File MC 371/882/25 - Recorded memoir of J. Fred Thomas

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Reference code

MC 371/882/25


Recorded memoir of J. Fred Thomas


  • 7 Mar 1983 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

1 audio cassette (Memorex MRXI 90)

Context area

Name of creator

(fl 1941-1983)

Biographical history

1st Lt J. Fred Thomas was a pilot in the 579th Bomb Squadron. He completed a 30-mission tour in 68 days.

Archival history

Donated to the 2nd Air Division Memorial Library as part of the 2nd Air Division's Personal History Programme, which began in December 1985 by J. Fred Thomas.

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Content and structure area

Scope and content

[00:00-05:00] Comments on his role as Vice-President of 392nd Bomb Group and purpose of the recording. Describes his early life in Sanford, North Carolina, including his school, family and apprenticeship in hosiery factory. Remarks on political situation, 1939-1941, and entry into air cadets, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. [05:00-10:00] Mentions call to active duty, October 1942. Comments on classification as pilot, Nashville, Tennessee, and his training: pre-flight, Maxwell Field, Alabama; primary flight, Camden, Arkansas; basic flight, Greenville, Mississippi; advanced, Columbus, Mississippi, graduating 3 November 1943 and B-24 training, Maxwell Field. [10:00-15:00] Describes crew assignment, Salt Lake City, Utah, combat training, Boise, Idaho and journey to Belfast, Northern Ireland, via Bangor [Maine] and Goose Bay, Labrador [Canada]. [15:00-20:00] Journey continued including anecdotes about using his mess kit, losing his bags and returning to base after curfew. Remarks on short supply of petrol. [20:00-25:00] Comments on journey to Wendling, Norfolk, arriving 12 May 1944, lectures on escaping from Germans if shot down and low altitude formation flights. Describes first mission, 24 May 1944, to airfield in France, and comments on his tour of missions. Mentions visits to London and Blackpool on leave. [25:00-30:00] Comments on a crew's survival chances and missions to France and Germany, including Berlin, Magdeburg, Kiel, Bernburg, Munich and Saarbrucken. Anecdotes about poor British weather. [30:00-35:00] Anecdotes continued: weather and riding on a bus to the end of the line. Comments on British people and return to the United States, including reassignment until release from service, May 1945. Describes his post-war work as a pilot for United Airlines. Comments on the Memorial Library's American Room, his role as ?Vice-President of 392nd Bomb Group and his feelings on visiting military cemeteries. Recorded on side A only.

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Conditions governing access

There is no public access to the original recording because of preservation reasons. All access is provided by using copies.

Conditions governing reproduction

Restrictions apply. Contact NRO for details.

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Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

The quality of archive sound recordings may be poor. Duration is 40 minutes 07 seconds.

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Existence and location of copies

This recording has been digitised. Follow the link to listen to an MP3 copy online.

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