Database Search

You are in the database section of the website.

Select a record category from RECORDS above. When you have selected a category, you will see search options for that category above the record list. 

Most fields require at least three characters. When you submit your query, the search engine will return all records that contain your search term.

Note that when searching for an aircraft serial number, you must enter the full serial number without the leading "4" and without a dash in the Aircraft SN search field. For example, you would enter 42-37772 as 237772.

The Personnel name field searches both last and first names, so if you enter the search term, "Russ", the search engine will return both Russell Abel and James Russell.

You narrow the search by entering more characters into the search field. For example, "Russ" returns many hits. "Russell" returns fewer hits. The same principle applies to all queries.

The POW and KIA categories are list only and are not searchable.

LT  Thomas CRYAN


The 350th's Thomas Cryan. KIA March 18th, 44 as the result of a mid-air collision.  (100th Photo Archives)

MACR: 03234 CR: 03234

Comments1: 18 MAR 44 MUNICH (MID AIR COLL)




SGT DONALD E. WALKER     RWG WIA   6 MAR 44 BERLIN (received Silver Star for actions March 6, 1944)
SGT RAYMOND A. BRYAN       TG WIA   6 MAR 44 BERLIN (received Purple Heart)

350th Sqdn.. Crew, as above, joined the 100th in late July or August 1943. Lt. Martin Tashjian flew a few missions with this crew as CP in place of Thomas Cryan.  Crew flew in "Superstitious Aloysious". Elwood "Bud" Frum worked on this plane.
Mark Cope went on to become the 350th Operations  Officer…


1.         3/11/43        WILHELMSHAVEN
2.       13/11/43        BREMEN
4.       19/11/43        GELSENKIRCHEN & ZUTPHEN, HOLLAND
5.       30/11/43        SOLINGEN
6.       11/12/43        EMDEN
7.       16/12/43        BREMEN
8.       20/12/43        BREMEN
9.       22/12/43        MUNSTER
10.     24/12/43        ST.JOSEPH au BOIS (NOBALL)
11.     31/12/43        PARIS
12.       4/01/44        KEIL
13.     11/01/44        BRUNSWICK AND OSNABRUCK, CITIES
14.     14/01/44        FORET D'HESDIN (NOBALL)
15.     21/01/44        BOIS D'ESQUERDES (NOBALL)
16.     30/01/44        BRUNSWICK
17.       3/02/44        WILHELMSHAVEN
18.       6/02/44        ROMILLY sur SEINE, CONCHES,EVREUX
19.     10/02/44        BRUNSWICK
20.     13/02/44        LIVOSSART & BOIS REMPRE (NOBALL)
21.     29/02/44        BRUNSWICK
22.       2/03/44        CHARTRES, AF
23.       4/03/44        BERLIN
24.       6/03/44        BERLIN
25.      18/03/44       AUGSBURG
26.      19/03/44       MARQUISE, MIMOYEQUES (NOBALL)

Date Crew Nbr Mission Nbr Last Name Initial Rank Position Aircraft Nbr Target

3/4/1944 18 123 MORRISON J.E. S/SGT LWG 231968 BERLIN
3/4/1944 18 123 COPE M. CAPT P 231968 BERLIN
3/4/1944 18 123 TASHJIAN M LT CP 231968 BERLIN
3/4/1944 18 123 BRYANT F.E. LT NAV 231968 BERLIN
3/4/1944 18 123 PRYOR H G LT BOM 231968 BERLIN
3/4/1944 18 123 ELING J.C. T/SGT ROG 231968 BERLIN
3/4/1944 18 123 VERBOVSKI J. T/SGT TTE 231968 BERLIN
3/4/1944 18 123 DONNELLY R.E. S/SGT BTG 231968 BERLIN
3/4/1944 18 123 WALKER D E S/SGT RWG 231968 BERLIN
3/4/1944 18 123 BRYAN R A S/SGT TG 231968 BERLIN

3/6/1944 18 124 BRYAN R A S/SGT TG 237807 BERLIN
3/6/1944 18 124 WALKER D E S/SGT RWG 237807 BERLIN
3/6/1944 18 124 DONNELLY R.E. S/SGT BTG 237807 BERLIN
3/6/1944 18 124 VERBOVSKI J. T/SGT TTE 237807 BERLIN
3/6/1944 18 124 ELING J.C. T/SGT ROG 237807 BERLIN
3/6/1944 18 124 COX A E LT BOM 237807 BERLIN
3/6/1944 18 124 BRYANT F.E. LT NAV 237807 BERLIN
3/6/1944 18 124 TASHJIAN M LT CP 237807 BERLIN
3/6/1944 18 124 COPE M. CAPT P 237807 BERLIN
3/6/1944 18 124 MORRISON J.E. S/SGT LWG 237807 BERLIN

3/16/1944 18 130 TORBETT L D LT BOM 31986 AUGSBURG
3/16/1944 18 130 MORRISON J.E. S/SGT TG 31986 AUGSBURG
3/16/1944 18 130 NEVEU L B S/SGT LWG 31986 AUGSBURG
3/16/1944 18 130 RICHARD J A S/SGT RWG 31986 AUGSBURG
3/16/1944 18 130 DONNELLY R.E. S/SGT BTG 31986 AUGSBURG
3/16/1944 18 130 ELING J.C. T/SGT ROG 31986 AUGSBURG
3/16/1944 18 130 BRYANT F.E. LT NAV 31986 AUGSBURG
3/16/1944 18 130 CRYAN T LT CP 31986 AUGSBURG
3/16/1944 18 130 COPE M. CAPT P 31986 AUGSBURG
3/16/1944 18 130 VERBOVSKI J. T/SGT TTE 31986 AUGSBURG

3/19/1944 18 133 COPE M. CAPT P 31903 MARQUIS, MIMMOYEQUES
3/19/1944 18 133 GOUGH G.H. LT CP 31903 MARQUIS, MIMMOYEQUES
3/19/1944 18 133 BRYANT F.E. LT NAV 31903 MARQUIS, MIMMOYEQUES
3/19/1944 18 133 FLING J.C. T/SGT ROG 31903 MARQUIS, MIMMOYEQUES


8/15/1944 01 181 MITCHELL R.L. LT TG 38015 VENLO
8/15/1944 01 181 COPE M. CAPT COM 38015 VENLO
8/15/1944 01 181 ANDERSON J.T. LT NAV 38015 VENLO
8/15/1944 01 181 MORGAN G.R. LT BOM 38015 VENLO
8/15/1944 01 181 BRADY R.F. T/SGT ROG 38015 VENLO
8/15/1944 01 181 WESTLAKE G. T/SGT TTE 38015 VENLO
8/15/1944 01 181 NACHATILO L.E. S/SGT BTG 38015 VENLO
8/15/1944 01 181 LEVEE C.S. S/SGT RWG 38015 VENLO
8/15/1944 01 181 EHORN M.A. LT P 98015 VENLO

8/25/1944 31 184 SKELTON H.H. LT BOM 37863 POLITZ (OIL)
8/25/1944 31 184 ROWLEY R.B. S/SGT TG 37863 POLITZ (OIL)
8/25/1944 31 184 PELA A.S. S/SGT LWG 37863 POLITZ (OIL)
8/25/1944 31 184 DEPAUW N.O. S/SGT BTG 37863 POLITZ (OIL)
8/25/1944 31 184 BEVAN E. T/SGT ROG 37863 POLITZ (OIL)
8/25/1944 31 184 WELTY K.S. LT NAV 37863 POLITZ (OIL)
8/25/1944 31 184 COPE M. CAPT COM 37863 POLITZ (OIL)
8/25/1944 31 184 GILES J.S. LT P 37863 POLITZ (OIL)
8/25/1944 31 184 LEUTHOLD A.G. T/SGT TTE 37863 POLITZ (OIL)

8/30/1944 PFF 187 COPE M. CAPT PFF  BREMEN

9/25/1944 02 199 GUNTER (NAV) C.E. LT RN 183 LUDWIGSHAVEN
9/25/1944 02 199 COPE M. CAPT COM 183 LUDWIGSHAVEN
9/25/1944 02 199 NUNNERY L.E. SGT TG 183 LUDWIGSHAVEN
9/25/1944 02 199 WILCOX D.D. SGT LWG 183 LUDWIGSHAVEN
9/25/1944 02 199 KRETOW M.J. LT MO 183 LUDWIGSHAVEN
9/25/1944 02 199 KNAUFF G.O. S/SGT ROG 183 LUDWIGSHAVEN
9/25/1944 02 199 SEARLE R.R. LT BOM 183 LUDWIGSHAVEN
9/25/1944 02 199 MABY R.L. LT NAV 183 LUDWIGSHAVEN
9/25/1944 02 199 LAFRANCHI M.A. LT CP 183 LUDWIGSHAVEN
9/25/1944 02 199 FORY G.P. LT P 183 LUDWIGSHAVEN



On the night of March 5, 1944 one of our guy goes over to the 350th BS Orderly room to see if there is a mission on for tomorrow.  They post a yes or now on the board and then we know whether we sweat the night out or not.  We're alerted!  In the morning, the charge of Quarters comes comes in, shines his flashlight and says our crew is flying today. We get dressed, head for chow, real eggs, were in for a rough one!  Then we file over to the briefing room. Enlisted men and Officers had separate briefings.  Ours was conducted by gunnery officer Maj. R. Cohen. He had a brown and white cocker spaniel dog.  He pulled back the curtain, BERLIN Again!  We listened to the intellegence reports about flak areas and fighters.  We went and picked up our flight gear and got out orange and Mars Candy bar from the Red Cross Girls.  

We had been hit by fighers and had an engine on fire and our oxygen system knocked out. We had to leave formation and get below 10,000 feet fast.   All I could see were parachutes of all colors blowing back towards Germany.   Cope asked the Navigator (Lt Bryant)  the distance to Sweden or Switzerland but we were in no condition to make either.  We were going to head back to England alone.    My most vivid memory is S/Sgt Walker.  An Me109 hit us with 20mm in the waist and Walker got hit with a piece just under the left eye, his face was just a mass of blood.  The other Waist gunner, Morrison and to go pull our tail gunner Bryan out of the tail due to injuries.  He had been hit twice in the legs by attacking enemy aircraft.  He stayed back there as long as he could take it .  Morrison propped him up by the tail wheel and administered first aid (morphine), then moved into the tail gunner postion.  Wouldn't you know it, we go over Hanover at 7000 feet and they throw up a flak barrage and Bryan get wounded again in the leg! The flak sounded like small pebbles being tossed against the skin of the plane.  The flak was so accurate, I was thinking to myself, " I know were going to blow up, lets get it over with"!   This was a fight for our lives, and T/Sgt Verbovski nails 3 fighters, including the one that got walker in the face.   
After the mission, Capt Cope acquired a bottle of liquor for the Crew which we enjoyed, to the very last drop!  A little later in the month,Chief of Staff, 3rd Air Divison,  Gen A.W. Kessner awarded the Siver Star and Purple Heart to S/Sgt Walker.

Last mission: the Chaplain flew with us and got his mae west caught in the bomb bay and it inflated.  When we came over the  base, Cope buzzed the field and those props could not have been more that two feet from the ground! We had just completed our tour and I was going to get killed like this.  A Lt Gough, flying as our CP,  finished his mssions and with us on our last mission

Lt Tashijan was taken off the Crew because on take off one time we had a runaway prop and he did not feather it, which was his job on takeoff



DATE: 18 March 1944  350th Sqdn.       A/C#42-39830
MISSION: Augsburg/Munich                  MACR#3234,Micro-flche#1105


2nd Lt Paul A.Martin             P   KIA
1st Lt Thomas Cryan            CP  KIA
2nd Lt Albert F.Racz         BOM   KIA
2nd Lt Tom F.Hughes       NAV   KIA
T/Sgt Russell E.Longdon   ROG   KIA
T/Sgt Levi O.Tonn           TTE   KIA
S/Sgt Richard J.Faulkner    BTG  EVA  
S/Sgt Veryl A.Lund          RWG  KIA
S/Sgt Lonnie J.Albin         LWG  KIA
S/Sgt John E.Howley          TG  KIA

The crew joined the 100th on March 10,1944. The crew flew 5 training missions and its exact composition is as above except the origina CP was 2nd Lt Paul Mitchell. It is known that Thomas Cryan was From the crew of Mark Cope. This was the crews first misson.  (mpf nov 2000)

Summary of Eyewitness reports:  "A/C #830 and A/C #913 (Flown by D.J.Stuke) collided over France at 1210 hour near (?) . #830 broke up while #913 pulled away,badly damaged but apparently under control. One chute was seen to come from #830. The ship going down under control had two port engines torn out,and only #4 was operating. The nose of this A/C also was sheared off. The collision resulted when the Group leader aborted and the formation scattered and reformed."

Witnesses: Capt.Lauro,Lt.Gummersall,Lt.Malooly.

  July 1945,Sgt.Faulkner,then at 3718 AAF Base,Denver,Colo.,was interrogated as to the death of Lt.Cryan. He gave the following  information
1.Over the coast of France,Lt.Cryan's bomber(Lt. Paul A. Martin/ Pilot) encountered heavy flak.Formation was broken with lead ship falling out.A new formation was formed with Lt.Cryan's ship as wing man.

2.There was a sudden explosion near Lt.Cryan's A/C.Sgt.Faulkner ,ball turret operator,upon bailing out noticed the ship broken in two sections.Sgt. Faulkner having been in the rear section,and Lt.Cryan's station was in the front section as co-pilot.

3.Sgt.Faulkner became unconscious upon the opening of his chute and did not regain consciousness until after landing when he noticed the front section of the A/C crashed in the woods,surrounded by German soldiers.

4.Sgt.Faulkner was rescued by the French patriots.Having an understanding of the French language,Sgt Faulkner was informed by the French patriots that all remaining crew members were killed in the crash of the A/C.Description by the French patriots of one of the bodies found in the front section of the A/C fitted that of Lt.Cryan."

German records in MACR state that "bodies were thrown from plane . . .badly mutilated . . . identified by I.D. tags." Burial took Place in the French cemetary in Poix de la Somme

Hey Mike,

You may already have this information, which I found on the internet by accident. Thought you may want to use it or see it if there is something worthwhile. Uncle Charles Potts of the 100th is still going strong. Have not heard from the other remaining member of his crew, Beasley.

Take care,

Joe Mode

The Promise of His Youth: a biography dedicated to the memory of

                             Lt. Thomas Cryan, 1920-1944

                                   By his grand-niece, Jill DeVito

                                With illustrations by Mary Beth Cryan

When I think of the 100th's casualties ... I wonder what poets, what statesmen, what inventors, what husbands, what           fathers, never were permitted to play their part in a contribution toward human well-being.                               -- Harry H. Crosby, A Wing and a Prayer

More than 16 million Americans served with the Allied Forces in World War II.    Tom Cryan was one ofalmost 300,000 who never came home.    This is his story.

Thomas Cryan was born June 10, 1920, the seventh of nine children of John P. and Anna G. (O'Reilly)

Cryan.    The family lived in a large white house at 59 Temple Street in Lowell, Massachussetts.    Both

John Cryan and Anna O'Reilly were born in Lowell as children of Irish immigrants.    John, a veteran

of the Spanish-American War, worked as a traveling salesman and for many years was involved with

local politics in Lowell.    Anna took care of several boarders who rented rooms in the family home,

managed the household finances meticulously, and was a devoted homemaker.    Beyond the

constant challenge of keeping Jim, Frank, Arthur, Jack, Catherine, Eileen, Tom, Paul and Gerry fed

and clothed, Anna's highest priorities for her children were their education and their Catholic faith.

Even among seven boys and two girls, from an early age Tom stood out as the star of the family.  

Tom's sister Catherine tells the story of his fifth birthday.    "Well, I guess Tom was a budding

politician.    He had told all the kids in the neighborhood that they could

come to his birthday.    His birthday arrived, the 10th of June.    Mama was

getting supper ready and she looked out and here's every kid in the

neighborhood sitting on the back piazza, all dressed up and carrying

wrapped presents.    She didn't know what they were there for.    They

were there for Tom's birthday!    So she took the regular everyday supper

cake, and she put fancy icing on it.    And she gave me the money to run

down to Steve's and get a quart of ice cream.    A quart of ice cream from

Steve's was as good as any half gallon nowadays.    So Tom had his

birthday party."

As a six-year-old, Tom traveled with his Aunt Katie and Uncle Gene to visit his oldest brother, James,

in New York City.    In a letter dated August 17, 1926, his mother Anna writes:

Dear James:--    Very glad to receive your letter, also glad to know that my company had arrived safe in N.Y.    Wemiss Thomas very much, more than we would any of the others.    He stays around the house more than the others.   I am pleased to know that he is enjoying himself, he is a good kid to do things for, he appreciates anything.    Iknow he was delighted over the two suits Gene bought for him.    Especially the belts.    I can just see him admiringthem...    I forgot to tell Katie that when Thomas has nothing to do he used to practice writing, she could try himwith all his letters and the heading he has to put on his papers at school.    Thomas Cryan, St. Peter's School, Grade

1.    Our Paul is fine and every little while he says, "I wish Thomas did not go to N.Y."

By October of 1926, Tom had already begun to shine as a young scholar.    By his father's account,

"Thomas is going like a house afire at school and every night he has a paper home that is the best in

his room and everybody has to praise him and tell him how good he is.    He knows it and admits it

himself."    And his mother writes, "Thomas is very proud of himself.    He is doing so well.    He is

studying very hard and gets a star every day.    I am almost run out of adjectives telling him how

good he is...    He can read out loud until everyone is asking him to stop.    He is so interested in

schoolwork that he thinks of nothing else.    I hope he keeps it up when he gets into the higher


                    Tom's Sister Catherine remembers that "In the 5th grade, Tom was Santa Claus

                    in the Christmas play at the Lincoln School.    The Lincoln School was really a

                    neighborhood school in those days.    Everybody bought a ticket to the

                    Christmas play.    And I wonder if it was because Tom Cryan was going to be

                    Santa Claus!    After he broke his leg (during the summer after third grade) he

                    was quite awkward.    And when he did a dance with his reindeer on the stage, it

                    was really something to see!"

                    The Cryan children were a close-knit group, and they led an adventurous,

                    independent lifestyle in the industrial city of Lowell.    Tom's brother Paul

                    remembers a childhood experience from the early 1930's:    "One spring, we had

gone over to watch the circus come into town about 2:00 a.m.    After the circus had set up I was

jumping in a sand pit by the railroad tracks and sprained my ankle.    Someone found Tom for me and

he carried me about a mile and then borrowed a wagon to get me home.    I was about 9 and Tom was


Since 4th grade at the Lincoln School, Tom's best friend was John Casey.    As Tom's sister

Catherine recalls, "Casey was like another member of the family."    And John Casey concurs, "That

was my second house."    He says that with seven boys in the Cryan household, "Whoever went out

first on Saturday night was the best dressed!"

Catherine remembers that "When Tom and Johnny Casey finished the 6th grade, Johnny had to go

to the Butler School, because that's where his father was a Janitor.    And Tom went to Morey, up in

the highlands.    They had planned in the 6th grade that (after graduating from junior high) they were

going to go to Keith Academy, and be in the same class again."    In high school, "Tom and Casey

would come home from school... and use the phone, to call up girls."    As there was little privacy to

be found in the Cryan household, they would pull the telephone into the closet before dialing.

Tom's high school and college years were marked by the loss of both of his parents.     Anna Cryan

suddenly became ill and died before Tom's sixteenth birthday, and John Cryan died from a stroke

following an eye operation, less than three years later.    The care of the family fell into the hands of

the older brothers, and everyone pitched in to help run the household.

The Cryan boys would spend many evenings outdoors playing football, but Tom's brother Arthur

remembers that one of the boys would always have to return to the kitchen to "put water on the

beans, so they wouldn't burn."    Arthur tells the story of a joke played on Tom by a neighborhood

pal, Ray Gendron.    Ray spent a lot of time in the house, as it was "an open house" with people

always coming and going.    One day while Ray was at the house, Tom accidentally stepped on a cat.

   The cat let out a yowl, and Tom felt terrible.    After Tom left the room, Ray poured a bottle of

ketchup on the floor where the cat had been.    When Tom came back to the kitchen "the cat was

quite well, but Tommy wasn't!"

For one or two weeks every year, the Cryan kids would vacation at the Hampton beach cottages

owned by Aunt Bridget and Aunt Katie.    Tom's best friend John Casey remembers being invited

once to join the Cryans during "the last week of the season, when they let the Cryan boys take over."

   For Casey, who was the only boy in his household, supper with the Cryans was quite an

experience.    "I had to move fast, or there was nothing left!"

Tom's sister Catherine tells the story of another trip to the beach houses.    "Tom and I borrowed the

car and we started down to Hampton.    Neither of us had even a nickel.    (You could buy a hot dog

for a nickel in those days ... but we didn't have one).    So Tom says, 'Say a prayer that we meet some

old ladies with a flat.'    We were driving along, and sure enough, there are a couple of old ladies with

a flat in answer to our prayers.    So Tom pulled over behind them and got out and took the spare out,

and put it on.    So the ladies say 'Here, take this.'    'Oh, no, thank you!'    So the lady finally put it in

his pocket and he said, 'Well, thank you very much.'    And it was paper, folding money, which we

didn't have any of.    So we went along to Hampton Beach and were able to eat with all that money.  

It was proably a buck, but in those days that was a lot of money!"

Just as his mother had hoped, Tom continued to excel in academics at St. Peter's School, the

Lincoln School, Morey Jr. High, Keith Academy (class of 1938) and the Lowell Textile Institute (class

of 1942).    Tom's sister Catherine recalls that Tom once took a special math class in the Keith

Academy principal's office, with just one other student.    She also remembers that their brother Jack

once said "The way to drive Tom crazy would be to put him in a room with math problems all over

the walls, and no place to work them out."

Paul Cryan, who attended Lowell High School while his

brother Tom was at Keith Academy, says that "The

Headmaster at Lowell High, Ray Sullivan, was the principal

at the Lincoln School when Tom was there and he always

followed his progress.    If there was a project to be done he

would call on Tom.    When they started the Columbian

Squires (youth organization) in Lowell, he called on Tom to

lead it."

Tom became a popular local athlete, playing varsity

basketball and football at Keith Academy and Lowell Textile.

   His brother Paul recalls, "Tom played four sports (in high

school) and received a varsity sweater with four stripes on the sleeve to indicate his participation.  

In 1939 I Went to Jacquet River, New Brunswick, with Irene and Gordon Grant to visit her sister Linda,they were my mother's first cousins... Tom let me take his high school sweater -- a great thrill for a sophomore."

While a student at Lowell Textile, Tom worked in the carbonizing department of Talbot Mills in

Tewksbury.    As his brother Paul explains, this was only one of many jobs that kept Tom busy as a

teenager.    In a February 11, 2000 e-mail, Paul writes:

Thinking about Tom brings back a lot of memories.    He always had a couple of jobs going.    He drove a truckdelivering candy and tobacco after school and on weekends he cleaned the boilers at the greenhouse of theMerrimack Valley Nurseries in Tyngsboro.    It was a coal burner and a dirty job.    In the summer he worked forKydd's ice cream parlor.    One time the state inspector came by and told him he couldn't work after 10:00 as he

wasn't 18.    He told him he would have to close up and send everyone home, as he was the manager.

In 1940 when they started the draft, the first one (of the Cryan boys and their comrades) that was called was LennyGendron.    We all knew it was just a matter of time and we would all be in so Tom set up a testimonial dinner forLenny.    When the dinner started Tom was on one of his jobs so I ended up as the emcee.    The next day after his

                                             physical Lenny came home as he didn't pass.    All the rest of

                                             his brothers -- 6 of them -- did go in.    Lenny joined the fire

                                             department and was killed from a fire accident.

                                             In the fall of 1940 Tom and one of his buddies at Textile

                                             School started dances on Friday nights at the Liberty Hall

                                             and then moved over to the Rex Center.    There was a band

                                             of six or seven members from Nashua, NH, that played.    I

                                             sold the cold drinks.    At the end of the night we pooled all

                                             the ticket money and the soda money.    We would just about

                                             have enough to pay each band member their three dollars

                                             and five for the policeman.    When the Federal Government

                                             said we had to pay an entertainment tax the dances ended.

Lowell Technical Institute (now U Mass Lowell)photo courtesy Lowell National Historic Park

Four of the seven Cryan brothers (Frank, Thomas, Paul, and Gerald) served with the US Armed

Forces in World War II.    Frank, Paul, and Gerry joined the Navy.    Tom left the Lowell Textile Institutein his junior year and applied to enter the Army Air Corps.    According to his sister Catherine, Tom"was interested in airplanes -- he used to say that he'd been wanting to fly an airplane since

Lindbergh had flown over Lowell in the '20s."

As his brother Paul recalls, "Tom applied for the Air Corps in

September, 1941, in Massachussetts.    He was finally accepted

when he got his weight below the maximum late in November,

while he was living in Fairfield, Connecticut.    He went in the

service in January of 1942."

Tom's sister Catherine explains that "Tom was a big guy --

there was nothing little about Tom!" and although he passed all

of the Air Corps exams, he did not pass the physical.    "The

doctor put him on an obesity diet, but he couldn't lose an

ounce."    While Tom was working at Remington Arms, he

contracted a Strep infection.    "He had to go to the hospital.  

He came out of the hospital, and he went to the Air Corps and

said 'Weigh me in!'    He weighed 184 pounds, and they signed

him up right then.    (In less than two weeks, he was back up to

205)."    Paul Cryan points out that by the time his brother

reached his normal weight of 220 lbs, he may have been "the

heaviest pilot in the air force!"

A few months after entering the Air Corps, while Training at

Maxwell Field in Alabama, Tom wrote to his oldest brother,


March 17, 1942

Hi Jim:    I've been going to write to you but haven't

found the time till now.    It's raining so hard that we

have had our morning classes called off so I have some

spare time.    This rain we are having may cool things off

down here, it has been too hot this past week.    It feels

like June or July instead of March.

How's the family and the business?    I got a letter from Catherine and she said that your daughter was quite a girl.   How are you going to take care of your trade when your tires wear out?    I finish my training at Maxwell Fieldthis week and where I go from here I don't know.    The next step in my training will be flying 250 IP planes.    I willbe taking up cross country and acrobatic flying.    I've finished my ground school and if I go straight to my next

base I'll be flying solo in two weeks.    But all my class is probably going on a furlough as there are no flying fieldsopen to send us to.    They are pushing so many pilots through that everything is congested.    So I hope to be upNorth for the month of April.    I guess I'll spend Easter Sunday at Lowell.    I'll drop over and tell you all aboutArmy life.    It's a great life, at least in the Air Corps.    Well I'll close here as I have quite a few letters to write and

I won't have any chance to, the rest of the week as I'll be busy getting ready to leave as I may be moving thisweekend.    Drop me a line sometime.YoursTom

P.S. My address is: A/c Thomas Cryan, A.C., RC., Squad C Group 1 Class 42, I, Maxwell Field, Ala.

Jim's son, James Cryan, Jr., remembers "a story that Dad told, about when Tom came home on

leave, once.    Tom was driving down Merrimack Street, and instead of using the brakes, he pulled

back on the steering wheel.    He pulled the steering wheel right off the car!"

During another furlough, Tom's sister Catherine says that the weather was cold enough for Tom to

borrow long johns that belonged to his brother Gerry, who was "always the skinny one."    "And my

modest little brother, he said, 'You should see this!' and he came in dancing like a ballet dancer.  

They fit like skin."

Catherine says that Tom shared a special bond with his older brother Jack, even though "there were

seven years between them."    As kids, Tom and Jack had shared a room.    One night they "kept

each other awake all night" reciting a tongue-twister until they got it right:

There was a successful thistle sifter

who when sifting a sieve full of unsifted thistles

thrust three thousand thistles through the thick of his thumb.

See that thou when sifting thy sieve full of unsifted thistles

thrust not three thousand thistles through the thick of thy thumb.

Success to the successful thistle sifter!

This post card from Tom to his brother Jack was post marked Sumpter, SC July 15, 1942:

Tom's best best friend John Casey remembers that "Tom was the first of our group to go into the

service."    While Tom was on leave from South Carolina in 1942, John Casey accompanied Tom and

two other friends on a trip to New York City.    As Tom's car was "an antique," Casey estimates that

they had four flat tires by the time they drove the forty miles Southwest to Worcester.    When they

"finally made it" to New York, the "three civilians and Tom in his uniform" went into the famous club

called Billy Rose's Diamond Horseshoe.    Upon viewing the cover charge and the prices on the

menu, the three civilians made jokes about Billy Rose: "This guy must be paying alimony to three

wives!"    Tom, who did not wish to be embarrassed in uniform, kept telling them to "Keep quiet!"

On another occasion when Tom was on leave and in uniform, he and his sister Catherine were

driving through downtown Lowell, in a Model A Ford that their brother Paul had bought for a low

price and left in Catherine's care.    The car broke down; "Something happened, and it wouldn't go

another foot."    This resulted in quite a dilemma, as Catherine explains: "When you're an officer in

uniform, you don't get your hands dirty."    They called the local Ford dealer, and he asked Catherine

how much she wanted for the car.    They settled on "enough to buy a war bond -- $18.75."

From late 1942 to early 1943, Paul Cryan remembers that his brother Tom was "flying B-25s** and

teaching aerial gunnery for six months" in Panama City, Florida.    "During this time I believe he was

credited with a submarine kill in the Gulf of Mexico.    He also flew some VIPs to Africa.    I don't knowwhat kind of plane he was flying, but it was not armed."    Tom's sister Catherine says that there wasone thing he didn't like about Africa: "Little boys, 8 to 10 years old, would meet the soldiers comingin, and they would say, 'my sister, 25 cents, my sister'... and Tom was shocked!"

** The B-25, a medium range bomber used extensively in the Pacific theater, was also utilized to

patrol North American waters.

While stationed at the Army Air Forces Gunnery School at Tyndall Field in Panama City, Florida, Tom

wrote the following letter (post marked March 10, 1943) to his brother, Gerald, who was then

stationed at Camp Allen in Norfolk, Virginia.

Hi Gerald,

I've been going to write you for quite a while but am just getting around to it.    How do you like the Navy?    Arethey keeping you busy?    Do you expect to ship out soon?    If you are going to get a leave when you finish trainingwrite and let me know as I will get one at the same time and we can both go home at the same time.    I intend to getmy leave in April so if you are getting one we can probably arrange to go north together.    You see I have a leave

coming up and I can arrange to get in any time I please -- So write anyway and tell me when you expect to finishyour training.    I certainly would like to see you in your navy uniform.    Send me a picture of yourself at any rate.   I bet you're a killer in that flashy navy blue outfit.    Have you run into any southern belles yet?    Take a tip froman old-timer don't get too friendly with any of these southern queens, they are mostly a pain in the neck.

I have been hoping to get a plane to fly up to Norfolk but so far

no-soap.    I flew up to Atlanta this weekend but I can't get permission

to go as far as Va.    I had quite a time in Atlanta though.    Here is

Frank's address:    F.D. Cryan CBNI USNR, US Naval Construction

Battallion, 8th Co. D, Dutch Harbor, Alaska

So long -- Write Soon


While Tom was still stationed in the U.S., he became engaged to his hometown sweetheart, Pat

Holmes.    Tom's sister Catherine says that Pat was "a lovely girl."    "She worked for the United

Service Organization in Lowell during the war.    They were very much in love."    When Tom earned

his wings (at Turner Field in Albany, Georgia), he gave them to Pat.    While Tom was overseas, he

sent Catherine $50 a month, so that when he needed to have something done in the states, she

could do it for him.    When there was enough money put away, Tom sent Catherine to the jewlery

store with Pat to choose an engagement ring.

In a letter dated March 16, 2000, Pat (Holmes) Regan writes:

Dear Miss DeVito,

Thank you for the interest you've shown in the Cryan family history of which I was part of for a time.

My time with Tom was short.    Servicemen didn't get much time between training and leaving for duty.

The first time I saw Tom, 1941, was at a dance at Immaculate Hall.    He didn't know me then.    To my surprise,mutual friends introduced us in March 1943.     I liked him immediately -- we saw each other as much as we could.   We rode the bus to movies and to dinner, simple things.    Tom was in training during this time and was an officer.   He was neat in his "pinks".    Tom went back to Alabama and Georgia to his group to leave for England.    InAugust 1943, he asked me to marry him.

His letters were personal and funny and they were wonderful to receive.    At the same time, he was writing yourgreat Aunt Catherine and giving her instructions about taking me to get the engagement ring, the cedar chest, andother information about how Catherine should be taking care of me.    Catherine is a wonderful person and she andTom were very close.

I wish that I could offer you some concrete information, but my life changed when Catherine was notified of Tom'sdeath.    One deals with the knowledge that his brothers and sisters were strong because they had Paul, Jerry, andFrank (who were also in the service) to be concerned about.    That reason helped me hold and to understand thatgrief is a part of the living process.

Tom was a smart, witty, protective man.    May God have a special place for Tom and the Cryan family.In memory of March 1944....


Patricia Holmes Regan

           This photo (courtesy Jane Cryan) was taken in front of Jack Cryan's home, on

            the last day Tom was in Lowell on leave in 1943, before being sent overseas.

Overseas, 1st Lieutenant Cryan (0-795631) served in the 350th Squadron of the 100th Bombardment

(Group H) in the 8th Air force.     He earned the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters and Stars for

combat service in the European campaign.

The 100th Bomb Group (known as "The Bloody Hundredth" for the heavy losses it suffered) was

stationed in Thorpe Abbots, England.    Tom's brother Paul describes the location of the base,

"halfway between Norwich and Ipswich N by NE of London.    The fields were identified by local

townships or landmarks which have since disappeared."

Jack Eling, the radio operator from Tom's original crew, describes Tom as a cherub-faced, bubbling

guy.    Sgt. Eling explains that the crew of pilot Mark Cope and copilot Tom Cryan trained together in

the U.S., then picked up a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber and flew it to Scotland.    In a letter dated

February 4, 2000, Dr. Eling writes:

Our crew was put together... in early 1943.    Our training bases were at Walla Walla, and Moses Lake,

Washington.    After our crew's training we were given a furlough.    We met at Scott Field, Illinois.    We ferried aB-17 bomber to Presque Isle, Maine.    24 hours later we flew from Presque Isle in a driving rain storm through thenight and I can't recall if we landed in Labrador or not (at 77 years of age, the mind gets fuzzy sometimes).   Anyway, the next day we landed at Prestwick, Scotland.    Pilot Mark Cope and copilot Tom Cryan did a great jobgetting us to Scotland.    We went to a base named Stone, Scotland.    From there we went by rail to the 100th Bomb

Base at Thorpe Abbots.    As I recall we were a replacement for one of the bombers shot down on October 14, 1943on the Schweinfurt, Germany ball-bearing raid.**    Three weeks later, November 3, 1943, we flew our firstmission.

** Owen Roane, who flew as lead pilot on the Schweinfurt mission, says that no planes were lost on

October 13; he believes that Lt. Cope's crew was probably a replacement for the October 10 mission

to Munster, when 13 crews from the 100th Bomb Group were sent out and only one returned.

Left waist gunner James Morrison recalls that Tom had been trained as a fighter pilot, but was

assigned to Lt. Cope's crew when the demand was greater for heavy bomber pilots.    Sgt. Morrison

says that Tom was "a big man, and strong.    If he hadn't been, we would have crashed in phase

training."    He explains that during the landing of a flight in Walla Walla, the flaps malfunctioned and

the B-17 started to nose dive.     Pilot Cope and copilot Cryan "were stout enough to manhandle the

plane and level it back up."

Upon arrival at Thorpe Abbotts, the crew were assigned the

B-17 #231049 (known by the last three digits as "049"),

which they named "Superstitious Aloysius."    A magician

was painted on the nose of the aircraft, along with a

wishbone, a four-leaf clover, and several other good luck

charms.    Ethell and Simonsen's The History of Aircraft

Nose Art explains:

                   "Some nose art characters were painted on

                   many individual aircraft in many areas across

                   the globe.    Superstitious Aloysius was a

                   popular good luck elf who carried just about every charm known to man, including a

                   wishbone, horseshoe, four-leaf clover, tied string (on his nose), and rabbit's foot while

                   crossing his fingers.    These examples in the Eighth Air Force show crews wanted all the

                   luck they could get."

(Photos courtesy J.C. Eling)

"All the luck they could get" (along with discipline and teamwork) brought success to aircraft 049

and its crews.    Bud Frum, one of the four ground crew members who took care of the plane, recalls:

"The Superstitious Aloysius survived the war.    It flew over 100 missions, and we never lost a crew."

   However, several crew members including Tom Cryan were killed while flying on other planes.    In

a March 8, 2000 letter, Bud Frum writes: "Remember freedom has a price and your grandfather's

brother paid the highest.    I was proud to have been associated with him."

Right waist gunner Donald Walker joined Lt. Cope's crew during training in the U.S. in the late

summer of 1943, and traveled with them to England in October of the same year.    Sgt. Walker has

"fond memories" of Tom, and describes him as jolly, youthful, energetic, enthusiastic, and full of life.

   Sgt. Walker recalls that during preparation for a mission, Tom would borrow a motorcycle and ride

around the base, fully outfitted in his heavy padded flight suit, steel vest, and helmet.    As he drove

by on the motorcycle, Tom's comrades would yell "Here comes Cryan!"

Navigator Festus "Shorty" Bryant says that he and Tom were good friends.    "We had a lot of fun

together.    We would go pub crawling -- drink some beer, and shoot some darts.    Tom was one of

the most nonchalant guys I knew.    He would never get worked up about anything.    We would keep

about $5.00 in a pot as spending money, and when someone would ask Tom, 'How much do you

have?' he would answer, 'I don't know, ask Shorty!' (pronounced Shaw-ty, in Tom's Boston accent).

   Tom was a super guy.    He was one of two people that I really looked forward to visiting in the

states after the war."    The other, an officer named Becker, was also killed in action.

Pilot Mark Cope estimates that Lt. Cryan flew with his crew for about 6 to 8 missions, after which Tom

was promoted to become the pilot of another aircraft.    Lt. Cope's cousin, George Cope, says that

Mark tells tales of "barn storming" (recreational low-altitude flying) in a B-17 during training in

Washington State.    Mark has also often spoken of Tom Cryan's ability as a copilot, and of the sad

news of his death.

Ball turret gunner Richard Donnelly remembers Tom as a robust fellow with a big laugh.    He says

that during the early missions while Tom was still flying with Cope's crew, "Everything was new to

us.    Our first mission was an easy one...    They broke us in."    Sgt. Donnelly remembers that

months later, Lt. Cope's crew was on stand down between missions on the day that Tom's plane did

not return.

One of the early missions flown by Lieutenants Cope, Cryan, and crew may have played a major role

in preventing Hitler from manufacturing the atomic bomb.    Pilot Owen "Cowboy" Roane, who led

the 100th Bomb Group on the November 16, 1943 mission to Rjukan, Norway, explains that although

they didn't know it at the time, the 100th Bomb Group crews were participating in the destruction of a

Heavy Water plant.

While Lt. Cryan was overseas, his family often waited for months with no news of Tom.    In early

1944, Tom's brother Frank wrote to his brother Gerald, "Tommy should bounce up one of these days

but I'm afraid we won't hear for a while, probably until the end of the war."

As Tom's brother Paul remembers, in March of 1944, Tom had completed his tour and was due to

return home.    Tom's sister Catherine received a letter from another soldier indicating that Tom

would soon be home "without a scratch."    Instead, however, he was assigned to fly as fill-in for

another crew because one of the pilots was ill.    As Paul recalls, "One of (Tom's sister) Eileen's

friends from the Highlands off of School Street was in Tom's squadron and called her and said Tom

would be home in a day or so as he had taken the other mission."

The target of the mission was an Augsburg wartime factory which manufactured ball-bearings.  

Sergeant Richard Faulkner, ball-turret gunner for the B-17 "Berlin Playboy," remembers that

twenty-one B-17's from the 100th Bombardment joined more than 600 aircraft involved in the March

18, 1944 mission to Augsburg and Munich.

This was Sgt. Faulkner's first mission.    Although he had only met Tom that morning, he remembered

that as an experienced pilot, Lt. Cryan had been chosen to copilot the Berlin Playboy for the

Augsburg mission.

On the morning of Saturday, March 18, The 100th Bomb Group took off from Thorpe Abbots, England

after being delayed by heavy fog.    En route to Germany, the formation came under heavy flak

(anti-aircraft fire) from the Germans in Northern France.    The group leader pulled out, and when the

planes re-grouped, the Berlin Playboy and another B-17 tried to occupy the same spot in the


A mid-air collision resulted over the countryside near Neufchatel, and the Berlin Playboy broke apart

at the wing.    Sgt. Faulkner was the only member of the crew who was able to clear the aircraft and

open his parachute.    He was rescued by the French underground, and "spent 28 days behind

German Lines" as he was moved from house to house in the French countryside.    Sgt. Faulkner

communicated with the French patriots by pointing to words in a French/English dictionary.    When

he was finally brought to the coast, he was picked up by British forces in rubber rafts from a PT boat.

   Upon returning to England, Sgt. Faulkner asked where he should sleep.    He was shown a room

full of empty bunks, and was told to take his choice.    None of the previous occupants had returned

from battle.

Century Bombers: the Story of the Bloody Hundredth, by Richard LeStrange, details the fates of the

three 100th Bomb Group planes which failed to return from the Augsburg mission:

...It was noted that, at 12.10 and 'over France,' B-17 42-39830, piloted by Paul Martin, had collided with B-17  42-37913, piloted by Donald Stuke...    The man observed bailing out (was) ball-turret gunner Richard Faulkner...   The rest of Lieutenant Martin's crew, including the co-pilot, Thomas Cryan, who originally flew with Mark Cope, were killed.

Only two men bailed out of Lieutenant Stuke's plane, the co-pilot Thomas Lemond, who successfully evaded the Germans, and engineer Daniel Segrete, who was taken prisoner of war.    The rest were killed, including replacement navigator George Owens, from the crew of Donald Rice.

A third plane, 'Bastard's Bungalow II' (42-3508), piloted by Robert Horn and co-piloted by Bart Mahoney, also failed to return due to battle damage.

The bombardier Charles Conner, recalls:    'We crash-landed near Ulm, with Lieutenant Horn making a superb smooth dead-stick wheels-up landing in the snow covered back yard of a farmer.    As we climbed out of the airplane we were "greeted" by the very irate farmer and his family armed with pitch forks and pistols, and they held us captive for fifteen to thirty minutes until a half-dozen German military men took control and moved us to the town jail.'

Within a few months after the accident, word reached the Cryan family that the German Government

had identified Tom's body.    Tom's fiancee, Pat Holmes, had been widowed before she was married.

Josie (Ort) O'Connor lost two nephews to the War.    As her daughter Ann O'Connor Raskopf

remembers, "Tom was tall and very handsome.    A totally nice person.    My mother was devastated

when we heard of his death.    He was about the same age as his (and my) cousin John O'Flahavan.  

Both were pilots in the Air Force...    My mother received the message of John's death at about the

same time and she was wiped away by it all."

Josie was a musician who played the piano and several stringed instruments.    She owned a zither,

a classical guitar, and a mandolin which she had treated with care since she was a child.    Upon

hearing that her nephews had been killed, she donated all three of the stringed instruments to the

United Service Organization.    She explained to Ann "They're giving up their lives.    The least we can

do is give away our instruments."

Tom's oldest brother, James, articulated the depth of the loss experienced by the family in a letter to

his youngest brother, Gerald, who was stationed in Alaska when the family in Lowell received the

telegram.    The letter was written on Jim's 36th birthday.

Dear Gerry:

I hope you didn't take the bad news too hard...    In case other letters haven't come through yet and this is the first news you've had about the last telegram from the war dept., the German Gov't reported through the International Red Cross that Tom was killed in action over Germany on March 18th.

It's bad enough for us here to take, but at least we are together and it certainly helps to have the rest of the family around when a thing like this happens.    Don't let it get you down, I always felt that Tom was the one guy in this family that had everything it takes physically, morally, and mentally to make a real success of life, I felt this without any disparagement of the rest of us, because of all the other people I have ever met or known, heard of, or

read about, no one was more qualified to be a leader of men, the father of a family, a good Catholic, and a real gentleman in every worthwhile meaning of that hackneyed word, than Tom.

I think the purpose for which God put us here on earth was to know him, love him, and serve him, as the catechism says, and believing this and all the kindred teachings of the church, I must admit that Tom was better prepared to meet him than I am now or ever hope to be though I am here for another fifty years and strive to better my character and understanding throughout every minute of that time.

It can always be a source of pride to you that you belong to a family that can produce a person like Tom.    It is up to all of us to lead good clean lives, to pick when we marry the finest and best woman we can find, and then perhaps with the help of God in a generation or two there will be another Tom, and this time perhaps the race of murderers will be subjugated, and he can live to fulfill the promise of his youth.

Let's not feel too bad about it, after all God is taking care of him no matter where he is and grief is mostly for our own loss.

After reading this letter I hesitate to send it but after all you are not a kid any longer and we can speak as man to man, not as big brother to little brother, and there can be no harm in you knowing how I feel...    That's enough for this letter; I'll write you again in a week or so and let you know how the business is and everything.  with love, Jim

Tom's brother Paul remembers a bittersweet meeting that occurred a year after Tom's death.    "In

1945, near the end of the war, I was thumbing home to Bridgeport from New Jersey.    and on the

parkway the car that picked me up picked up an Army man.    In a few minutes he asked if I had a

brother in the Air Corps.    A pilot had given him a ride to a spot in northern England when he couldn't

have gotten to his base on time.    He had only met Tom on this one occasion but made the

connection.    The man was home on leave as he just escaped from a German prisoner of war camp."

On Saturday, June 14, 1949, the

expected arrival of Thomas Cryan's

body in Lowell was announced in the

Lowell Sun, with the headline, "Body of

Local War Hero Due Here Today."    Lt.

Cryan's military funeral and the

corresponding mass at St. Peter's

Church were later described in a Lowell

Sun funeral notice.    Tom's casket was

borne by his six brothers.

Thomas Cryan's final resting place is

beside his parents in St. Patrick's

cemetery in Lowell.    A memorial to Lt.

Cryan's sacrifice (erected by the

Tyngsboro Veterans) is marked as

Thomas Cryan Square, located on Westford Road, between Middle Road and Route 40, in

Tyngsboro, Massachussetts.



TARGET: Munich DATE: 1944-03-18  
AIRCRAFT: "Berlin Playboy" (42-39830) CAUSE: Collision with 42-3791  




 Part of the Mark Cope crew: (Left to Right) Herbert G. Pryor, BOM; Thomas Cryan; Original CP; Mark Cope, P, Festus Bryant, NAV and Martin Tashjian, replacement CP. Detailed Information Photo courtesy of Mike Cope 



Crew 1

Crew 2

ID: 1102