380TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (H)
"THE FLYING CIRCUS"
"THE KING OF THE HEAVIES"
5TH AIR FORCE, USAAC
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WWII
The 380th Bombardment Group of the 2nd Air Force, United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) was established on 21 November 1942. Initial personnel were drawn from the 39th Bomb Group stationed at Davis-Monthan Field, Tucson, Arizona.
Major William A. Miller was the first Commanding Officer of the 380th Bomb Group who arrived at their new base at Biggs Field, El Paso, Texas on 1 December 1942. His Headquarters staff comprised:-
|Group Adjutant||Capt. Howard R. Williams|
|Group Materials Officer||1st Lt. Samuel N. Harmatuk|
|Group Statistical Officer||1st Lt. Samuel S. Poor|
|Group Communications Officer||1st Lt. Levon H. Philobosian|
Squadron commanders were as follows:-
|528th Squadron||1st Lt. Linnon R. Blackman|
|529th Squadron||1st Lt. Robert W. Horn|
|530th Squadron||1st Lt. Zed S. Smith (acting)|
|531st Squadron||1st Lt. James Dienelt|
They started 5 months of extensive training prior to moving to the South West Pacific area. They started to acquire B-24 Liberators and personnel to form the Bomb Group. During this time they had two fatal crashes. A B-24 flown by Lt. Willeg of the 528th Squadron crashed with only one person surviving. On 19 February 1943 the aircraft flown by Lt. Oscar Cantrell of the 530th Squadron had a cockpit fire. Eight of his crew were able to bail out. Unfortunately Cantrell and his navigator Lt. John N. Gessenger were both killed when the B-24 crashed about 20 miles north of Biggs Field.
On 1 March 1943, the air echelon of the 380th Bomb Group relocated to Lowry Field, Denver, Colorado. Here they engaged in long cross country flights. While at Lowry Field Capt. Zed S. Smith took over as CO of 528th Bomb Squadron and Capt. Fred Miller became CO of the 530th Bomb Squadron.
The air echelon of the 380th Bomb Group relocated to Topeka, Kansas on 4th and 5th April 1943 where they picked up their aircraft to take to Australia. The ground echelon moved to Camp Stoneman, California.
On 14 April 1943, Operations Order #273 issued through the 11th Ferrying Group, ATC, at Hamilton Field, California approved the immediate deployment of the 380th Bombardment Group to V Bomber Command in the 5th Air Force. The first of thirty eight B-24 Liberators left for Australia the following day. They arrived at Amberley airfield west of Brisbane between 22 and 30 April 1943.
B-24 Liberator #519 flown by Lt. Clarence Corpening was lost somewhere between Hawaii and Christmas Island. The B-24 had been plagued with fuel leak problems and was originally repaired at Hamilton field.
Lt. Col. Miller reported to General George C. Kenney at the Fifth Air Force's Headquarters in Brisbane to receive his orders. The 380th Bomb Group was placed under Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) command and assigned to Fenton airfield in the Northern Territory in the RAAF's North West Area of operation. They were temporarily diverted to Charters Towers airfield in north Queensland where they received in-theater modifications. The 528th Squadron were the first to leave Amberley airfield on 28 April 1943.
While at Fenton airfield the 380th made some of the longest bombing missions of World War 2 such as their raids on the oil refineries at Balikapapan in Java. They bombed airfields in the East Indies and Japanese shipping.
of a Liberator "Shady Lady"
near Drysdale Mission, WA on 14 August 1943
of a B-24 Liberator, #42-40504 "Gus's Bus"
at Fenton airfield on 25 October 1943
of a B-24D Liberator
at Fenton airfield on 11 November 1943
Fifty two Australians crews and ground personnel were trained by the 380th Bomb Group.
The following photographs were
supplied by Jack McNally (RAAF) via his
daughter Wendy Coultas.
Jack McNally was one of the 52 Australians trained by the 380th Bomb Group
|Flight Lieutenant Terry Duigan's crew of 530 Bomb Squadron, 380th Bomb Group, USAAF|
|B-24 Liberator, "Northern Terror", Jack McNally during training on the Liberator while attached to the 380th Bomb Group.|
|Training on the B-24 Liberator while attached to the 380th Bomb Group.|
|B-24 Liberator Darwin 1943|
|B-24 Liberator Darwin 1943|
|"Bail-out Belle", B-24 Liberator, Darwin, 1943|
|"Lucky Don", B-24 Liberator Darwin 1943|
|B-24 Liberator Darwin 1943|
The 380th Bomb Group remained in the Northern Territory until February 1945. They then relocated to Murtha Field, San Jose on Midoro Island in the Philippines. They later moved to Yonton airfield, on Okinawa.
Collision between Spitfire and B-24 Liberator #42-40935,
1 mile east of Cape Van Diemen, Melville Island,
Northern Territory on 18 September 1944
Crash of B-24-D-135-CO Liberator "Gus's Bus II"
at Darwin Airfield on 11 October 1944
Crash of a USAAF
of the 531st Bomb Squadron of the 380th Bomb Group
on 17 Jan 1945 on Cox Peninsula
Crash of USAAF
#42-40387, "Beautiful Betsy",
of the 528th Bomb Squadron of the 380th Bomb Group
on 26 February 1945
near Biloela in Queensland
from Fran Skibbe
from Lt. Vernon "Bud" Katen
from Norwood H. Keeney Jr.
OTHER HOME PAGES ON THE INTERNET
page by Hal Lake to his father Don Alden Lake
with some photos of group aircraft
and squadron headquarters' signs
380th Bomb Group Association
"King of the Heavies - 380th
Bomb Group 1942-1945"
by Glenn R. Horton, Jr. and Gary L. Horton
"The Flying Circus - 380th Bomb
by James E. Fain, Jr., Howard L. Bergman, Grant C. Cannon and Julian A. Riser, Intelligence Officers of the 380th Bomb Group
"The Best In The Southwest - The
380th Bomb Group In World War II"
by Glenn R. Horton, Jr.
Can anyone help me with more information?
"Australia @ War" Research Products
© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 28 December 1999
This page last updated 14 January 2017