Not much is known about Marcum E. Thomas. He was from Jasper County, Missouri and became a pilot with the Army Air Force. In Engalnd he was attached to the 367th Bomb Squadron of the 306th Bomb Group, operating out of Thurleigh.

On 11 January 1944, Marcum would fly his, probably, third combat mission to the Junkers aircraft factory at  Halberstadt. This day would go into history as one that saw one of the fiercest air battles of Europe during World War Two.

Marcum's crew consisted of:


367th Bomb Squadron

306th Bomb Group

pilot 2Lt Ross A McCollum
co-pilot 2Lt Marcum E Thomas
Navigator 2Lt Daniel P Jones
Bombardier 2Lt Lloyd G. Crabtree
Radio operator S/Sgt Henry A Stelmach
Ball turret gunner Sgt Howard L Chatelaine
Top turret gunner SSgt Wayne A Warner
Right waist gunner Sgt Leander J Aurie
Left waist gunner Sgt Warren B Goss
Tail gunner Sgt Andrew P Barrus

After the war, 2Lt Crabtree would write a report about the shoot down of the B17. They had just crossed into Holland "17 miles from the Zuiderzee, we were lead between two cloud formations: one some 30 feet above us and the other about 200 feet below us.

Due to some reason I never learned the ship to our left changed its position in formation by coming under us, chaving off the tip of our right wing and jolting the plane and crew considerable".

At this point, the pilot, 2Lt McCollum sounded the alarm bell indicating to the crew to bail out. However, he managed to get the plane under control and the bail out order was reversed.

2Lt Crabtree continues: "After the pilot Lt R.A. McCollum righted the ship we were attacked from the nose out of the clouds directly over our heads in elements of three's by enemy ships (as well as I remember they were ME-109s)

Three waves of them from the front brought is down. I stayed with the ship for a short time after it was out of control heading for the earth. Then I bailed out"

Just before the plane was shot down, waist gunner Leander Aurie told the crew over the intercom that he had shot down a plane, what he thought to be a ME210.

2Lt Crabtree was the only one to survive. The rest of the crew was eithe rkilled, according to Lt Crabtree, by enemy gunfire or the crash. He also stated that the Navigator, 2Lt Daniel Jones, from New York, had spilled his parachute in the plane earlies. He urged Jones to jump with the spilled plane, but Jones refused.

The plane crashed near hotel "De Witte Raaf" (The White Raven) near the town of Epe, the Netherlands. The bodies of the nine crew members were recovered and buried in the local cemetery.

The father of the pilot, Captain W.A. McCollum, went to great lengths to recover the remains of his son and his crew. He and the US Graves Registration finally found the graves in Epe.  The wife of the caretaker of the cemetery sent a picture of his grave to the families in the United States. After the U.S. Army arrived, the remains were removed to the American Cemetery at Margareten, Holland.


Margraten, The Netherlands

See Also:
2Lt Ross A McCollum
2Lt Daniel P Jones
S/Sgt Henry A Stelmach
SSgt Wayne A Warner
Sgt Howard Chatelaine
Sgt Leander J Aurie
Sgt Warren B Goss
Sgt Andrew P Barrus

Sources and Acknowledgements:

MACR 1934

Bart Schoonenberg adopted the grave of Second Lieutenant Marcum E. Thomas.

All Casualties of the 306th Bomb Group killed in Holland or buried at Margraten

Directions to Margraten American Military Cemetery

Posted 4 August 2008

If you have any suggestions, comments or additional information, please contact me.

This website is dedicated to the men and women who died and/or are buried in The Netherlands during World War II.


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