Sgt. Willard Alexander Delavan
Hello Mr. Carrozza,
I found your name and address from searching Google and looking for B-26, 42-95917, nicknamed “Shopworn Angel.”
My name is Kurt Spence and I am a historian and genealogist. I was recently in the National Archives in College Park, MD looking for a couple of my ancestors who were POW’s during World War II. I did not find my ancestors but I happened to discover hidden away in a small box, 175 photographs of 171 different POW’s. I have been researching and trying to find out who these airmen were. I have been able to identify all enlisted men and officers who were airmen of B-17s and B-24s and B-26s that were shot down in early 1945 over Germany. Most were American airmen but three were from Australia, one from New Zealand, one from Poland, two from South Africa, nine from Canada and ten from England. They were all sent to the interrogation center at Dulag Luft Oberursel within hours or days of their capture and these photographs were taken. The airmen were later sent to other Stalags but all ended up at Stalag VIIA Moosburg until t heir liberation by Patton’s Third Army on 29 April 1945.
I believe I have found the photo of Willard Alexander Delavan, the tail gunner of Shopworn Angel when it was hit by flak on 14 February 1945 during a bombing run on the railroad bridge at Engers, Germany.
Can you tell me more about circumstances that day when the aircraft was hit by flak? Is it true that Harry Zuest and Frederick LaFountaine were told to bail out the lighten the load before Captain Thomas Brennan was able to land the B-26? Where did the aircraft land? Did Delavan bailout or was he captured upon landing?
Thank you for your help. You may telephone, email or snail mail me at the address below.
J. Kurt Spence
Hello Carl Carrozza and Alf Johannessen
Thank you for all the help and information. I have seen or discovered most of that information. It took me a long time to put a name to all the photos that I found when I only had the airmen’s service number. But after about four months and with the help of several other historians, I was able to identify all but one.
Attached is the photograph of Sgt. Willard Alexander Delavan. Also attached is the photo of St. Arthur John Sullivan who also crashed that day on the mission to the Engers railroad bridge. Sullivan was a tail gunner with the 479th Bomb Squadron and part the the 1st Lt. John Paul Nelson crew aboard B-26G1 #43-34196 that also crashed nearby.
These are the only two photographs I have of airmen with the 344th Bomb Group. I do not have a photo of Harry Zuest as he was killed before the others became POWs and had their photos taken at Oberursel near Frankfort.
Yes please add the photos of Delavan to your website. That would be fine. I do not know much about Delavan other than he was born on 13 October 1925 the son of Willard and Hazel M. Delavan of Pittsfield, MA. He died on 23 December 1997 in Leadville, CO. 1