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Crew mission #40

15th Air Force449th Bomb Group

15th Airforce
449th Bomb Group
719th Squadron



Thieme crew

1 - Pilot F/O William M. Thieme KIA
2 - Bombardier 2ND LT Francis Beck KIA
3 - Navigator 2ND LT Gilbert A. Malrait KIA
4 - Co pilot 2ND LT Edward J. O'Rourke KIA
5 - Nose gunner S/Sgt Sunderland Raymond KIA
6 - Waist Gunner Cpl Louis A. Lannon POW
7 - Enginier T/Sgt Mark J Ebert KIA
8 - Radio Operator T/Sgt Belcher John died after 7 days in hopital.
9 - Ball Turret Gunner T/Sgt Brouilette Meddie KIA
10 - Photographer S/Sgt O'neal James POW
11 - Tail Gunner S/Sgt Ingmar Hippe POW

Here the positions of the Thieme Crew on 04/04/1944 and a drawing who was send to the parents of F/O William Thieme. Click on the images.
Positions of the crewDrawing of the positions on the B-24 recieved by the mother of F/O William Thieme

Below some pages of the MACR 3978.
click on imageclick on imageclick on imageclick on imageclick on imageclick on image

Stories recalled by John McCormick on the 4 Officers of the Thieme Crew:


- My Dad remembered another story about Thieme's crew over the weekend.

After each mission, the crews would go to the medical officer's tent where they were given a shot of alcohol called "Old Overholt" which he thinks was a Kentucky bourbon. The alcohol was used to calm down the crews after missions. Thieme's crew decided they were going to save up their shots for a big party when they hit their 50 missions, so they would pour their individual shots into a bottle. Unfortunately, they never returned from the 4-4-44 mission. My Dad said some new crew who took over Thieme's tent must have had a great time when they found that bottle of alcohol!


- Thieme, Malrait, Beck and O'Rourke were a "crazy" bunch of officers -- always the life of the squadron. The 4 of them were in an Italian Officer's club once listening to an Italian band play American songs. Thieme, an avid cornet player, was so distraught at the band's ability to play the song, that he went up on stage and took the horn to show them how the song went. Malrait, Beck and O'Rourke helped him bring the house down!

- Another one - Malrait was on the crew of Betty Ann #41-292175 (named after Thieme's wife Betty) when it crashed in the mountains near N. Africa. After they lost their plane, they flew missions on a variety of other ships. They were the crew on Maui Maid #41-28623 (Col. Alkire's plane) on that ship's last run. My Dad's Radio Operator, Tommy Thompson, was flying with them that day. Thieme got to the end of the runway and realized he wasn't going to be able to get the plane off the runway so slammed on the brakes and ended up crashing into an embankment.  Thompson had a rough time flying after that incident.


- "Some time in January 1944, the 449th BG had a mission to a town north of Rome to hit a marshalling yard. The town was called Prato. We were flying that day with our Deputy Group Commander in weather where the temperature was 30 degrees PLUS below zero. I was having trouble with my oxygen control unit but still stayed in formation with the group from the initial point (IP) to the target. The story I learned upon landing was this - Lt Beck, the bombardier in Flight Officer Thieme's plane told his pilot that our entire group was going to miss the target. Instead of staying in formation and following the Commander, Thieme responded by asking the crew to check whether there were any enemy fighters in the area. When told there were not, he pulled out of formation and allowed Beck to use his own computations to locate the target. The following day, reconnaissance reports from the target area indicated that Thieme's crew was the only one that hit the target -- the rest of the group missed the target completely. I believe the Deputy Group Commander was removed from his post and transferred to another unit after that incident."

My research was mentioned in some local Newspapers in Belgium and the US.
Nieuwsblad March 25, 2009Providence Journal May 3, 2009The Gainesville Daily Register May 24, 2009Nieuwsblad May 29 2010

For the moment I do research and have contacts with family of some members.There will be a page with the story's from every member if I find information. The names in bleu are links to the story of the man.