Thunder Over Europe


There was a THUNDER OVER EUROPE in WWII but how many people actually know why?  Unfortunately, the people who really know are becoming scarce in number. 

The stories are similar from plane to plane and squadron to squadron.  That does not make them any less important to tell.  We can never tell all the stories but we can gather enough information that tells the lifestyle of a crew of a B-17.  No matter what, there was a camaderie that formed among the crews as is often the case in extreme conditions.  Men who had never known each other bonded for a united cause .... survival and freedom. 

These are their stories.  Good and bad. 

We will interview several members of the 381st bomb group and compile their experiences into a documentary.  We will utilize archival footage and work with historians in England, France and Sweden to fill in the details. 


The "Georgia Rebel" successfully completed a mission over Norway when she found herself with only two engines operating.  They couldn't keep up with the formation and being a "straggler" was a suicide note.  They made the decision to land in Sweden.  No American aircraft had ever done this but it seemed like the best alternative.  They belly landed (wheels up) in a bog and were immediately relieved that the landing had gone well and that they were in a neutral country.  They were interned in Sweden for 6-8 months before being returned to England. 

We have connected with a historian in Sweden who grew up in the area.  We will interview him and any locals who remember that unexpected landing.  We will also interview a representative of the Swedish Embassy and learn of the arrangements between the US and Sweden's neutrality. 

The "Georgia Rebel" belly lands in a bog in Sweden.

Stalag Luft III was the German prison camp where they sent aviator officers.  It was run by the Luftwaffe and later gained recognition in the movie, "The Great Escape".   In January, 1945, the prisoners were marched about 50 miles to the town of Spremberg, Germany, through snow and freezing temperatures. Some died along the way. Then they were packed into windowless boxcars. Three days later they arrived at Stalag VII A, outside Moosburg.  It was a horrendous three months until General George S. Patton liberated the camps and the troops. 

Two of the original 535th squadron were in Stalag Luft III and they have agreed to tell us their stories.  In addition, there is extensive information in the Air Force Academy library, the National Archives and the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum. 

General Patton's tanks on their way to liberate
the prisoners of war.

When the crew of the "Chug-A-Lug Lulu" bailed out of their plane over Belgium, the ball turret gunner landed in an apple tree owned by farmers with the French Resistance.  They quickly hid him in a barn and hooked him up with the French Underground.  Thus began his journey across France and later walking across the Pyrenees mountains into Spain where he was then returned to England and back to the United States.  He will tell you the French Underground never got their just recognition.

In addition to interviewing this evadee, we would like to interview a Belgium woman who served as translater shortly after he was taken in by the farmer.  We would also like to interview surviving members of the French Underground. 

The French Underground helping an American get home.


26,000 men of the Mighty Eighty Army Air Corps were killed in WWII.  My uncle was one of them.  As a Frenchman recently told me, "We haven't forgotten."   This documentary is for them and for all who remember. 


The Members of the 381st Bomb Group

Historians:  Mighty Eighth Army Air Corps Museum; Sweden; Avord, France; Ridgewell, England; Air Force Academy library; National Archives

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