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History Lost, Almost w/photo

Article about: Hi Josey, thanks for the extra info, I enjoyed reading it. I look forwards to seeing your other groups. Cheers, Ade.

  1. #1

    Default History Lost, Almost w/photo

    I wanted to share this but I wasn't quite sure where to post it.

    As WW2 fades farther and farther into history and we lose the vets who served bravely by the hundreds daily, stories like I am about to share are becoming more commonplace.

    A retired friend of mine who likes to shop at flea markets and yard sales for items he can resell on the internet happened upon one such yard sale and after purchasing a few things asked if they had any military items. The lady at the yard sale stated she did have a few things but they were bagged up and ready for the trash as she didn’t think anyone would be interested in old Army stuff. My friend says, well I know a guy who is very interested in old Army stuff and asked to take a look at it if he could. After seeing what was in the bag he immediately called me and told me to get this house as soon as I could after work.

    So after work I arrived at the house of the folks who were having the sale and after exchanging the usual pleasantries they showed me what they were about to throw out with the trash.

    Trying to keep my eyes from falling out of my head I asked, whose items these where. The lady stated that these things were her brothers and that she was his only living relative and that is why she had them and since she had no desire to keep this stuff she didn’t think anyone else would want it either.

    After explaining that I do collect this sort of thing, I paid her quite well for what she thought was junk and now it was her turn to be in shock. I explained that while I am a collector of militaria, my collection is not kept private. I am called several times a year to set up displays for various functions such as Veterans holidays, war memorial dedications and the like. I told her that her brothers group of items were very special and would be professionally displayed and viewed by many people and his memory would live on.
    Which then brought her to tears as she said, “I had no idea these things meant so much to other people”.

    Here is the history that was saved, Sgt. Warren R. Thompson-B-29 tail gunner, Purple Heart, Air Medal, Campaign Medals, WW2 Victory Medal, P.O.W. Medal, Wings, Qualification Badges, I.D’d Crew Photo, Patches, photo receiving the Purple Heart at a hospital ceremony, Western Union telegrams notifying his mother of his MIA status and updates, his handwritten account of his torture at the hands of the Japanese in the prison where he was held. Also among this group is a period government print out of all the Americans that were held in this Japanese prison. Plus, all of the general paperwork of a G.I.

    As a side note I was able to locate the last surviving member of this B-29 crew, the right waist gunner, Clarence Pressgrove and we have since talked several times and I was given all of the particulars on their mission how the plane was brought down and their subsequent capture. He then was kind enough to write these things down and send to me. He was also just recently awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his action taken on one of their missions and included that information as well as a video copy of the award presentation.

    This is one of three groups I have like this and I will share the other two stories a bit later.

    I apologize as this post went a little longer than I thought it would. I left out quite a bit of information to try and keep this as short as I could so that I wouldn’t bore you too much.



  2. #2

    Default Re: History Lost, Almost w/photo

    Wow, it is good that your friend discovered it so it wouldn't have been thrown away. Amazing story.
    Best Regards

    Vegard T.
    Looking for militaria from 38. Batterie, Heeres Küsten Artillerie Regiment 977, also from 31, 32 and 36. Batterie.

  3. #3

    Default Re: History Lost, Almost w/photo

    superb job another piece of history & a heroes story saved from being thrown away & forgotten this is what this hobby is all about good job

    & a great job of displaying it all as well

  4. #4

    Default Re: History Lost, Almost w/photo

    i for one can catorgoricaly state your not boring us what so ever!!!!!!!!!!!! more please,

  5. #5

    Default Re: History Lost, Almost w/photo

    hi Josey, very well done and thanks for sharing his story here.

    Cheers, Ade.

  6. #6

    Default Re: History Lost, Almost w/photo

    Here is the rest of the story or as much of it as I know anyway.

    Fate of B-29 aircrew no. 4013 and aircraft no.54 serial no.42-69675 “The Peacemaker” of the 20th Air Force, 6th Bomb Group, 40th Squadron.

    The late afternoon of March 28, 1945 started out like any other night mission for the crew of The Peacemaker. The crew left Tinian Island along with 29 other aircraft from the 6th Bomb Grp. In route to the western entrance to Japan’s inland sea, the Shimonseki Straits where they would participate in the laying of mines. After completion of dropping their mines they were almost immediately struck by a flak burst on the right inboard engine causing it and the wing to burst into flames. The aircraft commander 1st Lt. William Grounds attempted to extinguish the fire by putting the bird into a steep dive and pulling out. This seemed to work, however moments later the wing was again in flames. After a second attempt with the same results 1st Lt. Grounds ordered his crew to bail out while they still had a chance to get out.

    The entire crew successfully bail out of the stricken craft and landed completely separated from each other and would not see each other until their release at wars end. In the words of Sgt. Clarence Pressgrove, the right waist gunner…. It was pitch black when we left the plane and I had no idea where I was going to land and when I did, I hit the ground hard. At least it wasn’t in the water. I looked for a place to hide as best as I could until daylight. Daylight came and I found myself right in the middle of a farm. Japanese people were everywhere and I knew they had to be looking for me and the rest of the crew since I am sure the saw our plane go down. Well a couple of them were about to walk right on top of me, so I made my move and started running as fast I could go, and being a track athlete in high school I could move pretty quick and was having no problem out distancing myself from them. What I didn’t count on was one of them being quite accurate at hurling a big rock at me. That rock struck me square on the right temple knocking me down. Then they were on me screaming, kicking, punching and I was even stabbed with a pitchfork. I think what saved me from being killed was that some Japanese soldiers were there and they wanted a prisioner. I was taken to the Tokyo Kempei Tai prison. I was not treated good there. I was starved near to death, was beaten daily and forced to endure some extreme torture.

    From the words of Sgt. Warren Thompson, the tail gunner……….I was five months in solitary confinement and forced into a knelling position 16 hours a day. Daily I was threatened with death and was kicked and hit about the body and face. I was handcuffed and left locked in the cell during the numerous American fire bomb raids with no hope of surviving. I was covered with lice, bed bugs and mosquitoes. I was starved down to less than 100 pounds and I was always cold. I was held by the Kempei Tai police until 15 Aug. 1945 then taken to a P.O.W. camp on Tokyo Bay until 29 Aug. 1945 where released by the U.S. Navy

    It was at this camp on Tokyo Bay that the crew of The Peacemaker were reunited, none of them knowing what became of each other.

    The aircraft commander 1st Lt. William Grounds was killed two years later in a plane crash. He had become an instructor pilot with the Army and was killed along with a student pilot in a tragic mishap.


  7. #7

    Default Re: History Lost, Almost w/photo

    Very nice.

  8. #8

    Default Re: History Lost, Almost w/photo

    Thanks for saving that part of the history. It might have been lost forever!

  9. #9

    Default Re: History Lost, Almost w/photo

    Great 'by-chance' acquisition/recovery of these items, Josey.

    It is so sad to think that the few worldly things - which possibly
    defined this man's life - could ever be thought of as simply
    tossed into a trash heap or landfill site........

    We owe so much to men like these.


  10. #10

    Default Re: History Lost, Almost w/photo

    Thanks for all of the kind words, it is appreciated.

    As I stated in my first post I have two other groups to share with you.

    One is of a 4th Div. Marine Lt. who was KIA on Saipan

    The other is a Father and Son grouping that spans WW1 through Korea, both were West Point Graduates.

    I will post them one at a time in couple of weeks.


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