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William Harrison Genge


A native of Warren, PA., USA, Bill Genge enlisted at 17 and became a World War II pilot stationed at Duxford, and spent nearly a year as a prisoner of war in Germany after his plane was shot down in 1944. He returned to Duxford fifty-five years later with his five grandchildren in tow.
Mr. Genge spent his business career at Ketchum Communications, a major advertising and public relations firm based in Pittsburgh, PA. He served as a University of Pittsburgh trustee and member of the board of directors of Allegheny General Hospital and the Pittsburgh Symphony Society.
During World War II, Mr. Genge was a 2nd lieutenant stationed at Duxford, England. He flew planes, he said, "but not too successfully" "The true story is, I brought down two planes in combat. Unfortunately, I was in both of them". In early 1944 his plane was struck by ground fire over the Dutch countryside, forcing him to parachute into a canal. He filled his time as a POW reading the dictionary and writing poetry.
Mr. Genge, a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, joined Ketchum Communications in 1953 after working as a writer for five years at Gulf Oil Corp. He worked his way up at Ketchum from account executive to president in 1970, and later its chief executive, leading the firm to become one of the nation's largest advertising agencies. Under his leadership, it grew from one office in Pittsburgh to offices in 12 U.S. cities and eight foreign countries. Worldwide billings topped $1.1 billion shortly before he retired -- more than four times what they were when he took the reins.
Mr. Genge was an elder at Shadyside Presbyterian Church and was very active in community and philanthropic circles. He was a director of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, United Way, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Carnegie Institute and others.
As a trustee of the University of Pittsburgh, he chaired a $250 million capital campaign. He was also a Chatham College trustee and on the board of directors of the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony, the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council, the Executive Service Corp., the Pittsburgh Opera Theatre and Carnegie Music Hall.
Mr. Genge's wife of 46 years, Beverly Milway Genge, died in 1991.
Mr. Genge vacationed on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts every summer. He meandered Vineyard Sound in his gaff-rigged catboat, Growltiger. He was the Allen Wool Farm's first customer, years before the farm opened its shop. One day, he and his wife visited the farm and he fell in love with the salesgirl and bought all of the shop's handmade products. After that, he and his family were annual July visitors at the farmhouse at the Allen Farm.


Units served with

  • 8th Air Force

    8th Air Force

    Eighth Air Force Bomber Command became the Eighth Air Force on February 1944, it oversaw bombardment of strategic targets in Europe until 1945. ...

  • 78th Fighter Group

    78th Fighter Group

    The 78th Fighter Group was initially based at Goxhill but moved to Duxford in April 1943 and stayed there until October 1945. The 78th FG flew each of the three US built principal fighters of the AAF in the ETO. In their Thundetbolts, the 78th FG ...

  • 82nd Fighter Squadron


  • 42-76585

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    Assigned to 82FS, 82FG, 8AF USAAF. Assigned to Lt William H Genge, lost in this a/c 24-May-44 on bomber escort mission to Bremen, engine started running roughly, headed back to base and abandoned A/C over Alkmaar, Holland. Prisoner of War (POW) MACR 5279.

Associated Place

  • Duxford

    Military site : airfield
    RAF Duxford, now a museum and still a working airfield, was operated by the USAAF from 1943 to 1945. The base was briefly the home of the 350th Fighter Group in late 1942, but it was not until April 1943 that it became a fully American station when the...

  • Stalag Luft III

    Other location

  • Dulag Luft 12

    Other location


Event Location Date
Born Warren, PA 7 May 1923

Son of Val F and Beatrice [Badger] Genge.

Lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA 7 May 1942 – 24 November 2005
Enlisted Erie, PA 14 August 1942

Erie, Pennsylvania

Based Duxford 1944 – 24 May 1944

Assigned to 82FS, 78FG, 8AF USAAF.

Prisoner of War (POW) Zagan, Poland 24 May 1944 – May 1945

Prisoner of War (POW). Stalag Luft III.

Baled out POW Dirkshoorn, Netherlands 24 May 1944

Failed to Return (FTR) Hamburg in P-47 42-76585 24-May-44; crashed near Dirkshoorn POW MACR 5279

Died Pittsburgh, PA 24 November 2005
Buried Allegheny Cemetery Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, PA 27 November 2005

Allegheny Cemetery
Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania


Date Contributor Update
02 April 2021 13:27:09 Al_Skiff Changes to middlename, nickname, service number, biography, awards, events, unit associations and place associations

Date Contributor Update
22 June 2018 22:05:00 cfinney Changes to media associations

Name appears in Parker Finney's POW Diary 1944 - 1945 Stalag III Sagan Germany and Stamlager VIIA Moosberg Germany

Date Contributor Update
18 May 2018 20:58:57 Dgenge Changes to events

Dean Genge

Date Contributor Update
18 May 2018 20:45:48 Dgenge Changes to events

Dean Genge

Date Contributor Update
18 May 2018 20:40:07 Dgenge Changes to events

Dean Genge

Date Contributor Update
18 May 2018 20:39:14 Dgenge Changes to events

Dean Genge

Date Contributor Update
11 May 2018 21:45:27 Dgenge Changes to events

Dean Genge

Date Contributor Update
09 May 2018 16:26:02 Lucy May Changes to role, events and place associations

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:28:07 AAM AAM ingest

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / MACR 5279 / MACR 5729 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database / Ted Damick, VIII Fighter Command pilots list