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William Dean Grosvenor


Note : The 1930 US Census for Colfax, Jasper County, Iowa has him as Billie D. Grosvenor, the 1940 one as Billy D...
On 30 November 1943, Bill Grosvenor went down at Lippeloo, Belgium in P-47 #42-75216. He was helped within 30 minutes by the Belgian Resistance and taken to Brussels where he was taken in charge by the Belgian evasion network COMET (Comète) until he was arrested by the Gestapo on 20 June 1944, in a trap set by Belgian traitor Van Muylem. Imprisoned for 2½ months at the Saint-Gilles Prison in Brussels, he was ultimately spared transportaion by train to Germany, thanks to the heroic actions of Belgian railwaymen who prevented the train from really leaving. Note : The NARA WWII POW Records have him erroneously as made prisoner on "21 November 1944"... and as Returned to Military Control (RMC) on "21 July 1945"...
For the whole story of his evasion, see
A film about Bill's evasion :


Units served with

  • 56th Fighter Group

    56th Fighter Group

    Flying P-47 Thunderbolts throughout their time stationed in England, the Group, known as "the Wolfpack", had more ace pilots than any other Eighth Air Force Fighter Group. The 56th Fighter Group also destroyed more enemy aircraft in air combat than any...

  • 61st Fighter Squadron


  • 42-75216 Charming Ellen

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    Encountered mechanical failure on an escort and support mission for bombers on a mission to Soligen, Germany, 30 November 1943. The pilot, Lt William D. Grosvenor managed to regain control of his P-47 and strafed a train above Puurs, Belgium. Flying...


  • VIII Fighter Command FO-193

    30 November 1943
    This mission is composed of two fighter elements despatched to provide escort to B-17 bomber formations attackin at Bremen, Germany. The frist element is a combined force of 20 P38s from 55FG (including some from 20FG). 1 aircraft Failed to Return (FTR...

Associated Place

  • Halesworth

    Military site : airfield
    Halesworth was constructed in 1942-1943. Initially planned as a bomber airfield, its location close to the Suffolk coast meant that it was in an ideal position to operate escort fighters, where range was a critical factor. Consequently, the 56th...


Event Location Date
Born Colfax, Jasper County, Iowa, United States 25 January 1920

the son of William H. and Edna M. Grosvenor

Lived in Colfax, Jasper County, Iowa, United States September 1941
Enlisted Fort Hayes, Columbus, Ohio, United States 11 September 1941

as a Private in the Air Corps

Parachuted 2890 Lippelo, Belgium 30 November 1943

due to mechanical failure before hitting a telegraph pole while strafing a German train above Puurs, Belgium

Evaded 30 November 1943 – 20 June 1944

after landing near Lippelo, Belgium, he was helped by Belgian citizens and members of the Résistance (the Comet evasion network). Hidden in Keten then led to Brussels where he was sheltered in many different places.

Arrested Brussels, Belgium 20 June 1944

arrested on 20 June, together with one of his Helpers and another US airman (John W. Brown, pilot of B-17 #42-39799), caught in a trap set by a Belgian traitor

Imprisoned Saint-Gilles, Brussels, Belgium 20 June 1944 – 3 September 1944

at the Saint-Gilles Prison in Brussels. In solitary confinement for one month. Tortured, he didn't give the names of his Helpers...

Escaped Brussels, Belgium 3 September 1944

from the “Ghost Train”, the last convoy that the Germans meant to send to Germany, with 1370 political prisoners and 41 Allied airmen. The train never left the vicinity of Brussels, thanks to the brave actions of Belgian railway personnel.

Returned to the UK London, United Kingdom 11 September 1944

by plane from Brussels

Buried Elmwood Memorial Park, Abilene, Texas, United States 2009
Died Abilene, Texas, United States 2 March 2009


Date Contributor Update
28 November 2017 16:17:34 ED-BB Changes to middlename, service number, biography, events and mission associations

US Censuses 1930 and 1940
NARA WWII Enlistment Records
NARA WWII POW Records (where some data are wrong)
Escape & Evasion Report E&E 1881 on-line at
SSDI (Social Security Death Index)
Research for his page at

Date Contributor Update
28 November 2017 14:27:29 Lucy May Changes to role, biography, events and place associations

NARA enlistment record:

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:27:50 AAM AAM ingest

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / MACR 1542 / MACR 3441 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database / Ted Damick, VIII Fighter Command pilots list