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William P Kelley


While returning from Flak Island, Captain Kelley, who was leading an attack on enemy shipping and ports, spotted a large convoy. He climbed and immediately called for a homing. Reporting to 'Ops', he dove on the convoy and received a direct hit by flak from a destroyer. Although the other pilots urged him to bale out, he tried to make it to the Dutch coast. He couldn't make the coast, so he turned to fall near the convoy.
Kelley tried to roll his aircraft on its back, but only made it half way. He plunged into the sea half-way out of his cockpit, apparently unable to get clear. The plane sank immediately and nothing came up. The aircraft was in flames when it hit the water.
Kelley probably could have saved his life if he had baled out immediately when hit.



  • 42-37879 'Wrinkled Belly Baby'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 29/9/43; Gr Island 22/10/43; Assigned 335BS/95BG [BG-U] Horham 11/11/43; with W.P. Kelley force landed Attlebridge afb, Suffolk, 11/12/43; two days later the u/c would not extend and force landed at Honington AFB with H. M. Powers, Co...

Associated Place

  • Debden

    Military site : airfield
    RAF Debden, construction of which began in 1935, is perhaps most famous as a Battle of Britain fighter airfield, partly responsible for the defence of London in 1940. In 1942 it was also home to three RAF 'Eagle Squadrons’ of volunteer American pilots...


Event Location Date
Born Saratoga
Killed in Action (KIA) 5 February 1943

See biography.


Date Contributor Update
21 March 2015 15:11:12 apollo11 Changes to nickname, biography, events and place associations

Personal research & 'The Debden Warbirds' by Frank Speer.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:28:35 AAM AAM ingest

Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database