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Thomas Burford Cole


Shot down 8 May 1944 in B-17 #4230855 'Ol' Massa'. Killed in Action (KIA).

From his brother:
He was part of a crew on Ol'Massa when it was shot down over Germany on return back to England from a bombing raid. Three of the crew were taken as Prisoner of War (POW)'s, the other eight died and were buried in a common grave at the Prisoner of War (POW) camp until after the war. In 1946 the remains of the buried were brought to the Netherlands American Cemetery where they were identified by very sparse remaining ID items such a laundry tag number (as in my brother's case) and families notified. My parents chose to have my brother's remains buried in the Netherlands American Cemetery.

No member of my family (8 siblings) had ever visited until last June 10, 2012, when my husband and I made a trip there. It is a beautiful cemetery and the family who adopted his grave could not have been more gracious, thankful, appreciative of all the Americans buried there. As they said, 'he is our hero'.



Units served with

  • 401st Bomb Group

    401st Bomb Group

    The 401st Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses from Deenethorpe, Northamptonshire, from November 1943 to June 1945. Starting their missions at that time meant the focus was very much on the coming invasion attempt of France planned for the following...

  • 613th Bomb Squadron


  • 42-30855 "Ol' Massa"

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 10/8/43; Gr Isle 3/9/43; Assigned 613BS/401BG [IN-N] Deenethorpe 3/1/44; Missing in Action Berlin 8/5/44 with Dana Lenkelt, Co-pilot: Wendell Johnson, Bombardier: Harry Dershimer, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Jesse Pack, Radio...

Associated Place

  • Deenethorpe

    Military site : airfield
    Deenethorpe was a base purpose-built for American heavy bombers, with the Class A regulation 2,000 and 1,400-yard runways. All the buildings on site,such as the accommodation and administrative blocks, were temporary. In December 1943, several local...


Event Location Date
Born Haughton, Louisiana 9 June 1922
Died 8 May 1944
Buried Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten, The Netherlands


Date Contributor Update
01 December 2016 10:37:37 Lucy May Changes to biography, place associations and aircraft associations

Brought in information from duplicate records. Sources:
Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / /
MACR 4586 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:25:49 AAM AAM ingest

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / MACR 4586