Woodbury County

S/Sgt. Ernest D. Grant


Reported Missing
Sgt. Grant Returns
Marries Iowa Girl

Reported missing in action during a raid over Germany when the B-17 Fortress in which he flew did not return to its base, Staff Sgt. Ernest D. Grant, 21, son of Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Grant, 63 Conwell avenue, returned home on October 13, for a 21-day furlough. He left almost immediately for Sioux City, Iowa, where he married Miss Dorothy Bellinger, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Bellinger of that city, on October 30.

Sgt. Grant was reported missing over France on May 27, 1944, and it wasn’t until September 10, that his family received a cablegram from him stating that he was safe.  Grant wears the Air Medal for meritorious achievement, the Presidential Citation for being in one of the worst raids over Germany, and the silver boot with a wing for walking out of enemy territory. He is also a member of the Caterpillar Club, open to anyone who bails out in a parachute.

Stationed with the Eighth Air Force in England, Grant was top turret gunner on a Flying Fortress and was on his 13th mission when forced to bail out over Occupied France. After four months in that country, during which time he was reported missing, Grant escaped to England, the only member of his crew to return safely. Eight others were killed and one is still a prisoner of Germany.

Sgt. Grant graduated from Sommerville High School in 1941, where he played on the football and baseball teams, and was chosen for the All-Scholastic teams of both sports by Boston papers. The summer following graduation, he played in the Northern Baseball League for Claremont, New Hampshire, and hopes to become a professional baseball player when the war is over.

In January 1942, Grant entered the Army Air Forces and trained at Randolph Field, San Antonio, Texas, first as a member of the ground crew and later as a top turret gunner. He was transferred to the Air Field at Sioux City, Iowa, and went overseas in April, 1944. It was just about a month later that he was reported missing.

A reception was given for Sgt. and Mrs. Grant at the quarters of Dilboy Post, VFW, of which he is a member, on Saturday evening, November 11, by Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Grant. Over 100 guests were present and dancing and refreshments were enjoyed. The couple left for Atlantic City, New Jersey, on Monday, November 13, where the groom will rest for ten days at the Army Air Force Redistribution Center, before being assigned to a new station.

Sgt. Grant has one brother in the service. He is S1-c Daniel J. Grant, 18, who has been with a Seabee unit somewhere in the Pacific since last April. Seaman Grant would have graduated from Sommerville high school this year and was also a member of the baseball and football teams.

Source: Sommerville Journal and Press, Sommerville, Massachusetts, 1944


Ernest D. Grant was born 22 March 1923, in Massachusetts, to Daniel and Julia (Hudson) Grant. Siblings were Robert and Daniel.

“Sgt. Grant graduated from Somerville High School in 1941, where he played on the football and baseball teams, and was chosen for the All- Scholastic teams of both sports by the Boston papers. The summer following graduation he played in the Northern Baseball League for Claremont, New Hampshire, and hopes to become a professional baseball player when the war is over.” (newspaper article)

December 1941, he and some friends were attending a hockey game in Boston, when the news came in about Pearl Harbor. We all decided to join for one year that turned into four years. I enlisted 2 January 1942, in Somerville, in the Army Air Forces. Trained at Randolph Field, San Antonio, Texas. A newspaper article states in “July 1943, San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center, Texas, Aviation Cadet Ernest D. Grant of 63 Conwell avenue was in the latest class to complete pre-flight training for pilots at the San Antonio Center. He will now be sent to a primary school and soon make his first flight in a training plane.”

After San Antonio, I was sent to Oklahoma to fly PT-719s. These were just one engine, two seater, prop planes. These first planes we flew had no radios. We flew with a trainer several times, then was sent up alone to see if we could fly the plane.

Newspaper article, “Stationed with the Eighth Air Force in England, Grant was top turret gunner on a Flying Fortress and was on this 13th mission when forced to bail out over Occupied France.” There were ten crew members in the B17, pilot, co-pilot, navigator, bombardier, tail gunner, engineer, two waste gunners, a radioman, and a balltard.

I was the engineer and was responsible while in flights, such as fuel gauges, oil pressure, etc. I fired turret guns against enemy fighters. I have four enemy planes to my credit.

“That day, on our 13th mission, but we never called 19th, it was always 12A or 12B or whatever. We were headed for Germany again, but we were over France when the plane took a sudden jerk. It stopped and started like. And, nobody could figure out what caused it. And, I came out of the turret, looked at the pilot, and he said he didn’t know; the next moment the plane just turned over and went into a spin headed for the ground. It just flipped over and heads into a spin, of course, we fly at 20,000 feet and I was looking out the front window. I could see the ground coming and we were, headed down. I was on the ceiling, then we come around I was on the floor and there was my chute. My chute, it’s a regular pack. It’s almost like a big bundle and you hook it onto you, you have a harness on. You hook this pack onto the harness, and that’s how you wear it. But, when you’re in the turret, you can’t wear it because you and it won’t fit in the turret. So when I come around, it was on the floor I tried to grab it; it wouldn’t come loose.

So I was on the ceiling again, petty soon around and round the floor, there it is again. So I grab it and it’s loose. So I took the chute and hooked the one side and in the meantime, I’m looking out the window and I could see the ground getting closer and I didn't know if I was going to get out of the plane. It was just like a bit ohhh, what do I want to say a whirlwind you know. I kind of laid forward into this breeze and it took me right out of the plane.

Now where that hole came from I don’t know because the only think I could ever think of is when this other plane came down and they cut our tail off; that’s what made the plane jerk. It must have wanted to propel us from the... or the plane must have cut a hole close to where I was standing. You know, I mean that’s the only possible answer I can give you as to where the hole came from. You see what happened was a plane above us in a formation above us got hit, they came down and cut the tail off our plane. That’s how the tail gunner got out when they cut the tail off, it just floated, he crawled out – him and I were the only two who got out of the two planes. There was 18 killed and two of us got out. But, when I got out of the plane, I was floating. You float on the air and my chute was only hooked on the one side and I had to pull it down and hook the other side and I know the ground was getting closer. So I pulled the cord right away and I opened it up, the chute opened and I looked around once and the next thing I know I was on the ground. So I didn’t have much time left you know to get out.

“I landed on a plowed field in March near the Belgium/France border. Now I know the Germans were looking for me cause they followed the tail gunner all the way down. They captured him. He opened his chute right away, it took him a long time to get down, and they followed him and they just took him a prisoner. But, I was out and they didn’t know where I was at, so I had time to get away. The Germans were fairly close cause they were on motorcycles and they were looking for me, but they couldn’t find where I came down. This farmer he just watched me. He didn’t say nothing nor do nothing. He had a little boy with him and I gathered up my chute, took off for the woods; that’s where I buried my chute at the time. It wasn’t too far from where the plane came down. I could see the plane there and thought I’d go over to see if the pilot and if anybody else got out. But, as I started out of he woods, here came the Germans. I had to go back in and they went by and they didn’t know I was in there. They just kept walking around it. They didn’t come in the woods too much because they didn’t know if I had a gun.

They didn’t take too many chances. Because I got down so fast, they had no way of knowing which road to take to get to where I was.

“I stayed in the woods about two nights. I was getting thirsty and hungry. I tried two or three different farm places and they didn’t want to have anything to do with me. They’d just tell you to go away. Finally on the fourth day, I thought I might as well as give up and try to get something to eat and live. I tried this one farm and they said they would give me something to eat. They said, ‘you can stay right there in the woods close and we’ll get somebody that can talk to you.' English, you know, more or less broken English. A man did come, he asked me, 'how long I’ve been down?’ I tell him. He said, ‘Okay, I’m going to take you to a place.’ He takes me to a tavern at night and in the back way. There were German soldiers in there drinking and everything.

These people keep me in the back room, I wasn’t too sure that they were going to keep me there. They had me write the names of the crew, their position, and then they would let me know if they were going to help me. See, they were checking to see if I was on the crew. They wired back to England by short wave or whatever. I was there at least a week hiding in this café and in the back room. I was in civilian clothes so I guess I looked like a Frenchman. About a week later, he says, ‘Al right, you were on that crew and I am going to try to take you someplace else’. I got on a bicycle and rode to a small town with the Frenchman.

“We were headed to a small town and a schoolhouse where two young schoolteachers were hiding. There were three others from different airplanes. It was a country schoolhouse with one great big room downstairs with a desk; and the upstairs had two rooms and they shared one room and we four men shared the other. We could walk around the inside of the schoolhouse. The two young French schoolteachers let us know what was going on. One day, here comes a German tank with soldiers walking behind. The Germans tear out the school desk and put hay on the floor for the 54 soldiers to sleep on. If it looked like they were coming to the second floor, we were hustled up to the attic. Then one night, we snuck out with our shoes in hand, got down the stairs and out the front door. Across the street was a soldier patrolling, so when he got so far away and before he turned to come back up the street, one of us would run across the street in our stocking feet and get on a bicycle.

“We went to a farm, we were safer on the farm. They were building or digging a shelter in case of bombs. We helped them dig. It was mostly dirt and wood and deep like a storm cellar. Eventually the Poles came and I was sent back to England.”

I got R&R in Atlantic City. They lost my paper so I was there for two weeks. I was then trained on B-52s in Texas, then Lincoln, Nebraska.

I was honorably discharged 9 October 1945, in Sioux City.

Served three months as an Airplane and engine mechanic as a private.

Served thirteen months as an aerial gunner as a Staff Sergeant. Served as a gunnery instructor as a Staff /St.
I went home to Somerville, Massachusetts. I signed with the Boston Braves, they sent me to Leavenworth, Kansas, to play ball. We had a good team. I played third base. Then I signed with the Pender Nighthawks from Pender, Nebraska. Summers I played ball, and winter, I worked at the packinghouse, Armours, then Swifts. I ended up being a Buyer in the Stockyards, for Swanson/Gilmore and Carroll.

I married Dorothy Bellinger, 30 October 1944 or 45. I have a daughter, Suzi, and three sons, Gary, Richard, and Larry. I have nine grand-children and four great grandchildren.

My wife Dorothy passed away, 26 June 2002, and is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Sioux City. My son, Larry is also gone.

Life has been good to me. I have few complaints. I now live with my daughter, Suzi. My mother and wife kept a scrapbook about my adventures. My daughter, Suzi, has it now.

Submitted by Ernest D. Grant -- written approx 2003-2007

Ernest Daniel Grant
Born: 23 Mar 1923, Sommerville, MA
Died:  10 Dec 2007, Sioux City, IA
Buried: Sioux City, Iowa