The 385th Bomb
Group was transferred from the United States to
England in June, 1943. It began its operations
the next month, July, with missions to
Amsterdam, Bergen and Wernemunde, which all were
flown without loss.
On July 26, 1943,
the fourth mission of the group, Ben was loaned
to F/O Glenn Duncan for a mission to the
Continental Tire Factory in Hanover, Germany. The rest of the
crew consisted of:
P- F/O Glenn
William L. Lehr
Wiliam H. Henderson
B-2nd Lt. Roy
Benjamin M. Purdy
James E. Soward
John R. Towle
James E. Brophy
Charles E. Propst
number 4, the Bomb Group was sent to Wesermunde,
for which the BG provided 21 planes, among which
the Duncan crew, flying in B-17 42-30281. On
this mission the BG encountered its first
fighter opposition by the German Luftwaffe and
three of its planes were lost. The crew of F/O
Duncan was one of them. They had to ditch their
plane into the North Sea but all ten crew were
It is not
exactly known what the circumstances were under
which the Duncan crew was lost.
The war dept
telegram stated T/Sgt Purdy was MIA over
Bremerhaven, Germany. A letter from the group
chaplain dated August 23, 1943, states "under
control flying low over water shooting flares."
A report from the Graves Registration in 1948
states "last seen over the North Sea about 40
miles North of East Frisian Islands". A letter
from Washington, dated February 24, 1949 says
"exploded and crashed in the North Sea". A
picture smuggled out through Spain appeared in a
Texas paper sometime between September 1943 and
August 1944. Some men are identified by their
families as Duncan's crew. This picture was
given to T/Sgt Purdy's family in 1949 by the
bombardier's wife who said the niece of the
co-pilot Lt. William Lehr, who worked for the
New York Times and got the original picture from
Spain and had it enlarged.
The family of
T/Sgt Purdy received this picture of a crew
taken PoW, which had apparently appeared in a
newspaper in the days following the loss of the
Duncan crew. It is thought that members of the
Duncan crew are identified on this picture,
although it cannot be said with any certainty.
Anyone who recognizes any person in this picture,
or who can answer the following questions: Who
took this picture? When was it taken? Where was
it taken? and what happened next?
is asked to
contact the webmaster.
As of yet
unidentified crew. The names on the picture are,
from left to right: T/Sgt. James E. Soward,
S/Sgt. Charles E. Propst, F/O Glenn F.
Duncan, S/Sgt. James E. Brophy, 2nd Lt. William
L. Lehr, unknown, T/Sgt Benjamin Purdy, ??.
Anyone who recognizes anyone on this picture is
contact the webmaster. A bigger picture is
available(Picture courtesy of Mrs. Lori Tardif)
is mentioned on the Wall of the Missing at Margraten American Military