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Ernest Thorp - World War II

Ernest Thorp grew up in Illinois with two passions - farming and flying. He earned a pilot's license while in college, and enlisted into the Army Air Force in May of 1942. Thorp was assigned to the 729th Squadron, 452nd Bomb Group, and flew missions as a B-17 co-pilot over northern Europe. He was shot down on August 4th while on his eighteenth mission. He bailed out over the North Sea, was pulled out of the water by German fishermen, and spent the rest of the war as a Prisoner of War, moving from camp to camp as Germany was nearing defeat.

Interview Links

Feature Excerpt

German Fisherman Saved Me

Abstract

Interview Session 01 (Audio)

Childhood on the farm, enlistment, and pilot training

Interview Session 02 (Audio)

B-17 Combat missions in Europe

Interview Session 03 (Audio)

POW experiences

Transcript

Videos


Photos

Caption

Cadet Ernest Thorp in April, 1943, shortly after being inducted.

Where:

Unknown

When:

April, 1943

Ownership:

Public domain

Caption

Cadet Thorp, on the left with fellow air cadet Roesch, in San Antonio, Texas in April, 1943.

Where:

San Antonio, Texas

When:

April, 1943

Ownership:

Narrator’s Photo

Caption

Cadet Thorp at San Antonio, Texas on April 20th, 1943.

Where:

San Antonio, Texas

When:

April 20th, 1943

Ownership:

Narrator’s Photo

Caption

Cadet Thorp at San Antonio, Texas on April 20th, 1943.

Where:

San Antonio, Texas

When:

April 20th, 1943

Ownership:

Narrator’s Photo

Caption

Thorp’s Primary Flight Training instructor H.A. Langley cockpit with several cadets. Primary School was at Chickasaw, Oklahoma.

Where:

Chickasaw, Oklahoma

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Narrator’s Photo

Caption

Thorp relaxes at home during his leave in Illinois in January, 1944.

Where:

Illinois

When:

January, 1944

Ownership:

Narrator’s Photo

Caption

Portrait of Ernest Thorp taken at his Advanced Training School in Altus, Oklahoma, November 1943.

Where:

Altus, Oklahoma

When:

November 1943

Ownership:

Public domain

Caption

Newly commissioned Second Lieutenant Thorp stands next to one of the family’s tractors back on the farm during his leave in January, 1944.

Where:

Unknown

When:

January, 1944

Ownership:

Narrator’s Photo

Caption

Thorp during his January, 1944 leave.

Where:

Unknown

When:

January, 1944

Ownership:

Narrator’s Photo

Caption

Second Lieutenant Ernest Thorp stands for a photograph, proudly displaying both his lieutenant bars and flight wings, both awarded in a ceremony in January.

Where:

Unknown

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Narrator’s Photo

Caption

This portrait was taken of Lieutenant Thorp shortly before his B-17 crew flew to England in early 1944.

Where:

Unknown

When:

early 1944

Ownership:

Public domain

Caption

A portrait of the Thorp family. In the front row, from left to right are Ernest, his mother Louise, his sister Sarah and father Claude. In the back are sisters Ruth, Norma and Andrea.

Where:

Unknown

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Narrator’s Photo

Caption

Ernest with his fiancé Mary Ellen Harris during his January 1944 leave.

Where:

Unknown

When:

January 1944

Ownership:

Narrator’s Photo

Caption

See especially his flight wings and the U.S. Army Air Force patch. Once in England, he was assigned an Eight Air Force patch for the right shoulder of his blouse. He kept the U.S.A. Air Force patch, as per Air Force regulations for his left shoulder.

Where:

Unknown

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Public domain

Caption

The B-17 crew that Thorp trained with while stationed in Sioux City, Iowa. In the front row, kneeling are Doan, Markland, Byer and Woodrick. In the back are Simi, Thorp, Michelson, Anderson and Thurston.

Where:

Sioux City, Iowa

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Narrator’s Photo

Caption

Lieutenant Thorp in the cockpit. The view is the bombardier perspective.

Where:

Unknown

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Narrator’s Photo

Caption

Thorp stands near the nose of his B-17 in April of 1944, when the crew underwent training at Sioux City, Iowa.

Where:

Sioux City, Iowa

When:

April of 1944

Ownership:

Narrator’s Photo

Caption

Thorp is suited up for a mission during training at Sioux City.

Where:

Sioux City, Iowa

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Narrator’s Photo

Caption

Thorp flew just one mission with the crew of the B-17 nicknamed ‘the Punched Fowl,’ when the plane was shot down over the North Sea. In the back row, standing, are Arey, unknown, Danner and Floyd.

Where:

Unknown

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Narrator’s Photo

Caption

The nose art for ‘the Punched Fowl.’ Thorp was on his 18th mission when he bailed out of the plane over the North Sea on August 4th.

Where:

Unknown

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Narrator’s Photo

Caption

B-17s in formation during a mission over wartime Europe.

Where:

over wartime Europe

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Narrator’s Photo

Caption

Lieutenant Thorp’s prisoner personnel record. Note the fingerprint and the next of kin information.

Where:

Unknown

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Public domain

Caption

A photo of unknown fixing a meal in Stalag Luft III, circa April, 1944. The caption reads “Grinding out a ‘bash’. Kriegie Burner, DeLuxe model.”

Where:

Stalag Luft III

When:

circa April, 1944

Ownership:

Narrator’s Photo

Caption

Red Cross trucks, know to the prisoners affectionately as ‘white angles.’ They delivered the all-important Red Cross parcels that kept the POWs alive.

Where:

Unknown

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Narrator’s Photo

Caption

This is a photo of one of Stulag Luft VII-A’s liberators, a two star general.

Where:

Unknown

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Narrator’s Photo

Caption

POWs line up to be processed before they start on the long trek home. The photo was taken at Stalag Luft VII-A sometime in May of 1945.

Where:

Stalag Luft VII-A

When:

May of 1945

Ownership:

Narrator’s Photo

Caption

Moosburg, Germany shortly after the inmates of Stalag Luft VII-A were liberated in April of 1945.

Where:

Moosburg, Germany

When:

April of 1945

Ownership:

Narrator’s Photo

Caption

The pier at Staten Island as it appeared to Thorp as his ship entered New York harbor in June of 1945. The caption reads “Home

Where:

New York harbor

When:

June of 1945

Ownership:

Narrator’s Photo

Caption

Mary Ellen and Ernest, after they are finally reunited, after a very long year. The two were married on July 29th, 1945 at the end of Ernest’s two month leave.

Where:

Unknown

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Permission to use photograph by Macy (photographer) of Clinton, Illinois. May be restricted. Patrons desiring to use this photograph should contact the ALPL Audio-Visual Curator

Caption

Thorp was still fit enough to wear his wartime uniform some 55 years later, when this photo was taken in 2000.

Where:

Unknown

When:

2000

Ownership:

Permission to use photograph by Mark Woods

Caption

This wartime map shows the locations of all of the Eighth Air Force fighter and bomber groups in Norfolk and Suffolk Counties of England, north of London, during the war.

Where:

Unknown

When:

Unknown

Ownership:

Public domain



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