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Looking for info on my uncle's B-17 "Patches"

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2005/02/03 15:05:00 (permalink)
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Looking for info on my uncle's B-17 "Patches"

I have recently been searching for information on my uncle's B-17 that was called "Patches". I believe I have located the serial number in the MACR database (MACR# 1111). Based on the date his aircraft was shot down being 10/29/1943 (over Genoa, Italy per my mother) the serial number would be 42-30398, since that is the only MACR report for that date coming from 2nd BG, 429th Bomber Squadron, of a/c type B-17.

My uncle was killed either before or after the crash - these are some of the details I am searching for. His body was buried in a church cemetery in Genoa at first and then moved to the American Cemetery in Florence later. His name was Edmond E. Gray from Dallas, TX, a First Lieutenant, either pilot or co-pilot (again - details I am looking for) of this a/c. My mother has a picture of him and his crew mates standing in front of a B-17 that says "The crew of "Patches"". They flew out of North Africa on bombing runs over Italy. My mother has a copy of a mission log/diary he kept for his first 25 missions. Many of the entries deal with the basic data - mission target, heading, squadrons and flight formations - but then he adds personal comments such as "milk run" for some and other entries are pretty grim and sad talking about seeing other a/c in his group getting shot down. One entry talks about flak hitting his cockpit and blowing a hole out the top right above his head. I don't know how to comprehend his experience, how these men went on every day to their next mission.

I would much appreciate it if anyone could link or point me to additional information on the 429th Bomber squadron from that time and any specific information about him or his crew, the a/c called "Patches", any other stories or reports of what happened to it on 10/29/1943, etc.

Thanks very much.

Brennan
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RE: Looking for info on my uncle's B-17 "Patches" 2005/02/03 15:49:10 (permalink)
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Brennan,

You might want to follow up with Josh Thompson at the following URL to see if he has information.

http://home.att.net/~jbaugher/usafreferences.html

909. E-mail from Josh Thompson on loss of 42-30398.

Andy Revie

"It's Never Too Late To Have A Happy Childhood"
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RE: Looking for info on my uncle's B-17 "Patches" 2005/02/03 16:19:11 (permalink)
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Andy, thanks. I followed the link and found entry 909 on the referenced serial number web page but I see no other link from there. Do you know how I contact Josh Thompson or read the email this entry references?

Thanks.

Brennan
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RE: Looking for info on my uncle's B-17 "Patches" 2005/02/03 20:05:28 (permalink)
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Brennan,

I'd suggest contacting the webmaster at jbaugher@worldnet.att.net

Make reference to his/her URL address that I passed on to you blah, blah, blah... and ask if he can do his/her webmaster thing and provide you with Josh Thompson's e-mail address.

Good luck.

Andy Revie

"It's Never Too Late To Have A Happy Childhood"
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RE: Looking for info on my uncle's B-17 "Patches" 2005/02/03 22:36:28 (permalink)
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There is a book called The Second Was First" available from the 2nd BG Association, that gives the following account, on page 91.

Genoa,Italy - Mission NO 90 October 29,1943.

The primary target for this date was the Ball Bearing Works at Turin, Italy. Due to a cloud cover over the target, the Marshalling Yards at Genoa were bombed by 28 aircraft that dropped 345, 500 lb GP bombs. Some hits were observed through cloud cover around the target hindering bombing and observation of results. Flak over the target was very heavy,good altitude, poor deflection.

B-17 42-30398, piloted by 1st Lt George R. Howell, was hit by flak just after dropping its bombs. The plane caught fire and disentegrated in midair.

Missing Air Crew Report ; Aircraft 42-30398- 429th Squadron.

1st Lt George R. Howell, 0-793775, P (KIA)
2nd Lt Edward E. Gray, 0-672346, CP (KIA)
2nd Lt John W. Cashore, 0-797262, N (POW)
2nd Lt Berbard J. Lewis, B (KIA)
T/Sgt Paul B. Cassingham, 38128441,U/T (KIA)
S/Sgt Francis X. Hughes, 3245746, L/T (POW)
S/Sgt Leland L. Dishong, 35417348,R/W (KIA)
S/Sgt Byron R. Drury, 33270792,L/W (KIA)
S/Sgt Robert L. Thompson,3544688 T/G (POW)
T/Sgt Robert H. Bryson, 12088306 R/O (KIA)

Statement of S/Sgt Francis H. Hughes, after liberation. "About 30 seconds after dropping our bombs, our plane was hit by two bursts of flak. One burst hit in the radio room and the other hit at the tail wheel. As soon as our plane was hit, the pilot told us to bail out. I was flying in the ball turret position. I was watching the bombs go to the target when we were hit. After getting out of the turret and getting on my chute, I saw the front of the plane was broken off at the radio room, and I bailed out through this opening".

"I did a delayed jump of about eight or ten thousand feet...at that time, I also saw that the plane had broken off at the tail wheel, leaving only the waist of the plane floating".

" I landed in the water of Genoa Harbor and was shot in the shoulder while in the water, was given first aid and then taken to a hospital. After around 10 days, in a private room, I was moved out and met Sgt Thompson who told me Lt Cashore had just left for prison camp." During this time, I did not see, nor hear, of any of the rest of those not mentioned above.

Jim :-)


James S. Peters Sr. T/Sgt B-17 Flt Engr, 27 missions 99 BG, 348BS, 5th Wing, 15th AAF Tortorella, (Foggia#2), Italy My Tour was from 12/03/44-06/19/45 M/Sgt USAF (Retired)
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RE: Looking for info on my uncle's B-17 "Patches" 2005/02/03 23:54:59 (permalink)
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Jim,

Thanks so much for the information. While there are some inconsistencies between the information you cite from the MACR and the information I have, this is undoubtedly his plane that you found the reference to. My uncle's first name was Edmond, instead of Edward per your cite, and the American Battle Monuments Commission listing for Texas casualties buried at the American Cemetery in Florence (see http://www.abmc.gov/wwstate.htm ) shows his service number was 0-672345, instead of 0-672346 as cited in your reference, and that his rank was 1st Lt. No matter, I am sure that this is him and his plane given the consistency on date KIA, bomber group and squadron, location of incident, etc. In fact, some of the crew names sound familiar from the picture that hangs on the wall at my mother's house.

I am very grateful for your finding this information for us.

If there are any still living survivors of the crew of B-17 42-30398 or their family members who happen upon this post I would be very interested in corresponding.

Thanks very much.




Brennan
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RE: Looking for info on my uncle's B-17 "Patches" 2005/02/04 06:27:43 (permalink)
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There is a SECOND book, called Defenders of Liberty, on the 2nd Bomg Group, which has a repeat of the narrative in the book The Second Was First. It has a slightly different description of the loss of 42-30398.

Plane number 42-30398 "Patches", pilotoed by Lt George R. Howell, of the 429th Squadron, took a devasting flak strike through the fuel tank for number 3 engine seconds after bombs away. Now in flames, the plane nosed up.rolled completely over, went into a spin, and soon started to disentegrate. Observers reported four and five parachutes.

The narrative related by S/Sgt Francis H. Hughes is repeated word for word as in the first book, with the added sentence "These three crewmen, Hughes,Thompson, and Cashore were the only survivors".
"One of those who perished on Lt HOwell's crew, was the radio operator, T/Sgt Robert H. Bryson. He had written the poem, which is recorded in the 429th Squadron History (see top of next page)"
(This is on page 174 and 175 of the Defenders of Liberty).

This is the Poem referred to :

Lightnings in The Sky

Oh, Hedy Lamarr is a beautiful gal
And Madeline Carrol is too,
But, you'd find if you query a different theory,
Among any bomber crew;
For the loveliest thing of which one could sing,
(This side of The Heavenly Gates),
Is no blonde or brunette of the Hollywood set,
But an escort of P-38's.

Yes, in the days that were passed,when the tables were massed,
With Glasses of Scotch or Champagne,
It's quite true that the sight was a thing to delight,
Us,no longer the same nowadays in this game,
When we head North from Messina Straits;
Take the sparkling wine,make mine every time,
An escort of P-38's.

Byron, Shelley and Keats,ran at least a dozen dead heats,
Describing the view from the hills,
Or the valleys in MAy, when the winds gently sway,
An army of daffodils;
Take the daffodils,Byron,The wild flowers Shelley,
Yours to the myrtle,friend Keats,
Just reserve me,those cuties, those American beauties,
An escort of P-38's.

Sure, we're braver than hell,
On the ground all is swell,
In the air it's a different story;
We sweat out our track,throiugh the fighters and flak;
While we're willing to split up the glory,
Well, they wouldn't reject us, so heaven protect us,
And, before all this shooting abates;
Give us courage to fight 'em, and-
One other small item,
an escort of P-38's.

T/Sgt Robert H. Byron


Again, both books can be obtained through the 2nd Bomb Group Association.

As to accuracy, that you have referred to, I was not there, so any errors should be assigned to the recording clerk(s) in the 429th Bomb Squadron who wrote and recorded the MACR and other paperwork.

Jim :-)




































post edited by jpeters140 - 2005/02/04 06:33:35

James S. Peters Sr. T/Sgt B-17 Flt Engr, 27 missions 99 BG, 348BS, 5th Wing, 15th AAF Tortorella, (Foggia#2), Italy My Tour was from 12/03/44-06/19/45 M/Sgt USAF (Retired)
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RE: Looking for info on my uncle's B-17 "Patches" 2005/02/04 09:59:47 (permalink)
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Brennan,

I'm sure you've already noted this but as you are researching your uncle, there may be a similar connection between the previously mentioned Josh Thompson and Patches' tail gunner Robert L. Thompson (see below).


S/Sgt Robert L. Thompson,3544688 T/G (POW)

909. E-mail from Josh Thompson on loss of 42-30398


A couple of other things you might be interested in.

There is a 429th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) Association website at:

http://www.2ndbombgroup.org/429thSquadron.htm

You might want to make a posting there too to get information on your uncle?

Also there was a 99th BG (H)/346th BS (H) B-17G named "2nd Patches" [see graphic below] at Tortorella, Italy.

So what you might ask?

I haven't looked at a map, but Tortorella, Amendola Air Base (429th's location) and Foggia often appear together in the same narrative when researching 42-30398 so they probably aren't too far apart from each other? I'm thinking "2nd Patches" may have possibly been named by a crew in the 429th after your "Patches" and then the aircraft was subsequently transferred from 2nd/429th to 99th/346th? It's called cross-leveling in the military and is done (either share the wealth or share the pain, depending on how you want to look at it) by a higher HQ to keep it's subordinate units more or less on a par with each other. Maybe that's what may have happened with "2nd Patches" or maybe not. I just bring it to your attention as something interesting.

Andy Revie

"It's Never Too Late To Have A Happy Childhood"

B-17G "2nd Patches" 346th BS/99th BG, Tortorella, Italy 1944

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RE: Looking for info on my uncle's B-17 "Patches" 2005/02/04 13:09:20 (permalink)
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Brennan,
For what it is worth. B J Lewis graduated from bombardier school at Victorville, CA class 43-03. I do have a photo of his graduating class, but it does not id the men. If you are interested in a scanned copy let me know.

Dave
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RE: Looking for info on my uncle's B-17 "Patches" 2005/02/04 14:35:18 (permalink)
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FYI...I was stationed at Tortorella, which was approx 8 1/2 miles east of the little town of Foggia on the south side of a road to Manfrdonia,...a small fishing village on the Adriatic coast.
Amendola was approx 2 1/2 miiles further east on the north side of the same road to Manfredonia. The two AAFs were so close, that when the 2nd and 97th took off, they flew right over our tents in my squadron area, at an altitude of some 100 ft or so, on the first circle, and then on each succeeding circle (to form the Group) they were some 200 or so feet higher.

Jim :-)

James S. Peters Sr. T/Sgt B-17 Flt Engr, 27 missions 99 BG, 348BS, 5th Wing, 15th AAF Tortorella, (Foggia#2), Italy My Tour was from 12/03/44-06/19/45 M/Sgt USAF (Retired)
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RE: Looking for info on my uncle's B-17 "Patches" 2005/02/07 18:53:31 (permalink)
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Jim,

You have absolutely found the right a/c and crew. My mother has a copy of the poem by Bryson that my uncle mailed home to my grandparents wherin he suggests that my grandfather have it passed around at the bomber factory (in Fort Worth I think - General Dynamics?) where my grandfather was working during the war. They may have also done work on the P-38 there, too, but I'm not sure. My uncle's letter and the Bryson poem were published in the bomber factory's newsletter at the time.

Thanks again for the great help!

Brennan
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RE: Looking for info on my uncle's B-17 "Patches" 2005/02/07 22:19:17 (permalink)
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Andy,

Thanks again, very much. The Thompson connection is very interesting and, no, I had not thought of it. I will try to see if I can make contact with Josh Thompson through the other web site to see if he is related to tail gunner Robert L. Thompson. It would be truly fantastic to make contact with a surviving crew member of B-17 42-30398 "Patches" or a relative of one who might have memorabilia, photos, letters or journals that personally document the story of this plane and its crew and possibly mention or reference my uncle.

I did get an email response from J. Baugher, web master you mentioned earlier, giving me the brief contents of the email from Josh Thompson as follows: "AC # 42-30398 B-17F "Patches" Shot down over Genoa, Italy Oct 29, 1943"

The theory you have about "2nd Patches" is very interesting. Before finding armyairforces.com and this forum I had done a web search on "B-17 Patches" and came across a photo I believe of the same a/c you included in your posting. I found it at http://www.325thfg.org/C1.htm , a web site for the 325th Fighter Group. So now I know this photo is not of the "Patches" my uncle flew on but is of "2nd Patches".

My wife and I are planning a trip to Europe this summer and are now thinking we will go through Genoa and then to Florence to visit the American Cemetery there and find my uncle's marker. All this discovery of the facts and pieces of the story related to his a/c, crew, and its downing will add a lot of meaning to that trek.



Brennan
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RE: Looking for info on my uncle's B-17 "Patches" 2005/02/08 12:08:46 (permalink)
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S/S Leland L Dishong is buried in Zachary Taylor National Cemetery.

Bob
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RE: Looking for info on my uncle's B-17 "Patches" 2009/08/03 10:30:58 (permalink)
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Brennan,
 
My name is Joshua L Thompson, I am a grandson of Robert L Thompson, your uncles tail gunner on the B17F "Patches".  shoot me an e-mail at Joshlt@ymail.com
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