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West Lafayette IN 47906-1209
Bombardment Group (H) flew B-24 Liberator bombers in the South West and
Western Pacific areas in WWII. We were part of the 5th Air Force. We were
known as the FLYING CIRCUS and as the KING OF THE HEAVIES (note the lion in
went overseas in April 1943 to become the second B-24 unit in the Fifth Air
Force at that time after the 90th Bomb Group. The other Heavy Bomber unit
(the 43rd) flew B-17s.
The 380th was placed under the
control of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and assigned to the
Australian North West Area Command operating out of Darwin, Northern
Territory, Australia. We were thus the only heavy bomber unit available to
cover the whole of the Dutch East Indies (1,000,000 square miles) from July
1943 until late in 1944. At that time the successes in the New Guinea
campaign had brought the other Fifth Air Force units close enough to the
East Indies to join us in that task.
made the longest bombing missions of WWII, to the oil refineries at
Balikpapan, Borneo (200 miles further than the Ploesti mission in Europe)
and to those at Surabaja, Java (as long as Ploesti). We did both of these
missions several times during our stay in Australia.
to our attacks on the Japanese oil supply, we were heavily engaged in
crippling their shipping fleet to reduce the Japanese capability of
supplying their far-flung forces. We also heavily bombed the numerous
Japanese airfields in the East Indies to reduce the Japanese threat to
Australia and our New Guinea forces.
service with the Australians, the 380th served longer under the operational
control of an Allied country than any other Air Force unit (from June 1943
until February 1945).
As part of
its duties in Australia, the 380th carried out the operational training of
52 Australian crews and their associated ground staffs so that the
Australians could take over the East Indian campaign activities of the 380th
when they were assigned to The Philippines in February 1945. Many of the
Australians so trained have become part of the 380th Bomb Group Association,
our veterans group here today, strong evidence of the strong ties of
friendship, which developed between us in our long service together.
was composed of four Squadrons: the 528th, 529th, 530, and 531st.
Last updated: 31 March 2016