S/Sgt Raymond P Sunderland Birth March 1, 1921 - KIA April 4, 1944

Raymond at 1 year and 9 monthsS/Sgt Raymond Patrick Sunderland was born to John and Veronica (Leona) Sunderland on March 1, 1921 in Columbus, Ohio as the third of eight children. Here a photograph of Raymond at 3 years old on the left and sister Margaret and brother John. His siblings were John, Margaret, Mary, Leona, Pat, Ruth and Richard. Raymond was a former student at Courtright Elementary School in Columbus,OH. See here a school PIC of Ray in 7th or 8th Grade, Ray is on the right in the back row. Raymond was later employed by the Hill Distributing Co. prior to his enlistment in the US Army Air Corps. Raymond loved motorcycles and together with his brother John and some of their friends, rode Harley Davidsons. In this picture,Raymond on motorbike Raymond is sitting on a 1940 Harley-Davidson 'Knucklehead'. In the picture, when looking at it, from left to right is John Sunderland (Raymond's brother who passed away 2008), Raymond (the only one with no leather helmet on and showing a thick head of hair), Jack Flowers (a cousin of Raymond and John's), and "Little" Harry Myers (family friend). In this photograph Raymond is playing with mother Veronica in the garden of their home some time before the war.
Raymond entered the service on September 11, 1942 and completed basic training in Ypsilanti, Michigan and then successfully completed gunnery school in Laredo, Texas. Postcard to his father dated May 27, 1943 Sgt Raymond Sunderland Raymond also trained as a assistent flight engineer at Keesler Field, MS. The War Department activated Army Air Corps Station No. 8, Aviation Mechanics School, Biloxi, Mississippi, on 12 June 1941. On August 25, 1941, the base was dedicated as Keesler Army Airfield, in honor of 2d Lt Samuel Reeves Keesler, Jr., a Mississippi native and distinguished aerial gunner, killed in action in France during the First World War.
Raymond was then assigned as a ass. engineer/gunner to the Easters Crew in the 719th Squadron of the newly established 449th Bomb Group stationed at Bruning, Nebraska. Later on, 1st Lt. Robert Easters became the Operations Officer of the 449th Bomb Group. This photograph shows Raymond riding for the last time on his Harley before he was shipped overseas to his base in Grottaglie, Italy. Raymond was promoted to Staff Sergeant and assigned to the Thieme crew for the fatal flight of 04/04/1944 over Bucharest, Romania. S/Sgt Raymond Sunderland was assistant engineer and nose gunner on this mission as evidenced in MACR 3978. (MACR LINK) On this mission, the B-24 Liberator was hit by flak and shot at by multiple German ME-109s immediately following the formation having successfully dropped their bombs on the target. The result was a huge fire in the bomb bay section of the plane which was then seen to fall out of formation before crashing. S/Sgt Raymond Sunderland was trapped in the front of the bomber and could not escape.
S/Sgt Raymond his grave late 40'sS/Sgt Raymond Sunderland was temporarily buried together with hisGrave S/Sgt Raymond Sunderland 6 crewmates in the Catholic Cemetery at Giurgiu, Romania by the Romanian townspeople. After the war, all Allied airmen were removed from the cemeteries in the little towns across Romania and reburied in an American Military Cemetery at Sinaia, Romania near the Carpathian Mountains before being finally moved to the Ardennes American Cemetery in Neupré, Belgium. Ardennes was the final resting place of S/Sgt Raymond Sunderland who was buried with full military honors. His gravesite can be located at Plot B - Row 38 - Grave 52. See here a Letter to Ray's wife on Ray's original grave site dated 6-8-1950.

Having completed many missions prior to April of 1944, S/Sgt Sunderland was awarded the Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Citation of Honor and was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart which was presented to his wife Lois. Raymond is still remembered by the Sunderland family as a beloved brother and brave airman.
Family photograph just before moving overseas Raymond was survived by his parents and brothers John, Dick and Pat and sisters Mary, Margaret, Leona and Ruth. His mother died in 1948 in a car accident still grieving over the loss of her son Raymond.
The family photo, taken before he left for Europe, is of the following people, going left to right: Sisters Mary then Margaret then in-law Gene, then Ray's mom and little brother Dick in front, then Ray's dad in the back little brother Pat then little sister Ruth, then Raymond in the middle standing behind wife Lois, then Sister Leona and sister-in-law Mae then his niece Joan, and brother John.

Letter to dad dated 12-28-42 from Pvt Raymond Sunderland.

Leter to his fatherHello Dad,

Well here I am at Mississippi and I like it very much.  It’s up at 5:30 and drill all day and to bed at 9:00 and if there is any man in me it sure will bring it out.  Oh me, that razor you gave me sure is swell and I’m thanking you again for it.  I will have to close now will write more later.
PS.  Am very sorry to here about Grandma and tell mom I’m praying that she gets well.

Your son, Ray

Please answer

Letter to Mary (sister) dated 1-24-43 from Raymond Sunderland.

Letter to Mary
Jan 24, 1943

Dear Mary:
I am very sorry that I never answered your letter before.  But have been awful busy and never have much time to do much of anything.  Well Mary, I am glad you got a good job at last.  Well I will be out of school either 8th or the 18th of next month, and tomorrow I am going to sign up for aerial gunnery school if I can pass the examination and I think I can.  Well Mary, the weather is pretty warm down here and I hope they send me up north.   As far as getting a furlough, I don’t know when I will get one.  I am going to try to get one next month but I doubt if I get one.  Mary I wish you would get Jimmy Wommack’s address and where he is stationed at and Mary will you write me more often and if you will send me a carton of cigarettes I would appreciate it very much and maybe some day I can pay you back.  Well I had better close now and maybe Lois will write as soon as she gets a chance.  I will write more often and do a better job writing next time.  Tell Mom and all the rest to please write.  Good bye, tell to write please.

PS Please write soon.  Tell Dick I said hello.

With loads of love, Ray

Letter to Mary (sister) dated 4-21-43 from Cpl Sunderland.

Letter to sister MaryDear Mary,

How are you, fine I hope. Mom told me a while back that you were having trouble with your ear. How is it now? Better I hope. I meant to write you before but it just slipped my mind. Well is it warm up there? It sure is down here, about 96 every day. Well I went uptown last Saturday night and it sure is some town. About 80 percent of the people down here is Mexicans and they all talk in the Mex. language and I can’t understand a word they say so I have been trying to learn their language but I only know a little of it. Well I started to school last Monday and it is the toughest of them all. And I wouldn’t be surprised if I wash out. I sure hope not but we have to know all about ballistics (?) and a lot of other things that they teach in college and I didn’t even go to high school. But I am studying my dam head off trying to learn it. I don’t go to bed til about 10 every night. I study from about 7 till 10 every night. There is about 200 parts to one 30 cal machine gun and we got to know all their nomenclature or names and that is only one gun. We have a 30 cal. gun sight, near gun turret, top turret, belly turret, and the force of gravity actions against the bullet and wind resistance and a lot of other things. Well, I’ll do my best and that all I can do. We shot skeet all day today. Well I will close now. Tell Margaret to send me her address, I lost it and tell mom and all the rest to write. And Mary, please tell Lois to write. I am awful lonesome and sure would like to hear from her. And tell mom and dad and the rest of the family to write and you write too and here is a carnation, they grow wild down here.

Your brother, Ray

PS Thanks a million for the cigarettes you sent. I never thanked you before but I am really grateful. And if I don’t get a letter from home tomorrow, I will really be disappointed because I haven’t received one yet since I have been here. Here is a kiss for Dick. X

Letter to his father at the end of training in Laredo, TX.

LetterDear Dad:

Well this is Sunday morning about 8:30 and I am sitting on top on my bunk and my head feels about the size of a wash tub. I got the money you sent me. I guess it was from you cause it had J E Sunderland on it and John always uses his first name. Well I want to thank you a lot for going through all the trouble of finding Lois. Well dad,, last night was our first time out down here so we all went to town. We didn't get our passes until after 9 and we were supposed to get them at 6. So by the time I got to town, it was too late to get any techelea (tequila) and anyway, they say it is a lot cheaper on the other side of the border so I think I will wait til I go across and then get some. Well dad last night I met a st/sgt who is the world champion trap and skeet shooter. He asked me how I would like to become an instructor and I said that I would and he said that if I get good grades he would see that I got instructor. Well dad what I was going to tell you was he had a bottle of tequila and told me to have some and I really had some. I like to never got back to camp. I had another buddy with me and when I got back to the gate, I couldn't find my pass so he took my name. Well when I got back to the squd. I still couldn't find my pass so my buggy looked through my pocketbook and he found it. I sure was glad. Well dad, I will write more later. Tell mom and all the family I said hello and Lois to write and you write too.

Your son, Ray

Letter to his mother just before going overseas dated 12-06-1943.

Letter to his motherDec 6, 1943

Dear Mom,
How are you and the rest of the family? OK I hope as I am well. Well mom, I don't know what to write about. Well mom, did Leona get that job dad was supposed to get her? I hope so . And is Lois home yet? Well mom, they won't let me see Margaret or call her either. I sure would like to see her before I go across. Mom, I am very sorry I couldn't get you all some xmas presents but there is nothing I can do about it. Oh yes, mom, did you get my forty dollar allotment? If so, did you get dad and John 20 apiece? I hope so. well mom, I sure wish I could have another furlough but maybe I will be home to stay one of these days. Well mom, I don't know any more to write about. So I guess I will close till later. It may be a couple of weeks before I can write again so goodbye til next time. Tell Dick I said hello.

You son, Ray

- Here a letter of Betty Ann Thieme to the mom of Raymond dated July 20, 1944. How sad that they had that little bit of hope only to lose it.
- Letter to Ray's mom from the Belcher's, dated July 18, 1944.
- Letter to Ray's mom from Mr and Mrs O'Rourke, dated August 2, 1944.
- Letter to Ray's mom from Hippe's mother, dated Oct 9, 1944.
- Letter to Ray's mom from Lannon's mother, dated Oct 14, 1944.  

See here the Individual Flight records of SSgt Raymond Sunderland from Alamogordo to Grottaglie Italy, July, 1943 to April, 1944.
At that time Raymond was Assistent Engineer and gunner.

Click for a PDF version of all the records in the image.

Newspaper clips on MIA and KIA of S/Sgt Raymond Sunderland and MACR page

Missing in actionMissing in actionKilled in actionMACR 3978Raymond Sunderland

On wednesday January 20, 2010 Raymond Croxton visited the grave of his uncle.

Me and Ray at the grave of S Sgt Raymond Sunderland

Sisters Leona and Ruth with burial Flag.My gratitude to Raymond Croxton and his mother Ruth for all the help they provided in obtaining photographs and information about their uncle and brother Raymond Patrick Sunderland. Additional thanks to the entire family of brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews who continue to search for other details of his life and military career so this tribute to him can be complete. Without your help, we would not have been able to properly pay tribute to the life he honorably gave to his country.

On Dec, 2009 I adopted the grave of S/Sgt Raymond Sunderland through the organization "Le Royal Briscard". Created in 1992, on Mr. Arsène DEBATISSE’ s initiative, at that time Chairman of the Royal Society “Le Briscard” and supported by the board of directors, the Certificat of adoption.ceremony of homage and remembrance was born. The purpose is to remember American soldiers killed in action to liberate our country in 1944 and also during the bloody Battle of the bulge during the hard winter from December 1944 to January 1945. Everyone should be concerned whit it and should search for sponsor’s candidates amongst his family, his closest relatives and the people round about him! For those who wish it, it is always possible to pay his sponsored grave a short visit as the American cemeteries are accessible throughout the year.