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A brief chronological history of the Group

February 1943 10th The 361st Fighter Group was activated at Richmond Army Air Base, Virginia, comprising personnel from the 327th Fighter Group, under the command of Maj. Thomas J.J. Christian, Jr., great-grandson of the famous Civil War general "Stonewall" Jackson.

May 1943 26th Equipped with Republic P-47 Thunderbolts, the fledgling 361st moved to Langley Field, Virginia, and began flying its first training missions.

July 1943 The Group moved to Camp Springs Army Air Base in Maryland, where most of the flying training and ground school was completed. 20th The 361st Group's three fighter squadrons, the 374th, 375th and 376th were detached to Millville Army Air Base, New Jersey, for gunnery training.

September 1943 28th 36 P-47s led by L/Col. Christian left Camp Springs on a cross-country training flight, stopping over at Charlotte, North Carolina, Atlanta, Georgia and Meridian, Mississippi, arriving at Harding Field, Baton Rouge, Louisiana on the 30th. Meanwhile, the Group's ground echelon started moving men and equipment back to Richmond AAB and began the final preparations for overseas movement.

October 1943 6th With the exception of one aircraft which was abandoned during manoeuvres, the flight returned to Richmond. Later that month, all officers and enlisted men of the squadrons took part in a bivouac about 12 miles from the base. The end of the month saw the Group's P-47s transferred to the 327th Fighter Group, as preparations continued for the expected movement overseas.

November 1943 4th Following a number of practice parades, the 361st held its formal Group Review. 10th  An advanced echelon comprising Maj. Joseph J. Kruzel, Capt. Wallace E. Hopkins and Lt. Griffith flew to England to make preparations for the Group's move to the ETO. 11th  All other personnel departed by train for the staging area at Camp Shanks, New York.  23rd  361st personnel sailed for England aboard the liner Queen Elizabeth, arriving in the Clyde six days later. 30th After an overnight train journey, personnel arrived at RAF Bottisham, Cambridgeshire. Group was assigned to VIII Fighter Command, Eighth Air Force. 

December 1943 1st  L/Col. Thomas J.J. Christian, Jr. assumed command of the 361st Fighter Group and supporting units.  During the following weeks the Group received the first of its assigned P-47 Thunderbolts. 12th The 361st was assigned to the 66th Fighter Wing.

January 1944 3rd RAF Bottisham was officially handed over to the Group and renamed AAF Station F-374. 13th The Group had on strength 57 P-47s, one VS Spitfire and one Miles Master communications aircraft. 15th 361st Fighter Group declared operational, but the first mission was scrubbed. 21st The Group flew its first combat mission, despatching 52 P-47s on an area patrol west of St. Omer, France, led by Maj. Ben Rimerman of the 353rd FG. All returned safely. 29th  During its fourth mission, the 361st suffered its first loss when Lt. Charles B. Screws of the 374th was hit by flak and crash-landed his plane north of Amiens. 30th The Group claimed its first victories during the first of two bomber escort missions when 374th Squadron pilots destroyed four Me109s near Rheine, Germany, but Lt. Ethelbert F. Amason was killed in action.

February 1944 5th Lt. William J. Shackelford's P-47 flipped over on landing after returning from an area support mission east of Rouen.  During a four day period later that month, the Group destroyed a further six enemy aircraft, but three pilots were lost. 21st Lt. Floyd M. Stegall of the 375th was forced to abort and suffered engine failure over Holland. 22nd  376th pilot Lt. Daniel B. Nazzarett was killed in action during a scrap with Fw190s near Cleve, Germany. 24th Lt. Dennis B. Weaver was shot down by flak during an attack on a German E-Boat off the Dutch coast. He was posted missing in action.

March 1944 5th Lt. Glenn T. Berge of the 374th was killed when his P-47 crashed soon after take-off. 6th  While providing withdrawal support for bombers attacking Berlin, 361st pilots claimed five Fw190s destroyed for no loss. 8th Two more enemy fighters were knocked down as, once again, the Group supported 8th AF heavies bombing Berlin. 11th The 361st was transferred to the 67th Fighter Wing. 15th Four 361st pilots were detached to Metfield and assigned to a special low-level strafing unit, "Bill's Buzz Boys", named in honour of Gen. William E. Kepner. 17th  During the Group's first airdrome strafing mission, Chartres was attacked with claims of two enemy aircraft destroyed, one probable and three damaged. 22nd 375th pilot Lt. James A. Rogers was lost after ditching his flak-damaged P-47 in the North Sea.

April 1944 8th 361st Thunderbolts conducted a sweep between the enemy coast and Steinhuder Lake and later provided withdrawal support for B-24s bombing Brunswick, claiming nine enemy fighters destroyed, including a Fw190 and an Me109 shot down by Lt. Alton B. Snyder, Jr. of the 375th. However, Lt. Albert C. Duncan was killed in action. 11th Station Photographer Lt. Phillip E. Heacox was reported missing after flying a mission as a gunner in a 91st Bomb Group B-17. The flak-damaged Fort crash-landed in Sweden. 13th During a bomber escort mission over Belgium, 374th pilots Lts. Robert J. Stolzy and James R. Golden went to the aid of a 94th BG Fortress crew after they had been forced to ditch in the English Channel. The crewmen were later picked up by Air/Sea Rescue. During the second half of April, two enemy planes were destroyed in the air and a further 16 on the ground for the loss of six P-47s.

May 1944 1st The Group began to re-equip with North American P-51 Mustangs and took delivery of 17 new planes. While returning from an escort mission over France, a Ju188 night-fighter was shot down by Capt. John W. Guckeyson and Lt. William A. Rautenbush of the 375th. 13th The first all Mustang mission was flown. 16th Lt. Eugene W. Kinnaird of the 375th was killed when his P-51 crashed during a mock dogfight with a RAF Hurricane. 19th 59 P-51s were dispatched on the Group's first escort mission to Berlin, but one plane was abandoned in the Channel. 21st 361st pilots claimed 23 locomotives destroyed during attacks on rail transportation targets, but two pilots were lost.  24th  Three more pilots were lost on another mission to Berlin.  27th  375th Commander Maj. George L. Merritt, Jr. destroyed a Fw190 near Lille/Vendeville airdrome and became the Group's first Fighter Ace.  28th  Ground attack alert was sounded amid rumours of the expected invasion and concerns about the possibility of an enemy paratroop attack.  29th  While providing target support over Cottbus, the Group claimed 12 E/A destroyed in the air, plus seven on the ground. Within thirty seconds, 376th pilot Lt. Dale F. Spencer shot down four Me410s near Lansberg as they prepared to attack the 401st BG.

June 1944 6th The Group's contribution to D-Day comprised six strafing and dive-bombing missions, during which at least 15 locomotives and an ammunition train were destroyed, plus 23 trucks and armoured cars and two enemy aircraft on the ground. However, three pilots were posted MIA. 7th Four more enemy planes were destroyed on the ground as a result of four more missions in support of the Allied landings, but 375th CO Major George L. Merritt, Jr. was KIA.  19th 374th pilots Lts. David L. Callaway, Lawrence E. Downey, Walter H. Sargent and Robert J. Stolzy, also Capt. Joe L. Latimer were lost on an abortive bomber escort mission over France due to bad weather.  25th During the first of two missions, the 361st destroyed ten enemy fighters in the air without loss. Lts. Jack S. Crandell (375th) and Vernon R. Richards (374th) each destroyed a pair of Me109s.  29th 374th Squadron pilots strafed Oschersleben airdrome claiming at least 16 enemy aircraft destroyed and eight damaged. Top scorer was 374th Commander L/Col. Roy A. Webb, Jr. with five destroyed and one damaged.

July 1944 5th Although the Group's Mustangs destroyed four more enemy aircraft, including two Me109s claimed by Lt. Dale F. Spencer which qualified him as an Ace, two more pilots were posted MIA, both from the 374th. Capt. Shelby J. Harris was hit by light flak after shooting up a Ju88 on Chateau Thierry airdrome and Lt. John R. Bernert was presumed to have been shot down during a scrap with Me109s near Amiens. 7th Even though one P-51 was lost in a take-off crash, the 361st chalked up nine more aerial victories while escorting 8th AF heavies to Leipzig. Five of these were claimed by the 375th, but two of the remainder confirmed Lt. Dale F. Spencer as the Group's leading pilot with eight aerial victories. 20th While the Group was supporting bombers attacking Kothen, five enemy fighters were destroyed by 375th pilots Lt. Sherman Armsby (3) and Lt. William T. Kemp (2).  25th An area support mission over Normandy saw the destruction of two enemy planes on the ground, but two pilots were posted MIA, Lt. Robert O. Comstock of the 376th and Lt. James J. Robinson of the 374th. 

August 1944 4th The 361st escorted 1st Bomb Division B-17s attacking targets at Peenemunde. After the bombing of Anklam airdrome, one 376th flight strafed the field, claiming three Ju88s destroyed and two damaged, but the flight leader Capt. Sam C. Wilkerson, Jr. was hit by intense light flak and baled out. Two other pilots were also posted MIA. 5th En route to Magdeburg, the 374th and 375th Squadrons engaged a gaggle of Me109s, claiming five destroyed and one damaged for no loss. 8th The Group was transferred to the 65th Fighter Wing. 12th  Four dive-bombing and strafing missions were carried out against rail transportation targets in France with the loss of Lts. John E. Engstrom and Merle C. Rainey of the 375th, Lt. Clarence E. Zieske of the 374th and the Group Commander, Col. Thomas J.J. Christian, Jr. 14th Col. Ronald F. Fallows assumed temporary command of the 361st. 18th 376th pilot Lt. Milton A. Dahl died in a mid-air collision with a 78th FG P-47 near the base. The pilot from Duxford was also killed. 25th During the morning mission, three more Me109s were destroyed by 375th pilots near Rostock for no loss. 31st Eighth Fighter Command Group Commanders' conference took place at Bottisham.  L/Col. Roy B. Caviness assumed command of the Group and Station F-374.

September 1944 11th 375th pilot Lt. John H. Lougheed was killed in a collision with a B-24 of the 448th BG. 12th Another target escort mission to Magdeburg proved to be the most successful to date, with claims of 14 Me109s destroyed, including three shot down by Lt. William T. Kemp, but Lt. Robert E. Geck of the 375th was KIA. This total also included a '109 destroyed by Lt. Dale Spencer plus another shared with Lt. Robert W. Ward, bringing Spencer's personal aerial score to 9.5 victories.  17th 376 sq. P-51's were attacked by 15 Me-109's during a patrol in support of the Allied airborne landings in Holland with the loss of Lt. Woodrow W. Glover, but Lt. William R. Beyer managed to even the score by shooting down the flight leader after a prolonged chase. 18th Claims of four E/A destroyed in the air and three more on the ground, plus six damaged, included a lone He111 shot down by Lt. Urban L. Drew and a six-engined flying-boat destroyed at its moorings on the Baltic coast. However, 374th pilot Lt. Clyde A. Arrants was KIA. 20th L/Col. Joseph J. Kruzel took command of the 361st FG and Station.  The Group was transferred from VIII FC to the 2nd BD.  25th The 361st began moving men and equipment to AAF Station F-165, Little Walden, Essex.  27th During a target escort mission to Kassel, the 376th set an ETO record with claims of 18 E/A destroyed in the air, plus seven damaged, and three destroyed on the ground, plus one damaged. Lt. William R. Beyer became an "Ace in a Day", claiming five Fw190s destroyed, but Lt. Leo H. Lamb was KIA. 28th The Group flew its last mission from Bottisham. On return, the P-51s landed at F-165.

October 1944 6th This day saw the 361st providing freelance rear support for 3rd BD B-17s bombing Berlin and the loss of two 375th pilots. 20 miles north-west of the city, Capt. Thomas F. Brubaker attacked a lone Me109, but as he opened fire the fighter suddenly pulled up and they collided. Both planes spun to earth, but Capt. Brubaker parachuted to safety. During the withdrawal, loss of oil pressure forced Lt. David R. Morgan to abandon his P-51 near Halberstadt. 7th Near Naumburg, pilots of the 374th and 376th intercepted a formation of 75 Me109s and Fw190s as they attacked the bombers from the rear, claiming six destroyed. Even so, the most notable combat occurred on returning to England, when Lt. Urban L. Drew of the 375th shot down a pair of Me262s as they took off from their base at Achmer, the first Allied pilot to achieve such a feat. However, Lt. Drew's wingman, Lt. Robert K. McCandliss was shot down by flak.  15th  Having strafed a small convoy of vehicles, 376th CO Maj. James B. Cheney was forced to bale out after his plane began smoking and losing oil. He was later taken prisoner.

November 1944 2nd While supporting 3rd BD B-17s attacking synthetic oil installations at Merseburg, the Group's pilots claimed nine enemy fighters destroyed, including two shot down by Lt. William J. Sykes of the 376th, but 375th pilots Lts. Charles E. Moore and Charles W. Narvis were KIA.  3rd  L/Col. Roy B. Caviness assumed command of the 361st and F-165. 6th Enemy jets were encountered once again during a target escort mission to Minden, resulting in one Me262 destroyed by Lt. William J. Quinn plus another damaged by F/O John R. Voss, both of the 374th. 9th Capt. Richard M. Durbin of 361st FGHQ was killed when his P-51 crashed upside-down on landing at Little Walden. 26th During its most successful mission of the war, the Group claimed 23 enemy aircraft destroyed, two probables and nine damaged for no loss while escorting 2nd BD B-24s in an attack on the Misburg oil installations. Capt. Elroy E. Neely (375th), Lt. Paul H. Klees (375th), Lt. George R. Vanden Heuvel and Capt. William R. Beyer (both 376th) each destroyed two enemy fighters, the latter increasing his personal aerial score to nine victories.  27th  While escorting the 352nd FG on a strafing mission north of Brunswick, 361st pilots claimed five E/A destroyed in the air, one probable and three destroyed on the ground. Lt. William J. Sykes' personal claim was one Me109 destroyed and another probably destroyed in the air plus two Me410s and an Me110 destroyed on the ground.

December 1944 2nd  L/Col. Junius W. Dennison, Jr. took command of the Group and Station F-165.  361st Mustangs conducted a target escort mission to Bingen, with claims of three E/A destroyed and one damaged. 374th Squadron leader Capt. Jerome R. Mau shot down two Fw190s near Meinsenheim, while Lt. Eugene W. Keplinger (374th) claimed one Fw190 damaged. Lt. Harold D. Mitchell of the 376th also destroyed another Focke-Wulf near Bingen. 5th No claims were made during another mission to Berlin, but 374th pilot Lt. Denver J. Wood was posted MIA. 23rd The Group dispatched 60 P-51s and pilots, nine ground officers and 137 enlisted men to airdrome A-64, St. Dizier in France, in support of 9th AF operations in the "Battle of the Bulge".  While supporting 8th AF heavies in the Trier area, 375th pilots destroyed three E/A, but Lt. Caleb J. Layton was KIA. 24th  The Group's air echelon came under temporary control of the XIX Tactical Air Command, 9th AF.  Four Me109s were destroyed by the 376th during an area support mission in the Bonn-Trier area. However, one of the claimants, Lt. William J. Sykes, was shot down and baled out, seriously wounded. 26th  During the third of six missions, six more enemy fighters were claimed by the 376th without loss, including two Fw190s destroyed by Lt. George R. Vanden Heuvel which qualified him as an Ace.

January 1945 2nd The last of four missions saw the 361st patrolling an area between Bonn and Saarbrucken, when eight Me109s were intercepted south of Pforzheim. Pilots of the 375th destroyed five for no loss. 3rd-9th Missions scrubbed because of wintry weather conditions in France. 10th  During two of the four missions flown, P-51s of the 375th flew fighter-bomber patrols deploying 260lb fragmentation bombs, damaging marshalling yards at Neustadt and Pforzheim. 13th  Patrols were flown by each squadron damaging a convoy of trucks and tanks near Kappeln, Lorsch airdrome plus a marshalling yard and factory north of Frankfurt. On the fourth mission, 25 Mustangs provided area support for 150 RAF Lancasters attacking Saarbrucken. 15th Four more patrols were flown deploying 500lb demolition bombs, with mixed results. The 375th skip-bombed and blocked eight railway tunnels. 22nd  During the last of three missions, Capt. Alton B. Snyder, Jr. was brought down by machine-gun fire while strafing a truck, but belly-landed his plane near Trier and was taken prisoner. 25th The Group flew four missions during which an Me109 and an Me110 were destroyed by the 375th, but Lt. Robert G. Adams was hit by return fire from the '110 and killed in action.

February 1945 1st The Group was reassigned to VIII FC as a change of station began with the detachment at St. Dizier moving to airdrome A-84 (later re-designated station 181-A & B), Chievres in Belgium, the 361st sharing the field with the 352nd Fighter Group.  4th  Advanced air echelon left Little Walden and arrived at 181-B. 6th  Main party left F-165 by train for Southampton. 8th  Having arrived the day before, the main party set sail aboard the troopship "Antenor".  As the Group's P-51s conducted a sweep near Erfurt, a lone He111 was encountered on the deck and promptly dispatched by pilots of the 376th. Claimants were Lt. Duane Grounds and Lt. Robert Hobbs. 9th  "Antenor" arrived at Le Havre and the men boarded a train of French "40 & 8" box cars.  10th-14th  Main party en route by train via Camp Twenty Grand to Brugelette, Belgium. 14th During a sweep flown by 361st "B" Group near Koblenz, Lt. Thomas A. Kneifel of the 375th was posted MIA after abandoning his plane due to fuel shortage. 15th  Main party arrived at Brugelette rail station and began moving into quarters around 181-B. 22nd  A split target escort mission to the Nordhausen area and east of Kassel saw a flight of 374th Mustangs strafe a switch house and a train, but Lt. Richard E. Chandler was forced to bale out after his plane struck a ground obstacle.

March 1945 5th During the first of two missions, 47 P-51s of the 361st provided escort to Ninth Air Force A-20s and A-26s. Lt. Raymond L. Schrup of the 376th was hit by flak in a fuel tank, but crash-landed safely in Holland. 9th The first of three missions saw the Group provide freelance target support to 9th AF B-26s and claims of 2.5 E/A destroyed. 374th pilots Lts. Barry R. Hicks and Thomas J. Moore each destroyed a Fw190 while Capt. Anthony Maurice of the 375th shared another with the pilot of an unidentified P-51. 14th While leading his squadron on a patrol over the Remagen bridgehead area, Capt. Eugene Cole of the 375th suffered engine failure, but successfully crash-landed his plane north-west of Koblenz and was taken prisoner. 21st 361st Mustangs conducted a target escort mission to Plauen, with claims of two E/A destroyed. 375th pilot Lt. Richard D. Anderson and Lt. Harry M. Chapman of the 376th each destroyed an Me262 near Wittenberg.  22nd The Group escorted a force of 227 RAF Lancasters attacking Hildesheim marshalling yards.  24th In support of the airborne assault and crossing of the Rhine by Allied forces, the 361st flew six missions as a continuous area patrol from Minden to Marburg, but Capt. Russell D. Wade of the 375th was hit by light flak and KIA. 30th During an anti-jet patrol in the Meldorf-Hollingstedt area, Lt. Kenneth J. Scott, Jr. of the 376th destroyed an Me262. 31st Four more '262s were attacked and damaged near Brunswick, but F/O Deane E. Jackson of the 374th was posted missing in action.

April 1945 4th A target escort mission to Parchim airfield, in support of 2nd Air Division B-24s, witnessed what would be the Group's last aerial encounters with Luftwaffe fighters. The bombers were attacked three times by 30 Me262s but, even so, 374th pilot Lt. James T. Sloan claimed one destroyed, while others of both the 374th and 375th claimed another 12 Me262s damaged, for no loss. 6th Following rumours of a return to England, orders from 8th AF HQ confirmed that the 361st would move back to its former station at Little Walden. The move began with the transfer of the advance party. 9th Advance party established at F-165.  The last mission flown from Belgium, an uneventful escort mission to Lechfeld, took off from 181-B and landed at Little Walden. 10th The Group was transferred from VIII FC to the 65th FW, 2nd Air Division. C-47s and C-46s moved heavier equipment to F-165. 12th  Road convoy departed 181-B for Le Havre and returned to the UK via LST ships. 15th  L/Col. Roy B. Caviness assumed command of the Group and Station. 16th A split mission saw one section of the 361st escorting 2nd AD B-24s to Landshut marshalling yards while the second strafed Kircham, Reichersburg, Pocking and Muhldorf airfields. 17 E/A were destroyed and five damaged. However, Lts. Delmar R. Ford and Russell E. Kenoyer of the 376th were KIA.  17th Another split mission called for one section of the Group to escort 2nd AD heavies attacking rail targets in Czechoslovakia while the second attacked Pilsen and Eger airfields. Six E/A were destroyed and seven damaged, but Lt. Joseph B. Wolfe of the 375th was KIA. 20th An uneventful target escort mission to Zwiesel was the Group's last operational mission of WW2.

May 1945 8th Victory in Europe Day. The 361st Fighter Group was stood down, having flown a total of 441 combat missions in fifteen months of operations from air bases in England, France and Belgium. The Group's pilots claimed a total of 226 enemy aircraft destroyed in the air and a further 105 on the ground, with the loss of 81 aircraft. 13th 48 P-51s participated in an air review over High Wycombe. 14th Training program began in preparation for the expected redeployment to the Pacific Theatre. This would involve pilots training on the Republic P-47 and five "war-weary" examples were taken on strength.

July 1945 1st 78th Fighter Group veteran Col. John D. Landers assumed command of the 361st FG, while L/Col. Roy B. Caviness took over the 78th at Duxford.  23rd  During a dive-bombing practice mission at Little Walden, 375th pilots Lt. John E. Havey and Lt. J. Warren Geron were killed when their P-51s crashed near the base.

August 1945 15th VJ-Day. The capitulation of the Japanese made the Pacific trip unnecessary and, amid conflicting rumours about departure dates, 361st personnel prepared themselves for the trip home.  Meanwhile, the Group's strength dwindled with the grounding of all "war-weary" P-51s for storage and transfer of the newer planes to depots.

September 1945 20th The 361st was alerted for departure to the Zone of the Interior.  By the end of the month, the 56th and 359th Fighter Groups had moved to Little Walden.

October 1945 Col. Landers was succeeded by L/Col. Gordon M. Graham and the last of the Group's P-51s were transferred out.  After processing at a staging area, 361st personnel travelled by train to Southampton.

November 1945 4th The remnants of the 361st Fighter Group sailed for home on the Queen Mary and the unit was inactivated at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey on 10 November 1945.