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CAPT  Thomas E. MURPHY

UNIT: 351st BOMB Sqdn POSITION: P

Inscription on the title page  to Delila Murphy, Mother of Capt Thomas E “Murph” Murphy By Lt Col Beirne Lay Jr.  Beirne Lay flew with Murphy on the Regensburg Mission in Piccadilly Lily 

SERIAL #: O-441010 STATUS: KIA
MACR: 00948 CR: 00948

Comments1: 8 OCT 43 BREMEN (100TH'S FAMED "PICCADILLY LILY")

COMMENTS & NOTES

MEMO 1:

CREW
                          CAPT. THOMAS E. MURPHY
                          ORGINAL 100TH PILOT

CREW #22   A/C #42-5864 EP-A  "PICCADILLY LILY"  PROBABLY THE 100TH MOST FAMOUS A/C

CAPT.    THOMAS E. MURPHY                 P;  KIA     8 OCT 43 BREMEN
2ND LT  MARSHALL F. LEE                    CP;  KIA     8 OCT 43 BREMEN
2ND LT  CHARLES C. SARABUN            NAV;  POW  8 OCT 43 BREMEN
2ND LT  FLOYD C. PETERSON              BOM;  POW 8 OCT 43 BREMEN
T/SGT   JOHN J. EHLEN                       TTE;  POW 8 OCT 43 BREMEN TAPS: 1978
S/SGT   ALBERT C. DAVIS                     WG;  CPT  4 OCT 43 HANAU (WON DFC)
SGT     EMMETT H. EVANS                   ROG;  CPT  4 OCT 43 HANAU
S/SGT   CLEVELAND D. JARVIS             BTG; X-FERRED TO ARMAMENT, JULY 1943
S/SGT   MICHAEL ROTZ                        WG;  POW  28 MAY 44 MADGEBURG (WITH THE L.G. LACY CREW-see below)
S/SGT   GERALD O. ROBINSON               TG;  POW   8 OCT 43 BREMEN

ALBERT DAVIS AND EMMETT EVANS, HAVING COMPLETED TOURS WERE REPLACED ON THE 8 OCT 43 BREMEN MISSION BY DERRELL PIEL (ROG OF CREW #26) AND ELDER DICKERSON THE REGULAR WG OF CREW #25.  BOTH PIEL AND DICKERSON (ON HIS 25TH MISSION) WERE KILLED BY FLAK. JARVIS'S PLACE IN THE BALL TURRET WAS TAKEN BY S/SGT REED A. HUFFORD WHO BECAME A POW. MICHAEL ROTZ, HAVING BEEN HOSPITALIZED FROM INJURIES SUSTAINED IN A JEEP/TRUCK ACCIDENT WAS REPLACED BY S/SGT AARON A. DAVID, WHO WAS KILLED.  THERE IS CONFUSION AS TO WHETHER DAVID WAS BLOWN OUT OF THE AIRCRAFT WITHOUT A CHUTE OR HIS CHUTE FAILED TO OPEN. ACCORDING TO SGT DAVID'S SON, HE REPLACED  SGT ROTZ ON JUNE 27, 1943 AND STAYED WITH THE CREW FOR REST OF MISSIONS

THIS CREW LED THE 351ST BS ON THE MISSION TO BREMEN AND CAPT  ALVIN L. BARKER. 351ST OPERATIONS OFFICER, FLEW IN THE RIGHT SEAT. MARSHALL LEE THE REGULAR CO-PILOT FLEW AS BTG TO ISSUE REPORTS TO MURPHY AND BARKER. LEE WAS APPARENTLY KILLED AFTER LEAVING THE BALL TURRET IN HOPES OF RENDERING AID TO THE TWO PILOTS, BOTH OF WHOM WERE ALSO KILLED.

SOON AFTER BOMB RELEASE THE PICCADILLY LILY WAS HIT BY FLAK NEAR THE NAVIGATORS STATION CAUSING EXTENSIVE DAMAGE TO THE FLIGHT DECK AREA AS WELL.  THIS SHELL OR OTHERS STARTED A FIRE IN THE #3 ENGINE AND DESTROYED THE SHIPS OXYGEN SYSTEM. WITNESSES INDICATE THE LILY ENTERED A NEAR VERTICAL NOSE DOWN ATTITUDE AND EXPLODED WITH ONLY FOUR CHUTES OBSERVED.

ON 15 OCT 43 AT THE POST CEMETERY, WESERMUENDE, GERMANY, THE REMAINS OF MURPHY, BARKER, LEE, PIEL AND DICKERSON WERE INTERRED IN GRAVES #103 THROUGH 3107.

THE PICCADILLY LILY WAS IMMORTALIZED BY SY BARLETT AND BEIRNE LAY'S "TWELVE O' CLOCK HIGH."  WITHOUT A DOUBT SHE IS THE MOST REMEMBERED BOMBER  OF WWII.

THE FOLLOWING IS THE 351ST'S S-2 REPORT, ACTUALLY MORE OF A TRIBUTE ON THE LOSS OF THEIR BELOVED "OL'MURPH"
    (copied verbatim with no spelling corrections)       

        THE SECOND CREW LOST OVER BREMEN WAS THAT OF CAPTAIN THOMAS E. MURPHY.  KILLED IN ACTION WERE CAPTAIN MURPHY, CAPTAIN A.L. BARKER, THE SQUADRON OPERATIONS OFFICER, LT M.F. LEE, T/SGT DARRELL C. PEIL AND S/SGT ELDER DICKERSON, T/SGT J.J. PHELAN AND SGT REED S. HUFFORD. S/SGT ARRON A. DAVID WAS NOT ACCOUNTED FOR AND IS LISTED A MISSING AS OF THIS REPORT.
        IN THE TURBLENT, INCESSANT IN THE AIR, HEROES ARE MADE IN ONE SHRILL MOMENT, MADE LEDGENDARY BY SOME FACT OF SELF-SACRIFICE, BY A LATENT ABILITY TO RISE TO SOME EXTRAORDINARY EMERGENCY AT 20,000 FEET.  THEN AGAIN, SOME ARE THERE WHO DO THIER WORK IN CALM PERFECTION, TO WHOM THE FLEETING CHANCE MOMENT OF SUDDEN GLORY NEVER COMES.
        CAPTAIN THOMAS E. MURPHY, THEN LT, FLEW HIS FIRST MISSION ON JUNE 6TH, 1943.  HIS AUSTER, COOL AIR OF DIGNITY MADE AN IMMEDIATE IMPRESSION.  HE WAS QUIET, A GOOD FELLOW WITH A READY SMILE. MEN MET HIM AND LIKED HIM AND THE MEN WHO FLEW WITH HIM SWORE BY HIM.
        ON OCTOBER 8TH, 1943, WHEN A BURST OF FLACK ENDED HIS CAREER AT THE TWENTY-FOUR MISSION MARK, IT SEEMED IMPOSSIBLE THAT "OL MURPH" WAS THROUGH, THAT NEVER AGAIN WOULD HE GIVE HIS SHIP THAT METICULOUS ALL-EMBRACING PRE-FLIGHT IN HIS PASSION FOR PERFECTION.  NEVER AGAIN WOULD HIS QUIET VOICE INSTILL CONFIDENCE IN NERVE-WRACKED MEN.
        AND YET THE STORY OF HIS ABILITY GOES ON. EVEN NOW, WALKING DOWN THE LINE, ANY CREW CHIEF YOU STOP WILL INVARIABLY NAME THE QUIET PILOT FROM WALTHAM, MASS, AS THE FINEST PILOT EVER TO TAKEOFF WITH A 351ST SHIP.  COL TURNER CONSIDERED HIM THE MOST DEPENDABLE "TOP MAN" HE EVER HAD.  THE AIRMAN WORKING FOR CAPTIAN MURPHY FORM M/SGT HERRMAN DOWN LAVISH EVERY SUPERLATIVE IN THE BOOK UPON HIM.
        FOR THE AUGUST 17TH RAID ON REGENSBURG HE RECIEVED THE DFC, BUT NO ONE RAID OR DECORATION COULD POSSIBLY SUM UP OR ATTEST TO HIS SKILL AND DEVOTION TO HIS CREW.  FIVE CHUTES WERE SEEN TO FLOAT AWAY FROM THE STICKENED PICCADILLY LILY, BUT NO SUBSEQUENT WORD HAS EVER BEEN RECIEVED FROM CAPTAIN MURPHY.  HE WAS ALWAYS QUIET. NEVER LIKED TO MAKE A FUSS, NEVER LOST HIS TEMPER AND NO ONE EVER HEARD HIM CURSE. HE WAS PILOT THROUGH AND THROUGH, THE VERY BEST.  THE 351ST SHALL MISS HIM.


MISSIONS OF ALBERT C DAVIS

1943

1. JUNE 25 BREMEN, GER

2. JUNE 26 LE MANS, FR

3. JUNE 28 ST NAZAIRE, FR

4. JUNE 29 LE MANS, FR

5. JULY 4 LA PALLICE, FR

6. JULY 10 LE BOURGET, FR

7. JULY 24 TRONDHEIM, NOR

8. JULY 25 WARENMUNDE, GER

9. JULY 26 HANOVER, GER

10. JULY 28 OSCHERSLEBEN, GER

11. JULY 29 WARENMUNDE, GER

12. JULY 30 KASSEL, GER

13. AUG 12 BONN, GER

14. AUG 17 REGENSBURG, GER

15. AUG 24 BORDEAUX, FR

16. SEPT 3 PARIS, FR

17. SEPT 6 CONCHES, GER

18. SEPT 7 WATTON, FR

19. SEPT 9 BEDUVAIS TILLE, FR

20. SEPT 15 RENAULT, FR

21. SEPT 16 LA PALLICE, FR

22. SEPT 26 PARIS, FR

23. SEPT 27 EMDEN, GER 

24. OCT 2 EMDEN, GER

25. OCT 4 HANAU, GER

1ST LT LUCIUS G. LACY  P POW 28 MAY 44 MAGDEBURG & GERA
2ND LT CLAUDE E. SCHINDLER CP KIA FROM THE R.V.E. MONRAD CREW
2ND LT RAYMOND E. ROSSMAN NAV POW FROM THE C.W WOLDT CREW
2ND LT HERBERT GREENBURG BOM POW FROM THE R.H.HELMICK CREW
T/SGT CLARENCE H. WOOD  ROG POW 
T/SGT SIDNEY A. CARY  TTE POW FROM THE R.V.E. MONRAD CREW
S/SGT CHESTER L. POWELL  BTG KIA FROM THE M.T.RISH CREW
S/SGT JOE FOLSOM   RWG KIA 
S/SGT RAYMOND J. MITCHELL  LWG POW 
S/SGT MICHAIL ROTZ   TG POW FROM THE T. MURPHY CREW (PIC LILY)


In case you'd like to add him to your graves database:
MURPHY, THOMAS E   
 US AIR FORCE 
 WORLD WAR II 
 DATE OF BIRTH: 06/02/1916 
 DATE OF DEATH: 10/08/1943 
 BURIED AT: 
 CALVARY CEMETERY 
 250 HIGH STREET KENNETH ROBERTSON WALTHAM, MA 02453 
 (888) 919-7926 



From:  http://gravelocator.cem.va.gov/
BTW, I've seen a lot of WWII unit web sites and yours is one of the very best, probably the best I've seen.
Bruce McClelland
.............................

Sometime during the late afternoon of October 7th, the 100th returned to Thorpe Abbotts from its practice mission. After Piccadilly Lily touched down, Captain Thomas E. Murphy, taxied the B-17 F in an easterly direction past the control tower and turned into the first frying pan style hardstand. As the last of the Wright "Cyclone" engines fell silent and the Hamilton Standard propellers whirled to a halt, Crew 22 disembarked from the bomber. The crew assembled at the hardstand bore only some resemblance to the crew that first came together on January 2, 1943, as part of the 29th Bombardment Group, an operational training unit located at Gowen Field, Idaho.(10) Of the ten original crew members, only Charles C. Sarabun, navigator; Floyd C. Peterson, bombardier; John J. Ehlen, flight engineer; and Gerald O. Robinson, left waist gunner remained. Two of the crew--Albert C. Davis, right waist gunner, and Emmett H. Evans, radio operator--completed their tour on the October 4th mission to Saarlautern. Injured in a June 27th accident at the base, Michael Rotz, tail gunner, was replaced by Aaron A. David. The ball turret gunner, Cleveland D. Jarvis, when not playing baseball, was often deep in thought. For Jarvis, the pressure of combat took its toll early on and after going AWOL, he was transferred in July to the group's armament section; his position taken by Reed A. Hufford. Finally, the crew had several candidates for the position of pilot and co-pilot before the assignment of Thomas E. Murphy and Marshall F. Lee prior to the flight overseas. 

At the hardstand, Major Ollen Turner, Commanding Officer of the 351st Bombardment Squadron, greeted Murphy and notified the former commercial airline pilot from Waltham, Massachusetts, that he was to become the Assistant to the Group Executive. Other changes to Crew 22 were announced. Peterson and Sarabun, both known for the mastery of their respective duties as well as their dedication to the profession, would be transferred either to the 13th Combat Wing Headquarters at Horham or the 3rd Air Division Headquarters at Elvedon Hall, Camp Blainey, where they would assume yet to be specified duties. For these three, it was time to turn in their flying equipment. 

It must be appreciated that what transpired between Turner and Crew 22 is significant for not entirely related reasons. The removal of crew members from operational duty, for other than medical reasons, was probably the exception rather than the rule. If wide spread, such a policy would only have reinforced the morbid thoughts shared by those who felt it unlikely that they would complete their twenty-five missions and earn membership into the "Lucky Bastard" club. Under such circumstances, morale, always a concern, would have eroded at an alarming rate. More importantly, High Wycombe--Headquarters of the Eighth Air Force--faced an uncomfortable reality about the stateside training program; not every pilot could lead, not every navigator could find the target, and not every bombardier could drop the bombs on the required mark. Even though the Army Air Force was seen by many as the glamour service, sparking the romantic in the warriors to be and accordingly attracting very capable men, officers with natural leadership qualities were difficult to find and even more difficult to keep from falling prey to German air defenses. Goering probably never sensed just how his less than effective defenses were in fact causing some concern at High Wycombe. While the loss rates for the Eighth were well within acceptable levels, an ever-decreasing number of experienced crews were unable to assume all of the critical leadership roles in the air and equally critical roles on the ground. By October 7th, someone in the chain of command felt that Murphy, Sarabun, and Peterson could no longer contribute in any significant way to the course of the war by completing, at this time, their tour of duty. The German war machine was not about to grind to a halt. Eventual victory rested more with their leadership capabilities and combat experience being utilized in critical administrative and managerial functions on the ground. Accordingly, Crew 22, awaiting replacements, took the opportunity to celebrate briefly the Promotions and transfers 

Once again, the routine during the early evening hours at Thorpe Abbotts' operations room was broken by the clatter of the teletype machine--another alert. The flurry of activity of twenty-four hours earlier was repeated. The operations room at High Wycombe monitored a broad range of reports throughout the evening and early morning hours. As before, the principle concern was the weather conditions over the continent. Forecasters promised that the conditions to and from the target would improve by morning. Determined to dispatch a force to Bremen, at 0230 combat crews scheduled to participate were given their wake UP call. 

"Briefing at 0330!" 

After their customary pre-mission breakfast at one of the base's two communal sites, crew members drifted slowly to the briefing room located alongside the southern edge of Thorpe Wood. Passing through the blackout curtain, cigarette smoke swirled freely with muted conversations. The waiting, the forced laughter after hearing the same old, hackneyed jokes only increased the anxieties generated since the alert. Of those sitting in the room, Frank P. McGlinchey, a bombardier scheduled to fly in 230818, LN S, Salvo Sal, recalls "a few groans" as the white curtain covering the wall map of Europe was pulled aside and everyone traced the flight path marked out in red yarn to Bremen. To be sure, there were probably some audible gasps, if not the occasional expletive. This would be no milk run. 

"Dismissed!" 

The crews filtered past the blackout curtain into the cool night air of early October; still no sign of the sun. They collected their flying equipment and hoisted their bulky gear into the waiting trucks for what would be a bumpy ride to their respective aircraft. Knowing where they were going and sensing what the German flak and fighters might have in store for them, as Albert Davis, one of the Lily's original waist gunners, remembers, filled the idle time before any engine start with "suspended reflection." To make matters worse for the crews this morning, the 0530 takeoff time was postponed twice by High Wycombe--the weather over Europe still had not lifted as had been promised by the forecasters. 

While the crews waited at their hardstands passing the time as best they could, events elsewhere at the base forced Major Turner's hand. For circumstances that are not entirely clear, the replacements for Crew 22 scheduled to fly in 25864, EP A, as the lead aircraft of the low squadron were removed from operational status. Turner had no other experienced officers available to fill the lead position except for Murphy, Sarabun, and Peterson. The three were approached by the Squadron Commanding Officer and with little discussion or second thoughts they, after a belated breakfast and briefing, recollected their flight gear and rejoined Crew 22. It should be pointed out that sometime before Murphy completed his all too familiar "meticulous all-embracing pre-flight" inspection of the Lily, there was an addition to Crew 22--Captain Alvin L. Barker, the 351st Operations Officer. While other, more senior officers would participate on the mission to Bremen, Barker had no authority to fly because of his grounding for a depth perception problem. In fact, Barker's original crew was lost on the September 3rd mission to Paris and his last mission was sometime before the August 17th mission to Regensburg. It is not known exactly under what conditions Barker joined the crew, but whatever the arrangement, he became the Lily's eleventh passenger and assumed the co-pilot's seat. 

At 1130, the crack of a flare pistol and the sight of the green flare arching from the control tower abruptly shattered the late morning stillness at Thorpe Abbotts. The whine of the fuel booster pump coupled with the electric inertia starter in the Wright "Cyclone" engine brought at first a hesitant cough and then, with a belch of bluish smoke, each engine, one by one, roared into life. As the pilots and flight engineers went through the engine starting procedure, the pulse of the base quickened. After two postponements, the mission to Bremen was finally underway, but not without a miscue that marred the takeoff. The standard operating procedure calls for the Group's lead aircraft, in this case Major John B. Kidd and Captain Everett E. Blakely's 23393, LD Y, Just-A-Snappin', to takeoff first, to be followed by the rest of the lead squadron. However, on this day, Major Gale W. Cleven and Captain Bernard A. DeMarco's Z3233, LN R, Our Baby, leading the high squadron, appeared first at the end of the runway. This mix-up, more of an annoyance than anything else, was corrected after some inflight maneuvering orchestrated by the lead navigator, Harry H. Crosby. 

With the throttles of 23233 advanced at 1143, Our Baby, rambled down the runway, climbing ever so slowly into the air. At thirty second intervals, Cleven was followed by the rest of the high squadron. As 25997, EP F, Heaven Can Wait, accelerated slowly down the runway, Murphy, seventeenth in line, taxied 25864, EP A, Piccadilly Lily, into takeoff position and gave the engines one last runup while the brakes squealed in protest. For every crew this was yet another moment to sweat out. With thirty tons of men, machinery, and munitions accelerating down a concrete strip, it did not take very much--an engine misfiring here or a blown tire there--to cause a crash. It had happened before, it would happen again, but no one knew just when. There was little that those not directly involved in the takeoff procedure could do but sit in their appropriate positions and hope that the gremlins were not hard at work. Murphy released the brakes at 1152, with the four "Cyclone" engines at full power and the four Hamilton Standard propellers clawing vigorously at the air, slowly but surely Piccadilly Lily attained sufficient air speed to wrestle itself from gravity's grasp. Once the Lily's crew felt the lift off and sensed the motors for the flaps and landing gear activated, they relaxed and exchanged some intercom chatter until reaching altitude. Thirteen minutes after Our Baby's takeoff, 230088, XR W, Squawkin Hawk, a scheduled spare aircraft, was the last airborne. Relative silence returned to the country side surrounding Thorpe Abbotts, as those left on base prepared for lunch which included roast pork. 

At eighteen other air fields in East Anglia Flying Fortresses and Liberators took to the air. Of the four B-24 equipped groups assigned to the 2nd Air division, the 44th stood down while the 93rd, 389th, and 392nd were assigned to bomb the Vulcan ship yards at Vegesack. B-17s of the 91st, 303rd, 351st, 379th, and 384th were given the task of bombing the Deutsche ship yards in Bremen while other 1st Air Division B-17s from the 92nd, 305th, and 306th were assigned to attack Weser-Flugzeugbau, an aircraft factory. Following the 1st Air Division came the 3rd Air Division, which was instructed to bomb the city proper. Led by the 388th and a section of the 96th, this formation was two miles ahead of the 94th, the second section of the 96th, and the 385th, which was five miles ahead of the 13th Combat Wing comprised of the 100th, 390th, and the 95th. 

On this day, the armada's assembly proved to be uneventful and shortly after 1330 the last B-17 of the 13th Wing left the English coastline on a magnetic heading of 080. Most crew members had little time to wonder if they would ever set foot on English soil again and enjoy another pint of British ale or bitters because they were too busy making checks on their equipment and test firing their machine guns. Everything had to be in working order so as to give the entire crew the best chance of survival. An erratic interphone, a troublesome surpercharger, or a malfunctioning turret could, at a critical moment, bring disaster. Even with the best efforts of the ground crews, 49 out of the 413 dispatched bombers were forced to leave the formation and return to base. At this particular stage of the mission, the 13th Wing encountered a few anxious moments because within a span of eight minutes a six aircraft formation probably from the 351st, a three plane element probably from the 381st, and a B-17, 230008, PY T, of the 384th, having aborted from the 1st Air Division, elected not to fly clear of the Wing but rather threaded their way between the 100th and 390th. Despite the potential for mid-air collisions or disruption of the Wing's combat formation, nothing serious came of these incidents. 

While over the North Sea, Crew 22 settled down to what had become a routine. Aaron David, the quiet small-frame cowboy from Oklahoma, sat on the bicycle seat located in the tail gun position and rechecked his machine guns; painted on either side of his station was a Star of David with the inscription "House of David" beneath it. Gerald Robinson, the square jawed, blue eyed, blond hair native of Hamtrammic, Michigan, who never was known to shy away from a fight, a drink, or a woman, manned his usual left waist gun position. His partner on this mission was the regular ball turret gunner, Reed Hufford. A native of a Pittsburgh suburb, Hufford still admired the ingenuity and common sense of Albert Davis, who on August 15th supervised the relocation of his waist gun mount forward of its usual location so that he could obtain a better field of fire and avoid bumping into the other waist gunner. As already noted, Marshall Lee's position as co-pilot was taken by Alvin Barker. For Lee, a mid-westerner whose youthful energy matched an intense desire to fly fighters rather than bombers, there was no difficulty in climbing into the cramped isolation of the ball turret. In the radio compartment, Derrel Piel, whose regular crew was lost on the September 3rd mission to Paris, operated the radio equipment and most likely Elder Dickerson, whose regular crew had completed their tour on September 16th, manned the radio hatch gun. John Ehlen, known for his strength and gentleness, was in his usual position as top turret gunner and flight engineer, while Murphy was in the pilot's seat sharing the piloting duties with Barker. In the nose compartment, Sarabun assumed his navigation duties and maintained a log of the mission, while Peterson, the bombardier, manned the nose guns until such time that his marksmanship had to be turned in for his bombing skills.

Once at altitude the interphone, except for the routine station checks, was silent. Throughout the airframe the pulsating vibration of the four "Cyclone" engines created a reassuring atmosphere. Everything was working perfectly. Admittedly for some, the alert notice unleashed a seemingly endless chain of anxious moments. What was the target for today? What were the fighters going to be like? How intense would the flak be? Time would bring the answers. It was the waiting, however, that seemed the most damning; even breathing and the pumping of the heart could become deafening to an airman's ears. 

"Over enemy coast. Watch for fighters." 

Though the haze and continued undercast of 2/10 low stratus clouds still blurred the horizon, the navigator's announcement served its purpose. The senses were further accentuated. A glance at a wrist watch confirmed what the combat crews' bodies were trying to tell them--1456. Over twelve hours had elapsed since the wake up call. In the distance some could see German single engine fighters dogfighting with the P-47 escorts. For the 13th Wing, however, the first ten minutes over occupied Europe brought only three attacks against the 390th--one from a ME 110 and two from FW 190s--causing no serious damage. 

The life of any combat crew member was filled with seemingly endless days of sheer boredom tempered by occasional bouts of anxiety. But at any moment, this blend of boredom and anxiety would be shattered by sheer, unrelenting terror. 

"Bandits! 11 O'Clock High!" 

John Ehlen swung his turret into position and pulled the charging handles of his twin fifty caliber machine guns. His immediate attention was directed at the first FW 190 flying through the formation. Ehlen tracked Staffelfuhrer Lieutenant Hans Ehlers' red nosed FW 190 and, when in range, pressed the firing button for several short bursts. Undaunted by the hits scored by the Lily's top turret gunner, Ehlers, 29, assigned to the second staffel of 1 JG/1 continued on and passed from Ehlen's view. Seconds later the sky somewhat behind and below the Lily erupted in a brilliant orange.(ll) 

"Was that the FW?" 

"That was a Fortress." 

David's dispassionate answer to Ehlen's question reveals more about the face of battle than could many passages of descriptive prose. One moment, there existed thirty tons of men, machinery, and munitions defying the law of gravity and in the next there was a fiery orange ball along with bits and pieces plummeting earthward; only a blackish smudge marking temporarily where gravity challenged successfully man's defiance. 

Miraculously, Ehlers managed to extricate himself from the FW 190 after colliding with Raymond J. Gormley's 23386, EP H, Marie Helena, number 6 low squadron.(l2) However,this incident, which by no means had been the first witnessed by bomber crews, underscores a tactical problem facing the Luftwaffe. Head on attacks from 11, 12, and 1 o'clock positions, while achieving a recognized degree of psychological advantage over bomber crews and particularly inexperienced pilots, nevertheless, were conducted at the expense of accuracy. Closing at a rate in excess of 200 yards per second, the fighter pilot had slightly less than three seconds between the moment his 20mm cannons were in range and when a collision was all but unavoidable. Clearly, there was little room for miscalculation or for that matter any toleration for the lack of concentration. A momentary lapse, be it in reaction to possible damage inflicted by the bomber crews or a mechanical failure, could bring serious injury if not instantaneous death to the fighter pilot and the bomber crew. 

Increased fighter activity prevented crews from dwelling upon the mid-air collision. As the 95th's R. J. Cupp, a toggler and nose gunner aboard 230325, QW U, Lonesome Polecat, number 1 low squadron, reported the incident during the debriefing session, the group was at 25,000 feet when two FW 190s at 11 o'clock passed through the 100th formation, which was ahead and slightly below the 95th. Cupp remembers the first German fighter crashing into Gormley and the other "passed over that formation and was crossing my path."(l3) The German pilot, probably Johannes Kreimeyer of the first staffel, 1 JG/1, was killed when his aircraft exploded as result of several short bursts from Cupp's gun. (l4) It should be pointed out that the encounter reports from the 95th and 390th reveal that between the collision and the Initial Point, a period of about thirteen minutes, these two groups were attacked by no less than 39 fighters, of which all but five were FW 190s or ME 109s. Also, from the perspective of the 3rd Air Division's surviving crews, the level of German fighter interception was more prominent than had been the situation through out most of September and early October, but did not match the vigor endured by the survivors of the August 17th mission to Regensburg. 

Almost immediately after the collision between Gormley and Ehlers, another B-17, 230358, LN X, Phartzac, number 4 high squadron, exploded. Piloted by Frank H. Meadows, the exact circumstances of this aircraft's loss cannot be determined. It appears as though a fire in the bomb bay area triggered an explosion and possibly this is the B-17 that returning 390th crews reported -as having "exploded tearing the A/C apart with one wing and the tail going in opposite directions." Minutes later, Arthur H. Becktoft's 230154, XR H, War Eagle, number 9 high squadron, was seen by Owen "Cowboy" Roane and Robert N. Lohof leaving the formation under control with number three engine on fire. In less than four minutes, the Luftwaffe reduced the ranks of the 100th by three Fortresses. Maybe Goering's threat the previous day about the fighter pilots joining the infantry on the eastern front was having the intended impact. 

At 1521, the 13th Wing turned to magnetic heading 046.5, the Initial Point had been reached. The 100th lead bombardier, James R. Douglass, pulled the bomb door control handle, opening the bomb bay doors. On this signal, the rest of the bombardiers and togglers did the same. The Wing had begun its bomb run. From this point until the bombs had been dropped and the formation reached the Rally Point, the bomber crews were exposed to a twentieth century version of running the gauntlet, a technological trial by ordeal. The next four to five minutes would be the most vulnerable period for the crews. Pilots could not take evasive action, they had to fly their aircraft in a straight and steady line. The target, Bremen, could be distinguished by an "intense black cloud" hanging over it. (l5) What the crews saw was the combination of smoke pots, fire and smoke from previous bomb explosions, as well as the dirty black splashes in the sky, marking where an 88mm or 120mm anti-aircraft shell had recently exploded. 

Moments after Piccadilly Lily had lined up on the bomb run and while Peterson made the final adjustments to his equipment, the sky occupied by the 100th erupted from a massive flak barrage. The Lily shuttered from the flak hits to the nose and radio compartments; Sarabun and Peterson were shaken but uninjured. However Piel and Dickerson were killed outright. It appears that Robinson surveyed the damage to the Lily aft of the bomb bay and went forward to report directly to Murphy the extent of the damage and injuries. With this information in hand, there was some discussion in the cockpit about leaving the formation and returning to base. Though the aircraft had also suffered some damage to the oxygen system, Murphy overruled any such notion. All four engines were functioning and the Lily could remain in formation. Far more importantly, leaving the formation at this point would have provided the Luftwaffe pilots, eager to earn points with the Reichsmarshall, with an easy target. 

At 1525, Douglass, flying in 23393, LD Y, Just-A-Snappin', number 1 lead squadron, released his load of 38 incendiaries onto Bremen. Peterson and the rest of the group toggled on the lead aircraft. 

"Bombs away." 

As the B-17 surged upwards from the sudden loss of 3800 pounds, Peterson leaned over to his left and pushed the lever closing the bomb bay doors. Within seconds, another flak barrage filled the lOOth's airspace. Inside the Lily, the surviving crew members once again felt flak striking the aircraft, but this time there followed a distinctive "thunk." The entire airframe began to shimmy. In the cockpit, both Murphy and Barker struggled with the vibration coming through the control columns. From the co-pilot's vantage point, Barker saw the right main landing gear in an extended position, flak had destroyed the linkage. Far more critically, the flak hit either ruptured the fuel lines or the oil tank, igniting a fire from behind the fire wall. 

"Let's get the hell out of this crate, she's gonna blow." 

Barker's comment over the interphone may not have been viewed as particularly endearing about the aircraft that had served Crew 22 so well. No matter, it alerted the surviving crew members about the gravity of the situation. Sarabun leaned over from his navigator's desk and confirmed what Barker had seen. Equally convinced of the Lily's fate, he pulled his service revolver and placed a bullet into the GEE navigation equipment, rendering it worthless should the plane fall intact into German hands. Murphy eased the Lily from the formation so that his crew would have the best chance of surviving the bail out. It was a feat in itself to get out of a crippled aircraft and Murphy's actions insured that those bailing out would not tumble through the rest of the squadron. Also, if 25864 exploded, the debris would pose no serious risk to the squadron. 

From most accounts, it is thought that Aaron David bailed out successfully, but died as a result of his parachute not deploying. Reed Hufford left the aircraft without incident, while Marshall Lee, after collecting his parachute, went forward apparently to lend assistance to Murphy. At the same time, Sarabun pulled the release handle on the nose hatch and kicked open the door. Kneeling there for what must have been only a few moments, the navigator looked up towards the cockpit passageway and probably saw Robinson clipping on his parachute. Should he forsake bailing out and try to assist Murphy? Sarabun's mind was made up for him as Peterson, thinking that the navigator had frozen at the prospect of bailing out, pushed him through the opening. Immediately following Peterson's exit was Robinson. Ehlen, the top turret gunner, after making the final adjustments to his parachute, assisted Barker with his and then pulled the emergency release handle for the bomb bay doors, jumping clear of the burning aircraft. Meanwhile, Barker leaned over the co-pilot's seat and grabbed the control column so that Murphy could extricate himself from his seat. It was too late. The heat from the fire in number three nacelle triggered a spontaneous combustion. All that remained was debris. Murphy, Barker, and Lee, still inside the aircraft were either killed outright or never regained consciousness fromthe explosion's concussion. 

As the group's estimated time of return approached, the activity at and around Thorpe Abbott's control tower increased. Crash crews and ambulances were waiting. The same questions which occupied the combat crews' minds were at least answered, but for those on the ground the waiting continued. All they knew was the contents of a message sent by Edmund G. Forkner, radio operator aboard 23393. 

"The target was bombed at 1525." 

No one knew about the harrowing return flight being experienced by the crew of Just-A-Snappin'.(16) No one knew about the mid-collision between Gormley and Ehlers. No one knew about the crews who would not return. Eyes kept searching for the first sign of the group. At 1712, nearly fifteen hours since the wake up call, Maurice P. Beatty brought Queen Bee in for a landing. Three minutes later, in rapid succession, Pasadena Nena, Heaven Can Wait, Sweater Girl, Holy Terror, Torchy III, Messie Bessie, Squawkin Hawk, Rosie's Riveters, and Sunny II returned. As Beatty taxied Queen Bee on the perimeter track and turned into his hardstand, the ground personnel, noticing the moderate flak damage, could only begin to sense the enormity of the day's battle. To be sure, the post-mission shot of whiskey would be welcomed by the surviving crews. Eight minutes after Sunny II touched down, Blivit landed. Still, ten aircraft were unaccounted for. This number was revised downward when Horny and Hot Spit returned at 1745 and 1813 respectively. So too, the RAF base at Coltishall reported the crash landing of Just-A-Snappin'. But there would be no others. Cleven and Demarco, Nash, MacDonald, Meadows, Becktoft, Gormley, and Murphy along with their crews would not return. All total the 100th lost seven Flying Fortresses, 72 crew members missing in action, of which 31 were killed and all but Carl Spicer, navigator aboard 230818, LN S, Salvo Sal, who evaded capture and returned to England, were taken prisoner. Of the returning crews, a further 13 were wounded, of which one died as result of his injuries. 

At the hardstand where Crew 22 had left that morning in Piccadilly Lily, John Herrmann stood in quiet disbelief. 

We are poor little lambs, who have lost our way, baa, baa, baa. 

The lights in the movie theater came up slowly as the credits of the movie ended. The audience filed out quietly into the warm night air of a Miami winter. John Herrmann left his seat with his wife beside him. Deeply moved by what he saw and what he remembered, the former crew chief wrote to Beirne Lay Jr. asking many questions about his visit in August 1943 to Thorpe Abbotts. The reply, in part, read: "You're darn right the Piccadilly Lily in 'TWELVE O'CLOCK HIGH!' was named after your B-17. I put it into the script for sentimental reasons. . ."(17) 

It has been nearly forty summers since war disrupted the tranquillity of Thorpe Abbotts and altered forever the lives of its inhabitants. The sights, sounds, and smells associated with the men and equipment assigned to the 100th Bombardment Group left a permanent mark upon the landscape. Once unmercifully thrashed about by propeller wash from B-17s, now only a gentle summer breeze swishes lazily the golden grain surrounding either side of the remaining perimeter track and runway. Even after a late morning haze gives way to a cloudless, radiant blue sky, one senses an unquestionable eeriness. A walk through Thorpe Wood only reinforces the feeling that a hallowed ground is being violated. Those buildings surviving the torments of time and vandals are dusted with a distinctively brilliant lime green, powder-like moss. In a similar way, the huts located in the communal sites and barrack areas, a home away from home for many American servicemen, are overgrown with bramble bushes, whose prickly scales like a Roman phalanx dissuade those do not belong. Silence, once shattered regularly by the "Cyclone" engines, is this afternoon broken by pheasants and rabbits bolting from one clump of cover to another. From the vantage point of the control tower, now restored as a museum, the hardstand where Piccadilly Lily was assigned has long since been taken up. A keen eye, knowing where to look, detects a residual outline. Night fall brings a gentle breeze, temporary relief from the July heat, and with it a chilling shiver runs up the spine. This abandoned airfield, like the others dotting the East Anglian countryside, has locked within its innermost sanctums the collective experiences of men at war that cannot be reduced arbitrarily to a single mission, a single aircraft, or a single crew. Still Crew 22 and Piccadilly Lily, without deference to others, have unknowingly been given a permanent place within the air war's mythology. By Paul M Andrews

MEMO 2:

Original 100th, Crew #22

October 8, 1943 BREMEN


Bremen. ( first, IF you would like to have lucky tell you the Story himself, he would be more than happy to oblige) What he told me tonight was chilling. He saw Just a Snappin get hit and fall out of Formation.  He next described Capt Frank Murphy and Alvin Barker ( Deputy Lead) in Piccadilly Lily being rammed by a red nosed FW 190 and explode!!! Not shot down by flak which is commonly thought.  Two FW 190’s came streaming through the group , one hit Murphy and the second hit Lt Gormley , 
 Lt john Luckadoo’s wingman. At this point lucky took control of the plane from his right seat which helped ease the strain and terror of what was unfolding in front of his eyes!!!

http://www.100thbg.com/index.php?option=com_bombgrp&view=personnel&id=1960&Itemid=334

According to Lucky, The german Luftwaffe attacked the formation from the IP until the target by flying thru their own flak to get to the bombers. Lucky fired a flare for the remaining planes to form up on him since he was the only command pilot /lead plane left. By the time they dropped their bombs and turned off the target, he could count count 6 planes left in the 100th BG! Those six planes tacked onto the 95th Bomb Group and replaced a low squadron that had been shot down. Later back at base, Lucky said the rest of the group had been wiped out. This thankfully turned out to be false, the rest of the group scattered to other groups for protection. All in All, the group lost 7 aircraft the day.  Worst mission Lt Luckadoo flew and one he thought he would not survive. 

KIA / MIA / EVA / INT INFORMATION:

TARGET: Bremen DATE: 1943-10-08  
AIRCRAFT: "Piccadilly Lily" (42-5864) CAUSE: FLAK, Fire & Explosion  

BURIAL INFORMATION

PLOT: ROW:  
GRAVE: CEMETERY:  

PHOTOS:

 The "PICCADILLY LILY" - Thomas E. Murphy Crew Detailed Information (100th Photo Archives) 

"PICCADILLY LILY"  with Thomas Murphy's flight and ground crew

The 351st "PICCADILLY LILY" with Thomas Murphy's flight and ground crew. Detailed Information (100th Photo Archives) 

 "PICCADILLY LILY" and the Thomas E. Murphy crew in North Africa after the 17 Aug 43 Regensburg Shuttle mission. Also in photo is Beirne Lay Jr. Detailed Information (100th Photo Archives) 

Ken Lemmons is not first person standing 

 The 351st's Thomas E. Murphy in the cockpit of "PICCADILLY LILY" 25964 EP-A Detailed Information (100th Photo Archives) 

Thomas Murphy and members of his crew, along with some locals, in North Africa following the Regensburg mission (from the photo collection of John Luckadoo). 

Thomas E. Murphy during stateside training (photo courtesy of the Murphy family)

Thomas E. Murphy with his mother in Waltham, MA (photo courtesy of the Murphy family)

Thomas E. Murphy during stateside training (photo courtesy of the Murphy family)

Thomas E. Murphy with his mother and sisters in Waltham, MA (photo courtesy of the Murphy family)

Thomas E. Murphy during stateside training (photo courtesy of the Murphy family)

Thomas Murphy stateside (photo courtesy of the Murphy family)

Thomas E. Murphy stateside (photo courtesy of the Murphy family)

Thomas E. Murphy stateside (photo courtesy of the Murphy family)

Thomas E. Murphy stateside (photo courtesy of the Murphy family)

Thomas E. Murphy during stateside training (photo courtesy of the Murphy family)

Thomas E. Murphy solo flying during stateside training (photo courtesy of the Murphy family)

Thomas E. Murphy stateside displaying flight suit (photo courtesy of the Murphy family)

Article regarding Lt. Thomas E. Murphy (photo courtesy of the Murphy family)

Today marks Gold Star Mother’s and Family Day, where we honor families of those who lost a loved one in the course of military service. We will never forget the brave airmen of the 100th Bomb Group who made the ultimate sacrifice, and we will take a moment today to remember their mothers and family members. Pictured below is Capt. Thomas Murphy and his mother Delia. Murphy was killed in action over Bremen on 8 October 1943.

 Col. Curtis LeMay presenting the DFC to Maj. Flesher - Air Exe. Other DFC's are presented to the crews that flew the Regensburg mission on 17 August 1943. Left to right: William Veal, Jack Kidd, Everett Blakely (blocked by LeMay), John Brady, Jack Justice, Thomas Murphy and Henry Henington. (100th Photo Archives) 

 Lt. Col. Kidd (Group Opns. Officer). Look at that board and the names, you are looking September 3, 1943, from that list the following crews will be missing that day. Winkelman, Fineup, Floyd and not on the board yet is Richard C King. Henington will ditch in the Channel.  (100th Photo Archives) 

 "PICCADILLY LILY" 

Piccadilly Lily with John Herrmann on Hardstand #8. 

Piccadilly Lily on Hardstand #8

General Curtis LeMay, Commander of the 3rd Air Division, presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross to members of the 100th Bomb Group for their part in the Regensburg shuttle mission to North Africa on August 17, 1943. Left to Right: Colonel Bill Veal, Colonel Jack Kidd, Major Everett Blakely, Captain John Brady, Lieutenant John Justice, Captain Thomas Murphy, Captain Henry Henington, Captain James Douglass, and Captain Harry Crosby. 

Lt Alvin Barker, Capt. Thomas E. Murphy, Lt Charles Floyd, Capt Sam R. Turner.  From Capt. John "Lucky" Luckadoo photo album.  Courtesy of John Luckadoo and scanned by Matt Mabe. 

 

SERVED IN:

Crew 1

Crew 2

ID: 3762