Purple Heart
Air Medal

Staff Sergeant
Charles E. Propst

1915 - July 26, 1943

Virginia - MIA

 


Charles E. Propst was born in 1915 in West Virginia. He worked as an automobile serviceman in Virginia when he enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps on 2 July 1942 in Charlottesville, Virginia. He became an air gunner with the 385th Bomb Group.

He was part of the crew of pilot F/O Glenn Duncan. The rest of the crew consisted of:

P- F/O Glenn F. Duncan
CP-2nd Lt. William L. Lehr
N-2nd Lt. Wiliam H. Henderson
B-2nd Lt. Roy J. Martines
TTG-T/Sgt. Benjamin M. Purdy
RO-T/Sgt. James E. Soward
BTG-S/Sgt. John R. Towle
TG- S/Sgt.  James E. Brophy
LWG-S/Sgt. Charles E. Propst
RWG-S/Sgt.Frank R. Ramsey


548th Bomb Squadron

385th Bomb Group
 

The 385th Bomb Group was transferred from the United States to England in June, 1943. It began its operations the next month, July, with missions to Amsterdam, Bergen and Wernemunde, which all were flown without loss.

On July 26, 1943, the fourth mission of the group, Ben was loaned to F/O Glenn Duncan for a mission to the Continental Tire Factory in Hanover, Germany. The rest of the crew consisted of:

P- F/O Glenn F. Duncan
CP-2nd Lt. William L. Lehr
N-2nd Lt. Wiliam H. Henderson
B-2nd Lt. Roy J. Martines
TTG-T/Sgt. Benjamin M. Purdy
RO-T/Sgt. James E. Soward
BTG-S/Sgt. John R. Towle
TG- S/Sgt.  James E. Brophy
LWG-S/Sgt. Charles E. Propst
RWG-S/Sgt.Frank R. Ramsey

On mission number 4, the Bomb Group was sent to Wesermunde, for which the BG provided 21 planes, among which the Duncan crew, flying in B-17 42-30281. On this mission the BG encountered its first fighter opposition by the German Luftwaffe and three of its planes were lost. The crew of F/O Duncan was one of them. They had to ditch their plane into the North Sea but all ten crew were lost.

It is not exactly known what the circumstances were under which the Duncan crew was lost.

The war dept telegram stated T/Sgt Purdy was MIA over Bremerhaven, Germany. A letter from the group chaplain dated August 23, 1943, states "under control flying low over water shooting flares." A report from the Graves Registration in 1948 states "last seen over the North Sea about 40 miles North of East Frisian Islands".  A letter from Washington, dated February 24, 1949 says "exploded and crashed in the North Sea".  A picture smuggled out through Spain appeared in a Texas paper sometime between September 1943 and August 1944.  Some men are identified by their families as Duncan's crew.  This picture was given to T/Sgt Purdy's family in 1949 by the bombardier's wife who said the niece of the co-pilot Lt. William Lehr, who worked for the New York Times and got the original picture from Spain and had it enlarged.

The family of T/Sgt Purdy received this picture of a crew taken PoW, which had apparently appeared in a newspaper in the days following the loss of the Duncan crew. It is thought that members of the Duncan crew are identified on this picture, although it cannot be said with any certainty. Anyone who recognizes any person in this picture, or who can answer the following questions: Who took this picture? When was it taken? Where was it taken? and what happened next? is asked to contact the webmaster.


As of yet unidentified crew. The names on the picture are, from left to right: T/Sgt. James E. Soward, S/Sgt. Charles E. Propst, F/O Glenn F. Duncan, S/Sgt. James E. Brophy, 2nd Lt. William L. Lehr, unknown, T/Sgt Benjamin Purdy, ??. Anyone who recognizes anyone on this picture is asked to contact the webmaster. A bigger picture is available(Picture courtesy of Mrs. Lori Tardif)

S/Sgt Propst is mentioned on the Wall of the Missing at Margraten American Military Cemetery.


Margraten, The Netherlands

See Also:
F/O Glenn F. Duncan
2L. William L. Lehr
2Lt Wiliam H. Henderson
2Lt Roy J. Martines
T/Sgt James E. Soward
S/Sgt John R. Towle
S/Sgt  James E. Brophy
S/Sgt Frank R. Ramsey

Sources and Acknowledgments:
Mrs. Lori Tardif
Mrs. Yvonne Barnett
Mr. Bill Varnedoe, President 385th Bomb Group Association
Roger A. Freeman, The Mighty Eight War Diary, Arms and Armour, London, 1990

Directions to Margraten American Military Cemetery

Posted 8 July 2005
Updated 8 August 2005


If you have any suggestions, comments or additional information, please contact me.

This website is dedicated to the men and women who died and/or are buried in The Netherlands during World War II.

 

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