Billy and Mamaw

Photographs of People

This picture of Billy and Una, his mother, was probably taken at his graduation from Navigator School, since the background scenery looks like it could be south Texas, and there are wings on his uniform, signifying that had at least completed this basic training.

Note that some of the previously unidentified people in these snapshots now have names and stories! Thanks to Joe Duncan, whose father, Art, was a fellow navigator who flew at least one mission with Billy.

One of Billy and June's best friends from Houston was Shirley Estes (nicknamed "Lard"). During the war, Lard was a B-17 pilot, also based in England. He is referred to often during the Journal, as Billy was able to meet up with him a few times when both had leaves in London, or at Lard's base when Billy had time off. Here are two pictures of Lard that Billy had in a leather case, which we found among his things. It is quite possible that the picture case was with Billy in Europe. The notes written on the reverse of each picture are shown below, also.

Lard note on reverse note on reverse Lard in uniform
Lard was also close to Billy's family. We found a postcard from him to Una, which was addressed "Dearest Mom." And he was represented by a charm on a bracelet belonging to June, as well: charm bracelet


At right are two unlabelled photos of Billy. The jaunty one with the flying scarf was taken before his promotion to Captain, since the insignia on his cap is that of a Lieutenant. The one in the swim suit, I believe, was taken somewhere overseas. I base that conjecture on the quonset-type building in the background (although this could also have been on a base in the states). Billy in swimsuit Billy in scarf


We have two unlabelled pictures of Billy with different groups of mates, in addition to the official (and fortunately labelled) one of him with his "Bird Dog Special" crew. The one at right looks like another crew photo, with Billy second from the left.



The other group photo, at left, could be simply a group of friends, although it could also be a crew since the number of men is correct. I speculate that it was taken in France, since the housing in the oft-moved French camps was tents, according to Moench. Billy is is on the left in the front row. It might be possible to match up some of these men with those in other, labelled pictures, but I was not able to do so. Thus they remain anonymous wartime friends of Billy's.


The photograph at the right, which unfortunately did not scan very clearly, had "The 'Beast' and his crew" written in Billy's hand on the reverse. The only mention of a "Beast" in the journal is in the write-up of mission number 41, in May of 1944. In case you cannot read the plane's name in the poor image, it is "Bat outa Hell II."

Beast and crew


The three photos below were labelled, although not by Billy. The photo on the right was loaned by Mrs. McKenna and shows Billy's friend C.W. "Mick" McKenna in London. He labelled it: "in front of the Raindeer Club." We suspect that the other two were sent to Billy, possibly after he left Europe. The one in the middle was surely taken this late, since the note on the reverse reads "Lyons @ A-69," which was the numerical designation for the 323rd Group's base at Laon, France. The Group was there beginning in October of 1944, when Billy was already in England awaiting transport home. (The other pictures Billy had of Laon were labelled in the same hand.)

The note on the reverse of the one on the left indicates it was taken earlier, reading: "Grillo Barksdale, Jan., 1944." ("Grillo" also appears in one of the pictures below, which I think were taken somewhat later and sent to Billy.) Neither "Grillo" nor "Lyons" were mentioned in the Journal or in any letters. But, thanks to Joe Duncan, we know much more about Joe Grillo. He was a close friend of Joe's father Art's, and in fact Art named his son after his friend. Joe Grillo was killed during the Battle of the Bulge, according to Joe Duncan, when the Mission Belle was shot down, on December 26, 1944.



Joe Duncan's copy of this photo is labeled "Lyons 65 Nav." He believes that "this probably means Lyons was a fellow navigator and had 65 missions at that time."

Mick in London


Photo of

We've learned something very special about the gentleman on the left. His name was Art Duncan, and my husband, Henry, met his son, Joe, at a Marauder squadron reunion in San Antonio in the fall of 2008. Unfortunately I was not at the meeting (since I was in London at the time) but I've corresponded with him a good bit since then and hope to meet him in person at a future reunion.

I asked Henry to take a copy of the photos we hadn't been able to identify to the reunion and see if he could find someone who knew some of the subjects. Imagine his surprise when he wasn't the only person there with many of the photos! The other copies belonged to the Duncans.

The mystery of the photo on the left, and many of those in the box below, has now been solved. They were sent to Billy after he went home, by Mr. Duncan, who thoughtfully labelled them, but who only identified himself as "Me" in them. We found them glued into a scrapbook of Billy's and so some of the notations were not readable after the photos were removed from the book. Since many of them look very much like the ones taken of Laon, I had speculated that they might be from that base, but they could also be from other bases that Billy's unit moved to as the war progressed. The words in Courier are those that were on the backs of the photos; my additions in Times Roman reflect information from Joe. Thanks so much to him for helping identify the locations and names in many of the photos.


Moen, Grillo, Fox

Hank Moen (who was later co-pilot in Reid Pulver's crew—see his picture below— where Art Duncan was the navigator), Grillo, Fox
(on guard duty?)

Joe Duncan thinks that Fox is probably Lt. John Fox, pilot of the Mission Belle (see note regarding Lt. Grillo and this plane, above). According to Joe Duncan, Joe Grillo was the navigator/bombardier of the Mission Belle and Lt. Fox was the pilot when it was lost. Fox was one of Hank Moen's close friends.

P--, Davis Dusty, Smithy, McFadden
Moen, Me, Pappy

P??, Davis

Joe Duncan has identified the airman on the right as Jim Davis (whose photo in Paris is in the box below)

Billy's copy: Dusty, Smitty, McFadden

Joe's copy: Dusty (65), Smitty & McFadden (65)

Joe notes that 65 is a very special number, referring to the number of missions flown. We think that after 65 chances were good of getting sent home.

Hank Moen, Me (Art Duncan)
and Pappy


Joe Duncan identifies this airman as Reid Pulver: "Reid was the pilot of my Dad's crew.  They used to call him "Pappy", and that is also him in the photo to the left....My brother's middle name is Reid.  Guess who he is named after!"

McFadden, Adams
Hap Hooligan
McFadden, Adams
Smitty? (very unclear label)
This is a larger photo than the others in this group and might not have come from the same source. It has "Hap Hooligan" written on the reverse.


Unfortunately, none of the many friends pictured in the photos below are identified on Billy's copies, nor do we know if Billy took them or if they were sent to him, or taken for him, by others. Joe Duncan, however, has recently provided information for some of them.


Billy's copy of this photo is identified as being taken in Paris, but Joe Duncan's has more information on it. His says: Jim Davis, Buddy, denoting, no doubt that the subject was a good friend of his. More from Joe: " At the 2008 reunion in San Antonio I asked about Jim Davis, and heard from several of the Marauder Men "Oh, yeah, everybody knew Jim Davis".   I heard he was an excellent pilot.  I believe this was taken when Dad, Jim, Hank Moen and maybe several others visited Paris on leave.  Not sure when."

Billy didn't have a copy of this photo of Hank Moen, posing in the same spot, but Joe does, and he sent this scan to me.

His Dad's label reads:

"Hank Moen

Our Co-Pilot

In Paris"




unlabeled unlabeled unlabeled




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