The Normandy landings were a culmination of many months of planning, involved tens of thousands of sailors airmen and soldiers. The 78th Fighter Group based here at Duxford were heavily involved in flying operations in the summer of 1944 during the D-Day landings and also an operation Market Garden in the Netherlands the following September. 

With the arrival of the 78th Duxford was officially designated as USAF station 357 DX. The 78th arrived here at Duxford in the spring of 1943. Very soon the RAF blue was replaced by the USAF's pinks and greens and the Stars and Stripes replace the RAF ensign on the station's flag post. For the next two years they played a crucial role in the air war over Europe. Equipped with the P-47 Thunderbolt fighters the job was to escort the fleets of USAF heavy bombers based at airfields in East Anglia, and elsewhere in the UK, to the targets in occupied Europe. IWM historians interviewed 78th fighter group pilots about their experiences of being on escort missions. 

Robert Green: ""and then you see a bomber hit, and there there it goes, and you feel your, a bit of your heart goes with the crew."

James Peterson: "I remember one specific situation where I saw this B-17 spiraling down and I just kept saying to myself, well actually I was talking out loud, of course nobody could hear me, but I was just saying get out, get out, get out. I never saw anyone get out."

D-Day would be the largest combined land, sea and air operation in history. However in the weeks leading up to 6 June 1944 for men in the 78th Fighter Group things continued pretty much as normal, and many were making plans for the future. Duxford station chaplain Buford B Forum in his report for MY 1944 explains how marriages were planned between Americans and local women. He also discusses the spiritual side of life on base and muses that the bond forged between Americans and British is one good aspect of the war, which will lead to better understanding between our two peoples. 

The three squadrons of the 78th Fighter Group, the 82nd, 83rd, and 84th, flew missions throughout D-Day providing aerial supports attacking railway marshalling yards, trains in German military columns to the rear of the D-Day invasion beaches, in an attempt to stop German counter-attacks. While missions were being flown from 3:30a.m. through to 11:15p.m. the 78th's ground crews were on a 24-hour shift refuelling, rearming and repairing aircraft as they came back in from their missions. D-Day was only the first day of Operation Overlord, the Normandy campaign, and for the next few weeks the group would continue to fly missions supporting the invasion and attacking targets behind the beaches. However 10 June would prove to be the darkest day for the 78th Fighter Group throughout this time when 10 aircraft were lost.


There are seven 78th fighter group pilots buried here in the Omaha cemetery behind Omaha Beach.


One of them William F Hunt was shot down by German aircraft while trying to protect other aircraft of the same group while they carried out bombing missions against bridges to try and stop German troops getting to the landing areas and getting to the beachhead.


Lieutenant Vincent Master of the 83rd fighter squadron 78th Fighter Group was one of the pilots killed in air-to-air combat on that day 10 June 1944. The Roll of Honour in the American Air Museum at IWM Duxford pays tribute to the men and women who lost their lives fighting for world freedom from the UK. The names and faces of the crew who lost their lives supporting the D-Day operations are featured as part of this memorial and on the anniversary of their death their names are highlighted as a mark of remembrance.


On 10 June 1944, the 78th Fighter Group flew three strafing and dive bombing missions from Duxford against targets in France.

Allied forces had landed on the beaches of Normandy on 6 June and were attempting to push further inland – support from the air would help them and prevent German reinforcements from reaching the frontlines.

But 10 June would turn out to be a dark day for the 78th.

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