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John E. Drilling
2nd Lt.
John E. Drilling
(1918 - 1967)
Foster Crew R-20
Simon Crew R-03
(492nd & 446th BGs)
POW - Stalag Luft III
Stalag VIIA
Bio written by
James Drilling (son)
Life before the War
John E Drilling was born and raised in Illinois.
He was living the good life before the war. He had a good job with the Illinois Commercial Telephone Company, was a member of the Masons, married the love of his life, and celebrated the birth of his son in the spring of 1942.
Into the Army
John Drilling reported for active duty with the Army Air Force on January 31, 1943.
He started out training to be a pilot in San Antonio, Texas.
John made it through Primary training in Cuero, Texas, flying a PT-19A, but was eliminated during Basic Flight Training in Waco, Texas.
He was reassigned to Bombardier school and graduated with the Class of 44-1.
He was Honorably Discharged as a Cadet on January 14, 1944, and commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army the next day.
Next he was moved to Davis-Monthan Field, Arizona, for Bombardier training in a B-24 and was assigned to the Foster Crew (R-20).
He kissed his pregnant wife and son goodbye and flew off to England with the Foster Crew in a brand new B-24 on May 24, 1944.
Training Record
Apr – Jun 43: Pilot Pre-Flight Ground School, San Antonio, Texas.
Jun – Aug 43: Primary Flight School, Cuero, Texas.
Aug 43: Started Basic Flight School, Waco, Texas.
Aug 21 43: Basic Flight School training terminated.
Oct 43 – Nov 43 Laredo Gunnery School, Laredo, Texas.
Nov 43 – Jan 44: Advance Bombardier School, Midland Texas.
Feb 28 44 – Apr 01 44: B24 Training - First Phase, Davis-Monthan Field, Arizona.
Apr 01 44 – May 17 44: B24 Training - Second and Third Phase, Davis-Monthan Field, Arizona.
Service with the 492nd and 446th Bomb Groups
Drilling and the rest of the Foster Crew were assigned to the 492nd Bomb Group, 857th Bomb Squadron located near North Pickenham, England in June 1944.
He was credited for 11 combat missions with the Foster Crew during July and August 1944. They flew most of their missions in the B24-H, S/N 42-94986, named the "Pregnant Angel."
Drilling was re-assigned to the Simon Crew (R-03) and they were transferred to the 446th BG, 706th BS on August 10, 1944.
He was credited for 2 more combat missions with the Simon Crew. They didn’t come back from their second mission.
Prisoner Of War
John Drilling was shot down near Rostock, Germany on August 25, 1944. Reference MACR 8473.
He was interrogated at Dulag Luft; then interned at Stalag Luft III for 5 months, and then sent to Stalag 7A for 3 months.
He was liberated on April 29, 1945.
After the war
John Drilling returned to his wife, son, and new baby daughter.
He went back to work with the telephone company, and sired 3 more awesome kids.
Drilling never talked about his WWII experience.
He folded his wings on June 1, 1967.
More Info
Plus other photos
Foster Crew R-20
Simon Crew R-03
Mapping his ordeal from getting shot down, to enduring captivity to his eventual liberation
In Europe
His two sons
their father's
through Europe
in this
42-page PDF
492nd Mission 44
Beaumont, France
4 Jul 44
492nd Mission 45
Kiel, Germany
6 Jul 44
492nd Mission 46
Bernburg, Germany
7 Jul 44
492nd Mission 48
Munich, Germany
11 Jul 44
492nd Mission 49
Munich, Germany
12 Jul 44
492nd Mission 52
Toarns, France
18 Jul 44
492nd Mission 53
19 Jul 44
492nd Mission 54
Erfurt, Gemany
20 Jul 44
492nd Mission 58
Oslebshausen, Germany
29 Jul 44
492nd Mission 60
Ainzy, France
1 Aug 44
492nd Mission 61
3 Aug 44
492nd Mission 64
Brunswick, Germany
5 Aug 44
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Page last modified Sunday, February 18, 2024.