During World War II it was a common practice to have some type of insignia or saying on the nose of a bomber that reflected some correlation to a hometown or person of the crew. On July 3, 1942, Laurence Durwood Sies graduated from training as an Aviation Cadet and was designated as a pilot in the Army Air Force.
The Peerless Clipper was one of these and was purchased as a result of War Bond sales by the Peerless Woolen Mills of Rossville, Georgia, across the state line near Chattanooga, Tennessee.
It was a B-24 bomber in the 449 Bomb Group 717, Bomb Squadron and the plane was initially assigned to the crew of Chattanooga native Sies.
who operated Sies Electric Company in Chattanooga on 11th
Street after the war until his death.
According to his daughter, Katie Henderson, Sies flew 52 missions during the war. Twenty-five missions were the normal limit before being transferred to another plane.
The plane was lost on April 2, 1944 over Steyr, Austria located in the Austrian federal state of Upper Austria. The aircraft flew into a mid-air collision resulting from a rocket attack by Lufwaffe fighters which shot down two other bombers, “Miss Behavin” and “Superstitious Al-o-ysius." The plane then was piloted by 1st Lt. Jake Kury and all 11 members of his crew perished and only one man survived out of the 31 men flying in the three planes.
Sies would survive the war and raise four daughters. He lost his rank when he flew under the Market Street Bridge in a P51 Mustang on a lark. He moved up the ranks from 2nd Lt. to Major, but as a result of his under the bridge caper was demoted back to Captain.
According to his son-in-law, Dave Pope, who married Sies youngest daughter Laura, after serving his 25 missions on the Peerless Clipper, Sies transferred to the O.S.S. which was the predecessor to the present-day CIA. He flew a B-24 bomber at night in an aircraft that had no numbers and was painted black.
The plane's duties included dropping money, propaganda pamphlets and French Nationals of the resistance fighters in occupied France who would be parachuted into their native country.
For his military service, Sies was awarded several decorations while serving in the Air Force. They included the Distinguished Flying Cross American, Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Cross France, Silver Star Croix DeGuerre, American Theater Metal, Distinguished Service Medal, European Theater Metal and others.
It is another story about a Chattanooga young man and his Rossville Peerless Woolen Mill connection that is part of the military legacy of our community.
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