Second Lieutenant Marcum E. Thomas was from Jasper County, Missouri. He became part of the 8th Air Force, 306th Bomber Group (Heavy), 367th Bomber Squadron. The 306th Bombardment Group (Heavy) was constituted on January 28, 1942 and activated on March 1, 1942. It trained for combat with B-17’s and moved to England in August-September 1942. 2/Lt. Thomas was finally assignment to an airfield at Thurleigh, England.
Gowen Field, Idaho - March 1, 1942
Wendover Field, Utah - April 6- August 1, 1942
Thurleigh, England - September 1942
The 367th Bomber Squadron earned the nickname “The Clay Pigeons” because they suffered the heaviest losses of any other bomber squadron in 8th Bomber Command from October 1942 to August 1943. Second Lieutenant Marcum E. Thomas had to complete a tour of 25 missions.
On October 9, 1942 the 306th Commander, Colonel Overacker, led their first combat mission, a daylight precision attack against locomotive works at Lille, France. Only one B-17 was lost, even though this mission had no allied fighter escort.
On October 8, 1943 they flew a mission to Bremen, Germany. The 367th Bomber Squadron lost two of out of six bombers. The 8th Air Force lost 30 bombers. The next day, October 9 they flew a mission to Gydina, Poland. This mission was over 11 hours, this time the Squadron wasn’t hit badly. The following day, October 10 they flew to the Ruhr, and 17 planes of the 306th Bomber Group, Heavy suffered flak damage. German Fighterplanes attacked other groups and the 8th Air Force lost 30 bombers.
The weather then turned bad and the 367th Bomber Squadron stood down until October 14, 1943 when they flew to Schweinfurt, Germany to attack the ball bearing plants. This was an extremely tough mission and German fighters had a field day. Just one plane from the 367th Bomber Squadron reached the target and got back. The 306th Bomber Group, Heavy lost 10 bombers and the 5 that returned all had dead and/or wounded aboard. Following the Schweinfurt mission, there were insufficient crews and planes to conduct missions and they stood down until October 20 when they had to fly a mission to Duren, Germany. On 11 December, 1943 they flew a mission to Emden, Germany and on December 22, 1943 to Osnabruck.
The 367th Bomber Squadron had heavy losses and in January, 1944 2/Lt. Thomas had flown probably about 10 missions. The men were informed that a combat tour was increased from 25 to 30 missions. The 367th Bomber Squadron operated primarily against strategic targets, striking locomotive works at Lille, railroad yards at Rouen, submarine pens at Bordeaux, shipbuilding yards at Vegesack, ball-bearing works at Schweinfurt, oil plants at Merseburg, marshalling yards at Stuttgart, a foundry at Hannover, a chemical plant at Ludwigshafen, aircraft factories at Leipzig, and other objectives on the Continent. It also took part in the first penetration into Germany by heavy bombers of 8th Air Force on January 27, 1943 by attacking U-boat yards at Wilhelmshaven.
On Tuesday January 11, 1944 the 367th Bomber Squadron made a bombing run on Halberstadt trying to hit the Junkerplane wing factory. It is possible that this was 2/Lt. Thomas’ first and only combat mission as a group of replacements arrived a few days earlier and he could have been one of them. The leading group of the 306th Bomber Group, Heavy missed their target dropping their bombs north east. The following group, the 92nd Composite Group did hit the target. On their way to Germany the bombers had to tackle numerous attacks from the German Luftwaffe and airdefense. Some planes were lost during these attacks. Of the 306th Bomber Group, Heavy 17 planes did not return that day, Second Lieutenant Marcum E. Thomas was one of those who didn’t return. Later it appeared that this loss on that day was the heaviest for the unit during the war. The unit was awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation for the mission without fighter escort and in the face of powerful opposition.
Awards: Purple Heart, Distinguished Unit Citation
Buried at: Plot J Row 9 Grave 8
Netherlands American Cemetery
Adoptant of Second Lieutenant Marcum E. Thomas’ grave, Bart Schoonenberg, is searching for more information about Second Lieutenant Marcum E. Thomas. Every kind of information is more than welcome. You can contact Bart at: firstname.lastname@example.org