Bum's Rush in Brescia

Discussion in 'Basic' started by jasonmchenry, May 12, 2016.

  1. jasonmchenry

    jasonmchenry New Member

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    #1 jasonmchenry, May 12, 2016
    Last edited: May 16, 2016
    My Grandfather was Harry L. Cunningham and he was captured as a POW and held in Stalag 17b after his plane the Bum's Rush was shot down. I have the MACR and all the readily available info relating to the event. I had made a few posts about my Grandfather and was eventually contacted by some terrific Italian folks [headed by Matteo Migliorait] who live in the same small town where the Bum's Rush crash landed. The people in the town were instrumental in assisting the downed crew in evading capture and they eventually ended up safely in Switzerland.

    Matteo has been fascinated by the event his whole life and he was working on a film about the Bum's Rush and the events of the time and that's how he found me. This plaque is now on the church in the town where the Bum's Rush went down:

    [​IMG]

    Should that image link not work [and even if it does] I made a longer post about the whole thing here:
    View: http://jasonwentcrazy.tumblr.com/post/143994744243/bums-rush


    The Bum's Rush [sometimes spelled Bomb's Rush and Bumb's Rush] was a part of the 99th Bomb Group and it flew out of the Airbase in Oudna, Tunisia for a target in Mestre, Italy.

    Some of the technical info is as follows:

    B-17F 42-30474 “Bum’s Rush”
    Shot Down: October 6, 1943 [Original post had a typo of 42]
    MACR #929

    Staff Sergeant Harrison ‘Harry’ Lejeune Cunningham
    ASN: 37384700
    SSN: 495-18-8038
    Born: 11 Oct 1921
    Died: November 2, 1980
    Enlisted: 17 Sep 1942
    Released/Liberated: October 12, 1945
    Released from Service: 13 Oct 1945

    I am especially looking for any family of the Bum's Rush crew but we would love to know if anyone has any additional info outside of the MACR. Photos and stories and anything really.

    Thanks in advance for your time.
     
  2. fubar57

    fubar57 Well-Known Member

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    Great story. According to the B-17 Nose Art Directory, there is no known photo but that isn't to say there isn't one out there.

    1.jpg

    Geo
     
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  3. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    You may find this thread of great interest, as it's identified the Luftwaffe pilot that downed your Granfather's B-17.

    Also, in the thread, are posts from an Italian with some good information and a couple family members of your Grandfather's crewmates.

    Read it here: German fighter info concerning particular B-17 shot down
     
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  4. CharlesBronson

    CharlesBronson Well-Known Member

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    "The people in the town were instrumental in assisting the downed crew"

    Sorry to disagree, but i find that part a bit fishy, are you sure abou that information ? perhaps was some SOE agent ?, doesnt seems right that italians would be so friendly with allied bomber crew, not in that date october 1942.
     
  5. jasonmchenry

    jasonmchenry New Member

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    They were though. I've just been in touch with the family of both pilots and they relay the same story that the folks in the town helped them evade capture. More to come on this as my email campaign is paying off and the story is getting good.
     
  6. jasonmchenry

    jasonmchenry New Member

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    #6 jasonmchenry, May 14, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: May 14, 2016
    Some new developments in this story:

    The folks in the town where the plane went down look at the whole crew as heroes. They dedicated a plaque in their honor and the ceremony was recorded here:


    View: https://youtu.be/uJbmU7vE9-4

    And we have a crew photo with nose art now. I'm pretty certain my grandfather painted the nose art as he had the exact same drawing in his scrapbook. bumsrushcrew.jpg
     
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  7. CharlesBronson

    CharlesBronson Well-Known Member

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    Bizarre;i wonder wich was the motivation behind helping the enemy, weird really.
     
  8. jasonmchenry

    jasonmchenry New Member

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    Yeah, I'm not sure of how/why the Italians that assisted the Americans felt the way they did. Stranger things have happened and the whole Operation Husky thing reads like fantastic fiction. [Lucky Luciano and WWII's Operation Husky - The History Reader]

    There is a report from Thomas Carver who was on the plane and he described it this way:

    carveraccountdetail.jpg

    I'll share more as the story is coming to light.
     
  9. jasonmchenry

    jasonmchenry New Member

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    That's the post that started all of this for me. The Italian team reached out to me and then the whole project evolved immediately from there. Pretty cool how it's all turning out.
     
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  10. CharlesBronson

    CharlesBronson Well-Known Member

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    Yea, but the situation in July 1943 was complex in Sicily for example 2 or 3 months before started a food crisis,so the population of the island felt the central goverment had abandon them, but the incident of this topic that is october 1942 and in a completely different location. It surprize me really.
     
  11. jasonmchenry

    jasonmchenry New Member

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    I didn't mean to imply the article had anything to do with the Bum's Rush and Brescia. Just to say that stranger things have happened than the Italians assisting the Americans in evading capture.

    I just now found this article with an interview from the father of the Bum's Rush pilot Otis Lee. The article goes on to describe a watch that was exchanged and, no kidding, we have the Italian gentleman that has the watch. It's incredible but true.

    otisleedetail.jpg
     
  12. Jagur

    Jagur New Member

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    Interesting story!

    I think there is an error in the date, it should be a year later, that is October 1943, at the time when the 99th Bomb Group was based at Oudna (Tunisia). In 1942 the Allied were yet to land in Northwest Africa.

    In October 1943, after the September armistice, the northern part of the country was under German occupation, and the Italians were more likely to give help to the Allied cause.
     
  13. jasonmchenry

    jasonmchenry New Member

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    Thanks for catching that! I edited the original post to reflect the correct date.
     
  14. jasonmchenry

    jasonmchenry New Member

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    The first image is a detail from the Thomas Carver entry in the Diamondbacks book. Carver isn't pictured in the crew photo as he was a replacement for James Markesiten. [No info beyond his name.] Carver describes some of what happened with the plane going down and then after.

    carveraccountdetail.jpg

    One of the coolest things that I've come to learn about this story is that the people in the village did help the crew to safety and hid them out from the Germans who were probably heading right towards the crash site. Once the guys were out of sight the Italians sacked the plane for whatever useful items that could grab. They were incredibly poor and plus the more they got the less the Germans did. One of the townspeople took a significant portion of the plexiglass nose cone. He would later fashion these toy planes out of the plastic he melted and re-shaped.

    Some stills from the documentary:

    Fullscreen capture 5162016 11748 AM.bmp.jpg Fullscreen capture 5162016 11111 AM.bmp.jpg

    I'm doing the English subtitles for the film now and we have a musical copyright issue to get worked out and when that's done we'll post that for sure.
     
  15. CharlesBronson

    CharlesBronson Well-Known Member

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    That was my point also.
     
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