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Path Of A Great Uncle In Wwii

WWII B-17E

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#1 rmgill

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Posted 04 June 2019 - 0219 AM

Thinking on my own family history and the Air War over Europe...I started digging tonight. 

My great uncle, on my Maternal Grandmother's side (her brother)
 

Navigator 2nd Lt Grady W. Roper Shot down over Europe, in B-17E tail number 41-9018. 

That aircraft was Assigned 341BS/97BG Polebrook Mar-42; transferred 327BS/92BG Bovingdon Aug-42; Attacked by Lt. Walter Meyer 7./JG26. Lost tail and three engines. Desintegrated over Lannay near the Belgian border. Monument near Mouchin on D955 direction Planard. MACR 15218. 6KIA 2POW 1EVD

Pilot 1Lt Francis H. Chorak (KIA); 
Co Pilot 2Lt Joseph J. Fracchia (POW)
Navigator 2Lt Grady W. Roper (EVD); 
Bombardier 2Lt Charles G. Kolodzinski (POW)
Engineer/Top Turret Gunner SSgt Paul R. Gordon (KIA); 
Radio Operator SSgt John J. Dolan (KIA)
Ball Turret Gunner MSgt James E. Lane (KIA); 
Waist Gunner SSgt Donald E. Buckland (KIA)
Tail Gunner SSgt Malcolm Culpepper (KIA)

http://www.americana...iY_lPb75JMu6_-8

 

Edited by rmgill, 04 June 2019 - 0251 AM.

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#2 rmgill

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Posted 04 June 2019 - 0220 AM

http://www.303rdbg.c...pKMYRw0isbtJdJk

I just received the latest edition of the Molesworth Pilot and saw the article on the January 23,1943 raid to Lorient. T/Sgt Miles Benton Jones (Green Hornet) evaded with my father along with several others as described below. As mentioned, I was looking for any information on his fellow travellers but other than finding the final resting place of T/Sgt Jones have been unsuccessful.

I am doing some research on my father's Escape and Evasion from France in early 1943. In his debriefing after returning to England in May 1943, he mentions travelling with two Americans and several Europeans from France to Spain. One of the evaders is shown as a Lt. Roper USAAF. My research has found that a Grady W. Roper (Lt) 92 Bomb Group 327 Bomber Squadron was shot down on October 9, 1942 in B-17 #41-19018, piloted by Francis Chorak. It also appears he returned to England around the same time as my father so may be the Lt. Roper mentioned in the evasion report.

They evaded with a Sgt Jones. The 303 Bomb Group 359 Bomb Squadron website shows that a T/Sgt Miles B. Jones and was shot down in B-17 41-24603 "Green Hornet" on the same day as my father January 23, 1943 on a daylight raid to Lorient. Sgt Jones also returned to England in May 1943 so is most likely the other evader.

My father Sgt Robert M. Kidd RNZAF was shot down that night while piloting a 75 Squadron RNZAF Short Stirling on a night raid to Lorient. He was the only survivor and his crew is buried in the Town of St. Thegonnec.

Ideally I would like to contact either of these gentlemen or their families but after 67 years, like my father they probably have flown their last missions. If you have any information that could aid my research on the two Americans or if I can provide any information that I posess on their evasion through France to Spain, please feel free to contact me. 

The following information was sent to me by a researcher in Brussels who was contacted by the author of Conscript Heros on my behalf.

  • 2nd Lt Grady W. ROPER, navigator on 41-9018 :
    Enlisted 2 October 1941 at Fort Benning, GA as an Aviation Cadet in the Air Corps. He was from Albany, Dougherty County, GA. Born in Georgia in 1919. The SSDI has him as born 2 July 1919; died 15 June 1988 in 71105 Shreveport, Louisiana (death certificate issued in Georgia.) 

     
  • T/Sgt Miles Benton JONES - radio operator on 41-24603 : He re-enlisted as a S/Sgt at Fort Knox, Kentucky on 27 August 1946. He is listed as living then in Ohio County, Kentucky and born in that State in 1923. So he's the one born 15 May 1923 who died 14 November 2000 in 40143 Hardingsburg, Beckinridge County, KY and buried at the Camp Nelson Cemetery. 
     
  • T/Sgt Arthur B. COX Jr :
    Top Turret Gunner on 41-23678 - Serial 14063517 - enlisted 24 September 1941 at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. Was from Knox County, Tennessee. Born Tennessee 1920. The SSDI has one A.B. Cox, born 22 January 1920 who died on 29 June 1991 (death certificate issued in Tennessee)

If you or your readers have any further information on these three please feel free to contact me.

Robert M. Kidd, Toronto Ontario


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#3 rmgill

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Posted 04 June 2019 - 0221 AM

There's a small memorial near the border with Belgium for the aircrew who were killed that October morning. 

https://www.aerostel...een-mouchin-b17

1404171643Mouchinmonument.jpg


Edited by rmgill, 04 June 2019 - 0243 AM.

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#4 rmgill

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Posted 04 June 2019 - 0239 AM

DETAILS 41-9018

B-17 41-9018, took off from Bovingdon, Hertfordshire, UK at 0900 on a bombing mission over Hellemmes’ railroad installations. They were hit by German AA fire, causing them to drop out of formation and be hounded by nine German Fw-190s. The latter shot off the tail section, sending the plane down. The pilot held on as long as he could to avoid hitting the residential areas, but finally had to bail out. His parachute malfunctioned and he plummeted to his death.

 

https://b17flyingfor...en/b17/41-9018/


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#5 rmgill

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Posted 04 June 2019 - 0251 AM

I'm now more curious how he E&E'd across from Belgium to Spain. He passed away in '88 due to cancer. I really only had one long conversation about B-17s when I was a kid at my Grandparents house one holiday in Albany when he was there to visit with the rest of the family. 


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#6 shep854

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Posted 04 June 2019 - 0735 AM

The things our elders never talked about.  At his funeral, it was mentioned that one of my uncles had been awarded 4 (FOUR) Bronze Stars in SWPAC.  Growing up, I only knew that he had hurt his back in a jeep accident.  He did tell me once that he had served with the 22d Bomb Group, which played a major part in the crazy, desperate combat over New Guinea in '42.


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#7 rmgill

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Posted 04 June 2019 - 1022 AM

Yeah. things I wish I could go back and ask about. 

We need a project to get going on this for Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War and GWOT. 


Edited by rmgill, 04 June 2019 - 1022 AM.

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#8 Rich

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Posted 04 June 2019 - 1032 AM

I'm now more curious how he E&E'd across from Belgium to Spain. He passed away in '88 due to cancer. I really only had one long conversation about B-17s when I was a kid at my Grandparents house one holiday in Albany when he was there to visit with the rest of the family. 

 

Fascinating! All the evaders were carefully debriefed on return to England. The debrief files are probably kept a Maxwell AFB. You might want to inquire.


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#9 rmgill

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Posted 04 June 2019 - 1428 PM

Hmm. I'll enquire with the nice folks at Maxwell. 


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#10 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 07 June 2019 - 0956 AM

Just a very idle thought, the lifelines across Europe were organized by a wing of British military intelligence. MI9 maybe? Ive no knowledge of whether they had any records of American servicemen, but it might be worth throwing it through the British National Archives online catalogue and see if anything on the subject pop up.

 

Glad he made it out btw. :)


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