William J. Brady was born in Chicago, Illinois, on 19 December 1923. He was the eldest child and brother to two sisters. The family moved to Saugatuck, Michigan, in 1941.
He attended Radio School at Scott Field, Illinois, for 20 weeks in 1944 where he studied radio operation, maintenance, and repair and attended gunnery school in Yuma, Arizona.
On 10 December 1944, Corporal Brady completed his training as a combat crew member at the 222nd Combat Crew Training School at Ardmore Army Air field, Oklahoma.
Arriving in December 1944, Sergeant William Brady was assigned to the 493rd Bombardment Group (H) stationed at RAF Debach in England, one of the last 8th Air Force heavy bomber groups to be activated. Its missions were primarily against German industrial and military installations.
On 19 January 1945, only three weeks after arriving at RAF Debach and only one month after his 21st birthday, Sergeant Brady and the rest of the crew survived a crash of B-17 Flying Fortress "No Love, No Nuthin" in Bottisham. They had yet to fly any combat missions. The aircraft, piloted by Lt. Cornelius Glock, was undergoing engine testing. While flying in a light snow over Cambridge University at an altitude of only 1,500 feet, one engine burst into flames. With only a matter of minutes before the wing tanks exploded, Lt. Glock turned away from Cambridge and looked for a place to land. Too close to the ground to parachute out, the crew elected to "ride the plane down." In an account written in 1988, William Brady recalled:
The engine was burning fiercely and we fully expected the plane to explode on final contact with the ground. We later learned that the only thing that saved us was that the ground was soft and muddy. Each time an engine nacelle hit the ground it scooped up mud. That Bottisham field's mud is what put the fire out and saved us, which is why we have very fond memories of Bottisham.
All eight of us aboard on that flight took off running in different directions still expecting the plane to blow up from the leaking fuel, but it did not. The school children told us we were in Bottisham when they came running across the field to our aid with stretchers, splints, and armloads of bandages. Miraculously none of us were injured. While they were all glad we weren't hurt, I think some were secretly disappointed that they didn't get a chance to demonstrate their first aid techniques on us.
Brady flew 24 bombing missions with a crew led by Lt. Glock / (Rear). The rest of the crew was composed of a co-pilot, navigator, bombardier, engineer, waist gunner, tail gunner, ball gunner, armorer, and William Brady as radio operator/gunner.
From 1 May to 7 May 1945, his crew flew food drop missions to the starving Dutch in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. The western part of the Netherlands had just endured a severe winter with almost no food, no coal or gas to cook with, and no electricity. By the end of April, thousands had starved to death.
The humanitarian missions flown by Allied planes dropped tins of meat and vegetables, cheese, egg powder, lard, chocolate, tea, coffee, and other small gifts. These voedseldroppings as they are called in Dutch was an event remembered by a whole generation of Dutch men and women.
After VE Day (Victory in Europe Day), Technical Sergeant Brady's crew assisted in the evacuation of prisoners released from Mauthausen concentration camp near Linz, Austria, flying them 35 at a time to airfields in France.
He left England on 5 July 1945 and returned home. After the war, he kept in touch with his fellow crewmates and organized a reunion in July 1988. Eight surviving members of "Glock's Flock" attended. Most had not seen each other in 43 years.
Before his death on 14 June 2012, William Brady visited the Air Mobility Command Museum and was happy to see a B-17 like the one he crewed so many years ago.
Items, Documents, and Photos from William Brady
Coat, Service, Ike, Olive Drab
Accession Number: 2013-3242-0017-0001
In a style made popular by General Eisenhower, this enlisted Ike jacket made of olive drab wool has a button front and corduroy-lined pockets. The U.S. and prop and wing collar brass was worn by U.S. Army Air Force personnel. The embroidered crew member aviation badge on a blue felt background signified a combat crew member. On the lower left sleeve is one metal overseas service bar denoting 6 months overseas service. Below the 8th Air Force and 4th Air Force shoulder patches are technical sergeant rank insignia. Under the jacket is an olive drab wool long-sleeved service shirt and tan wool tie.
Cap, Garrison, Olive Drab
Accession Number: 2013-3242-0017-0005
Enlisted air corps members wore this wool cap with blue and orange piping.
Accession Number: 2013-3242-0017-0009
The tan cotton canvas cap has a stitched brim. There are 24 bombs stenciled underneath the brim—one for each mission. A prop and wing insignia is pinned in the middle.View Detail
Cap, Flying, Leather, B-2
Accession Number: 2013-3242-0017-0010
Made by Shaw-Barton, Inc., the brown leather cap with wool fleece interior. The top of the brim is stenciled with 24 silver bombs.
Helmet, Flying, A-9
Accession Number: 2013-3242-0017-0011
This style of flying helmet is made of green cotton twill. It has a leather and chamois chin strap and adjusting laces at sides.
Helmet, Flying, Leather, A-11
Accession Number: 2013-3242-0017-0013
Fox Chase Knitting Mills, Inc. made this brown leather A-11 flying helmet with built-in ANB-H-1 receivers.
Mask, Oxygen, A14
Accession Number: 2013-3242-0017-0014
The A14 oxygen mask by Ohio Chemical & Mfg. Co. clipped to the A-11 flying helmet.
Sunglasses and Case
Accession Number: 2013-3242-0017-0015
Bausch & Lomb Ray-Ban sunglasses were popular with aviators.
Goggle, Flying, B-8
Accession Number: 2013-3242-0017-0016
Electrically heated goggles were sometimes necessary to keep vision clear when flying in cold and unpressurized B-17s.
Lenses, Goggle, Flying, B-8
Accession Number: 2013-3242-0017-0017
Supplemental lenses by Polaroid for B-8 goggles came in green, orange, and clear plastic.
Accession Number: 2013-3242-0017-0018
This ANB-H-1 headset by Utah Chicago with leather headband and rubber ear cushions is in excellent shape.
Microphone, Throat, T-30-P
Accession Number: 2013-3242-0017-0019
The tranducer in a throat microphone (worn against the throat) picked up speech even in noisy conditions.
Blood Chit, Russian
Accession Number: 2013-3242-0017-0020
The use of blood chits by military personnel dates back to WWI. Printed on silk, rayon, and sometimes paper they were printed in languages appropriate to the aircrews' missions. This blood chit, printed in Russian, is a request to communicate with the American Military Mission in Moscow. There's also a 14 language phrase booklet called a "Pointee Talkee," a small Russian phrase card, and instructions for use. All were carried in a hard plastic case with a neck strap.
Accession Number: 2013-3242-0017-0023
This escape and evasion compass made of metal and glass is easily concealed due to its small 5/8-inch diameter size.
Knife, Trench, M3
Accession Number: 2013-3242-0017-0024
The M3 trench knife (this one made by Case) was issued to soldiers, paratroopers, and also to army air corps crewmen as survival gear. The double-edged blade is made of carbon steel, the handle is made of grooved leather, and the pommel is metal. The leather lace ties the knife to a leg or boot.
Machete, Folding, Case XX
Accession Number: 2013-3242-0017-0025
This folding survival knife by Case has a black plastic handle and black metal blade guard.
Holster, Pistol, M3
Accession Number: 2013-3242-0017-0027
This M3 leather shoulder holster was made by Enger-Kress.
Accession Number: 2013-3242-0017-0028
This mirror (probably for shaving) is encased in a fiberboard frame with a hanging hole. The mirror is delaminated and cloudy.
Bag, Oxygen Mask Stowage
Accession Number: 2013-3242-0017-0029
Where do you keep your oxygen mask when you’re not using it? Keep it in this coated fabric zippered pouch.
Accession Number: 2013-3242-0017-0030
This cotton canvas dressing pouch is another small piece of equipment that can attach to a crewman’s utility belt.
Accession Number: 2013-3242-0017-0032
Aircrew members were frequently armed. Two ammunition cartridges were carried in this canvas cartridge pouch by Hoff Mfg. Co. and could clip to a utility belt.
Belt, Utility, Tan
Accession Number: 2013-3242-0017-0034
The many holes in this utility belt were for holding numerous pieces of equipment and gear.
Accession Number: 2013-3242-0017-0035
This style of cotton canvas field bag, also called a musette bag, is still popular today. It could be worn on the back with suspenders or carried over the shoulder.View Rear
Accession Number: 2013-3242-0017-0036
The M1 combat helmet was first used in WWII and remained in use by the U.S. military for 40 years. The steel shell has an inner liner with a twill tape suspension system and leather chin strap. "Bill Brady Saugatuck Michigan" is printed on the headband inside.
Bag, Barrack, Tan
Accession Number: 2013-3242-0017-0038
Barracks bags were issued to soldiers and used to transport their clothing and other issued items. This tan cotton bag was made by Welsh Co. and closes at the top with a heavy cotton cord.
Bag, Kit, Aviator's, AN6505-1
Accession Number: 2013-3242-0017-0039
The AN6505-1 aviator’s kit bag is a large canvas heavy-duty zippered bag designed to carry clothing and equipment.View Rear
Pin, Lapel, Victory
Accession Number: 2013-3242-0017-0040
This unidentified 3/4 high gold-colored metal pin may be a victory lapel pin.
Decoration, Air Medal
Accession Number: 2013-3242-0017-0041
Sgt. William Brady and his crewmates were awarded the Air Medal on 8 March 1945 "for meritorious achievement while participating in heavy bombardment missions in the air offensive against the enemy over continental Europe." Sgt Brady was subsequently awarded three bronze oak leaf clusters as a result of his 24 bombing missions (four Air Medals total).
Cap, Tan (Detail)
Accession Number: 2013-3242-0017-0009
The tan cotton canvas cap has a stitched brim. There are 24 bombs stenciled underneath the brim—one for each mission. A prop and wing insignia is pinned in the middle.View Previous
Bag, M-1936 (Rear)
Accession Number: 2013-3242-0017-0035
This style of cotton canvas field bag, also called a musette bag, is still popular today. It could be worn on the back with suspenders or carried over the shoulder.View Front
Bag, Kit, Aviator's, AN6505-1 (Rear)
Accession Number: 2013-3242-0017-0039
The AN6505-1 aviator’s kit bag is a large canvas heavy-duty zippered bag designed to carry clothing and equipment.View Front
Registration Certificate CardView Rear
Student PassView Rear
Physical Record Immunization CardView Rear
Physical Record CardView Outside
Radio Procedures, pg. 1View Page 2
Orders, Air MedalView Rear
Separation Qualification RecordView Rear
Honorable DischargeView Rear
Registration Certificate Card (Rear)View Front
Student Pass (Rear)View Front
Physical Record Immunization Card (Rear)View Front
Radio Procedures, pg. 2View Page 1
Orders, Air Medal (Rear)View Front
Separation Qualification Record (Rear)View Front
Honorable Discharge (Rear)View Front
Selective Service Registration (Rear)View Front
Physical Record Card (Outside)View Front