Skip to main content
Edit entry 

Jack Ellsworth Danby


Jack Danby served as a navigator with the 509th Bomb Squadron of the 351st Bomb Group, who flew bombing missions out of Polebrook, England. His first mission was on the 21 May 1943 striking submarine pens at Wilhelmshaven, Germany.

On 31 December 1943, on his 18th mission, he was flying in B-17 #4237731 on a mission to Bordeaux when it was shot down. He successfully bailed out and was taken as a Prisoner of War (POW). He was held at Stalag Luft I.

In Memoriam

My dad was Jack Ellsworth Danby who was a navigator Captain of the 351st, 8th air force 509th who went down December 31, 1943 in Bordeaux, France with Major Blaylock and Hatcher. My mother turned one hundred years old this past July and truly enjoyed looking at everything I had pulled up on dad. We lost dad in nineteen ninety-one from cancer and he is so dearly missed.

When talking with Mom yesterday, she filled me in on more details regarding Dad's 20th mission, July of 1943 on a Saturday. Dad was in one of the lead aircraft as 1st Lt. Navigator a/c #4229851 heading to Heroya, Norway on the longest was magnesium works. Going against a headwind, using the Loran equipment (new at the time) the Captain turned to Dad and asked if all aircraft should turn around due to worry of not having enough fuel.

Dad did the calculations with the Loran and told him to continue on, that there would be a good tailwind heading home and enough fuel to make it. He literally made the call for all the aircraft and the pilot knew Dad would make the right, exact call. They continued on and bombed the site. Dad figured the calculations of bombing the magnesium works target within moments and hit the target dead on. It hit the U.S. newspapers all about the importance of this mission with the Loran being used.

She told more stories of Dad when he was captured by the Gestapo, how he protected his crew from being shot when questioned. Dad had said "you'll have to go through me first, before you kill my crew member." They didn't shoot. The incredible thing is when questioned, of course, Dad would only give his ID number, but they said it didn't matter... they already knew everything about him, including his mother's maiden name and where she was. They had sources and info. on all of them.

Dad flew with Clark Gable on several missions, they bummed around some in England, but still, no pictures. It's exciting for me to find anything at all on dad. He was so my hero, still is.

Remembered by Maureen Danby Adams-Abbott, her brother Bruce Danby and sisters Susan, Sharon and Sarah.



  • John Blaylock

    Military | Major | Pilot | 351st Bomb Group
    John Blaylock graduated from the University of Iowa in June, 1941 and shortly thereafter enlisted in the Air Corps as an Aviation Cadet. After training as a Pilot, he received his wings and was sent overseas. He arrived in England in April, 1943, where...

  • Edward Boykin

    Military | Captain | Tail Gunner | 351st Bomb Group
    New York-born Edward Boykin studied law at the University of Virginia from 1935 to 1940. He is listed as living in Orange, Essex County, New Jersey in the US 1940 Census, together with his parents and younger brother Samuel. ...

  • William Hatcher

    Military | Colonel | Co-Pilot; Pilot; Group Commanding Officer | 351st Bomb Group
    William Hatcher Jr was born in Grand Rapids, was brought up in Detroit’s north end and attended Northern High School. After his enlistment in the Air Corps, he followed pilot training courses and rose rapidly through the ranks. ...

Show more

Units served with

  • 351st Bomb Group

    351st Bomb Group

    The 351st Bomb Group flew strategic bombing missions from their base at Polebrook, Northamptonshire from April 1943 to June 1945. The Group's most famous member was Hollywood actor Clark Gable, who flew four/ five missions with them as an observer...

  • 509th Bomb Squadron


  • 42-29849 Linda Ball

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 26/2/43; Pueblo 12/3/43; Presque Is 8/4/43; Assigned 511BS/351BG [DS-U] Polebrook 22/4/43; 34m Returned to the USA Homestead 11/6/44; Maxwell 20/6/44; Tinker 14/9/44; Patterson 18/2/45; Reconstruction Finance Corporation (sold for...

  • 42-29851 Argonaut III

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 25/2/43; Casper 13/3/43; Smoky Hill 3/4/43; Assigned 508BS/351BG [YB-J] Polebrook 16/5/43; 27m battle damaged 28m Munster 10/10/43 with Theo Argiropulos, crew ?; abandoned and ditched North Sea, just off Covehithe, Nfk; all rescued...

  • 42-29860 Snoozin' Susan

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 27/2/43; Denver 1/3/43; Gore 12/3/43; Presque Is 8/4/43; Assigned 509BS/351BG [RQ-W] Polebrook 17/4/43; battle damaged Bordeaux 31/12/43 36m, crash landed Sywell, Notts; 1st Base Air Depot, Burtonwood; ...

  • 42-29863 "Ain’t it Gruesome", 'KENTUCKY BABE'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 27/2/43; Denver 1/3/43; Gore 12/3/43; Presque Is 8/4/43; Assigned 509BS/351BG [RQ-Y] Polebrook 16/4/43; Missing in Action 43m Frankfurt 11/2/44 with Capt John Carson, Co-pilot: Merlyn Rutherford*, Radio Operator: John Landers*, Ball...

  • 42-29948 Jennie

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 17/3/43; Walla Walla 28/3/43; Metropolitan 13/4/43; Dow Fd 30/4/43; Assigned 510BS/351BG [TU-B] Polebrook 28/5/43; 30m Missing in Action Cognac 31/12/43 with Homer Wells, Co-pilot: Fred Pugsley, Navigator: Arnold Kline, Bombardier:...

  • 42-3046 "'Ol’ Jackson - That Frisco Kid"

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 1/2/43; Assigned 335BS/95BG [OE-V] Gulfport 7/4/43; Alconbury 15/4/43; 3m transferred 334BS [BG-V], then 412BS [QW-V]; 510BS/351BG [TU-X] Polebrook 17/6/43; 6m Kassel 30/7/43 with Harry Maser, crew ? (10 Returned to Duty); engine out...

  • 42-37731

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 10/8/43; Dalhart 17/8/43; Assigned 510BS/351BG [TU-A] Polebrook 22/9/43; transferred 508BS [YB-A]. Missing in Action on its 12th mission, to Bordeaux on 31 December 1943 with Pilot Major John R. Blaylock; Navigator: James Taylor; Tail...

  • 42-37825 Super Ball

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 11/9/43; Scott Fd 23/9/43; Assigned 379BG Kimbolton 7/10/43; transferred 511BS/351BG [DS-Q] Polebrook 21/10/43; Missing in Action 26m Landsberg-am-Lech A/fd 18/3/44 with George Mears, Co-pilot: Russell Ward, Navigator: Jim Mahaffey,...

Associated Place

  • Polebrook

    Military site : airfield
    Polebrook was laid down for RAF Bomber Command use in 1940-1941. Built by George Wimpey and Co. Ltd, it had short runways which were lengthened for USAAF heavy bomber use. The RAF used the base for operational trials - including of B-17 Flying...


Event Location Date
Born Coeur d'Alene, ID, USA 1916
Lived in Kootenai County, ID, USA September 1941
Enlisted Spokane, WA, USA 27 September 1941

Jack Danby worked as a teacher before the war.

Prisoner of War (POW) Belgium 31 December 1943 – 1945
Married Ann Hovila Salt Lake City, UT, USA 30 July 1945

At Fort Douglas chapel

Died 1991


Date Contributor Update
06 February 2017 11:08:46 Lucy May Changes to biography and memoriam

Correspondence with Maureen Danby Adams-Abbott

Also removed connection to 510th BS and replaced with connection to 509th BS. See missions linked to from this 351st BG web page:

Date Contributor Update
04 January 2017 12:07:44 Lucy May Changes to events

Wedding announcement in The Salt Lake Tribune newspaper published on Sunday, Aug 5, 1945 via

Date Contributor Update
04 January 2017 10:48:13 Lucy May Changes to middlename, service number, biography, memoriam, events, place associations and aircraft associations

Correspondence with Jack Ellsworth Danby's daughter, Maureen Danby Adams-Abbott.

NARA enlistment record:

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:13:48 AAM AAM ingest

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / MACR 1984 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database