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  #11  
Old 12th December 2023, 03:04
alieneyes1 alieneyes1 is offline
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Re: looking for contacts of the families of the crew of a B-17

Isdahl's parents changed the spelling of their surname. Chester had siblings galore.


https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/...1/magnus-isdal
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  #12  
Old 13th December 2023, 19:02
RSwank RSwank is offline
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Re: looking for contacts of the families of the crew of a B-17

Hi Rolland,
I received your letter and you are correct, Ed Seward was my father. I am assuming you found me through his obituary as he sadly passed six years ago. I have two younger brothers, the middle one with the same name ( he’s a III) with a 30 year Air Force career. It shocks me when folks do a search for my Dad and find me first lol.
My Dad never spoke much about the event leading to the crash, bail out and subsequent POW until the last 6 months of his life. He could never understand why people wanted to hear about something which was by far the worst experience of his life.
As you may be aware, there was a reunion previously much like your French researchers are planning. The link for the “thread” indicated it was held in 2001 but the documents I have all indicate it was held June 25, 2000 at Cornbarrieu. My father was invited to attend but declined. Not a memory he wanted to revisit. I have a booklet that they sent to him detailing timelines from a historical perspective which I’m sure the French students have access to. Very interesting stuff. It’s actually remarkable that my Dad survived considering he was the navigator seated directly behind the bombarder, whom did not survive.
My nephew, a third year college student visited Toulouse in July and was able to find the house where my Dad and the other airmen were kept. The house is lovely, a museum of sorts with plaques on the wall honoring the soldiers.

If have any questions that I can help with, please let me know.
Regards

Cindy Andrieu

csandrieu at gmail dot com
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  #13  
Old 16th December 2023, 02:33
RSwank RSwank is offline
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Re: looking for contacts of the families of the crew of a B-17

I received this from Maryanna Jenkins Weeks:
_______________________________________
Hi Rolland,

I received your letter yesterday about the 2024 Commemoration of the B-17 shot down in June 1944 near Toulouse, France. My father was crew member Sgt. Frank Erwin Jenkins. Yes, I am very much interested in this project and whatever information is available!!! I might be able to travel to the ceremony next June.
My parents were divorced when I was young, but I did have a visit with him in 1970 where he told me some about his plane being shot down, French farmers holding pitchforks on him until the Germans picked him up and his time in a POW camp. He died in 1973 and later I received some of his effects including his original WWII German prison camp record and purple heart. His ankle was broken when he landed after parachuting out of the plane.
Thank you very much for finding and contacting me! I am an avid genealogy researcher myself and look forward to learning more about this event and possibly more about my father. The link about the 2001 commemoration was very interesting and informative!

maryannaweeks at comcast dot net
___________________________________

She included the first page of her father's POW record. I will put it on my Google Drive
and provide a link in a day or so.

__________________________________________

Last edited by RSwank; 16th December 2023 at 03:08.
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  #14  
Old 18th December 2023, 17:05
gilles collaveri gilles collaveri is offline
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Re: looking for contacts of the families of the crew of a B-17

Rolland

thanks for your actions;

The mayor organizing the event will contact them directly.

Kind regards

Gilles
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  #15  
Old 22nd December 2023, 01:38
RSwank RSwank is offline
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Re: looking for contacts of the families of the crew of a B-17

Just an update. For the 8 crew member families we are searching for, I have made contact with four families so far, Jenkins, Freeman, Seward and Isdahl (Isdal).

I have had one letter returned undelivered (Butikofer) and no responses so far from Brooks, Godwin and Wilson. I have some alternate names and addresses to try for some of them.

Last edited by RSwank; 22nd December 2023 at 04:55.
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  #16  
Old 31st December 2023, 17:55
RSwank RSwank is offline
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Re: looking for contacts of the families of the crew of a B-17

I received the following from the Alain Toppan, the Mayor of Cornebarrieu. Note the ceremony is being planned for Tuesday, May 7, 2024.


Dear Rolland, Dear Gilles,

Please find below the e-mail I have sent to the families.

We could make an update early after New Year. Many thanks for your help !!

Enjoy the end of the year time,

Best regards,

Alain Toppan
Maire de Cornebarrieu

Envoyé de mon iPhone

Début du message transféré :

De: Alain TOPPAN
Date: 18 décembre 2023 à 22:04:58 UTC+1
À: [emails sent to Robert Freeman, Cindy Andrieu and Maryanna Weeks],

Cc: Simone DESLARZES
Objet: 80 years after a B-17 plane crash near Toulouse (France)


Dear All,

On Sunday June 25th, 1944, Mission 441, involving 240 planes, most of them B-17, took off from Nuthamstead (UK). The targets were two german airbases Francazal and Blagnac, near Toulouse in the South-west of France.

Around 9:30 am, one B-17G was shot down by the German flak. It crashed in a field of Cornebarrieu (near Blagnac airport).
Nine men composed the crew. Lieutenant Harold Gnesin was killed in the crash.
The other members :
John K Godwin,
William N Freeman,
Edward D Seward Jr,
John H Wilson,
Merril Butikofer,
Herbert L Brooks,
Chester R Isdahl,
Frank E Jenkins,
were made prisoners and transferred to Germany.
Lieutenant Harold Gnesin was buried on June 26th.

On June 25th, 2000, a ceremony took place in Cornebarrieu with many participants,
20230508_111848.jpg
a day of remembrance. Mrs Isabelle Lesser, sister of H. Gnesin and several crew members were present.

From this date, every year, a ceremony takes place remembering the sacrifice of Harold Gnesin. The ceremony is now coupled with the 8th of May (capitulation of Germany in 1945). Attached is a picture of the 8th of May 2023.

Weeks ago, Ruth Lesser informed us that several members of the family of Harold Gnesin (13 people) will attend the 2024 ceremony that will mark the 80th anniversary of the B-17 crash. This year, the ceremony will very likely be held on 7th of May, in order to have more official people present (on the 8th, they will attend ceremonies in Toulouse, and the 9th is a bank holiday in France).

Being Mayor of Cornebarrieu, I proposed to lead a working group focused on the 2024 ceremony preparation and content.

One very obvious question was emerging : is it possible to contact the relatives of the crew members ? Passionate historians have several very efficient networks and internet forums. They could spot several of you and your e-mail address.

The aim of this long message is very simple : to inform you about the 2024 ceremony and to ask you if you are willing to attend. Don't hesitate to contact me or Simone (in copy of this mail).
She is the President of the USA-France Association in Toulouse and already in contact with Ruth Lesser. She will be in the US next January.

We will keep you informed of the preparation, the plannings, etc. Don't hesitate to ask any question ! Please forward this e-mail to whom it may concern.

Many thanks in advance !

Sincerely,

--


Alain TOPPAN
Maire
Tel. 05 62 13 43 00
Fax. 05 62 13 43 09
www.cornebarrieu.fr
9, avenue de Versailles
31700 Cornebarrieu

Last edited by RSwank; 31st December 2023 at 18:40.
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  #17  
Old 8th January 2024, 21:10
RSwank RSwank is offline
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Re: looking for contacts of the families of the crew of a B-17

I just finished talking to the son of the pilot (Godwin) and a son of the flight engineer (Butikofer). I will pass their e-mail addresses on to Gilles. They both said they would not be able attend but will follow events as they develop. (Since neither of the letters I sent to them bounced back, I figured that they had been delivered, so was hoping for an e-mail or phone call.)

The families I have not heard from are those of Herbert Brooks and John Wilson. At this point we have reached 6 of the 8 families.
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  #18  
Old 22nd February 2024, 02:49
RSwank RSwank is offline
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Re: looking for contacts of the families of the crew of a B-17

I received the following update email from Jacques Dronnet. He is
the main contact person for the May 7 Event.

--------- Start Email ---------------------------------------------------------------------
Hi Rolland

A first mail to you, it shall be an introduction of the French team preparing the B17 May Event.

Alain TOPPAN is the Mayor of Cornebarrieu where the B17 fortress crashed. Today ≈ 7,000 inhabitants.

Gilles COLLAVERI is still an active executive chap working as commercial in an aircraft manufacture Co.

I am Jacques DRONNET, the difference with the two above è I am now retired and disposing of way more time to dedicate to this project.

The crash occurred on June 25, 1944 and I was born in March 1944.

My family and I have leaving in the USA 1984 -1989; I will develop later in Bethesda Maryland and became an inhabitant of Cornebarrieu from 1989 up to now. Alain and I, are friends.

I have been working from 1981 until 2003 in the company mentioned hereabove, its name ATR, standing for Avions de Transport Regional and Gilles has been my deputy for years.

From 2003 up to 2020, I became a free lance mainly for ATR, acting a negotiator of aircraft contracts while in my Maryland period of time I have been creating and heading a subsidiary of ATR Customer Product Support. I still meet Gilles for business opportunities on informal and ad hoc basis.

Gilles has a hobby, as he might have told you https://www.aerocherche.fr/. Unbelievable.

For the B17 May 7 Event, Alain has constituted a 6≈7 person team but they have all their daily business to take care of.

Obviously, this event is a commemoration of a 23-year old young fellow who gave his life for our freedom, also a pass of vote of thanks to the others who spend a few months in prison and more generally to all the individuals who came …. Normandy, South of France ….

I stopped here this introduction and thence I will exchange with you at length about the past, what occurred in 1944 and afterwards, the future i.e. May 7 and the warm welcome of those who can come.

Regards

Jacques DRONNET

Mobile +33 6 86 42 40 26

Time difference between Toulouse and Eastern Time: minus six hours

jacques.dronnet@orange.fr

------------------- End Email ------------------------------------
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  #19  
Old 22nd February 2024, 07:40
gilles collaveri gilles collaveri is offline
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Re: looking for contacts of the families of the crew of a B-17

thanks for the update Roland,

Yes, things are moving on, there will be an imposing ceremony on 7 May near Toulouse in memoriam of Harold Gnesin who died in this B-17, organized by the city hall, with many official representations.

Jacques is indeed the contact point for the families who wish to come to Cornebarrieu on 7 May.

Roland you are welcome and thanks for your constant support.

will keep you updated.

Gilles
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