Sunday, August 23, 2009

Family History with a Twist

While on our last day in Savannah Dena and I took the opportunity to visit the "Mighty Eighth" Air Museum.

From stories told to me of my Uncle Ray, I knew only of his last experiences in World War II. Uncle Ray was my Father's twin brother. They both had great smiles and were a tight knit family. Uncle Ray was a crew member on a B-17 flying into Germany in 1943. So while in the Museum we stopped at their Library.

We found his Aircraft- the "Pregnant Portia". From there we found the name of his unit, the 385th and his squadron 551st. With this we found a very old picture of the Crew with his aircraft commander, a Lt. Keeley. The history of his flight into Schwienfurt, Germany to bomb the ballberring factories and manufacturing center and his escape to North Africa. He and the crew had to ditch in the Mediterranean.
The story goes on to explain their rescue and flight back to England. Ray's story ends with the crash of two B-17s colliding over England on September 23, 1943. Ray and the rest of the crew were killed. A single member survived the crash.

I've been told this story by my dad. it was a wonderful experience to do this type of research. To find the links of lost family.

I hope Dad and Ray are pleased with our little bit of research.


Lois Shepherd said...

How great that you were able to visit this museum and see the history of your Uncle Ray. The minute I saw the plane with the words "PREGNANT PORTIA" I recognized it as being the plane Uncle Ray was in when they crashed killing the
crew. Great opportunity for you and Dena.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know more about this flight, this crew, and this plane. I had a cousin, Robert Banner, who was the ball turret gunner on the Pregnant Portia, when ti went down in September of 1943. Richard Mann -

Steven Shepherd said...

The crew of the Pregnant Portia included my uncle Raymond, my father's twin. The official stories can be found in the library at the 8th Air Force History museum near Savannah, Ga. He was killed along with everyone else but a ball turret gunner. The final crash also took a second aircraft with as I understand. They are all buried together in the national cemetery near Ogalala, Nebraska.

Steve Shepherd

Sent from my iPhone