Miscellaneous Photos and Artifacts

Billy didn't label this photo but Joe Duncan, son of Art, who flew with Billy, provided me with its tragic story in an email. He's pretty sure that it is of the crash  "in which the pilot  Lt William Whitman was killed. Hank Moen was the copilot and was not injured but after this accident joined my Dad's crew as copilot. I'm pretty sure happened in Lessay, France. I spoke a couple of years ago with Russ Anys, the radioman/gunner in Dad's crew (pilot Reid Pulver) and he said they were taxiing on steel mat runways, slippery when wet. The plane slid on the runway and into another plane. The left prop came through the cockpit and killed the pilot.  Hank survived with minor injuries.  After that he was assigned to the Pulver crew." The other plane, according to Moench, was an L-20; page 208 of his book Marauder Men has a picture of the wreck from the same angle, without people in the frame.

A photo of another crash, one with a story behind it, no doubt, as sad as the other, but we have no more information about it than that Billy wrote "Chartres" on the reverse of the print.


A few scenes of life in camp. Unfortunately, the locations are unidentified, but the pictures were found with others taken in France. Another clue that some of these were also taken in France is the tents; in England the Bombardment Group was usually housed in barracks, whereas, according to Moench, often the only housing in the oft-moved French camps was tents. Camp scene
Camp scene Camp scene
Runway scene
Camp scene


Unfortunately the two pictures above were not labelled, but must have been taken in France. The man on the tank in the photo at right is not identified, but Billy is the man posing with the children at left.


Tank Tank
More tank pictures: two views of a tank identified on the reverse as being "on the road to Rennes"


Mission Belle English channel
On the reverse of the photo above, someone wrote, slightly illegibly: "Parky's Mission Belle." (On the B26.com website, I found listed a Merle C. Parkinson as the pilot of the Mission Belle.)  
Billy wrote "England on Channel" on the reverse of this photo

The following group of pictures has a curious history. They were found as a group of negatives in the envelope whose outside is pictured below:

Vogel photographs envelope

Did Billy take them? Were they taken by this Lt. Vogel? Where were they taken? Unfortunately these questions must remain unanswered. I suspect they were taken in England, and possibly in Cambridge, since some of the buildings look a bit like those on the Cambridge postcards. But we may never know for sure. They are interesting photos, though, and one of them, unfortunately quite blurred, is, I think, of Billy (first on the left below) and so I chose to include them in this gallery.

Billy on a bridge English? boys
mystery building
mystery building
mystery building mystery building


At the right is the outside of a medical record card that we found with some of Billy's papers. There were two of these cards, and both are shown below. One shows him being cleared for flying in December of 1942, at APBR (Avon Park Bombing Range). The other shows clearances in 1943 at "AAF358," which is the station designation for Earls Colne, England; and in 1944, at some illegible station. (But, given the date, it is some place in the states since Billy was home by then.) Medical record card
Medical record card Medical record card


In addition to photographs and records, we found a small box with some souvenirs from Billy's time in Europe. One of them was this little booklet, detailing the bylaws for a club operated for socializing by "Members of His Majesty's Forces," and, presumably, U.S. servicemen stationed in England. According to the subscription register on the inside back cover of the booklet, Billy paid his membership dues in January of 1944. Although Bournemouth is very close to a Marauder base at Beaulieu (see this map) in early 1944 Billy was stationed at Earls Colne, so we don't know if he was a regular vistor to the Merville Social Club or not. He did spend a little more than a month in Beaulieu later in the year, after D-Day. Click here to see a PDF of the entire booklet.


Mervile Social Club


Another item in the box was a booklet of English postage stamps. The top three images below are of the front cover, inside back cover, and outside back cover of the stamp booklet; the image below these is of the inside front cover and the stamps.
English stamp book cover
English stamp book cover
English stamp book cover
English stamp book


In addition to the French money you can see on this page, there was also a piece of Portuguese money in the "souvenir box." I have no idea how Billy got money from Portugal; as far as we know he was never there:
Portuguese money
Portuguese money


The poem at right, apparently cut from some publication and altered to refer to "navigators" instead of the original "gunners," was found among June's things. We don't know who made the alterations— Billy, June, or someone else: Navigator poem

Back home in Houston, June was interested in helping the war effort however she could. In one of his letters, Billy refers to her asking about possibly joining the service, and she told me once that she wanted to sign up when the war started but was discouraged by her parents. My cousin Nancy remembers visiting her room and noticing silhouettes of airplanes on the wall. Nancy thinks she was taking some sort of plane spotting course. We recently found this notebook, which appears to contain notes from naval-related courses, dealing with definitions of nautical terms and points of naval rank protocols. The date on the notes is November, 1943. Perhaps she took some sort of naval auxiliary or Coast Guard course at that time? Unfortunately we didn't find the notebook in time to ask her about this, so it will have to remain a mystery. There are some recipes in Momoo's handwriting on blank pages following the notes, supporting the impression that it was not a long-term activity of June's.


Back to Galleries Index

Back to Main Page