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Submissions of 303rd Bomb Group related stories and articles are most welcome.

December 23, 2012
Volume IV, Issue 12


Christmas 1944 at Molesworth

President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Christmas Message
to the American People - Christmas Eve 1944

It is not easy to say "Merry Christmas" to you, my fellow Americans, in this time of destructive war.

Nor can I say "Merry Christmas" lightly tonight to our armed forces at their battle stations all over the world- or to our allies who fight by their side.

Here, at home, we will celebrate this Christmas Day in our traditional American way- because of its deep spiritual meaning to us; because the teachings of Christ are fundamental in our lives; and because we want our youngest generation to grow up knowing the significance of this tradition and the story of the coming of the immortal Prince of Peace and Good Will.

But, in perhaps every home in the United States, sad and anxious thoughts will be continually with the millions of our loved ones who are suffering hardships and misery, and who are risking their very lives to preserve for us and for all mankind the fruits of His teachings and the foundations of civilization itself.

The Christmas spirit lives tonight in the bitter cold of the front lines in Europe and in the heat of the jungles and swamps of Burma and the Pacific islands.

Even the roar of our bombers and fighters in the air and the guns of our ships at sea will not drown out the messages of Christmas which come to the hearts of our fighting men.

The thoughts of these men tonight will turn to us here at home around our Christmas trees, surrounded by our children and grandchildren and their Christmas stockings and gifts-just as our own thoughts go out to them, tonight and every night, in their distant places.

We all know how anxious they are to be home with us, and they know how anxious we are to have them- and how determined every one of us is to make their day of home-coming as early as possible. And – above all – they know the determination of all right-thinking people and Nations, that Christmases such as those that we have known in these years of world tragedy shall not come again to beset the souls of the children of God.

This generation has passed through many recent years of deep darkness, watching the spread of the poison of Hitlerism and Fascism in Europe-the growth of imperialism and militarism in Japan- and the final clash of war all over the world.

Then came the dark days of the fall of France, and the ruthless bombing of England, and the desperate battle of the Atlantic, and of Pearl Harbor and Corregidor and Singapore.

Since then the prayers of good men and women and children the world over have been answered. The tide of battle has turned, slowly but inexorably, against those who sought to destroy civilization.

On this Christmas day, we cannot yet say when our victory will come. Our enemies still fight fanatically. They still have reserves of men and military power. But, they themselves know that they and their evil works are doomed. We may hasten the day of their doom if we here at home continue to do our full share. And we pray that that day may come soon.

We pray that until then, God will protect our gallant men and women in the uniforms of the United Nations- that He will receive into His infinite grace those who make their supreme sacrifice in the cause of righteousness, in the cause of love of Him and His teachings.

We pray that with victory will come a new day of peace on earth in which all the Nations of the earth will join together for all time. That is the spirit of Christmas, the holy day. May that spirit live and grow throughout the world in all the years to come.

New British War Bride Study Needs You !
by Peter G. Park, RAF Molesworth Historian

303rd Bomb Group Staff Sgt Amedeus Dandini and Doris Mary Masters were married in September 1944. He was just one of the 400 Molesworth men who married British brides during the war. Photo Courtesy of his son, Vincent J. Dandini

Are you a war bride, the husband, or child of a war bride? Or otherwise related to a war bride? Your experiences and insights can inform a new study.

When the American Air Museum in Great Britain (a part of the Imperial War Museum) embarked on new research on British war brides it is no accident that the first wartime unit they wanted to look at is the 303rd Bomb Group at Molesworth, England.

The 303rd can be justly proud of its many firsts such as having the first American bomber to complete 25 missions (B-17 "Hells Angels" on 13 May 1943). Another 'first' for the group is its proud legacy as the unit that married the most British brides during the conflict - reportedly some 400!

Alyson Mercer, American Air Museum in Britain War Brides researcher visits the 303rd Bomb Group (Heavy) Memorial at Molesworth on 29 November accompanied by RAF Molesworth Historian Peter Park. U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sergeant Javier Cruz

Alyson Mercer, a Doctoral Candidate at Kings College, London is doing the research and visited RAF Molesworth on 29 November to see firsthand the base where many of the wartime brides met their GI husbands at parties and hangar dances. She also met with several current day Americans at Molesworth married to British brides here at Molesworth today -- proudly continuing the 'tradition' of the 303rd BG.

War Brides Researcher Alyson Mercer shares a light moment with modern day Americans and their British spouses at Molesworth. U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sergeant Javier Cruz

In talking with today's 'war brides' and their American spouses, Alyson was amazed by how similar many of their experiences, perspectives, joys and concerns are to those she has read about in previous research.

Just as WWII GI war brides came to America along with many young children in "Operation Diaper Run" in the five years following the war, so too many of the British spouses here at RAF Molesworth today followed their husbands to tours of duty back in the U.S. before returning to the job that they hold here today at RAF Molesworth.

Alyson has developed a questionnaire based on one used in earlier studies and would really appreciate if she could get your input and comments. There are 4 versions:

  1. British War Bride living in the United States
  2. Family of British War Bride living, or did live, in the United States
  3. British War Brides living in the United Kingdom
  4. Men married to British War Bride living in the United Kingdom

Please feel free to pass the questionnaire on to any British war brides or their children you may know from any military unit.

Alyson's interest in the subject of war brides is perhaps more than academic! A Canadian with an Anthropology/Archeology degree from the University of New Brunswick, Canada, who has worked for the New Brunswick government, Alyson is herself engaged to a British professional photographer from the beautiful Cornwall area of England.

Lieutenant Colonel Donald R. Smith
Meade County, SD Veteran of the Month
May 2012
Lieutenant Colonel Donald R. Smith (retired) served from 1944-1947 in the U.S. Army Air Corps and again 1951 to 1974 in the U.S. Air Force.

He flew 34 missions over Germany as a copilot in a B-17 bomber as a member of the 303rd Bombardment Group / 427th Bombardment Squadron out of Molesworth, England; to include infamous raids over the heavily defended cities of Merseburg and Ludwigshafen, Germany.

After returning to the states, he was assigned as a Maintenance Officer on numerous aircraft types and also flew with the Hurricane Hunters out of Keesler, Mississippi. He currently resides in Blackhawk, SD.

Lou Nocella is still doing well at 88. He is pictured here with his friend Mitch Friedman during a visit at a rehab center. Lou was there recovering from a fall, but is home now and well. Lou was in the 359th BS Communications Section. Mitch writes that Lou recalls the great men he served with and still has his uniforms, which he brings out from time to time.

303rd BG Veteran Marv Edwards
Grand Marshal of the Branson, MO Christmas Parade

Marv writes: Christmas 2012 brings joy as I think of each of you and what a great life this is! I miss Lou but she will always be with me and our memories are comforting.

I was a celebrated veteran this year! Jane arranged for me to be taken up in a B17; Complete with TV and newspaper interviews. The flight was something else!!

The local bank honored me with veteran of the quarter and I was Grand Marshal of the Branson Christmas parade. It was a treat to ride in a car after marching and carrying the flag for many years.

submitted by Valerie Garneau, grand-niece of Charles Garneau

(crew assigned 360BS: 27 Oct 1943 - photo: Rapid City, SD 19 Aug 1943)

(Back L-R) 2Lt Finis A. Brumbeloe (P)(WIA/POW), 2Lt Donnell H. Marsh (CP)(POW),
2Lt James R. Groves (N)(WIA/POW), 2Lt Charles D. Garneau (B)(KIA), S/Sgt Peter J. Kiebish (E)(POW)

(Front L-R) Sgt Howard S. Payton (RWG)(KIA), Sgt William C. Steele (BTG)(KIA),
S/Sgt Harry V. Hosso (LWG)(POW), Sgt William R. Perryman (TG)(POW)

— Historic Issues Revisited —
This Month:   June 1980

Each veteran's story is a unique part of our history.
Has your story been recorded?
Kyle Miller is an Eagle Scout candidate from Troop 826 in Pickerington, Ohio. Kyle's ambitious Eagle Scout project is to record and preserve the stories of at least 1000 veterans. With young people like Kyle and his team, we know that our veteran's legacy is in good hands for generations to come. We encourage all our 303rd BG veterans to support Klye's Eagle Scout Project and have your story archived on his website.
My name is Kyle Miller. I first heard Mr. Walsh’s story when I was just twelve years old. As a young associate member of the Litsinberger Chapter of Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge, Mr. Walsh’s story was the first I had ever heard from a veteran of war, and it is a story that changed my life. I began to realize and appreciate the sacrifice of our veterans in a whole new way. It is because of their bravery and honor that I enjoy the freedoms we all share today. I ended up writing down his story because I didn’t want to forget it and I didn’t want it to be forgotten. As more members shared their stories, I began to realize I had to do something to preserve them all. The two biggest lessons these veterans taught me; their stories paint the true image of war and these memories will disappear with their generation. Five of the veterans I interviewed from the Litsinberger Chapter, including Mr. Walsh, have died in the last two years. In honor of them, I decided to make the preservation of our service men and women’s legacy, the focus of my Eagle Project.

My Eagle Scout Project is to capture and preserve the stories of 1,000 Veterans. Yes, that's right, 1,000 personal, human, stories from our servicemen and women. Their experiences will be archived on a website I have created called voicesfromthefront.org and available for anyone to hear. In this way, who they are and what they did will not be forgotten!

1,000 is a lot, but with your help, it can be done. I need help contacting veterans who would like to share their stories, volunteers to interview veterans, edit, and publish their stories, and donations to keep the website running and provide interview materials.

If you would like to be a part of preserving the legacy of our nation’s heroes, please visit my website or contact me directly to learn more about Voices from the Front!

Website: http://www.voicesfromthefront.org/
Email Kyle Miller: kyle.miller@voicesfromthefront.org

Mr. Moncur,
I enjoyed this issue of the Molesworth Pilot, esp the video of my home town Tampa and the Memphis Belle. I work on Molesworth as a DoD civilian intelligence analyst and drive past the memorial twice a day, every day. I live a few miles to the west near the Grafton Underwood airbase and pass their memorial for our men as well. I pray for the lost each time. I’ve been to the pub in Cambridge where the aircrew of the Memphis Belle and others inscribed their names on the wall in pen and ash with candles/lighters, it eerie (interestingly it’s the same Pub Francis Crick went to celebrate his discovery of DNA). Thank you for keeping the memory of what our Greatest Generation did for the world alive.


R. Lee Sylvester
Major, US Army (Ret.)
Molesworth England


The video of William Yepes on 'The Belle' is terrific. What an honor for him and those of us whose father's not only served in the Air Corps, but especially those who served in the 303rd. Surely it was bittersweet for Mr. Yepes, but as was pointed out in the video he is a very optimistic man. Please pass along my thanks to the Liberty Foundation for their effort in this regard, as well.

Thank you, Gary, for your continued effort in producing The Molesworth Pilot. We should never let American forget what The Greatest Generation achieved during this time in our Nations' history.

Lest We Forget,
Rutherford Lawrence

Hello Sir.

I was browsing the internet looking for obituary of my very dear friend, Grant Pence. I noted that my name was mentioned, and I was honored to be among one of his best friends. Even though, I, being 100% WWll combat wounded, confined to a power chair, I was honored to be chosen by Grant to be his best man at his wedding in the gazebo at Apache Wells, Mesa Arizona. Shortly after that, i moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, Later when I tried to contact him, his wife informed me that he had passed away. I was deeply heart broken and suffered guilt complex for having neglected to keep in touch with him during the relatively short period of time. Grant was a special friend with whom I enjoyed many hours of pleasant companionship. We were fortunate in that we could exchange many of our life experiences. He was very much appreciated and loved by both my wife, Bobbie, and me. He was always kind and accommodating. Many times he voluntarily drove his own vehicle to carry me to the Veteran's hospital in Phoenix. I think of him often and will always miss him. Thank you for mentioning my name in his obituary notice of "Hell's Angels'.

Harry A. Wolfe


I just wanted to thank you again for the great work you do. My dad passed away a few years ago, and many of his generation have passed or are in their last days, but their memories persist in your work.

Best wishes,
Mark Greenberg

Before I get to the substance of this post, allow me to share some background. My father was a bombardier assigned to the 447th BG. After his death, I received his personal service records and attempted to fill in the gaps. My first significant discovery was that his Official Military Personnel File (along with approximately 18 million others) had been destroyed by a fire at the National Personnel Records Center on July 12, 1973.

After my initial disappointment, I came to realized how important the documents I had from my father’s service were because of all the other personnel listed on them. So I have indexed the men listed on the various documents, producing a list of 902 Army Air Corp personnel.

I have been able to identify Bomb Group assignments for nearly 700 of these men; including the following 57 men who I believe were assigned to the 303rd BG. The first five groups in the list appeared as a crew on at least one document.

Eight of these men were classmates of my father in bombardier’s training at Victorville Army Air Field. They are pictured in the Bombs Away book for class 43-17 and are listed with “Photo” trailing their other information.

I am posting this list to help anyone who is searching for information on any of these men. If you would like scanned copies of the documents from my father’s records that list any of these men, contact me the individual’s name and your email address.

2ND LT Homer P. Bailie, O-757368 – 303rd BG, 358th BS
F/O Costa Markos, T61971 – 303rd BG, 358th BS
2ND LT Edward L. Waterland Jr, O-708596 – 303rd BG, 358th BS
2ND LT Herbert Leonard Barkin, O-761386 – 303rd BG, 358th BS – Photo
Sgt Robert B. Sawyer Jr, 34605202 – 303rd BG, 358th BS
Sgt William J. Ham, 33461926 – 303rd BG, 358th BS
Sgt Charlie F. Munn, 34645427 – 303rd BG, 358th BS
Sgt Richard G. Naylor, 33588953 – 303rd BG, 358th BS
Sgt Gregorio Martinez, 37511424 – 303rd BG, 358th BS
Pfc Frank E. Oss, 16113514 – 303rd BG, 358th BS

2ND LT John H. Baker, O-757369 – 303rd BG, 358th BS
2ND LT Ronald Claeys, O-709291 – 303rd BG, 358th BS
2ND LT Frank Gordon Belles, O-761387 – 303rd BG, 358th BS – Photo
Sgt Fred H. Judd, 39452660 – 303rd BG, 358th BS
Sgt Warren L. Kishbaugh, 32091052 – 303rd BG, 358th BS
Sgt Stanton A. Parker, 34547851 – 303rd BG, 358th BS
Sgt Archie D. Peters, 35647420 – 303rd BG, 358th BS
Sgt Fred P. Reichmann, 34545958 – 303rd BG, 358th BS
Sgt Joseph S. Bertasso Jr, 32856309 – 303rd BG, 358th BS

2ND LT John P. Watson, O-757405 – 303rd BG, 358th BS
2ND LT Glenn H. Neely, O-819147 – 303rd BG, 358th BS
2ND LT Charles F. Coe, O-711343 – 303rd BG, 358th BS
2ND LT John Ellery Borg, O-761392 – 303rd BG, 358th BS – Photo
Sgt John H. White Jr, 34644798 – 303rd BG, 358th BS
Sgt Paul J. Kapes, 36633429 – 303rd BG, 358th BS
Sgt William C. Byerly, 35605991 – 303rd BG, 358th BS
Sgt James E. Cummings, 37474801 – 303rd BG, 358th BS
Sgt Robert G. Hollifield, 34607948 – 303rd BG, 358th BS
Sgt Wallace Goldfarb, 12092720 – 303rd BG, 358th BS

1ST LT Sam Oliver, O-664437 – 303rd BG, 358th BS
2ND LT Stanley R. Shankweiler, O-819187 – 303rd BG, 358th BS
2ND LT Spiros P. Contos, O-709295 – 303rd BG, 358th BS
2ND LT Harry Chapple, O-761401 – 303rd BG, 358th BS – Photo
Sgt John P. Kissling, 34508926 – 303rd BG, 358th BS
Sgt Whitney Haskell, 31220033 – 303rd BG, 358th BS
Sgt Wayne Humphries, 39907965 – 303rd BG, 358th BS
Sgt Americo S. Imbrogno, 12181349 – 303rd BG, 358th BS
T/Sgt Francis H. Russell, 6949671 – 303rd BG, 358th BS
Sgt Robert Scalco, 14069658 – 303rd BG, 358th BS

1ST LT Charles R. Allen, O-724503 – 303rd BG, 427th BS
2ND LT James S. Parham, O-819270 – 303rd BG, 427th BS
2ND LT John A. Thurmon, O-708589 – 303rd BG, 427th BS
2ND LT Louis Howard Bourgeault, O-761393 – 303rd BG, 427th BS – Photo
Sgt John A. Reed, 39856158 – 303rd BG, 427th BS
Sgt LeRoy H. M. Foerster, 38367951 – 303rd BG, 427th BS
Sgt Robert L. Bohenstiel, 34508861 – 303rd BG, 427th BS
Sgt Lee F. Knedler, 39609250 – 303rd BG, 427th BS
Pfc Edward P. Stansbury, 15172235 – 303rd BG, 427th BS

2ND LT Deane Kenneth Day, O-761411 – 303rd BG, 358th BS – Photo
2ND LT Curtis Edwin Doan, O-761412 – 303rd BG, 358th BS – Photo
CAPT Jack W. Riseden, O-705257 – 303rd BG, 358th BS
1ST LT Lawrence (NMI) Lifshus, O-682489 – 303rd BG, 358th BS
CAPT George R. Sirany, O-753936 – 303rd BG, 359th BS
Sgt Donald W. Bourlier, 12200808 – 303rd BG, 360th BS
2ND LT William Albert Dugger, O-761415 – 303rd BG, 427th BS – Photo
1ST LT William A. Malone, O-719120 – 303rd BG, 427th BS

Chris Ames

If you'd like to contact Chris, please send me a note at glm@303rdBG.com and I'll forward it to him. Gary

William M. "Bill" Jones Retired Lt. Col. USAF, age 87 of San Antonio, TX, went to be with the Lord Thursday, November 29, 2012. He died peacefully in his sleep.

Born in Dyersburg, TN, March 19, 1925, he called San Antonio home after retiring. He was a faithful Son, Brother, Husband and had a distinguished career as an Officer in the United States Army Air Corp which later became the United States Air Force.

Bill was a Navigator in the 358th Bomb Squadron of the 303rd Bomb Group (8th AF) "Hell's Angels", flying combat missions out of Molesworth, England. He flew 35 combat missions over Germany and Nazi occupied Europe and 55 missions over Vietnam.

Bill was preceded in death by his loving wife Pat N.M. Jones, his mother, Georgia Emma (Richardson) Jones, his Father, Cadmus Charles Jones, sister, Marie Jones, and 2 grandchildren, Shannon M. Grant and Trevor Rollins. Bill is survived by his 3 daughters, Beverly E. Washington of Elmendorf, TX, Linda R. McCaleb of San Antonio, TX, Jennifer S. Rollins, of Houston, TX, and son, Wayne M. Jones of Houston, TX.

His 8 Grandchildren are Bethann Matysiewski, Michael Wadsworth, Travis Jones, Shawn Jones, William Cary (Grant) Dominque, Wesley Dominque, Lauren Rollins, and Preston Rollins. His 6 Great-Great Grandchildren are Victoria Heymann, William Matysiewski, Travis Matysiewski, Jimmy Dominque, Annabelle Jones and Logan Wadsworth.

The family will receive friends at the viewing being held at Sunset North Funeral Home, Dec. 9th, between the hours of 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM. You are invited to attend graveside services at FT. SAM HOUSTON NATIONAL CEMETARY, December 10th at 1:00 PM, officiated by Pastor Chad R. Chaddick In Lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Bill's name to Copperfield Church Cancer Ministry, Angels in Action. http://copperfieldchurch.com/angelsinaction You may sign the online guestbook at www.sunsetnorthfuneralhome.com

Granville (Grant) Pence, 80 years old, passed away on July 3, 2004 in Mesa, Arizona.

Grant is survived by his wife, Mary Anne; his son, Steve (Angie) Pence; his daughters, Kathryn Bollinger, Brenda (Phil) Peterson, and Lori (Bob) Baker; 4 stepchildren; 17 grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren.

Grant was born on November 30, 1923, in Sanford, Maine. He spent his youth in Maine until he joined the U.S. Air Force at the age of 17. As a bombardier pilot, he was part of the European Theater Operations in Hamburg, Germany. After flying 19 missions, Grant's plane was shot down in 1944 in Germany, where he remained as a prisoner of war for a year. After being liberated in 1945 from Stalag Luft 3 Mooburgh, Grant was awarded a Silver Star, the Medal of Honor, and the POW Victory Air Medal.

After retiring from the Air Force as a Lieutenant Colonel, Grant began a lifetime of skilled and creative work, much of which became his passion, as well as his livelihood; he was a tool and die maker, a master wood craftsman, and a pilot. His ability to transform wood into a detailed model of a 19th century sailing ship or into a fine piece of furniture and build his own airplane was a natural for him, but awe-inspiring for his family and friends.

Grant, as a considerate and gentle husband, father, grandfather, and friend, you'll always live in our hearts, and we know you're now doing what you loved to do best: flying peacefully above the clouds with friends and loved ones. Graveside services will be held on Tuesday, July 13, 2004 at 9:00a.m., City of Mesa Cemetery, 1212 N. Center St, Mesa, Az. Bunker's Garden Cahpel handled the arrangements.

George I. Pilgrim, 12-8-23 9-13-12. World War II Veteran George I. Pilgrim, 88 of Tyler, Texas, went to be with his Lord and Savior on September 13, 2012.

Mr. Pilgrim was born December 8, 1923 in Pine, Texas to Allie Mae Pilgrim and George W. Pilgrim.

George's father passed away when he was 15 and he took care of his mother and finished his education in Pittsburg. He worked briefly before he joined the U.S. Army Air Corp in August 1942 and trained to be an aircraft mechanic. He was stationed in Molesworth, England and later Knettishall, England where he served until July 7, 1945. George Pilgrim was a member of the 303rd Bomb Group and later the 388th Bomb Group.

While on leave in Scotland, he met a lovely young lass named Helen Gillies, who would travel after the war to Texas to become his wife of 64 years. While living in Gilmer they raised their three children. He worked for Humble Oil Company and the Cotton Belt Railroad as a brakeman and conductor. George was a Past Worshipful Master of the Masonic Lodge in Gilmer. They moved to Tyler 1973, where he continued to work for the Cotton Belt Railroad and was a proud member of the United Transportation Union until his retirement in 1986. They traveled many places, often to The 388th Bomb Group Reunions where he served a term as President. Mr. Pilgrim was honored to join the Brookshire's World War II Heroes Flight to Washington D.C. in October 2010. They visited the WW II Memorial, the Washington Mall and so many treasured sites. This was a thrill for him to share this with his fellow veterans, his daughter, Hazel Moore, and granddaughter, Jamie Pilgrim.

He is survived by his children and their spouses: Jacqueline and Kenneth Goates, Hazel and Kenny Moore, George Scott Pilgrim and Tammy Pilgrim, all of Tyler. Grandchildren; Steven and Jill Goatesl, Jennifer and Jimmy Neal, and Victor Pilgrim, all of Tyler and Jamie Lynn Pilgrim of Alexandria, Va. Great grandchildren include Grant, Gregory, and Grayden Goates, Katherine and Hunter Neal all of Tyler, and Mackenzie Neal of Tipton, Missouri, and nieces, Martha Larison, Sharon Nelson and Saundra Gail Shelton; and nephews, Billy K. Pilgrim and Leo Bailey, Jr..

He was preceded in death by his parents, wife, Helen Pilgrim; sisters, Elva Lee Hayden, Christine Bailey, and brother, Billy Pilgrim and niece, Kay Gideon.

Keeping the Legacy Alive,

Gary L. Moncur
Molesworth Pilot Editor
303rd Bomb Group Historian
copyright © 2009 - 2012 Gary L. Moncur

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Submissions of 303rd Bomb Group related stories and articles are most welcome.