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James A McColgan

Military

Lt. James A. McColgan was the third of 9 siblings: Joseph, Mary, August, Andrew, John, Patrick, Patricia, and Timothy. Jimmy went to Mount Saint Josephs School then the City College of Baltimore, joining the Maryland National Guard as an ROTC member in 1935 and later on attending West Point Prep. At the beginning of World War II he was commissioned an officer in the army in Ft. Belvoir Virginia, and initially traveled with the Army War show. The Army war show helped raise funds throughout the end of 1941 and 1942. He later transferred into the Army Air Corps, and went into Air training as a Bombadier on B-17’s. This was in class 43-15, Big Springs, Texas, during the summer of 1943. He later went to crew training in Ardmore, Oklahoma, with the 222nd Combat Crew training, during the winter of 1943/44. The crew he originally trained with was placed the 452nd bomb group and was shot down on the Flatbush Floogie. Jimmy began training in Oklahoma the Golden crew. They went to pick up their new B-17 to report to England, but the new B-17's were already taken so they shipped to England stopping in Liverpool and Wales, before being transferred to the 447th in Rattlesden, England May 26th, 1944. Jimmy and the crew were assigned to the 708th Squadron and flew several training missions to get used to flying in Europe. His new crew would stay together for 7 missions, flying their first mission on the plane named "Cactus Pete" on June 3rd, 1944; a bombing run on the coastal defenses of Pas de Calais. Jimmy was part of D-Day bombing runs in support of the invasion, which his Brother 1st Lt. August McColgan was taking a part of as part of the 29th Infantry division.

On June 18th, 1944, Jimmy's B-17G bomber was shot down over Germany. The mission took place as a second run over a munitions factory and depot in Misburg, Germany, a suburb of Hannover. While on the IP the plane was hit in Engine number 2, but continued on the bombing run despite the engine feathering and catching fire. Shortly after “bombs away” the plane was then severely hit by flack, with much of the central interior catching fire to go along with the complete loss of an engine. Jimmy attempted to put out the fire while the pilot peeled the plane from the formation and into a safe jumping altitude. The crew was given the order to bail out right as German fighters began attacking. Jimmy helped an injured crew member escape the plane, before jumping himself as the third crew member out. Only the pilot died during the crash as 9 out of the 10 other members survived the jump, jumping before the plane was completely disintegrated by the attacking German fighters. Most of crew landed spread out in a farm area near Hildesheim, Germany, and were quickly overtaken by local farmers and local police/military support. No one is sure what happened to the pilot, Lt. Mark Golden, but we was the second to last man out as the Co-Pilot (James Walton-Black) had trouble getting on his straps. It was commonly believed he might have been killed by local towns people as several of the other crew members were attacked and threatened as they landed. Jimmy himself was stuck in a tree, and the local farmers were trying to poke him with pitchforks. But there is evidence the Pilot's chute may have failed to open and he was killed this way. The Ordnungspolizei came and got the first few crewmen who bailed, but Golden and the Co-Pilot were the last to leave the plane and were farther way from the others with the two separated even farther from each other. One of the crewman evaded capture for several hours before being caught, and two were taken to hospitals with injuries.

Jimmy and some of the crew were taken to a local jail in Hildesheim, before being separated. Since he was an officer he ended up in Frankfurt at the interrogation and POW processing post at Dulag Luft-Oberursel; and was harshly interrogated on the whereabouts of the pilot as well as the bombing information. After being interrogated for several days, Jimmy spent the last year of the war at Stalag Luft III, in the South Compound, before being marched in January 1945 to Stalag VII-A, Moosburg, Germany, near Munich; where he spent the final months. He was forced to work in the local work camps, and like many prisoners lost 50lbs from malnutrition and the horrible conditions in the camp. He was liberated in May of 1945, but had by this time spent nearly a year in a POW camp, affecting him physically most of the rest of his life. Many of the enlisted crew members were taken to Stalag Luft IV, and were part of the Death March towards the end of the war. The crew was not reunited until after the war ended at Camp Lucky Strike.

After being processed at Camp Lucky Strike, Jimmy eventually recuperated from his time in the POW camp and returned to the United States. Jimmy received the Air Medal and Purple Heart amongst many other medals for his service in WW II and on. Jimmy continued with the Maryland National Guard before transitioning to the United States Air Force. He served in Korea with a transport and engineering wing, and in later administrative roles as part of the 8th Air Force. He retired in the early 70's, a Lt. Colonel after many years of service to the country. Jimmy was beloved by his family, and died in Florida in 1991.

Service

People

  • Jacob Brown

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Navigator | 452nd Bomb Group
    Shot down 11 April 1944 in B-17 #42-97083. Prisoner of War (POW). POW

  • Raymond Cutshall

    Military | Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 452nd Bomb Group
    Shot down 11 April 1944 in B-17 #42-97083. Prisoner of War (POW). POW

  • Raymond Gaswint

    Military | Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 447th Bomb Group
    Shot down at Ohlum on 6/18/44 in B-17 #4337714 POW

  • Rudolph Giannoni

    Military | Sergeant | Left Waist Gunner | 447th Bomb Group
    Shot down at Ohlum on 6/18/44 in B-17 #4337714 Prisoner of War (POW) POW

  • Mark Golden

    Military | Lieutenant | Pilot | 447th Bomb Group
    Shot down at Ohlum on 6/18/44 in B-17 #4337714 Killed in Action (KIA) ...

  • Henderson Head

    Military | Sergeant | Left Waist Gunner, Waist Gunner | 452nd Bomb Group
    Shot down 11 April 1944 in B-17 #42-97083. Prisoner of War (POW). POW

  • Homer Howes

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Top Turret Gunner | 447th Bomb Group

  • John Kauffman

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Radio Operator | 447th Bomb Group
    Shot down at Ohlum on 6/18/44 in B-17 #43-37714, Prisoner of War (POW). POW

  • Alvin Long

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Navigator | 447th Bomb Group
    Shot down at Ohlum on 6/18/44 in B-17 #4337714 Prisoner of War (POW) POW

  • Alex Shewchuk

    Military | Sergeant | Right Waist Gunner, Waist Gunner | 452nd Bomb Group
    Shot down 11 April 1944 in B-17 #42-97083. Prisoner of War (POW). POW

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Units served with

  • 447th Bomb Group

    447th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 447th Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses on strategic bombardment missions out of Rattlesden, Suffolk. With their first mission coming on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1943, their main focus was hitting sites that would weaken enemy forces...

  • 708th Bomb Squadron
  • Headquarters (447th Bomb Group)

Aircraft

  • 42-102591 Cactus Pete

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 17/3/44; Kearney 1/4/44; Dow Fd 14/4/44; Assigned 708BS/447BG [CQ-] Rattlesden 22/4/44; returned from Caen 6/6/44 with Phil Chase, Co-pilot: George Phillips, Navigator: Francis PrendercastWounded in Action, Bombardier: George Betker,...

  • 42-102632 Due Back

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 19/3/44; Hunter 1/4/44; Dow Fd 18/4/44; Assigned 708BS/447BG [CQ-B] Rattlesden 22/4/44; Missing in Action Ausum A/Fd, Ger 27/8/44 with Hugh Bowers, Co-pilot: Jim Doster, Navigator: George Pasvanis, Bombardier: Leonard Moore, Flight...

  • 42-31095 Ground Pounder

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 20/9/43; Harvard 4/10/43; Assigned 708BS/447BG Rattlesden 19/11/43; Missing in Action Hamm 29/11/44 with ? , unknown crew except Waist gunner: Garrett Rozema. THE GROUND POUNDER. ...

  • 42-97400 Fuddy Duddy

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 26/2/44; Kearney 12/3/44 (LT Edward H. Grossheim crew, as "Little Stinker"); Dow Fd 5/4/44 (LT Edward H. Grossheim crew, as "Little Stinker"); Assigned 708BS/447BG Rattlesden 7/4/44 (renamed "Fuddy Duddy"); Missing in Action Misburg...

  • 43-37714

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 15/5/44; Kearney 24/5/44; Dow Fd 1/6/44; Assigned 708BS/447BG [CQ-G] Rattlesden 3/6/44; Missing in Action Hannover 18/6/44 with Mark Golden (Killed in Action); Co-pilot: Jim Waltonblack, Navigator: Alvin Long, Bombardier: Jim...

Missions

Associated Place

Events

Event Location Date
Born Catonsville, Maryland 1935
Prisoner of War (POW) Germany 18 June 1944

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
15 November 2020 02:32:18 pamccolgan Changes to place associations
Sources

447 Bomb Group

Date Contributor Update
15 November 2020 02:22:29 pamccolgan Changes to biography
Sources

Family history

Date Contributor Update
15 November 2020 02:13:24 pamccolgan Changes to awards
Sources

Family History

Date Contributor Update
15 November 2020 02:12:41 pamccolgan Changes to biography
Sources

Family History

Date Contributor Update
29 September 2020 01:19:48 pamccolgan Changes to biography
Sources

Family History

Date Contributor Update
26 September 2020 00:31:18 pamccolgan Changes to biography
Sources

Family History

Date Contributor Update
26 September 2020 00:28:39 pamccolgan Changes to biography
Sources

Family history

Date Contributor Update
26 September 2020 00:13:40 pamccolgan Changes to biography
Sources

From 447 pictorial History

Date Contributor Update
26 August 2020 23:38:45 pamccolgan Changes to biography, events and aircraft associations
Sources

Family sources

Date Contributor Update
10 August 2020 18:22:08 pamccolgan Changes to place associations
Sources

Yearbook

Date Contributor Update
08 August 2020 00:00:56 pamccolgan Changes to awards and media associations
Sources

Online

Date Contributor Update
08 October 2018 17:14:33 pamccolgan Changes to media associations
Sources

Baltimore Sun

Date Contributor Update
08 October 2018 17:10:30 pamccolgan Changes to surname, middlename, nickname, service number, highest rank, biography, person associations, unit associations, place associations and mission associations
Sources

Information taken from family history and MARC reports

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:14:07 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

MACR 5902 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database

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