Brady William J
B-17 Radio Operator/Gunner

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 worked as a furniture finisher before his induction into the U.S. Army on 29 March 1943.

On 2 June 1943, while stationed at Camp Wheeler, Georgia, Private Brady (now qualified as an aviation cadet) was transferred to the Air Corps.

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.

Artifacts

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.

Socks, Green

Accession Number: 2013-3242-0017-0006

Heavy socks are knitted of green wool.

Cap, Tan

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.

Headset, ANB-H-1

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.

Compass, Button

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.

Mirror

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.

Pouch, Dressing

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.

Pouch, Cartridge

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.

Bag, M-1936

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

Helmet, M1

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 Card

View Rear

Aviation Cadet Orders

Student Pass

View Rear

Certificate of Honor

Physical Record Immunization Card

View Rear

Physical Record Card

View Outside

Notice to Pilots and Radio Operators

Signal Lights List

ATC Radio Notes, pg. 1

View Page 2 View Page 3 View Page 4

Radio Procedures, pg. 1

View Page 2

Mission List

Orders, Air Medal

View Rear

Separation Qualification Record

View Rear

Honorable Discharge

View Rear

Registration Certificate Card (Rear)

View Front

Student Pass (Rear)

View Front

Physical Record Immunization Card (Rear)

View Front

ATC Radio Notes, pg. 2

View Page 1 View Page 3 View Page 4

ATC Radio Notes, pg. 3

View Page 1 View Page 2 View Page 4

ATC Radio Notes, pg. 4

View Page 1 View Page 2 View Page 3

Radio Procedures, pg. 2

View 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

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