A new search on Ancestry.com has provided me with some new and updated/corrected information regarding William Edson Taylor, radio operator of the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces in WWII. Corrected information is bolded.
William Edson Taylor was born in Ishpeming, Michigan on on April 21, 1923 to Carroll Cushing (1895 to 1993) and Ruth Edna Parmelee (1895 to 1985) Taylor. William’s sister, Carol Jane, was born December 2, 1924.
According to the 1930 Federal census, William’s father, Carroll Taylor, was born in Massachusetts. Carroll’s father was born in Massachusetts and his mother in Kansas. William’s mother, Edna Parmelee Taylor, was born in Michigan. Her father was born in Michigan and her mother in Wisconsin. The Taylor family lived in Ironwood, Michigan in 1930. According to the 1940 Federal census, the Taylor family still lived in Ironwood, Michigan and Edna’s parents lived with them.
William Edson Taylor graduated from Luther L. Wright High School in Ironwood, Michigan in 1941.
William’s high school yearbook notes that he participated in many sports including football, volleyball, basketball, and track, and was a member of the I Club and Hi-Y. He was also an ROTC officer and member of the National Honor Society.
William’s younger sister, Carol Jane, was a Junior at the same high school in the 1940 – 1941 academic year, and the next year was Treasurer of the Senior Class of 1942.
On June 30, 1942, William registered for the WWII draft. He listed his address as 165 E. Ridge Street in Ironwood, Michigan. He was nineteen years old and his listed employer was Republic Steel Corporation in Bessemer, Michigan. He was 5’11” tall, weighed 170 pounds, had gray eyes, brown hair, and a light complexion.
On August 27, 1942, at the age of nineteen, William enlisted in the Army Air Corps in Ironwood, Michigan. (Alternate enlistment date was February 8, 1943 with discharge date of October 24, 1945 from Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS death file. The date discrepancy may have been due to a deferment).
On May 23, 1944, shortly before William shipped off to England to join the 384th Bomb Group, Carol Jane married Donald Martyn McDonald (b. 1921 – d. 2013) in Ironwood, Michigan. Donald was also from Ironwood and graduated from the same high school, but a few years earlier, in 1939.
Prior to his marriage to Carol, Donald enlisted in the Marine Corps in June 1942 and served in the Asia Pacific area on Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima, where he was wounded in action against the enemy. He was awarded the Purple Heart Medal and was honorably discharged in November 1945.
On July 26, 1944, William Taylor was assigned as radio operator to the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bombardment Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces, per AAF Station 106 (Grafton Underwood, England) Special Orders #148. The 384th was a B-17 heavy bombardment group. According to his Sortie record, his combat pay was $172.80 per month.
These wartime photos include William Edson Taylor and other enlisted men of the James Joseph Brodie crew. These photos were provided by Harry Liniger, Jr., son of 384th Bomb Group waist gunner Harry Allen Liniger, of the Brodie crew. Identifications were provided by Harry Liniger, Jr., and Patrick Miller, son of 384th Tail Gunner Wilfred Miller.
On August 14, 1944, William Taylor was promoted to Staff Sergeant per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #163.
On October 5, 1944, William Taylor went from duty to MIA (Missing in Action) over Cologne, Germany. Subsequently, he was declared POW (Prisoner of War). On that date, Taylor flew a mission over Germany with the Robert Birckhead crew of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces on a mission to Cologne aboard unnamed flying fortress 43-38579. The Birckhead crew’s fort was damaged by flak and left the formation under control prior to the target.
The damage was too great to make it back to their airbase at Grafton Underwood, England and the fort crashed near Munchen-Gladbach, according to the MACR (missing air crew report). Four of the crew were killed, including pilot Robert Birckhead. Five became POWs, including radio operator William Edson Taylor.
However, the site of the crash is in dispute as discovered by Stewart Lanham, a WWII military aircraft researcher. The crash site likely was east of Dorsten, Germany, near where members of the crew bailed out near Gelsenkirchen.
William Edson Taylor survived POW life at Stalag Luft IV and he survived the eighty-six day, five hundred mile forced march out of the prison camp westward across Germany. I am unsure of the date of his liberation, but according to his NARA POW record, his last Report Date was June 26, 1945.
After the war, William’s sister Carol and brother-in-law Donald McDonald moved to the Boston area where he attended Harvard University. After graduation in 1948, he joined the First National Bank of Boston, becoming vice president. Carol and Donald had three children: Donald, of Chicago, Illinois, Roderick, who died in 2001, and Janice McDonald Rogers (married to Brian Rogers) of Winchester, Massachusetts.
On September 14, 1946, William Edson Taylor married Frances Joyce “Franny” Killeen (b. 13 JAN 1927, Ironwood, Gogebic, Michigan – d. 24 JAN 2016, Largo, Pinellas, Florida). William and Franny had a son, Bradley Thomas Taylor (b. 10 OCT 1954, Minneapolis, Hennepin, Minnesota – d. 6 OCT 2002, New Brighton, Ramsey, Minnesota), and a grandson, Nathan Thomas Taylor (the son of Bradley Thomas Taylor and Marlene Dunsmore), born around 1988. William Taylor married a second time in 1967 to Barbara Elizabeth Magill (1925 – 2010).
William Edson Taylor died on January 29, 2002 in New Hope, Bucks, Pennsylvania, USA and was cremated.
If any family or friends of William Edson Taylor has information about him or photos of him to share, please contact me. I would particularly like to positively identify him in the above wartime photos and am still looking for a full crew photo of the James Joseph Brodie crew.
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© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021