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"A real biplane pilot. Can you help?" Topic

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621 hits since 2 Aug 2017
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Personal logo vonLoudon Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2017 9:49 a.m. PST

Gordon Bandy Enders born Iowa,1897, raised in India bordering Tibet. Father, Presbyterian minister. Attended Wooster College (Presbyterian) until 1917 when he applied to Norton-Harjes Ambulance. Served six months. Immediately joined French Foreign Legion to obtain flight training. Training at Tours and follow up at Issodoun etc. Ferried planes at Tours and sometime instructor until assigned elsewhere. He put in for officer commission around November 1917. He crashed a ferry Caudron 3 near Savenay Base hospital Nov/Dec 1917. Located by Gray Lady Elizabeth Crump of the Red Cross who later became his wife. Returned to Tours around Christmas time 1917. Said would spend a total of 4 months in hospital until discharge. Did not indicate how much at a time. Commissioned as 1st Lt due to French training in April 1918. Now it gets hinky. His book in 1935 claims assigned to bomber squadron with 31 others "bombing along the Somme". (The German offensive?) Book is titled Nowhere Else in the World. Gets word to professor at Wooster in July 1917 that he had just spent two months at the front flying observation and photographic missions. This was published in Wooster newspaper as well as his previous crash. He did get the training. I have one of his photographs that he took in Ft Meade MD. He also took a photo of my family. Known for his photography in New Mexico when he retired.
Since he had some idle time and there was not much progress in American Bombardment squadrons ramping up (note the collapse of the 96th), he could have been assigned to a French Bombardment Squadron in Breguets and/or utilizing his observer training.
Now the hard part. Have not seen him listed on any American squadron roster. The only exception is a Park Squadron 223rd. Probably a later assignment since it was not a flying squadron. Not listed in G.D.E. as loaned to the French or in the French war chronology. Not listed in Wings of Honor. Not listed in Italy. His army record indicated France and Italy as service areas but it looks like much WW1 info for him was lost. The French squadron lists on the net are right now pretty incomplete. I knew him as a Colonel at Ft Meade MD in the late 50's. I know he was a flyer, observer, and photographer. The question is which squadrons, when, and where? Anybody who can solve this will get a lot of "props" from me. Side note: the aforementioned Mrs Enders was recently buried with her husband Gordon on June 15, 2017 in Santa Fe National Cemetery after 56 years, having been cremated in 1961. The urn was kept in the second family's possession. I knew this fine lady too, which started me on this wild ride again of looking for Gordon's squadron(s). Quite fitting I think for the centennial of our joining in World War 1.

DisasterWargamer Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2017 1:05 p.m. PST

Fascinating man though perhaps more for his experiences in WWII

A few things I came across though not what you are looking for

A WWI photo of him perhaps his insignia are a clue

Shoulder patch – looks like a 2 (2nd Army Air Services?) with a smaller emblem in the middle

A movie being done (my guess is being shopped) based on his WWII activities

DisasterWargamer Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2017 1:30 p.m. PST

Gorrells is probaly where you will find more information

Air Service

The United States Army did not begin operating an independent air service until April 1918. At that time the air service consisted of only three squadrons for use in the front lines. By the time of the November 11, 1918, armistice, forty-five American squadrons, consisting of 740 planes, were operating. A total of 7,726 officers and 70,769 men served in the air service. Documentation on personnel serving in the air service is normally found among the rosters included in Gorrell's History of the American Expeditionary Forces Air Service, 1917-1919, entry 644, Record Group 120. This history has been microfilmed by NARA on fifty-eight rolls as publication M990 and is available for examination in the Microfilm Research Room at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., or for purchase from the National Archives Trust Fund.(9) Also, among the Records of the Army Air Forces (Record Group 18), entries 767A-767II contain correspondence on various units of the air service during World War I. It is possible to locate a roster, letter, or special order pertaining to an individual among this series. The documents are arranged in numerical order by aero squadron or other organizational unit of the air service. Casualty lists for air service personnel are found in entry 569, Record Group 120.

Personal logo vonLoudon Supporting Member of TMP03 Aug 2017 10:36 a.m. PST

Thanks. Gorrell's had been my go too all along plus Wings of Honor, Gordon's books, Air Service histories, other pilot memoirs. The French connection seems limited on the published roster side but some escadrilles have all their documentation. In fact the Park Squadron doesn't have him listed either but a 223 patch was sold with his ribbons, medals etc. He had quite a few awards. I have emailed the Air Force history site. They say it will be months for a response. This man flew airplanes yet he isn't mentioned as to which squadron. The closest I have come is his admission of flying bombers, yet he does not appear in first bombardment group. He also went to observer and photography school per a cablegram and was quoted in the Wooster paper as above.
I know about the movie and the man who wrote it George Hill. We have been corresponding about Enders and his wife's burial in Santa Fe in June. He has been extremely helpful and we have exchanged information wherever possible.
His knowledge of Enders is mainly WW2 and the records are far more intact for WW2. So a lot can be said about his WW1 career just without the details that allow a further investigation possible other than generalities. Thanks for your kind responses DW.

DisasterWargamer Supporting Member of TMP03 Aug 2017 11:44 a.m. PST

I have seen mention that some of the pursuit groups in the 2nd also did "bombing runs" but not entirely sure to what degree – still might be worth looking at some of them

If you blow up that one photo can clearly see the 2 patch – but I am having a hard time determining that the patch in the middle of the 2 is – but that might tell you a lot

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