALT A TERRIFIC BLOW TO THE ENEMY, HAS SET AN INSPIRING EXAMPLE TO ALL, AND IS A SOURCE OF DEEPEST GRATIFICATION TO ME. I WOULD BE MOST PLEASED IF YOU WOULD CONVEY THIS MESSAGE TO ALL CONCERNED, BOTH AIR AND GROUND ECHELONS. END SUBQUOTE.
QUOTE. THIS MESSAGE NEEDS NO ADDITIONS FROM ME. l CAN ONLY REPEAT THAT IT GIVES ME GREAT PRIDE TO COMMAND UNITS MERITING PRAISE OF THIS KIND. PLEASE PASS GENERAL BRERETON'S MESSAGE TO ALL PERSONNEL CONCERNED, BOTH AIR AND GROUND. END QUOTE.
SUGGEST THAT YOU GIVE WIDE PUBLICITY TO THIS COMMENDATION END
27/1600A COBOMWIG 99
V. BATTLE PARTICIPATION AWARDS
From headquarters -ETOUSA a letter was received on March 3 notifying the Group t it was entitled to battle credit for participation in the Air Offensive over Europe. letter is attached as an annex to this history.