Before he was a hero, he was just a Chicago kid. The youngest of four and son to English immigrant parents, Bert was adored by everyone. Bert finished high school and worked as a purchasing agent. His brother—who, despite being older, idolized Bert—enlisted in the service in 1942 and was stationed in Detroit as a military policeman. Nine months later, Bert decided to do the same. He was just 24 years old when he joined the United States Army Air Corps. The family couldn’t have been prouder; Bert was going to fly.
“Hell’s Angels” was her name, an iconic B17 aircraft on a mission to bomb the U-Boat Yards in Kiel, Germany, and Bert was her 2nd Lieutenant. After a successful bombing, she was up against fifty German FW190s and Me109s. Around 12:30 in the afternoon, Hell’s Angels suffered a hole in the rudder and a stopped engine. Bert, and his 9 comrades on board, died over the North Sea.
This memorial day, I’ll be thinking of the men of the 8th Air Force 91 Bomb Group 322 Bomb Squadron. I’ll be thinking of my great-uncle Albert “Bert” Davies, a man who continues to be honored and loved in our family, though his story survives only through faded correspondence and the memories passed down to a generation that never met him.
This Monday, May 28th, the library will be closed in observance of Memorial Day. The long weekend is a perfect opportunity to meet with your family and tell the stories of the brave men and women who have died in service to our nation. If you’re planning to interview a veteran or those who remember the service of one who has died, consider consulting the chapters on interviewing in The Genealogy Handbook by Ellen Galford and The Genealogy Sourcebook by Sharon Debartolo Carmack.
For information on finding military records, check out The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy by Val D. Greenwood and Mastering Census & Military Records by Daniel W. Quillen. If you need an introduction to genealogy, pick up the Great Courses audiobook Discovering Your Roots, to listen to while you drive. That title is also available on DVD. To read about the stories of brave Cecil Countians, be sure to check out Cecil’s Soldiers: Stories from the World War II Generation by Jenifer Dolde.