2ndLT Joseph J. Kelley °Oct 4, 1919 - KIA Nov 26, 1943

After a long search finaly found relatives of 2LT Joseph John Kelley who was the extra Bombardier that fatal day of Nov 26,1943. Here the first part of his story told by his nephew Mr Jonathan Blakistone, son of Joseph's sister:

2ndLT Joseph J. Kelley"My name is Jonathan E. Blakistone, and as I write these recollections now in 2015 I am 67 years old, and live in Wimberley, Texas, between Austin and San Antonio.
2ndLT Joseph J. Kelley (Jack) was my uncle, being the only brother of my late mother, Anna Kelley Blakistone. My Mother and Uncle Jack were the only two children of my grandfather Joseph Kelley and his wife Amanda Marie Kelley.  My mother was born in 1916, and was older than Uncle Jack, who I believe was born about 1920. Their father, my grandfather, died in about 1932 of pneumonia. My grandmother lived until she was 100 years old, passing away around 1994 of old age.
As my Uncle Jack was KIA in 1943, and I was born in 1948, so what I know of him was told to me by my mother or grandmother. I believe he was born in either Washington DC, or in nearby Alexandria, Virginia, and lived his life there until the war. His father was a yardmaster (supervisor) of a large railroad yard there in Alexandria. I gather they lived comfortably, but modestly, but with my grandfather’s death when his children were about 12 and 16 their life became financially difficult. 
My mother attended George Mason High School there in Alexandria, and I assume my uncle did too, but I am not sure. I was told my uncle grew to reach 6 foot 4 inches in height, interesting as that is my height. My mother went to work right out of high school, as the family did not have the finances to send her to college. She worked as a secretary, and eventually would work in The White House during the War. She was able to contribute financially to her family, and they found the resources to send Uncle Jack to college, and he attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, Virginia.  I do not know if he Jack at the Virginia Polytechnic Institutegraduated.

On the right picture of Jack in 1939-40 in front of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

I know little of his life in the military. I was told that during part of his training he was stationed here in Texas. I was told he found us Texans amusing. At that time there was a popular song called “Deep in the Heart of Texas.” He said whenever it was played the Texans stood up and cheered and danced, so my Uncle referred to it as “The Texas National Anthem.”  I was also told that one Thanksgiving, it must have been November 1942, his unit was given the day off from training.  He and a buddy, having nothing to do and nowhere to go, were wandering around a nearby Texas town.  A Texan stopped his car and asked if they had anywhere to celebrate the Holiday.  When they said “no,” he told them he had a “little place” out in the country, and invited them to share the day with his family.  They did, but were amazed to find the Texan’s “little place” was a large and magnificent ranch.
Uncle Jack was sent to England to join the 8th Army Air Force.  He had been trained as a bombardier on the B-24 Liberator bomber.  Given his height and what I have read about the small space inside the B-24, it must have been difficult physically for him to reach the bombardier area. He had a regular plane and crew.  Now as best I can recall from my mother’s story, a day came when his regular plane was not due to fly, but another plane’s regular bombardier was sick, and Uncle Jack was assigned to take his place.  This is the plane that took part on a bombing raid on northern Germany, and on that day suffered damage either from German fire or mechanical failure.  The crews had been told to run north to Denmark if they felt they could not return to England, as hopefully the Danish resistance fighters would hide them.  However, Jack’s plane did not made it, crashing into a canal in the Schleswig Holstein area of northern Germany.  I believe his body was found in the wreckage, along with the rest of the crew, who had not been able to parachute.  The Germans needed to reopen the canal for use so the wreckage was promptly cleared.
His body was eventually returned to Ivy Hill Cemetery in Alexandria Virginia where he was interred.

This is more information of his Military path in WWII provided by Annette Tison, historian of the 392nd Memorial Association:

Jack April 1942 Maxwell Field, Alabama2/Lt Kelley was the bombardier on 1/Lt Robert D. Copp's crew. Jack entered active service on 18 Feb 1943. He was a veteran of several missions and diversions. I don't know why he was assigned to fly with the Bolick crew on 26 Nov 1943.[I now know that the Bolick crew was Deputy Lead for the 392nd BG that day. This means that if anything happened to the lead plane, the Bolick crew would have taken his place and led the 392nd BG. The extra bombardier was to ensure that if that had happened, the target would have been properly identified.

On the right Jack in April, 1943 at Maxwell Field, Alabama during Pre-flight training.

Here is a list of 2/Lt Kelley's missions. As you can see, he was NOT flying his first mission on 26 Nov 1943. 9 Sep was the 392nd BG's first combat mission. The missions on Sept 23, 26 and Nov 18, 1943 were diversions. These were missions where a formation flew a fake mission in hopes that the Germans would attack them instead of the real formation flying to the real target. If the diversion worked (meaning the Germans attacked the diversion force) then those people would then get credit for flying a combat mission. If the Germans did not attack the diversion force, they would not get credit for a combat mission. You can go to the Missions section of  the 392nd BG's website at www.b24.net to get more info about each mission.
Note that on 16 Nov--the mission before his death--2/Lt Kelley flew to Norway.

B Kelley J.J. 2nd Lt. 9-Sept-1943
B Kelley J.J. 2nd Lt. (no mission credit) 23-Sept-1943
B Kelley J.J. 2nd Lt. (no mission credit) 26-Sept-1943
B Kelley J.J. 2nd Lt. 2-Oct-1943
B Kelley J.J. 2nd Lt. aborted - no mission credit) 4-Oct-1943
B Kelley J.J. 2nd Lt. 9-Oct-1943
B Kelley J.J. 2nd Lt. no mission credit 18-Oct-1943
B Kelley J.J. 2nd Lt. no sortie credit 5-Nov-1943
B Kelley J.J. 2nd Lt. abort; no sortie credit 13-Nov-1943
B Kelley J.J. 2nd Lt. 16-Nov-1943
B Kelley J.J. 2nd Lt. 26-Nov-1943

2ndLT Kelley was bombardier in the Copp crew who flew the B-24 Liberator "Pregnant Peg". This photo was taken at the Army Air Base Topeka, Kansas in July, 1943.
From left to right first row kneeling: TSGT Bernard Bisnett, TSGT Gilbert L Hodge, SSGT Harold Hohman, SGT Leonard S Shaw, SSGT Martin M Nowicki, SSGT Thomas E Noone.
Standing: 2ndLT Joseph Kelley, 1LT James W Meyers, 1LT Robert F Gries, 1LT Robert Rapenport.

Copp crew

Picture below: on the left pilot Cap Robert D. Copp and co-pilot 1LT James E Meyers of the original crew where 2ndLT Kelley was part of. Photo on the right is Robert Copp.s

Cap Copp and 1LT Meyers
Cap Robert Copp

Pictures of Jack with his mother and sister and news-paper articles on his missing in action.

Jack and his mother
Jack and his sister

2ndLT Joseph Kelley is buried at the Ivy Hill cemetery, Alexandria City, VA

Grave LT Joseph Kelley Grave LT Joseph Kelley

More to come in the next future....