Thornbury, J. R.

The Joseph R. Thornbury crew: 710th Squadron

Location unknown, undated

Assigned SO67, 27 Mar 1944

Standing L-R: 
Sgt Stanley Saviski
Sgt Lloyd Roach
S/Sgt Harry Smith
Sgt Harold Kiehn, RWG; 
S/Sgt George Stratos
Sgt Dante Rich
Front L-R: 
Lt George Filush
Lt. Joseph Thornbury
F/O Albert E. Cowey
Lt. Dominick Padula


The Thornbury crew, probably at Ardmore AAB before transit to England


The Thornbury crew arrived at Rattlesden on March 16 and were assigned to the 710th Squadron on the following day (Special Order No. 67, 17 Mar 44; 447bg Ref B0558-0989). Within two weeks they had completed orientation and were flying combat missions.


Combat Missions

  No. Date Target Aircraft
1 41 3/28/44 CHARTRES 42-97135
2 42 4/1/44 LUDWIGSHAFEN (Recalled) 42-31154 Shack Happy
3 43 4/8/44 RHEINE 42-31144 Miss America 
4 44 4/9/44 WARNEMUNDE n/a
5 45 4/10/44 DEIST SCHAFFEN 42-31217 
6 46 4/11/44 ARMINSWALDE 42-31217
    4/12/44 Recalled  
7 47 4/13/44 AUGSBURG 42-107021


On April 13, the group experienced intense flak en-route to the target, forcing some planes to abort and return to base. Over the target itself, a Messerschmitt factory in northern Germany, the formation again encountered heavy flak, and several more aircraft were severely damaged. Three of those, including Thornbury’s 42-107021 — less than a month old — were able to make Dubendorf Airfield in Northern Switzerland.

The group’s summary report of the mission gives little in the way of detail:


42-107021 with the Thornbury crew on board, photographed after landing at Dubendorf, Switzerland on April 13, 1944. Note left inboard engine feathered and shut down.


During their internment, the crew was quartered in and around Davos, Switzerland. Lts Joseph (Ray) Thornbury and George Filush escaped in September 1944. Dante Rich also escaped. The rest of the crew was repatriated in 1945.


Details of the internment and escapes are included in One Lucky Bastard by Elwyn “Stub” Warfle.





Photos and information provided by Ed Maul