THURSTON E. VAN DYKE|
World War II
Memories and Biography
26 Woodland Road
West Bridgewater, MA 02379
March 10, 1990
I am going to give you a short resume of my time at the 44th Bomb Group, 68th Squadron.
I was a member of the 44th B.G., 68th Squadron from June, 1944 to May, 1945, flying back to the U.S. the last of May and arriving in the U.S. on May 31st. I flew the plane back with the enclosed list of crew and passengers via Wales, Iceland, Greenland, and Bradley Field, Conn. The plane I flew home was the San Antonio Rose. I am enclosing a picture of same taken at Shipdham. The bashful fellow is me.
To the best of my recollection, I flew between 20 and 25 missions. Three times was as copilot, the remainder as first pilot. My first mission was as copilot on an orientation mission with Lt. Bonnet. We were shot up over Munich [5 KIA, 4 rescued, 11 July 1944] and eventually landed in the English Channel. The four survivors, all severely injured, spent time in the hospital. I have circled the names of the survivors. The rest were lost and their bodies never recovered (to my knowledge).
I flew two more missions as copilot as a favor to my friends, Lts. Washburn and Kohler on their last missions. They thought I was a good-luck charm. My remaining missions were flown as first pilot with various crewmembers until I finally wound up with a semi-permanent crew which I flew home.
Most other missions were without incident except the one when I was flying back to England as a cripple and flew directly over Cherbourg at 5,000 feet. Needless to say, the 105s didn't allow that. Being badly damaged this necessitated a belly-landing on a bombed-out runway in Merville, France. (L 553). The plane was a wreck, but luckily no one was hut.
Thank you for sending the book to me. Good luck in your future endeavors.
Thurston E. Van Dyke