THOMAS R. McCLURE CREW - 358th BS
(crew assigned 358BS: 15 Mar 1944 - photo: 24 Apr 1944)
1Lt Thomas R. McClure (P),
2Lt John S. Putiri (CP),
2Lt Joseph E. Brady (N),
2Lt James A. Stavast (B)
S/Sgt Herbert E. Swift (E),
Sgt Francis L. Frazee (R),
Sgt George T. Duncan (BT),
Sgt Amos Kent (WG),
Sgt Parlan R Allred (WG),
Sgt George A. Senheiser (TG)
crewmen are not in order
Swiss Internee photo:
Still shaken, but safe, the 1Lt Thomas R. McClure Crew waits under guard by a Swiss Army Corporal (photo by Karl Hänggi)
Eight credited combat missions flown by the 1Lt Thomas R. McClure Crew:
132 - 09 Apr 1944 -To Marienburg, Ger -In B-17G 42-31224 Hell in the Heavens(358BS) VK-F
133 - 10 Apr 1944 -To Brussels, Belg - In B-17G 42-31224 Hell in the Heavens (358BS) VK-F
134 - 11 Apr 1944 -To Sorau, Ger - In B-17G 42-31224 Hell in the Heavens (358BS) VK-F
136 - 18 Apr 1944 -To Orienburg, Ger - In B-17G 42-39785 Thru Hel'en Hiwater (358BS) VK-H
137 - 19 Apr 1944 -To Kassel, Ger - In B-17G 42-97622 Paper Dollie (358BS) VK-K
138 - 20 Apr 1944 -To Sottevast, Fr - In B-17G 42-31739 Pugnacious Peter (358BS) VK-P
139 - 22 Apr 1944 -To Hamm, Ger - In B-17G 42-31739 Pugnacious Peter (358BS) VK-P
140 - 24 Apr 1944 -To Oberpfaffenhofen, Ger - In B-17G 42-38204 (No name) (360BS) PU-H
Last Mission - 24 April 1944 (140):
- 1Lt Thomas R. McClure (P) - First three missions (132, 133, 134) flown as CoPilot with
combat orientation pilot 2Lt Robert W. Snyder. The other five missions flown as First Pilot.
- 2Lt John S. Putiri (CP) - Only the last mission (140) flown with the 1Lt McClure crew.
Substitute CoPilots used on four missions (136, 137, 138, 139).
2Lt Putiri flew as CoPilot on 14 missions with 8 different Pilots (114, 116, 117, 118, 119, 121,
123, 124, 125, 132, 133, 134,136, 140). Had no known regularly assigned crew.
- Sgt George T. Duncan (BTG) - Stood down on mission 133. Flew on the other seven
1Lt McClure crew missions.
- Sgt Parlan R. Allred (RWG) - Flew on two 1Lt McClure missions: As Right Waist
Gunner (140); As Tail Gunner (139). Flew on mission 135 as Togglier with the 2Lt John R. Seddon crew. Substitute Right Waist Gunners from other crews used by the 1Lt McClure crew on five missions (133, 134, 136, 137, 138).
- Sgt George A. Senheiser (TG) - Flew on all eight 1Lt McClure crew missions: As Right
Waist Gunner (2 missions - 132, 139); As Tail Gunner (6 missions -133, 134, 136, 137,
- 2Lt Joseph E. Brady (N), 2Lt James A. Stavast (B), S/Sgt Herbert E. Swift (E) Sgt Francis L. Frazee (R), Sgt Amos Kent (LWG).
- Substitute Crewmen used (missions) --
- Pilot: 2Lt Robert W. Snyder (132, 133, 134)
- CoPilot: 2Lt John H. Cook (136, 137); 2Lt Charles D. Burks (138); 2Lt Campbell Miller (139)
- Ball Turret Gunner: Sgt Leonard R. Vopdicka (133)
- Right Waist Gunner: Sgt Edward J. Gamon (133,134); Sgt Thomas M. Rowe
(136,137); Sgt John W. Bahr (138)
- Tail Gunner: Sgt Lawrence Casey (132)
Hit by German fighters after passing Strasbourg. One engine was knocked out and feathered. Lt McClure dropped out of formation, bombs were jettisoned and the B-17 headed towards Switzerland. They were soon hit by another German fighter. The No 3 engine was set on fire causing the propeller to windmill and the chin turret to become inoperative. A hit seriously wounded Engineer, Sgt Herbert E. Swift. A cannon shell hit just behind the Tail Gunner, Sgt George A. Senheiser causing further damage. The
B-17 crossed the Swiss border near Basel and 1Lt McClure (P) and 2Lt Putiri (CP) landed the B-17 on a hard surface at Geneva.
The wounded Sgt Swift was taken to a Geneva hospital.
2Lt James A. Stavast (B) and Sgt Francis L. Frazee (R) were repatriated and returned to England on 9 October 1944
Escape from Switzerland Internment:
In Early September, after we learned that Gen. Patton was making his swing, three of us took off. We had help for our escape from a young lady. I came through Interlaken dressed as a woman. I knew the disguise was good when two Swiss soldiers whistled at me. It took us two days to get into France where members of the French underground guided us to the American lines. After six days in Lyon, we were flown back to England, part of the way in a B-25 and then in a cargo plane. We were officially listed as "escapees" and debriefed. They wouldn't let me fly anymore. I was sent back to the U.S. and ended the war at the Victorville Training Base in California.
(Article by George T. Duncan - Hell's Angels Newsletter. May 2001, page 15 - The two additional escapees were not identified)
The B-17 remained in a Geneva-Coninrin airfield in Geneva until it was flown by Oberst Hogger and Wachtmeister Schraner to Dubendorf on 13 July 1945. It was later scrapped.
Letters to S/Sgt Herbert E. Swift's Mother
- click the letters to read them -
[photo from the 303rdBGA Archives - letters courtesy of Robin Swift]
[Researched by 303rdBGA Historian Harry D. Gobrecht]