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Thomas Peter Smith

Military

Out of fuel on an escort mission on 11 April 1944, Pilot Thomas P. Smith crash-landed his P-47 #42-74737 in the small French hamlet of Macou, near the Belgian border. He started walking in a northwesternly direction, crossed the Franco-Belgian border and reached Bernissart, Belgium. He was first helped there by Jean Ravez then by Lucien Duhaut of Quévaucamps. The third Helper he mentions in his Evasion Report is Léon Lefebvre in Chièvres. Other people cared for food, false papers, etc. Brought to Brussels, told that the organization would get him out from there to neutral Switzerland. He was arrested, probably on denunciation/infiltration of the escape line and interned at the Saint-Gilles Prison in Brussels. With other captured airmen and Belgian civilians, he was put on a train for Germany on 2 September 1944. Thanks to the courage and actions of Belgian railway men, the train never left Belgium (“The Phantom Train” episode - see http://www.conscript-heroes.com/escapelines/EEIE-Articles/Art-17-Ghost-T...). Smith and others left the train and were freed when Brussels was liberated on 3-4 September 1944. He was driven to Paris for interrogation, interviewed there on 8 September and flown back to England where he arrived the following day. Escape & Evasion Report E&E 1781.

Service

Units served with

  • 359th Fighter Group

    359th Fighter Group

    Group
    The 359th Fighter Group flew 346 missions from East Wretham between December 1943 and April 1945. In the main these missions were escorting bombers flying over occupied Europe. The Group, soon after converting from Thunderbolts to Mustangs, were...

  • 370th Fighter Squadron

Aircraft

  • 42-74737

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    Thomas Smith was flying his P-47 #42-74737 on a Ramrod Bomber escort mission 11 April 1944. Out of fuel, crash-landed near the hamlet of Macou, 1,5km North-East of Condé-sur-L’Escaut, Nord Department, France, very near the Belgian border - Missing Air...

  • 44-13893 'Caroline'

    P-51 Mustang
    Assigned to 336FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF. Transferred to 370FS, 359FG, 8AF USAAF.

Missions

Associated Place

  • East Wretham

    Military site : airfield
    East Wretham was not improved to Class A standard. It retained its shorter runways, although eventually pierced-steel planking was laid to make take offs and landings easier for the Thunderbolt, and then Mustang, pilots. Steel matting was also laid to...

Events

Event Location Date
Born 22 June 1918

Moodus, East Haddam, Middlesex County, Connecticut

Lived in 1941

Moodus, East Haddam, Middlesex County, Connecticut

Enlisted 5 September 1941

Hartford, Connecticut

captured 1944

guided from Chièvres to Brussels, with the prospect of being evacuated to Switzerland, he was arrested in Brussels at an unspecified date

Crash-landed 11 April 1944

with P-47 #42-74737, near Condé-sur-L’Escaut, Nord Department, France

Evaded capture 11 April 1944 – 1944

Initially evaded capture, with the help of Belgian citizens and members of the Résistance

liberated 3 September 1944

after the train he and other Allied evaders and Belgian civilians had been boarded on never left for Germany, thanks to the efforts of Belgian railway patriots

Promoted to First Lieutenantnt 20 October 1944
Buried 2001

Thomas Smith rests at the Saint Bridgets Cemetery, Moodus, Middlesex County, Connecticut

Died 12 October 2001

Moodus, Middlesex County, Connecticut

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
04 March 2020 14:08:56 ED-BB Changes to middlename, nickname, service number, biography, events, place associations and mission associations
Sources

Thomas Smith was not "made a Prisoner of War in Holland on 11 April 1944".
He managed to evade before being arrested in Brussels, detained there and liberated on 4 September 1944.
WWII Draft Card
NARA WWII Enlistment Records
NARA Captured German Records - J-831 à https://catalog.archives.gov/id/131495449
NARA Escape & Evasion Report E&E 1781

Date Contributor Update
25 November 2014 09:52:53 Lucy May Changes to service number, role, biography and events
Sources

Added further information from Ted Damick's 8th Air Force pilots listing.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:26:07 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / MACR 3733 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database / Ted Damick, VIII Fighter Command pilots list

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