Soldiers from New York: Jewish Soldiers in The New York Times, in World War Two: 2 Lt. Peter Geiger – July 28, 1945

While military conflict by definition and nature brings with it the probability and near-inevitability of loss of life, nominal military service as such, even at locales often far removed from areas of actual combat, has always carried with its own degree of danger.  One aspect of the risk inherent to military service lies in support of and preparation for combat.  During the Second World War, a central aspect of this was reflected in the loss of aircraft and personnel by the United States Army Air Forces, Navy, and Marine Corps during flying training and routine air operations in the continental United States, and, overseas.

On August 9, 1945, an example of this appeared as an obituary published in the Times covering Army Air Force Lieutenant Peter Geiger of the, who was lost with his crew during a flight over Hawaii. 

Killed in Plane Crash Last Month

Lieut. Peter E. Geiger of the Army Air Forces died in an airplane crash in the territory of Hawaii on July 28, according to word received by his wife, Su D. Geiger.

Born in New York City twenty-two years ago, he was graduated from the Woodmere Academy and was attending Dartmouth College when he enlisted in the Air Forces in September, 1942.

Lieutenant Geiger was commissioned and received his wings as a pilot at the Columbus (Miss.) Army Air Field in June, 1944.  He was attached to the Seventeenth Tow Target Squadron in Hawaii.

In addition to his widow, he is survived by his mother, Mrs. Erwin Geiger, and his sister, Miss Joan Geiger of 419 East Fifty-Seventh Street.

A pilot in the 17th Target Towing Squadron of the 7th Fighter Wing, 7th Air Force, Lt. Geiger and his four crewmen were killed in the crash of B-24J Liberator 44-40706, the loss of which is described in Army Air Force Accident Report 46-7-28-515.  Like his father Erwin, who died on July 7, 1943, Peter is buried at Mount Hebron Cemetery, in Flushing, New York.  (Block 72, Section B, Lot 18, Grave 7)

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This is a view of the wartime residence of Lt. Geiger’s mother and sister, at 419 East 57th Street in Manhattan, as seen at Apartments.com.

And, a Google street view of the building’s entrance.

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This is the first page of the Accident Report (46-7-28-515) covering the loss of Lt. Geiger’s Liberator.  (Unlike MACRs – which have been digitized, and, which have long been available for research at the United States National Archives in College Park in microfiche format, Accident Reports must be requested in writing from the Air Force Historical Research Agency at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.)  Note that the document accords substantial space for information about the training and flying experience – particularly hours flown – by the aircraft pilot.

This image presents an eyewitness account of the loss of B-24J 44-40766, by Sgt. Robert L. Burns.

The image is a summarized Description of the Accident.  The conclusion: “The Aircraft Accident Investigating Board was unable to determine whether power plant failure was a contributing factor in the crash.  The opinion of the Aircraft Accident Investigating Board is that the Pilot and Co-Pilot were fully qualified to fly this type aircraft.”

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Unlike Missing Air Crew Reports, though information about air crew members in Army Air Force Accident Reports includes a serviceman’s name, rank, and serial number, names of next-of-kin and residential addresses are entirely absent.  Certainly the accident report covering the loss of Peter Geiger’s Liberator follows this pattern, with the crew being listed at the bottom of page 1 of the document.  (See above.)

This “anonymity” of the crew members provided an opportunity to see what could be discovered about the crew, using Ancestry.com and other web-based resources.  The results were rewarding, for ample genealogical information about these four men was readily; easily found.  Very brief biographical profiles for them are presented below:

Co-Pilot: 1 Lt. Cecil E. “Pete” Tickner, 0-693712
Mrs. Dora Mae Brown Tickner (wife), Jon Tickner (son; YOB 1943), 1001 Brown St., Madison / 204 East Seventh St., Madison, ll.
Mr. and Mrs. Glenn and Lucretia (Gray) Tickner (parents), Harold E. Tickner (brother), 2711 Powhatton St., Alton, Il.
Born 12/18/17, Fairfield, Il.
Oakwood Cemetery, Upper Alton, Il.

Flight Engineer: T/Sgt. Robert J. Patterson, 17030270
Mr. and Mrs. Charles Alexander and Clara Grace Patterson (parents), Betty, Clara G., Helen, and Leslie Patterson (sisters), Jackson County, Mo.
Born 4/12/20, Colorado
Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery, Fort Leavenworth, Ks. – Section I, Grave 175C

Flight Engineer: Sgt. Phillip Watrous “Phil” Hatfield, 39455940
Mrs. Theoda Violet (Campbell) Hatfield [Jenson] (wife)
Mr. and Mrs. Philip Augustus and Mabelle (Watrous) Hatfield (parents), Ray C. Hatfield (brother), Hallie E. Hatfield (nephew), Columbia County, Wa.
Born 5/12/10, Dayton, Wa.
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii – Plot E52

Radio Operator: PFC John H. McNally, 15104642
Mr. and Mrs. Francis J. and Mary McNally (parents), Mary E., Michael, and William (sister and brothers)
643 Fernwood Ave., Toledo, Oh.
Born 10/2/20, Ohio
Buried at Calvary Cemetery, Toledo, Oh.

Some other Jewish military casualties on Saturday, July 28, 1945, include…

– .ת.נ.צ.ב.ה. –

Killed in Action

Adler, Bernard, 1 Lt., 0-1173139, Field Artillery, Silver Star, Purple Heart
United States Army, 32nd Infantry Division, 126th Field Artillery Battalion
Mrs. Sylvia Adler (wife) [8/10/19-3/11/95]
Mr. Samuel A. [3/23/88-5/11/83] and Leah [12/7/85-5/17/83] Adler (parents), 249 County St., New Haven, Ct.
Born 4/1/14
Mount Sinai Memorial Park, New Haven Ct. – Plot 160
https://www.findagrave.com/
Casualty List 8/28/45
American Jews in World War II – 61

Banker, Lea (“Lili Stefania”), LAW (Leading Aircraft Woman), 2992592
England, Women’s Auxiliary Air Force
Died in aircraft accident, en route from Egypt to the Yishuv
Mr. and Mrs. Adolf and Sophie Banker (parents), Brighton, Ma.
Born 9/21/21, Lodz, Poland
http://www.lodz-israel.co.il/soldiers/22banker-pol.html
Ramleh War Cemetery, Ramleh, Israel – Special Memorial E (Buried in Jerusalem?)
The Jewish Chronicle 8/17/45
We Will Remember Them (Volume I) – 182

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2 Lt. Harvey M. Brandriss and F/O Lawrence H. Goldman were the radar operator and bombardier of a 63rd Bomb Squadron (43rd Bomb Group – “Ken’s Men”) B-24M Liberator, 44-42127 (nicknamed “Boots“) that vanished during an armed reconnaissance mission to the Inland Sea of Japan.  Biographical records of them follow… 

Brandriss, Harvey M., 2 Lt., 0-931344, Radar Operator, Air Medal, Purple Heart
Mrs. Lorraine D. Brandriss (wife), 2782 Modill St., Chicago, Il.
Class 44-G, Selman Field
Tablets of the Missing at Honolulu Memorial, Honolulu, Hawaii
American Jews in World War II – 94

Goldman
, Lawrence H., F/O, T-132703, Bombardier, Air Medal, Purple Heart

Mrs. Mary Goldman (mother), 5801 8th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y.
Tablets of the Missing at Honolulu Memorial, Honolulu, Hawaii
Casualty List 8/22/45
American Jews in World War II – Not listed

The loss of Boots is covered in MACR 14845, the crew list, location map, and next-of-kin list of which are presented below:

Piloted by 2 Lt. Charles H. Kerns, the plane, and the 11 men aboard it, have never been found. 

However enigmatic information at the POW Research Network Japan, a project of Dr. Aiko Utsumi and teacher Toru Fukubayashi, sheds light on the loss of Boots.  One of the six documents they have compiled covering Allied aircraft and airmen lost over the Japanese Mainland during the war – specifically, over the Chugoku (Chugoku) and Shikoku Army Districts – states the following:

“B-24 Jul. 28, 1945  B-24 (#44-42127, nicknamed Boots, 43BG) crashed offshore between Hiroshima-ken and Ie-jima, Okinawa-ken.
The plane was hit by AA fire while attacking Kure Harbor.
All 11 crew members including 2 /Lt. Charles H. KERNS (A/C) were killed.”

Another source, Accident-Report.com, gives the location as “SAGANOSEKI AT SEA, JAPAN”.

Could the source of this information be Japanese military records? 

Could the source of this information be Individual Deceased Personnel Files?

I do not know.

In any event, the names of Boots’ crew are memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorial, in Hawaii.

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Stein, Harry, PFC, 32704732, Radar Operator
United States Army Air Force, 1347th Army Air Force Base Unit
Mrs. Ida Weinstein (aunt), 1002 Foster Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y.
MACR 14799; Aircraft: C-109 44-48890; “Little Chief”; Pilot: Capt. Claude W. Tucker; 4 crewmen – no survivors
Place of burial unknown
The Aluminum Trail – 460
American Jews in World War II – 453

References

Dublin, Louis I., and Kohs, Samuel C., American Jews in World War II – The Story of 550,000 Fighters for Freedom, The Dial Press, New York, N.Y., 1947.

Quinn, Chick Marrs, The Aluminum Trail – How & Where They Died – China-Burma-India World War II 1942-1945, Chick Marrs Quinn, [Florida?], 1989

Morris, Henry, Edited by Gerald Smith, We Will Remember Them – A Record of the Jews Who Died in the Armed Forces of the Crown 1939 – 1945, Brassey’s, United Kingdom, London, 1989

United States Army Air Force Accident Report # 46 – 7 – 28 – 515

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