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Lt. John
John Duffy
May 5, 1945

Edward Duffy, Jane Woods Duffy
Note: Edward Duffy's Death Notice in the Brooklyn Eagle, 8/13/1945
Other Relatives:

John CollonFrank Shields (John was Frank's classmate), Gene Dembinski, Joe Shields, Felicity Kazalski, Peggy Doyle, Eileen Moran
Military History:
Enlisted on 11/28/1942, into the Air Corps (reserves?).
Received AAF basic training in Atlantic City, NJ.
Was then sent to U. of Pittsburgh for classes in physics and math prior to taking tests for pilot, navigator and bombardier.
Assigned to Maxwell Field for pre-flight training.
Completed 31 missions over Germany as navigator.
Assigned to 8th Air Force, 92nd Bomb Group, 326th Bomb Squadron based in England.
Died in a crash on the Highclere Estate on May 5, 1945, 3 days before VE Day.
Received Air Medal with 4 oak leaf clusters; awarded to his mother.

Enlistment Record
Graduated January 1941 from St. Michaels' Diocesean High School.
Personal History:
John was the navigator on the B-17 Fort Worth Jailhouse when it crashed on 5/5/45, killing him and 5 other crewmates.  The crash occurred on Sidown Hill on the Highclere Estate. Additional details can be found at the website for Lady Carnarvon: her blog post from 4/30/2018 titled  Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines and the Airmen page.
Notable Documents:
Letters/Cards from John to Frank:
  • 2/6/1943 - Postcard to Frank from basic training in Atlantic City, NJ
  • 2/11/1943 - "Army life is not all it's cracked up to be." Upcoming visit from parents; expects to leave for a college soon.
  • 2/23/1943 - "You will find [army life] a bit boring and trying but on the whole a lot of fun." Practice on firing range with Enfields and Thompsons.
  • 5/19/1943 - "[Army Life] is disgusting & inefficient, but you'll like it as time goes by." Studying physics & math at U. Pittsburgh.
  • 8/28/1943 - Going to Maxwell field for preflight training. Passed all 3 tests, so may be able to continue if not as a pilot. You got a break to be at Purdue; guess there are many nice co-eds there.
  • 3/20/1945 - "I'll be a 2nd Lt in about 2 weeks." John had 19 missions in and hoped to finish his tour in April. This is John's last letter to Frank before he died; it's written on an actual V-mail form, which is unusual since V-mail was usually microfilmed and then reprinted once it reached its destination.
Letters referencing John (all letters to Frank, except as noted):
  • 5/15/1943 - [Collon] - Collon talks about Duffy's character and his success at school.
  • 8/01/1943 - [Dembinski] - Duffy won his wings; he had a short furlough with a "swell new scrumptious uniform."
  • 8/25/1943 - [Collon]  "John D. has reformed his language habits. He is now in a fair way of being engaged ... Ann Cole per nominum."
  • 5/14/1944 - [Dembinski] John sent a picture of Ann Cole, "the girl": "I gave him mild sort of hell for daring to show his friends a picture in that state."
  • 10/15/1944 - [Collon] Duffy "is still engaged, and, apparently, very in love." He expects to be oversea's before the beginning of the year.
  • 6/12/1945 - [Frank to Gen] "Duff was that kind of fellow - sincere, simple, and unashamed of his faith in a personal God."
  • 7/14/1945 - [Collon] very poignant letter to Frank informing him of John's death. For easier reading, see this transcript.
  • 7/24/1945 - [Dembinski] "The Duffy's are fine people - all of them; notwithstanding John's hieroglyphics."
  • 1/10/1982 - [Collon] "Being with [Mrs. Duffy] all these years, simply as friends, no more, has been the most pleasing as well as edifying experience of my life." [John Collon took care of John Duffy's mother after the war]
Newspaper articles about John:
  • Brooklyn Daily Eagle article 4/14/43 announcing John's arrival at U. of Pittsburgh for aviation cadet training.
  • Brooklyn Daily Eagle article 9/27/44 notice that John had completed navigator's training at Selman Field, LA.
  • Brooklyn Daily Eagle article 5/26/45 concerning John's death and a memorial notice from the same day.
  • John's mother had a memorial printed for him in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on 5/5/46, one year after his death.
  • Brooklyn Daily Eagle article 8/02/48 about John's reburial at Holy Cross Cemetery.
1940: 364 72nd Street, Brooklyn, NY
1940 Census Page: Family on lines 76-78.
Other Info: link

BBC article about the crash of the Fort Worth Jail House and other planes on the Highclere estate during WWII

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