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William Dodd Geiger Jr


Bill Geiger Jr. was captain of the fencing and ski teams at Pasadena City College, in California, at the time he heard about the Eagles. " I had an Olympic coach in fencing and was trying to work up to a spot on the Olympic team, when I decided I would rather fly in the RAF."
Joined RAF in 1941. Assigned to 71 [Eagle] Sqn RAF 1941.
Flying a presentation Spitfire Mk Vb named 'Thane of Fife', went missing from bomber escort [Circus 95] ditched in English channel, 17-9-41.
POW till wars end.
"On 27 August 1941 Bill Dunn put his new Spitfire to good use by shooting down down 2 Me 109Fs near Lille. Bill Geiger wrote of the summer's actions: "We were probably the top close escort squadron in the RAF. We certainly did more than anyone else. I think we had something of a record in that we never lost a bomber due to fighter action in the summmer of 1941." Early in September, No 71 began transitioning to the Spitfire Vb and by month's end Gus Daymond & Chesley Peterson each destroyed 2 and Carrol McColpin got 1. Of his first kill, a Me 109 shot down near Le Touquet on 7 Sept 1941."
devgeigs writes:
Bill Geiger left the RAF as a Flt. Lieutenant after the war in 1945. He was not able to transfer to the USAAF in Sept. 1942 because of being in a POW camp in Germany.
Bill was a member of the Royal Air Force Eagle Squadron 71, one of a group of American pilots that flew for Britain before America entered the war. Bill was shot down Sept 17th, 1941 over the English Channel while flying a Spitfire Mk. Vb. After struggling to open his canopy, he was able to parachute out of his plane at 1000 ft. He was afloat in an inflatable dingy for five hours before being pick up by the Germans, and taken to St. Omer, France.
He spent the remainder of the war as a POW in: Dalag Luft (Wetzlar), Oflag IX A/H (Spangenburg), Stalag Luft III (Sagan), Stalag XIIID (Nurnberg), and Stalag VIIA (Moosburg).
Bill Geiger was one of the longest held American POWs of the war against Germany.
While in Stalag Luft III in Sagan, he was involved with dispersing soil from the tunnels for the Great Escape. Although drawing an early number to go on that escape, Bill was transferred to the all American compound (South Compound) before the March 1944 escape.
After the war, Bill had planned to transfer to the USAAF and be a U.S. military career pilot, but pilots were no longer in demand and he was turned down. He moved back to Pasadena, CA, and continued to fly for a private company for several years. He married Betsy Hunter in 1947. They had three children and six grandchildren. Bill lived an active life, and died at the age of 86, in February 2006.


Units served with

  • No 71 'Eagle' Squadron

    No 71 'Eagle' Squadron

    'On 19 September 1940, No. 71 was reformed at Church Fenton as the first 'Eagle' Squadron to be manned by American personnel. The Squadron received Hurricanes in November and became operational on defensive duties on 5 February 1941. No. 71 converted...


Associated Place

  • Kirton-in-Lindsey

    Military site : airfield
    Used as an RFC and RAF Home Defence landing ground during the First World War, Kirton-in-Lindsey was built during 1938-40 as an RAF fighter station. It had two grass runways, 10 hardstandings, three grouped C hangars and four over-blister hangars....

  • Martlesham Heath

    Military site : airfield
    Opened in 1917 as home to the RFC Aeroplane Experimental Unit, Martlesham Heath became well known during the 1920s-30s as home to the Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment. Used as an RAF fighter station from 1939, with only a grass airfield...

  • Stalag Luft III

    Other location


Event Location Date
Born New York, NY, USA 29 September 1919
Joined RAF 1940

Joined Royal Air Force

Assigned 1941

Assigned to 71 [Eagle] Sqn RAF 1941.

Transitioned to Spitfire Vb's September 1941

Early in September No 71 began transitioning to the Spitfire Vb.

E/A kill Le Touquet, France 7 September 1941

First kill, a Me 109 shot down near Le Touquet on 7 Sept 1941

Ditched in English Channel English Channel 17 September 1941

Flying a presentation Spitfire Mk Vb named 'Thane of Fife', went missing from bomber escort [Circus 95] ditched in English channel, 17-9-41.

Prisoner Of War (POW) Zagan, Poland 17 September 1941 – May 1945

Prisoner of War (POW). Stalag Luft III.

Died Pasadena, CA, USA 8 February 2006

In Loving Memory of William Dodd Geiger Jr. Sept. 29, 1919 - Feb 8, 2006 On February 8t h, with his loving family by his side, William D. Geiger, Jr. (Bill), 86, passed away at home. Also known as Eagle or Eagie, he was an adventurer and pioneer who sought out and accomplished all life had to offer. He was born in New York on September 29th, 1919, but lived most of his life in Pasadena, California. He attended Pasadena City College from the eleventh grade on, while he pursued his passion for flying and for competitive fencing. When WWII broke out in Europe, Bill put aside his goal of making the Olympic fencing team, and joined the newly formed Eagle Squadron, a group of American pilots enlisting to fly for England's Royal Air Force. In the spring of 1941, Bill flew more than forty bomber escort missions in his favorite "Supermarine Spitfire V". In September, he was shot down over the English Channel and picked up by a German patrol boat. He spent the next three and a half years in German POW camps, including the infamous Stalag Luft III, where he helped build the tunnel for the Great Escape. After returning to Pasadena, Bill met and married Betsy Hunter, daughter of Dr. Paul Hunter and Betty Hixon Hunter. During their devoted 57-year marriage, Bill and Betsy raised a son and two daughters who shared their love for skiing, golf, and fly-fishing. Bill inspired and taught many friends and family the fine art of fly-fishing, his greatest passion and gift during the second half of his life. He also loved watching his six grandchildren in performances and sporting events, and enjoyed many family gatherings at the Geiger beach house just south of Montecito. Bill was also passionate about the real estate business, and became head of the commercial real estate division for the William Wilson Company in Pasadena. Over the pursuing years, he continued to be interested in real estate investments, and built his own successful real estate portfolio. Active in many community activities, Bill spent time coaching sports and supporting education, and served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Chandler School. He was also a member of Annandale Golf Club in Pasadena and of The Valley Club of Montecito. Bill's sense of humor and creative wit were greatly appreciated by all who crossed his path. His humble passion for all the things he did and shared with others, was an inspiration that will be remembered by many.

Bill is survived by his wife; his three children; his daughter-in-law and son-in-law; and his six grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister, and brother and sister-in-law. He received a great deal of joy over the years being with all his friends. We, Bill's family, will miss him very much. We thank him for his love, compassion, joy, honesty, generosity, and incredible sense of humor, - qualities we hope to emulate in our own lives and in those we will influence. He was, and will always remain, our hero. In keeping with his wishes, no memorial service will be held.


Date Contributor Update
24 January 2022 11:04:37 Al_Skiff Changes to nickname, role and events

Date Contributor Update
23 January 2022 05:56:41 jmoore43 Changes to events and place associations

Updated the location of the "POW" event per WW2 POW records at the National Archives (NARA).
Added an association to Stalag Luft 3 per WW2 POW records at the National Archives (NARA).

Date Contributor Update
25 February 2016 13:50:00 Al_Skiff Changes to unit associations and place associations

Date Contributor Update
01 February 2016 22:23:03 devgeigs Changes to role, biography, events and place associations


Date Contributor Update
28 August 2015 20:29:59 devgeigs Changes to suffix, nickname, highest rank, biography and events

I am his proud daughter, Devon Geiger.

Date Contributor Update
16 August 2015 23:35:49 Al_Skiff Changes to suffix and awards

Date Contributor Update
16 August 2015 23:31:33 Al_Skiff Created entry with surname, middlename, firstname, nationality, highest rank, role, biography, events, unit associations, place associations and aircraft associations