Purple Heart Air Medal

Staff Sergeant
Thomas C. Mc Donald

1922 - April 22, 1944

Washtenaw county, Michigan - Oberschelden

 

Thomas C. Mc Donald was born in 1922 and was from Washtenaw County, Michigan where he attended high school. He worked as an oil and gas man before enlisted in the Army on 20 October 1942 in Detroit, Michigan.

He later became an air gunner on a B17 with the 100th Bomb Group, operating out of Thorpe Abbotts.

He arrived here with is crew in early 1944. They were assigned to the 349th Squadron. The crew consisted of:



349th Bomb  Squadron
100th Bomb Group
(picture courtesy 100th BG assoc.)

1st Lt Frank W. Harte, Pilot
2nd Lt John J. Coppinger, co-pilot 
2nd Lt Carl F. Conley, Navigator 
T/Sgt Wallace J. Meyer, Toggelier 
T/Sgt Weston H. Rodkey, Radio operator
T/Sgt Paul V. Carlson, Engineer 
S/Sgt Felix W. McIntosh, Ball Turret Gunner 
S/Sgt Thomas C. McDonald, Waist Gunner
S/Sgt Edward T. Coley, Waist Gunner
S/Sgt George W. McMullin, Tail Gunner

The crew flew its first mission to Augsburg on 18 March 1944. On 22 April 1944 they were to fly their 9th mission. This time the target would be Hamm, Germany. The crew took off in B-17 #42 37783 XR-B, nicknamed "Dobie". 100th BG led Bomb Wing 13B behind the leading Bomb Wing 13A. After bombs away, the 100th would lead all the bomb wings back to England. The mission was flown in the late afternoon, leaving the English coast at Lowestoft at 17.53, reaching the Dutch coast at 18.19. Although the IP (Initial Point) was missed, the target was recognized and the bomb run commenced from an alternative IP. The city was bombed at 18.55. 

Earl Benham, also flying with 100th Bomb Group on this mission, recalled this mission in his book "With Crew #13". He flew in the plane that led the entire 100th Bomb Group. Group Commander Colonel Kelly flew his first mission with his crew. Also on the crew was their squadron commander, Major Elton. Mr. Benham describes the mission from the perspective of the lead plane. No fighters were encountered and the escort was really good. Heavy flak was encountered over Hamm during the bombing. He writes that as far as he understood, no planes were lost.

The group in which Lt Harte and his crew flew, fared little different. They were the only crew lost by the 100th BG that day.
 
Enemy fighters attacked "Dobie" just after bombing and turning to the Rally Point. They damaged particularly #3 engine, after which the B-17 started to lag. Witnesses saw the crew attempting to jettison equipment from the plane. It appears that all ten men did bail out although Sgt. McDonald was badly wounded before leaving the ship.

The plane finally crashed near Oberschelden, west of Siegen, Germany.

Three of the crew, 1Lt Frank Harte, navigator 2Lt Carl Conley and waist gunner S/Sgt Thomas McDonald, were killed and the others taken PoW.

Some of the crew felt that Lt Harte & Lt Conley may have been killed by German civilians or soldiers after they landed.

S/Sgt Mc Donald is buried at Margraten Military Cemetery, Plot E Row 18 Grave 6.


Margraten, The Netherlands

 

See Also:
1Lt Frank Harte
2Lt Carl Conley

Sources:
100th Bomb Group Website
Earl Benham, With Crew #13, Self Published, Phoenix, Arizona 2002

Acknowledgements:
 

Directions to Margraten American Military Cemetery


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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