2nd Lt Jesse D. Welch Jr, 397th FS

Discussion in '368th FG' started by Stéphane Duchemin, Jul 27, 2017.

  1. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    Likely of little importance at this point as Venice AAFld seems confirmed but I found this Transition Training aircraft Fuselage Letter Code chart by ZI Air Force of interest.


    Still a bit like shooting craps as letter codes are used in multiple ZI Air Forces. In this instance it seems the code “P” is designated to 3rd Air Force specifically to Venice, FL noting P-39 and P-47 aircraft; perhaps this extended to any AT-6 aircraft they also had in inventory.

    Makes me wish the Lt Jessie Welch photo were a bit larger or in landscape format so we could see the coding on his Thunderbolt. Perhaps if contact is made with family members they will have more photos they wish to share.

    New page photo forward
    Jessie Welch in the plane he flew during WWII.jpg
  2. terveurn

    terveurn Active Member

  3. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    I was curious as to what mission Lt Jessie Welch was on when killed 20 July 1944. Mission records of this type are available from the 368FG here:

    http://www.368thfightergroup.com/files/368-afhra-grp-mr-july-44.pdf 20 July 1944 is on PDF p.75 (attached)

    To my surprise the 368FG flew NO combat missions this day. Makes me wonder what Lt Welch was doing flying this day, and since there were no missions this day his death should be KNB rather than KIA. Curious if anyone else has more information on the exact cause of death for Lt Welch.

    20 July 1944 Ops Report
    368FG Operations report 20 July 1944 (NO Missions).jpg
  4. Stéphane Duchemin

    Stéphane Duchemin New Member

    You are right Scott. I tell you all. Due to the bad weather, it was raining, Capt Talbott decided to train the new pilots arrived few days before.


    Official report :

    Tragedy struck that afternoon when 2nd Lt Jesse d. Welch of the 397th FS was killed when the plane he was flying on a routine training mission crashed and burned as he attempted to land. Lt Welch had just been assigned to the squadron the week before.

    In 2005 interview, Gen Talbott, recalled, "I was in charge of the Squadron OTU to prepare new pilots for combat. We were flying along on routine training when he stalled on the base leg ans spun in. I felt badly about that. "Welch is burried at Normandy, Plot O, Row 7, Number 35.

    But Lt Richard Kik, Jr had been witness of this accident and said :

    The strip at A-3 was made of tarpaper and fence wire and had problems when it rained or snowed, such as breaking loose from the stakes that held it down and rolling up. The trick when landing on it was to push ourselves up in the seat so you could'nt operate the brakess, but you could operate the rudders. Push yourself up so you could see where you were going. On day this pilot (July 21, 1944, Lt Jesse Welch of the 307th F.S.) landed just as the wire came rolling up towards him. He had pushed himself up, and we watched as his head was above the level of the canopy. He was going way too fast. He went to put the breaks on and nothing what happening. The wire was rolling up and when he reached the north end of the runway the wire stopped him suddently and the canopy slammed shut. Cliff Gamble said, "Tell me what i've just seen." And i said, "You tell me what you've just seen." And we both agreed that's the guy's head was gone, he was decapitated.

    He flew the P-47C-2-RE 41-6191 code D3-Z which has been accidented twice time before...
    25Kingman49 likes this.
  5. terveurn

    terveurn Active Member

    Nothing in the report about a wire or decapitation

    Walsh 1.JPG Walsh 2.JPG Walsh 3.JPG Walsh 4.JPG Walsh 5.JPG Walsh 6.JPG
    25Kingman49 likes this.
  6. Stéphane Duchemin

    Stéphane Duchemin New Member

    Thank youTerry for the accident report. Indeed, nothing about wire or decapitation and several statements said that he stalled. The grandson of Richard Kik confirmed their story "I remember my grandfather and Cliff talk about this. He said they looked at one another and said "did I just see that?" Anyway the poor guy died in horrible circumstances and we want to pay tribute to him.
  7. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member


    I am also curious going back to your original query and your assigned task to built a monument in memory of 2nd Lt Welch. There is already a memorial to the 368FG and A-3 near the old airfield location see below (other map area reference locations attached). Is it the intent of the CAF French Wing to expand this existing memorial or is it to be a completely new memorial in a new location?

    A-3 Memorial to 368FG Cardonville, France; 49.35481 -1.04398
    A-3 Memorial to 368FG Cardonville.png
    Source / citing http://www.aerosteles.net/stelefr-cardonville-a3
    Also it appears dedication photo here http://www.368thfightergroup.com/images/w-grp-a3-memorial.jpg

    GEarth roadside view, rather a lonely place
    A-3 Memorial to 368FG Cardonville, France; 49.35481 -1.04398 (G).jpg

    More about A-3 here http://www.forgottenairfields.com/france/lower-normandy/calvados/cardonville-a-3-s1104.html

    Thank you for all you and the Wing do. CAF French Wing web site http://caffrenchwing.fr/en/

    Might as well add the CAF French Wing video. Looks like we might need to help find you a Thunderbolt and a Mustang for your existing livery.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jul 30, 2017
  8. Stéphane Duchemin

    Stéphane Duchemin New Member

    I was overthere in the mid of July with the family of a pilot. 20287107_10110305142917920_486664834393471381_o (1).jpg
    Yes we have a project for a new monument in memory of Welch in a new location more in the center of the village of Cardonville.

    Thank you for your help to the CAF French Wing to provide us a nice Thunderbolt ;-)
    25Kingman49 likes this.
  9. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    Thank you, Stéphane.

    There is an old church on the west side of the village of Cardonville. Were casualties initially interred here in this cemetery during WW II? More importantly is it known where Lt Welch was initially interred before movement and final resting at the Normandy American Cemetery?

    Church Cardonville
    Church village of Cardonville, France.jpg

    We'll work on that Thunderbolt ;-)
  10. Stéphane Duchemin

    Stéphane Duchemin New Member

    No he was probably buried in the temprorary cemetary at La Cambe close to Cardonvile where they buried german and american soldiers. Then they pooled american cemeteray on one at Coleville sur Mer and La Cambe becam a german cemetary

    f65f9bdad84266cc8a4a258dce56c48b--cemetery-division.jpg 20286988_10110305247348640_3344528141125226736_o.jpg
    25Kingman49 likes this.
  11. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

  12. RSwank

    RSwank Well-Known Member

    I was thinking about the apparently two "different" crash descriptions we have. I think they describe two different events, possibly on different dates or even different places. One crash (as written up in the accident report for Welch) describes a stall during the landing approach and a crash somewhere off the airfield. The other description appears to be a crash while landing on (an apparently slick) runway. The crash is after landing. Another clue is the "tar paper" description.

    This is a listing of the various types of runway surfaces. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Landing_Ground

    Prefabricated Hessian Surfacing (PHS) is the "tar paper" type. Also apparently could be called Prefabricated Bituminous Surfacing (PBS). A little more description here: http://www.pillbox.org.uk/blog/216678/

    A-3, according to this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cardonville_Airfield was a Square Mesh Track (SMT). While some airfields had the PHS/PBS laid first and then SMT over that, those appeared to be later constructed airfields, not apparently Cardonville. Fields containing PHS/PBS were notoriously slick in wet conditions. Were there any airfields that the 368th operated from all PHS/PBS or had SMT over the "tar paper"?
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2017
  13. Stéphane Duchemin

    Stéphane Duchemin New Member

    I know very well the place and i have some SMT parts from A-3.

    SMT A-3.JPG SMT2 - Copie.jpg
    Two versions but only one accident on this day. I wonder if Kik and Gamble just saw only the end of this accident and they conclued it had been due to the SMT.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2017
  14. Stéphane Duchemin

    Stéphane Duchemin New Member

    The P-47 serial 41-6191 was really a "black cat". Two pilots had accidents with it before Welch. The first one was pilot Henry L. Mills, 334th FS, 4th FG, the 19th June 1943 during a landing at Debben (UK) and the second, Robert J. Bechtold, 397th FS, 368th FG, the 23rd March 1944, during a landing at Chilbolton (UK).
    I don't have the accident reports.
  15. RSwank

    RSwank Well-Known Member

Share This Page