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385th Bomb Group

Group

The 385th Bomb Group, who took the nickname "Van's Valiants" after their first Commanding Officer Col. Elliot Vandevanter, flew B-17s from Great Ashfield, Suffolk. The Group led the famous attack on the Focke-Wolfe aircraft factory at Marienburg on 9 October 1943, during which only two out of one hundred B-17s were lost and all of the buildings on the site were damaged or destroyed. They won two Distinguished Unit Citations. The first, awarded to all 4th Bomb Wing Groups, was for accurately dropping their pay load on an aircraft factory at Regensburg, on 17 August 1943 and the Group's second was awarded after leading a difficult long-range mission to destroy an aircraft repair works at Zwickau, south-west Germany, on 12 May 1944.

Commanding officers
  • Elliott Vandevanter

    Military | Brigadier General | Commanding Officer | 385th Bomb Group
    Brigadier General Elliott "Pete" Vandevanter Jr., was born in Baltimore, Md., in 1917. He is the son of the late Colonel Elliott Vandevanter, Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army. Since his father's activities required frequent moves, he attended many grade...

Structure

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Missions

  • VIII Bomber Command 74

    17 July 1943
    The railroad industry at Hannover, Germany and the aircraft industry at Hamburg, Germany were the intended targets for this mission but weather caused the mission to be cancelled. The element sent to Hannover was a combined force of 207 B-17s from:...

  • VIII Bomber Command 75

    24 July 1943
    Three targets in Norway are the primary targets for this first mission flown by 8th AIr Force to Norway. They are the nitrate works at Heroya and the port areas at Trondheim and Bergen. The first element is a combined force of 180 B-17s from: 91BG (22)...

  • VIII Bomber Command 76

    25 July 1943
    This mission was composed of three elements. The primary targets were the diesel engine works at Hamburg, Germany; the shipyards at Kiel, Germany and the aircraft industries at Warnemude, Germany, but weather frustrated the effort. The first element...

  • VIII Bomber Command 77

    26 July 1943
    The German rubber industry at Hannover, Germany and the U-Boat shipyards at Hamburg, Germany are the primary focus of this mission. In addition, a German ship convoy and targets of opportunity at Wilhelmshaven and Wesermunde are bombed. The first...

  • VIII Bomber Command 78

    28 July 1943
    The German aircraft industry at Kassel (Fieseler works) and Oscherleben, Germany are the primary targets of this mission. 182 B-17s from: 91BG (20); 92BG (17); 303BG (20); 305BG (21); 306BG (24); 351BG (21); 379BG (19); 381BG (20); and 384BG (20) are...

  • VIII Bomber Command 79

    29 July 1943
    The primary targets for this mission are the port facilities at Kiel, Germany and the Heinkel aircraft factories at Warnemunde, Germany. A combined force of 168 B-17s from: 91BG (18); 92BG (14 these included 1 Y-B40 gunship); 305BG (19); 306BG (18);...

  • VIII Bomber Command 80

    30 July 1943
    The aircraft factories at Kassel, Germany are the primary targets for this mission. The mission is flown by two elements of B-17s which attack 15 minutes apart. The firts element is a combined force of 119 B-17s from: 91BG (20); 303BG (23); 351BG (21);...

  • VIII Bomber Command 81

    12 August 1943
    This mission is separated into two elements. The first element is a combined force of 183 B-17s from 1st Bomb Division: 91BG (22); 92BG (19); 303BG (20); 305BG (20); 306BG (20); 351BG (21); 379BG (21); 381BG (20); and 384BG (20) are dispatched to bomb...

  • VIII Bomber Command 82

    15 August 1943
    German airfields in Holland and France are the targets for this mission. All of the attacks were made late in the afternoon just prior to sunset. The mission is composed of two elements. The first element is a combined force of 180 B-17s from: 91BG (20...

  • VIII Bomber Command 84

    17 August 1943
    The mission flown on 17-Aug-43, the 1st anniversary of the 1st mission flown by the 8th Air Force, is probably the most written about mission of the war. This is the famous Schweinfurt/Regensburg mission on which 60 B-17s are lost. It has been dubbed ...

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Stations

Station Location Date
Based Great Ashfield 28 June 1943 – 4 August 1945

Connections

People

  • Edward Abbott

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Right Waist Gunner | 385th Bomb Group
    Prisoner of War (POW) Shot down by flak and crashed near Paris on 8/2/44 in B-17 #4231598 POW

  • Francis Abdella

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Radio Operator Gunner | 385th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 551BS, 385BG, 8AF USAAF. 24 x missions. On 10 Nov '44 while circling over base to form up for a mission, the plane 'War Horse' developed an oil leak. The engine caught fire and then the plane caught fire. All the crew bailed out but the...

  • Don Abens

    Military | Sergeant | 385th Bomb Group

  • Mercer Abernathy

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Navigator | 385th Bomb Group

  • Charles Abney

    Military | Staff Sergeant (3rd Grade) | Top Turret Gunner | 385th Bomb Group
    Charles Abney was Top Turret Gunner on B-17G #43-38273 involved in a mid-air collision over Ostend, Belgium with B-17 #42-38035 (also 550th BS) on 1 March 1945 (mission to Ulm, Germany.) Crashed near Ostend, Belgium. KIA

  • John Abrell

    Military | Captain | Pilot | 385th Bomb Group
    Shot down 18 April 1944 in B-17 42-97569. Killed in Action (KIA). PH

  • Leroy Acridge

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Radio Operator | 385th Bomb Group
    Shot down 30 December 1943 in B-17 #423097 'Ground Hog. ' Prisoner of War (POW). POW

  • George Adams

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Top Turret Gunner | 385th Bomb Group
    Shot down 29 April 1944 in B-17 #4297226. Killed in Action (KIA). PH

  • John Adams

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 385th Bomb Group
    Baled out of B17 # 42-30264 'Dorsal Queen' Midair collision with 'Raunchy Wolf'on return from mission near Paris. Plane crashed at Tillingham Hall Farm, Essex. 26 Sept 1943. Adams was the only crewman able to bail out.

  • Richard Ahlheim

    Military | Flight Officer | Co-Pilot | 385th Bomb Group
    Shot down 2 June 1944 in B-17 #4239918. Evaded.

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Aircraft

  • 41-9017 Heidi Ho

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Boeing B-17E ...

  • 41-9103 Dixie Demo

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 414BS/97BG Polebrook 11/4/42; with Lt. Clarence L. Thacker on first 8AF mission 17/8/42; transferred 92BG Bovingdon 24/8/42; 91BG Bassingbourn 3/3/43; 385BG Gt Ashfield 8/43 as target tow & hack; Returned to the USA 23/6/44; Reconstruction...

  • 42-102465 Wee Willie Wilber

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 5/3/44; Kearney 5/4/44; Dow Fd 14/4/44; Assigned 551BS/385BG HR-J] Gt Ashfield 20/4/44; Missing in Action Berlin 6/10/44 with Bill Jens, Athrian Vaughn, Bob Huff, Stewart Love, Chester Means, Joe Kunkle, Aloysius Kozanecki, Fred...

  • 42-102481 Kentucky Winner

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 7/3/44; Kearney 4/5/44; Grenier 19/4/44; Assigned 550BS/385BG [SG-P] Gt Ashfield 20/4/44; Missing in Action Berlin 18/3/45 with Bill Cocker, Bill Chaney, Harry Morthoroat, Bob Crider, Ellis Murray, Vince Figini, Joe Ryan, Harry...

  • 42-102606 Curley's Kids

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 18/3/44; Kearney 2/4/44; Dow Fd 14/2/44; Assigned 550BS/385BG [SG-K] Gt Ashfield 20/4/44; Missing in Action Munich 12/7/44 with Bob McDonald, Co-pilot: Steve Ryan, Navigator: Bill Henry, Bombardier: Francis Chrisman, Flight engineer...

  • 42-102614 Ole-O-Oboe

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 18/3/44; with Hal Walker force landed Gore Fd, Mt 23/3/44; Oklahoma City 7/6/44; Cheyenne 27/7/44; Kearney 10/8/44; Manchester, NH 19/8/44; Assigned 551BS/385BG [HR-H] Gt Ashfield; 119m Returned to the USA Bradley 26/6/45; 4168 Base...

  • 42-102636

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 20/3/44; Kearney 2/4/44; Dow Fd 14/4/44; Assigned 550BS/385BG [SG-J] Gt Ashfield 22/4/44; Returned to the USA Bradley 30/6/45; 4168 Base Unit, South Plains, Texas 4/7/45; Reconstruction Finance Corporation (sold for scrap metal in...

  • 42-102679

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 25/3/44; Hunter 10/4/44; Grenier 29/4/44; Assigned 548BS/385BG [GX-M] Gt Ashfield 3/5/44; Returned to the USA Bradley 24/6/45; 330 BU Dyersburg 11/9/45; 4168 Base Unit, South Plains, Texas 21/10/45; Reconstruction Finance Corporation...

  • 42-107031

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Tulsa 2/2/44; Grenier 5/3/44; Assigned 96BG Snetterton 13/3/44; 550BS/385BG [SG-N] Gt Ashfield 12/3/44; Missing in Action Munich 13/7/44 with Bob Turner, Co-pilot: Ken Daniels, Navigator: George Allen, Bombardier: Bob Dewey, Flight engineer...

  • 42-107035 Reluctant Lady

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Tulsa 3/2/44; Dow Fd 24/4/44; Assigned 398BG Nuthampstead 30/4/44; transferred 548BS/385BG [GX-L] Gt Ashfield 6/5/44; Missing in Action Bremen 26/9/44 with Chas Lundsberg, Co-pilot: J.M. Elzey, Navigator: Bob Smallman, Bombardier: John Wise,...

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Citations

Distinguished Unit Citation for bombing an aircraft factory at Regensburg on 17 August 1943 after a long hazardous flight over enemy territory.

Distinguished Unit Citation (2nd award) for leading the 4th Bombardment Wing on 12 May 1944 a great distance through heavy and damaging opposition for the successful bombardment of an aircraft repair plant at Zwickau.

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
22 September 2016 00:54:20 hermanns Changes to citations and commanding officers associations
Sources

385th BG website

Date Contributor Update
21 September 2016 18:25:30 hermanns Changes to nicknames
Sources

Documented source

Date Contributor Update
21 September 2016 18:24:31 hermanns Changes to insignia
Sources

Documented source

Date Contributor Update
10 April 2015 18:45:59 EMBLEMHUNTER Changes to mission associations and media associations
Sources

my photo

Date Contributor Update
10 April 2015 18:44:53 EMBLEMHUNTER Changes to mission associations and media associations
Sources

my photo

Date Contributor Update
10 April 2015 18:41:32 EMBLEMHUNTER Changes to mission associations and media associations
Sources

my photo

Date Contributor Update
10 April 2015 18:40:26 EMBLEMHUNTER Changes to mission associations and media associations
Sources

my photo

Date Contributor Update
10 April 2015 18:38:40 EMBLEMHUNTER Changes to mission associations and media associations
Sources

my photo

Date Contributor Update
18 March 2015 17:01:28 clunds Changes to nicknames and mission associations
Sources

thought I was tagging pic, not group

Date Contributor Update
18 March 2015 16:50:18 clunds Changes to nicknames and mission associations
Sources

Official 385th archive files

Date Contributor Update
13 March 2015 15:15:52 rossingtonj Changes to type and mission associations
Sources

Type added.

Date Contributor Update
16 December 2014 21:32:25 clunds Changes to nicknames and mission associations
Sources

error with name - thought it was going to a pic, not the whole site!

Date Contributor Update
16 December 2014 21:31:29 clunds Changes to nicknames, aircraft types and mission associations
Sources

385th official rosters.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:42:45 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database / The Mighty Eighth. A History of the Units, Men and Machines of the US 8th Air Force.' by Roger A. Freeman (1989). 'Air Force Combat Units of World War II' compiled by the Department of the US Air Force, edited by Maurice Maurer (1983). / Units in the UK from ETOUSA Station List, as transcribed by Lt. Col. Philip Grinton (US Army, Retired) and extracted by IWM; air division data from L.D. Underwood, based on the 8th Air Force Strength Report of 6th August 1944, as published in 'The 8th Air Force Yearbook' by Lt. Col. John H Woolnough (1980)

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