WWII Marine SBD Dive Bomber Pilot Color Photo Identified – Lt. Francis. A Watrous

I recently started researching my collection of 100+ images from a Marine SBD Dive Bomber unit and came across an awesome database that helped clear up a  lot of questions regarding identification of some of the pilots who posed for the camera.  Luckily, the men were wearing leather name tags which allowed for a partial identification.  Recently I discovered the Marine Corps Muster Role section of ancestry.com.  This allowed for a full identification of all the men that served with Lt. Walter Huff, the original owner of the collection.  With this in hand I was able to track down the names of a few pilots who served with Walter.

Lt. Francis Allen Watrous

I always knew that the last name of the man in the slide was Watrous, but had nothing else to work from.  Having discovered the muster role of the 332nd, I easily scrolled to the last section of the Lieutenants and found Mr. Francis A. Watrous listed.

Marine Muster Role – National Archives

From there I did a quick google search and found an obituary with a reference to Mr. Watrous.  The obituary was for his wife, who passed away in 2010, but referred to her first husband:

“……….. was predeceased by two husbands, Francis Allen Watrous, who was a U.S. Marine dive bomber pilot in World War II and was killed in a plane crash in 1947″

After a search through 1947 newspapers I was able to come up with an article explaining the sad death of Mr. Watrous.

Francis and his brother Arthur worked for Fleetwing Air Cargo Co. as deliverymen of baby chicks.  The brothers crashed on an overcast morning in July of 1947 while delivering 7,000 baby chicks from Wallingford, CT to Newmarket, VA.

And a recent addition to the post from the relative of Mr. Watrous (Thanks to Chris S.):

Francis Poses for the Camera

Francis Poses for the Camera

Fran and Lareine Pose in a Photobooth

Fran and Lareine Pose in a Photobooth

Francis and his Dive Bomber

Francis and his Dive Bomber

VMSB 332 on Midway

VMSB 332 on Midway

VSMB back 001

Scanning WWII 35mm Color Slides: A Beginners Guide


I constantly have readers asking me about scanning WWII negatives and slides.  Many people unknowingly think that the process is tedious and time consuming.  In actuality, the process of scanning and processing a single image only takes a few minutes with some great results.  Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to scanning a WWII 35mm color slide.  In this instance, the 35mm Kodachrome film is housed in a Leica metal mount.
To preface this tutorial, I need to point out that not every scanner will scan negatives or slides.  I am currently running an Epson V700 “Perfection”.  Many other collectors and dealers use this scanner, and some even use the V750.  The V700 will run roughly 500 bucks, and the V750 a hundred or so more.  There are a handful of other quality scanners out there, so search around!

Epson V700

Step 1:  Find a Slide

This may actually be the hardest part of the process.  Find a single image, or group of images, on an online auction or location flea market that you want to scan.  This works well with any type/age of slides, but I prefer WWII and Korean War slides.  In this case, I found a nice shot of a Marine pilot posing near the beach.  Good subject matter, color, and condition.

Step 1: Find a Slide

Step 2: Prepare the Slide

Although most late-war slides tend to be mounted in paper housings, I’m showing the process with a glass and metal mounted slide from 1944.  The process works the same with the paper mounts, but tends to lose some quality around the outside borders.  In this case, the film is sandwiched between two small pieces of glass and inserted into the metal housing as seen below.

WWII Slide

Take care when extracting both sections of the slide housing.  Using slight pressure and TLC will ensure the slide goes back together after scanning.  If the housing breaks for any reason, plastic 35mm slide mounts can be found on eBay.

Carefully Deconstructed WWII Slide

Step 3: Scanning

Place the color film on the scanner glass.  I don’t worry about mounting the film in the Epson provided slide tray.  I don’t usually have a problem with gaussian blur, and I always wipe my glass down with a microfiber cloth to get rid of dust and random particles that tend to float around in the air.

The most important part of the physical scanning process is the adjustment of settings.  I tend to scan in TIFF 48-bit color in 4800 or 6400 DPI.  I don’t set ICE or dust removal.

Place on Scanner Bed


Step 4:  Post-Scanning

When the scanned image is ready for manipulation it typically needs a little bit of Photoshop cropping and editing to correct the color balance, remove dust and scratches, and reduce blurring.  A few minutes fiddling with Photoshop or another editing program should produce a nice digital image ready for posting to your favorite blog.  I typically use watermarks to help bring visitors to the website and to stop unscrupulous visitors from stealing images.

Unedited Slide Scan


After Ten Minutes of “Cleaning”