WWII 388th Bomb Group Post – Radio Mechanic Cpl. Roland Downs Fixing a B-17 in Knettishall, England


 

My obsession with the 388th Bomb Group stems from a chance encounter with a collection of negatives and photographs taken by an artist attached to the 388th in Knettishall, England.  Followers of PortraitsofWar already know the story, so I won’t go into great detail, but anyone interested should search for Alva Alegre in the search bar.
Anyway, I recently purchased a small group of photos that providentially yielded a handful of identified photos of members of the 388th BG.  In my typical fashion, I’ve fleshed out historical details and hopefully will give Mr. Downs a proper place on the internet.

I found the following info penciled on the back of the photo: “Roland Downs, Cpl. Alabama”

ALABAMA Inked on Cap

Judging by the inked info on his upturned mechanics hat, I felt that this was a likely identification of Mr.Downs.  With this info in hand I visited the 388th Bomb Group website: http://www.388bg.info/

 

Darn!  They already had his photo, but at least I was able to learn that he was a radio mechanic, something obvious after inspecting what he’s doing in the photo.  My next stop brought me to ancestry.com, where I do most of my genealogical research on mystery photos.  From a little bit of searching I was able to discover that he was indeed born and raised in Alabama and born on July 8th, 1923 and passed away on April 19th, 1980.  He served in the Airforce (USAAF) from 1942 until 1971.

 

1940 Census Record

WWII PTO Color Kodachrome Slide – Tire Transport Truck on Guam in Vivid Color


I was able to pick up an additional 40+ color slides taken on Guam, Tinian, and Siapan during WWII.  Pacific Theater color shots are hard to come by due to the high temperatures and scarcity of color film in the far reaching islands of the Pacific.  By my estimation, PTO color slides are outnumbered 2:1 by ETO shots.

Here’s a stunning example of a heavy truck carrying wheels and tires.  Enjoy!