Original U.S. WWII B-17 FAITHFUL FOREVER 350th Bomb Squadron A-2 Named Flight Jacket- POW and Operation Frantic

Item Description

Original Item: One-of-a-kind. William Thomas Burruss ASN 0-2060931was born February 2nd, 1925 and was from Tuscon, Arizona. According to the family he was used the nickname Bill until entering the service where he found that there were so many others named Bill that to differentiate him, his buddies called Tommy after his middle name, Thomas. Bill Tommy Burruss was a assigned to the 100th Bomb Groups, 350th Bomb Squadron and served as a Navigator on multiple Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses including #43-38408 FAITHFUL FOREVER. 

FAITHFUL FOREVER was shot down during the Hamburg mission on 31st December, 1944. The Leo Ross crew bailed out and Tommy Burruss was held as a POW.

B-17G 43-38408: Delivered Cheyenne 29/7/44; Hunter 7/8/44; Dow Fd 30/8/44; Assigned 350BS/100BG. Thorpe Abbotts 2/9/44; Missing in Action Hamburg 31/12/44 with Leo Ross, Co-pilot: Raigh Mason {Wounded in Action}, Navigator: Bill Tommy Burruss, Bombardier: Russ Koechel, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Jerry Angelots, Radio Operator: Carl Anderon, Ball turret gunner: Oscar Johnson, Waist gunner: John Affleck,Tail gunner: Jim Wynne (9 Prisoner of War); enemy aircraft, crashed Bartelsdorf, Ger. Missing Air Crew Report 11360. FAITHFUL FOREVER.

"The Bloody Hundredth", so-called because of a reputation for losing a high number aircraft and crews, flew B-17s from Thorpe Abbotts, Norfolk. Their losses were not the highest of any Eighth Air Force Group but on several occasions the Group lost many aircraft during a single mission. Both Distinguished Unit Citations awarded to the Group were awarded for missions when the Group, as well as successfully bombing the target, also lost a number of crews. In the case of the mission to Regensburg on 17 August 1943 the Group lost nine bombers and on a mission to Berlin in early March 1944, the Group lost fifteen bombers. The Group also received the French Croix de Guerre with Palm for attacking heavily defended installations in Germany and for dropping supplies to French Forces of the Interior between June and December 1944.

This is exceptional A2 leather flight jacket issued to William Thomas Burruss Navigator in the Leo Ross crew of the B-17G Flying Fortress FAITHFUL FOREVER. This size 38 totally original WWII issue A-2 flight jacket is offered in excellent condition.

The best aspect of this wonderful jacket is the beautifully hand painted Faithful Forever over a full color B-17 Airplane flying through clouds above the Eight Air Force insignia and a redheaded pinup girl on the bottom. Of particular note is that the pinup girl had a yellow top added after the original painting in order to censor her original bikini topped chest. This type of modest censorship was common for soldiers returning home after the war.

The front of the jacket bears a matching hand painted TOMMY + (Sara). What appears to read Sara was removed at some point. This is also something we've seen before, soldiers dedicate a jacket to their wife or sweetheart back home, but when things turn sour the offending partner gets removed from the jacket, not unlike tattoo removal. The outline of the original name tag is present but the tag was removed. The right shoulder of the jacket bears embroidered flag patches USA, Soviet Union, and France.

We believe the French Flag on the shoulder was due to dropping supplies to French Forces of the Interior between June and December 1944. We think the Soviet Flag was due to being part of Operation Frantic. Operation Frantic was a series of seven shuttle bombing operations during World War II conducted by American aircraft based in Great Britain and Southern Italy which then landed at three Soviet airfields in Ukraine. The operation began in June, 1944 and ended in September. The 100th Bomb Group was one of the few units from the 8th AF that took part in Frantic.

Overall condition of the jacket is excellent. The liner, waist band and cuffs appear to be correct postwar replacements and it has an original wartime complete fully functional TALON zipper.

Operation Frantic:
American plans to use air bases in the USSR began as United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) staff studies soon after the German invasion on 22 June 1941. After the Japanese attack on the United States on 7 December, the concept was expanded to hit the Japanese Home Islands from Siberia. However, Soviet air cooperation was negligible through 1942, and it was not until the Foreign Ministers' conference (Moscow Conference) in Moscow in October 1943 that the American delegation raised the issue formally with Foreign Commissar Vyacheslav Molotov.

At the Tehran Conference in late November 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt personally proposed the use of Soviet bases by American aircraft to Marshal Joseph Stalin. In this he was assisted by a personal appeal from his son, Colonel Elliott Roosevelt, also in attendance, who requested the bases for use of his reconnaissance aircraft then operating from Italy.

The position papers given to Stalin emphasized both reconnaissance and bombardment operations, and Stalin agreed to proceed with the plan "in principle." American heavy bombers stationed in Britain and Italy would fly strike missions deep into the heart of NSDAP territory or occupied Eastern Europe. Afterwards, they would land at American air bases in newly recovered Soviet territory, re-arm and re-fuel, and then attack other targets on their return flights.

Operation Frantic, originally known as Operation Baseball, was intended to permanently establish three heavy bomber groups in Soviet territory,[1] but only a small contingent, about 1,300 men, was eventually detached to the American bases in the USSR.

During the four months of major operations, 24 targets in German-held territory, some never before within effective range of the American strategic bomber forces, were attacked.

While the shuttle bombing technique complicated German air defenses, in practice most targets were already coming in reach of US bomber streams from Italy and England. Soviet vetoing of some targets prevented more effective use of the bases.

The operations were reduced and finally discontinued due to 1) a catastrophic German air attack on the bases in June, 2) Soviet hostility and non-cooperation that began in August, and 3) the inability of the Americans to receive permission to use the bases for support of the Warsaw Uprising, which soured relations between the two countries.

VVS and USAAF airmen meet at Poltava, 2 June 1944. Despite the tensions between Soviet and Allied Leadership over Operation Frantic, the American airmen were made to feel very welcome by the Soviet personnel assigned to support them.

The main operational difficulty encountered by the US forces was inadequate force protection by the Soviets. The Soviets refused US requests to introduce adequate radar-guided artillery and night fighter support, and US aircraft were frequently fired upon by Soviet forces.

The three bases reached their peak in July and August 1944, with a firmly limited complement of 1300 US officers and men. By October, operations were put on a "skeleton crew" basis, with a winter contingent at Poltava only of about 300. Americans remained there until evacuation after VE-day.

Operation Frantic has greater historical importance for the development of Soviet-American relations than for its effect on Germany's war effort. Starting out with high hopes, it eventually set a discordant note that foreshadowed the Cold War.

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