The 388th was comprised of the Air Echelon and the Ground Echelon. While the
Air Echelon maintained a gruelling schedule of bombing missions, the Ground
Echelon kept the base running smoothly by providing many of the services.
of a small town - food, banking, recreation, police, fire fighting, technical
The various services were each handled by a Ground Unit which generally was a
detachment from a parent organization that were assigned to Knettishall
388th Bomb Group Headquarters was responsible for running a base (Ground Echelon) which was a self contained little town and for keeping roughly 80 B-17s combat ready and flying missions almost on a daily basis. (Air Echelon)
560th Bomb Squadron was one of four bomb squadrons of the 388th. Like any of the four squadrons, the 560th had about 12 combat crews, maintenance crews, 20 B-17's, support personnel in administration, armament, munitions, medical, cooking, photo, and equipment repair.
561st Bomb Squadron was one of four bomb squadrons of the 388th. The 561st was led by Lt. Col. William Chamberlin. He was killed in combat in May 1944. Chamberlin was the highest ranking 388th officer killed in combat.
562nd Bomb Squadron was one of four bomb squadrons of the 388th. In the beginning each squadron had its own lead crews which were assigned to lead group formations on missions. The squadrons rotated this responsibility for the mission. Towards the latter part of the war, all lead crews were flying radar equipped PFF B-17s. At one point the 562nd became the lead squadron and all lead crews were transferred to it.
563rd Bomb Squadron was one of four bomb squadrons of the 388th. It originally had nine crews that trained to together and ferried to England in June 1943. Of those nine crews, one was lost in the ferry to England, seven were shot down (six of those on the same mission) and only one survived to make 25 missions.
29th Station Complement
The 29th Station Complement were responsible for many activites on the base including the
gun pits for self defense from enemy aircraft, the control tower, communications,
transportation, post exchange, the mess, and station utilities which was responsible for
general maintenance on the base.
214th Finance Department Getting everyone paid on time was maybe second to
having everyone fed. In those days the men received cash. Most men did not have much to spend their money on. There was always booze either on or off base. Gambling of course took some money and for some the money was sent back home to help their families back there.
587th Postal Unit
The most desired item was a letter from home. The 388th like every other base had their very own post office that would provide mail service with the States. Mail service within the United Kingdom was handled by the British Post Office.
452nd Sub Depot Maintenance of the sophisticated instruments on the B-17
(Norden Bombsight for one) was performed by skilled technicians.
273rd Medical Dispensary The base hospital had to manage everything from
the common cold to a mangled body returning from a mission.
Weather Squadron This squadron was responsible for all of the meterological services required by the base.