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Don Blakeslee

 

RCAF  &  USAAF   -   Colonel

Distinguished Flying Cross (RCAF),
Distinguished Service Cross x2,
Silver Star x2, Legion of Merit,
DFC (US) x8, Air Medal x10

Donald James Mathew Blakeslee
Born in Fairport Harbor, Ohio, 11 Sept. 1917. Home there
Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army Reserve, 1938-1940 (Infantry)
Obtained his private pilot's license in Ohio
Discharged from the US Army, 13 September, to join the RCAF
Enlisted in Windsor, Ontario, 15 August 1940
Posted to
No.2 ITS, 30 September 1940 (promoted LAC, 26 Oct. 1940)
No.14 EFTS, 27 October 1940
No.1 SFTS, 22 December 1940
Graduated & Commissioned, 17 March 1941
To “Y” Depot, Halifax, 27 March 1941
To RAF overseas, 4 April 1941 & OTU
To 401 Squadron at Biggin Hill, May 1941
Briefly with 411 Sq. & 121 Sq. then to 133 Sq.
Transferred to the American forces, end of September 1942
Flew with & CO of the 4th FG at Debden, Essex
His greatest asset was his outstanding ability as a leader in the air
Blakeslee painted no victory markings on his planes
He flew with 27 Wing during the Korean War
Retired in Florida as Colonel, USAF, in April 1965
Died 3 September 2008 just shy of his 91st birthday - Obituary

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Forced To Bail Out, Pilot Loses Life As 'Chute Fails To Open

Michael D. Gould, 36, of 495 E. 126th St., Cleveland, was killed instantly at 6:45 p.m. Monday when he "bailed out" of the plane he was piloting and plummeted 500 feet into a peach orchard along Route 84 on the E. W. Moore estate in Mentor. He struck the ground head first, his hand clutching the rip cord on a parachute that did not open.
The three-place Waco biplane crashed a few feet away, and was demolished. The motor tore three feet into the earth.
Owners of the plane are Donald Blakeslee of 529 Seventh St., Fairport, and William Morgan of Cleveland. The two men allowed their flying school to use the plane in exchange for instruction.
Mr. Blakeslee, who has a private license, said today he knew Mr. Gould well and that they were good friends.
Just two weeks ago Mr. Blakeslee exchanged a 1939 Cub for his interest in the other plane.

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Three Empire Air Forces Participate in Ceremony

(By C. W. MacQueen, Staff Writer - The Globe and Mail) Camp Borden, March 17, 1941 - The air forces of three nations of the British Commonwealth were represented at the wings ceremony which marked conclusion of the training period of Class No. 16 of the Air Training Plan here late this afternoon. The graduating class was composed two-thirds of members of the Royal Australian Air Force and one-third of students from the Royal Canadian Air Force. In addition there were several officers of the Royal Air Force in attendance at the ceremony in the huge drill hall.
Squadron Leader G. A. R. Bradshaw of the R.A.F. pinned the wings an each member of the class after Group Captain R. S. Grandy, officer commanding the station, had addressed the graduates.
There was a decided change from the procedure which has marked the wings ceremonies in connection with other classes that have graduated lately. Close to one-third of those who received their wings this evening were addressed as pilot officers for the first time, while the remainder were called by their new rank of sergeant pilots. Up until today all graduates under the Commonwealth Air Training Plan have been leading aircraftmen.
Among those who received their wings were the following:
Royal Australian Air Force:
Pilot Officers — E. H. C. Ely, B. A. Willis, J. N. Ollivier, H. J. Jones and W. J. Kennedy of Sydney, N.S.W.; H. V. Shearn and H. A. Duplex of Perth, West Australia; M. G. Baker and J. W. Greening of Melbourne.
Sergeant Pilots — L. R. Williams, P. H. Watson, R. G. Spencer, W. A. Brew, G. F. Inkster, F. Falkiner, J. G. Marrett and J. Donald of Sydney; E. R. Bassett, E. P. Jackson, A. L. Bull of Melbourne; P. C. Voller, Brisbane; J. Rutherford, New South Wales; W. H. B. Burvill, Queensland; K. V. Williams, R. H. Bevan, J. E. L. Clarke and W. H. Wright, New Guinea; W. J. Wilkinson, Murwillumbah, New South Wales.
Royal Canadian Air Force:

Pilot Officers — H. E. Naylor and C. G. Russell of Toronto; H. W. Rowley, London; D. Blakeslee, Fairport, Ohio; W. G. Reeves, Brantford; C. A. Walker, Fort William.
Sergeant Pilots — D. H. Arnot, H. W. Russell and J. W. Sills of Toronto; H. L. Nelson, Jefferson, Iowa; H. R. Smith, Truro, N.S.; C. I. Nutbrown, Sherbrooke, Que., G. D. Williamson, Saint John, N.B.; C. B. Ramsay, Newcastle, N.B.; H. K. Mann,. Trenton.
 
P/O Donald Blakeslee
P/O Blakeslee

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CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER VISITS AIR-FIGHTER DEPOT
Group Captain Campbell, Hamilton Officer, in Attendance
COUNTRY IS PROUD

Somewhere in England, Sept. 6, 1941 - (CP Cable) - Prime Minister Mackenzie King, visiting the first all-Canadian fighter station in Great Britain, told airmen today that "there is nobody in the world more in the hearts of all of us than you."

Enjoying Visit
Obviously enjoying his visit to the great station, the Prime Minister chatted with young flyers standing beside their Spitfires, Hurricanes and Beaufighters.
Scores of the Royal Canadian Air Force men snapped pictures of Mr. King as he stood on the wing of an aeroplane and later sat in the cockpit of a Hurricane wearing a helmet and talking to the station control room over radio telephone.
"Nothing could inspire me more than meeting you airmen," he said in the longest informal speech he has made since coming to Britain. The speech was made to a Spitfire squadron.
"I suppose there is nobody in the world more in the hearts of all of us than you. I can't begin to tell you how proud we are of our air force.
"The people of Canada follow with pride and thankfulness your gallant exploits. Your bravery and courage are known to them."

Pleasing Plan
Mr. King recalled that he had paid tribute to the R.C.A.F. flyers in his speech this week at the Lord Mayor's luncheon in London and said that no words he had ever uttered gave him more pleasure.
He added that "no act of the government ever pleased my colleagues and myself more than the working out of this plan with British representatives," referring to the initial conversations with Lord Riverdale and a British mission which led to the Commonwealth air training plan.
"From my heart I trust the all-seeing and living Providence will watch over you." Mr. King concluded: "God bless you all, boys."
Wearing a grey suit, a black Homburg and carrying a cane, Mr. King was in a jovial mood as he talked with the airmen. He climbed up on the wing of one of the new model Spitfires to shake hands with P/O Win Ash, of Dallas, Tex.
As photographers took pictures, the Prime Minister quipped: "Don't start this plane while I'm here. These press men would like nothing better than to have me taken up 60 feet and dropped."

Meet "The Boys"
"I wonder if I may shake hands with these men?" he said when he greeted F/L Kit Bushell, of Qu'Appelle, Sask., in charge of a group of Spitfire pilots who were lined up in front of their dispersal hut. Those he met included Pilot Officers Boyd Gartshore of Toronto; Ken Boomer of Ottawa; R. W. McNair of Prince Albert, Sask. and Sgt.-Pilots Dick Ellis, of Montreal; Bill Hagyard of Perth, Ont. and Aubrey Ferguson of Glace Bay, N.S.
Two of their mates — Ash and P/O Donald Blakeslee of Cleveland, Ohio — staged a practical scramble into their planes and Mr. King's hat was blown off by the slipstream caused by the propellers.
A squadron, led by Squadron Leader Paul Pitcher of Montreal, told Mr. King there was a scarcity of magazines and newspapers from home.
The Prime Minister was cheered as he headed towards Beaufighter squadrons, where he was greeted by F/L Bruce Hanbury of Vancouver. While Mr. King was inspecting the airmen, L.A.C. Stuart Lee, of Almonte, Ont., photographed him. Later Mr. King took pictures of the lads with Lee's camera and visited the squadron's operations room.

With Hamilton Officer
Mr. King was accompanied throughout his tour by Air Commodore Leigh Forbes Stevenson, air officer commanding the R.C.A.F. in the United Kingdom, and Group Capt. A. P. Campbell, of Hamilton, Ont., the first Canadian named to command an air station in Britain.
There was a touch of sadness when he asked of one group, "Who trained these men to their present fine efficiency?" He was told they were trained by an officer who was killed a few days ago — Wing Cmdr. N. R. Peterson, of Winnipeg.
Mr. King concluded the visit by chatting with members of a Hurricane squadron led by Squadron Ldr. Norm Johnstone, of Winnipeg. Among the men were P/O Don Ball of Edmonton and F/L "Bev" Christmas of Montreal.
The Prime Minister climbed into the cockpit of a Hurricane and P/O Bud Connell of Nipawin, Sask., showed him how to work the radio telephone. Mr. King sent greetings to the control room.

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Canadians Bag 4 Nazis In Honor of New Chief

(By DOUGLAS AMARON) London, Nov. 23, 1941 - (CP) - Canadian fighter pilots, who celebrated the arrival of Air Vice-Marshal Harold Edwards in Britain by shooting down four German planes over Northern France, were visited today by the new air officer commanding the R.C.A.F. in Britain and his predecessor, Air Commodore L. F. Stevenson.
Less than twenty-four hours after he stepped from a plane which brought him from Canada, Vice-Marshal Edwards went to the Canadians station and heard first-hand accounts of the engagements of the previous day, which are considered by air authorities to be one of the finest performances of the war in the particular type of operation in which the Canadians were engaged.
The Canadians, who also were credited with one probably destroyed and four seriously damaged enemy aircraft, were the toast of the station, and received an informal message of congratulations from Sir Archibald Sinclair, Secretary of State for Air, and a formal message from Air Vice-Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory, under whose command the squadron operates.
"Congratulations on a splendid showing. Well done, Canadians!" said Vice-Marshal Leigh-Mallory's message, read to all the squadron's personnel.
Like an excited crowd of youngsters who have just won a football game, the Canadians talked shop most of the day, telling and retelling about their combats with what was estimated to be a force of at least sixty German fighters.

Get First Huns
Attention centered on Pilot Officer Ian Ormston of Montreal, Pilot Officer Don Blakeslee of Fairport Harbor, Ohio; Sergeant Omer Levesque of Mont Joli, Que., and Sergeant Don Morrison of Toronto, each of whom shot down his first plane of the war.
It was a particularly satisfying day for Blakeslee, Levesque and Morrison. Levesque, in addition to his confirmed victory, came to grips with a second Nazi and last saw him breaking up in mid-air, while Blakeslee and Morrison also both inflicted serious damage on a second German plane.

 
PL-4944
Victorious members of an RCAF fighter squadron tell each other how they did it. Left to Right: F/L E.L. "Jeep" Neal, Quebec City, Qc; Sgt Don Morrison, Toronto, On.; Sgt Jeff Northcott, Minnedosa, Man,; P/O Ian Ormston, Montreal, Qc; Sgt Omer Levesque, Mont Jolie, Qc, and P/O Don Blakeslee of Fairport Harbour, Ohio.
The squadron's commanding officer, Squadron Leader Norman Johnstone of Winnipeg and Regina, and Sergeant Jeff Northcott of Minnedosa, Man., were given credit for the other damaged German aircraft.
"Those boys made a might good show of it," said Johnstone, beaming with fatherly pride. "The odds were considerably against them, both in numbers and in consideration of the sweep that took us over enemy territory. It was the first real flight for a majority of them and they pitched right into battle with plenty of courage and no end of ability."
Ormston, who with Flight-Lieutenant E. L. Neal of Quebec City, Blakeslee and Morrison dived into a group of Messerschmitt 109's and new Focke-Wulf 190's, literally blew his Messerschmitt out of the air.
Levesque, who said that "once in action I forgot the perils because things were happening too fast," forced the pilot of the first plane he attacked to bail out and shot part of the wing off the second.

“He Simply Exploded”
Blakeslee, who enlisted at Windsor, Ont., said he spotted the Messerschmitts at 15,000 feet and dived on them at 6,000. "All we did was dive and a one-second burst got my man," he said. "He simply exploded."
Morrison, who earlier in his first week with the squadron, scored a probable, spotted three Germans on the tail of Neal's plane.
"I came up from below and knocked off one," Morrison said. "He apparently didn't know I was there. Later I nearly joined three Focke-Wolf 190's which I thought were Spitfires. I took a crack at the last one and when last seen he was pouring out black smoke."
The Canadian fighter squadron co-operated with an English squadron whose members bagged another two enemy craft.
A veteran RAF wing commander with a personal score of eighteen confirmed victories led the combined English-Canadian squadrons operating from the fighter command's top-scoring station. The six planes destroyed brought the station's total of aircraft shot down since the start of the war to nearly 900.
"We saw fifteen Messerschmitts about two miles below us climbing hard," the wing commander said in describing the action. "Leaving the British squadron on top, I sent down several sections of the Canadians to attack. I stayed with the others, keeping a look-out in case assistance was wanted. It wasn't. Those boys just sailed into the German fighters and they were a grand sight to watch, whooping down and mixing it with the Hun

Chased Into France
"
After the fight had been going on for some time our pilots started to chase the Messerschmitts deeper into France, and, as I didn't want them to get too widely scattered, I told them over the radio to come back and call it off. It was well that they did, for another bunch of Messerschmitts had approached higher up."
The wing commander sent the English squadron after these, and one German fighter promptly was sent smoking down to earth. Both squadrons then started for home, running into another batch of enemy fighters on the way.
During the flight home Levesque, who transferred to the air force from a French-Canadian army unit, got his Nazi.
"He was having a tough struggle," the wing commander said. "The Messerschmitt he was fighting finally plunged into a wood just inside the French coast and exploded like a bomb."
Over the coast and the Channel the squadrons met more German fighters in ones and twos, and the commander estimated that they encountered about sixty in all.
"Really," he said, "it was a grand afternoon for both squadrons."
J. P. Bickel, Toronto mine owner, who has held positions of importance in the Ministry of Aircraft Production, arrived with Air Vice-Marshal Edwards, as did Brigadier G. R. Turner, who is returning to his post at Canadian Corps Headquarters after a visit to Canada.
Mr. Bickel was met by Sir Archibald Rowlands, Permanent Secretary of the Aircraft Production Ministry. He said he was here "for a couple of weeks."
Flight Lieutenant Bill Broadribb of Ottawa also accompanied Edwards.
The flight across the Atlantic was described as "cold.”

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Canadians See Action On Air Escort After Paratroops Patrol
Sgt, Morrison, Toronto, Saves Fellow Flier and Gets 'Probable'
'BUNCH OF 109'S'

By LOUIS V. HUNTER. An R.A.F. Station Somewhere in England, March 1, 1942 - (CP) - Canadian fighter pilots and bomber crews took part in Saturday's paratroop-Commando raid that destroyed an enemy wireless location station at Bruneval, France, but for a Canadian Spitfire squadron which formed part of the umbrella for the raid the dawn job was just the start of the day's work.
A few hours after the squadron completed what its members called a "routine patrol" it was in action again. It escorted Blenheim bombers in Saturday's daylight attack on Ostend, during which Sergeant Pilot Don Morrison, young Toronto flier who is the squadron's "high man," added to his score one plane probably shot down and one damaged. His tally had stood on Feb. 21 at two destroyed, two probables and one damaged.
Flight Lieutenant Al Harley of London, Ont., was one of those in charge of a section of Spitfires guarding the vessels carrying the returning paratroops. The squadron's commanding officer, Squadron Leader A. G. Douglas, R.A.F., and Flight Lieutenant Gene Neal of Quebec City were in charge of the other sections.
"It was just like an ordinary patrol," said lanky Flight Lieutenant Harley. "There wasn't a thing around, and I didn't even see the ships."
Pilot Officer Hugh Merritt of, Smithville, Ont., agreed it was a "dull trip." He said he met the convoy about midway across the Channel and "saw the ships all right, but I don't know yet what they did."
The airmen in Harley's section were Flight Sergeant Deane Macdonald of Toronto, Flight Sergeant Jack Ferguson of Victoria, a former star of the Calgary Bronks football team, and Sergeant Pilot Gerry Clarke of Winnipeg, who was reported missing after the afternoon operation.
Sergeant Pilot Jack Aubrey Ferguson of South Port Morien, N.S.; Flight Sergeant Jim Whitman of Edmonton, Pilot Officer Ian Ormston of Montreal, Pilot Officer Don Blakeslee of Cleveland, Ohio, and Morrison were the other pilots in the fighter screen.

Canadians in Crews
Canadian members of the crews of the Wellingtons and Whitleys, which carried the paratroops, included, besides pilots whose names are not immediately available: Flight Sergeant A. Bradshaw of. Edmonton, Wireless Operator-Air Gunner Sergeants L. J. Narveau of Cornwall, Ont. , and L. D. Jackson of Saint John, N.B., Air Gunner R. J. Heather of Toronto, Observer J. Dremers of Timmins, Ont., Wireless Operator-Air Gunners A. E. Shaw of Paris, Ont., and R. W. Taylor of Victoria, Observer T. R. Cattle of Toronto, Air Gunners D. F. Campbell of Toronto, R. J. Chisholm of Vancouver and H. W. Bydwell of Montreal and Wireless Operator-Air Gunner H. F. Tice of Hamilton, Ont.
During the second escort job of the day Morrison tackled a Focke-Wulf 190 which was roaring in to attack Ormston. It was the second time the dark-haired Toronto youngster had saved his Montreal companion from attack by a Nazi aircraft.
"Ormy," Morrison said, "was about 100 yards in front of me when the 190 suddenly appeared about fifty yards over my head, going for Ormy. I sort of pulled up after him and chased him around, but I took a squirt at him and saw the shells explode in the front of his cockpit. He just rolled over and went down in a dive with a trail of smoke behind him."

Went for Two More
Morrison followed the Nazi down to 12,000 feet in an 8,000-foot dive, but had to leave him "because I saw two more Jerries over on my left and went for them."
"They attacked a bunch of Spits," he continued. "One of them broke off and I took a squirt. He started shooting out black smoke and I was just about to close in and administer the coup de grace when two more Jerries came down and began to circle around. I figured it was time to go home—and did."
Morrison and his companions were uncertain what happened to Clarke. The Toronto flier said he did not see Clarke during the action and Harvey said he heard the Winnipegger report over his radiotelephone that he had been hit.
"We ran into a bunch of 190's on the way back and apparently one of them went for Clarke," Harvey said. "I heard him say his aircraft was hit but that he was all right. Later some one in another squadron saw a Spit going down and it must have been Gerry."

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BLAKESLEE, F/L Donald James Mathew (J4551) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.133 Sq.
Award effective 23 July 1942 as per London Gazette dated 14 August 1942 &
AFRO 1413/42 dated 4 September 1942.

This officer has completed a large number of sorties over enemy territory. He has destroyed one, probably two, and damaged several more hostile aircraft. He is a fine leader whose keenness has proved most inspiring.

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ALLIED FLIERS SWEEP FRANCE
Eagle Squadron Plays Major Role in Flights

London. Aug. 18, 1942 - (BUP) - A joint Anglo-American aerial offensive, designed to scourge Germany into exhaustion, roared through its fourth day, today with three German planes shot down during vicious dogfights over the French and Belgian coasts in which American Eagle pilots of the R.A.F. played a major role.
The daylight sweeps began at dawn, a few hours after R.A.F. bombers had made another devastating night attack on the bomb-battered German railway junction of Osnabrueck, leaving the city aflame from thousands of incendiary and explosive bombs.

Late in the day, members of the Third American Eagle Squadron made a series of small-scale sweeps which "kept the enemy busy" over a 180-mile strip of the Channel invasion coast from Le Havre, up the coast to Dieppe and Abbeville, and over to Ostend, in Belgium, the Air Ministry announced.
The Eagle Flight Commander, Donald J. M. Blakeslee of Fairport Harbor, Ohio, who recently joined the Eagles and who was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross last Friday, shot down one of Germany's new Focke-Wulf 190 fighters in the Cap Gris Nez-Calais area.
"We saw a formation of Focke-Wulfs 2,000 feet below us as we were crossing the coast," he said. "We dived on them. One pulled right in my gunsights. I let him have just one short burst of cannon and machine gun fire and he dived away and crashed into the sea. Just before that happened a colleague of mine saw the Hun pilot bail out."
One British Spitfire was missing from those sweeps. The other two German planes were bagged early yesterday morning off the French coast.

(Right) - The name of the game is Casino. In this photo from 22 May 1942, members of 401 Squadron kill time as they await the call to arms. In the foreground, Flight Sergeants C.S. Pope (left) and Ian MacLennan (who left for Malta a few days later) have a go while Sergeant Frank Duff and Pilot Officer Jack Tucker duel it out beside them. Looking on is Flight Sergeant Don Morrison who happens to be sitting on Blakeslee's box of personal belongings which are waiting to be transferred to Blakeslee's new home.

  Still waiting

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"Fourth Mission Of The Day" by Gil Cohen
In "Fourth Mission Of The Day" by Gil Cohen, Blakeslee in depicted leaving his Spitfire after completing his 4th sortie on this long and harrowing day which saw approximately 5,000 Canadians, 1,000 British commandos and 50 American Army Rangers test German defenses by landing on the beaches of Dieppe. August 19th 1942, "Operation Jubilee" is now considered to have been one of the greatest air battles of the Second World War. Unlike D-Day, at Dieppe the Germans came out in force and the Allies had their single worst day of losses with 119 planes failing to return. The Luftwaffe, now with the "home-court" advantage, fared better with only 46 planes lost. Blakeslee was one of the fortunate ones, not only did he survive but he managed to destroy a Do217, probably destroy a FW190 and damage two other FW190s.

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1944

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Blows Aimed From Italy And Britain
3,700 Heavy Bombers Are Used in Heavy One-Two Punch

LONDON, Eng. 29 May 1944 -Two great American air forces totaling perhaps 3,700 heavy bombers and fighters struck synchronized blows from Britain and Italy today at eight Nazi aircraft factories and two airdromes in Eastern Germany, Poland, Austria, France, Belgium and Yugoslavia.

NEAR RECORD FLEET
A near record fleet of more than 2,200 bombers and fighters flew up to 1,300 miles to hammer six factories on a half moon arc swinging wide around Berlin and into Poland.
Up to 750 Flying Fortresses and Liberators shepherded by a comparable number of fighters swarmed up from Italy and smashed at two airdromes and two aircraft plants in the Wiener Neustadt area below Vienna. While the U.S. Eighth and 15th Air Forces were clamping the bombing pincers on the plants supplying the German Air Force on invasion eve, other hundreds of Allied bombers shuttled against the defences of Western Europe throughout the morning and into the afternoon.
Don Blakeslee  

Preliminary reports of big scale activity supplementing the two heavy bomber broadsides suggested that the day's sorties might approach if not exceed a total of 6,000.
The Eighth Air Force's 1,000 bombers with an escort of more than 1,200 fighters bracketed Berlin with bombs at a distance ranging up to 150 miles in the six-way attack on Poznan and nearby Kreising in Poland, and Leipzig, Sorau, Cottbus, and Tutow, Germany, on three sides of the capital.

SOME ARE LOST
While the Americans were on the way home, the German radio claimed 45 U.S. bombers and five fighters were shot down over Northern Germany in violent air battles.
The first fighter pilots back from the long range mission with the bombers said the Germans did not try seriously to interfere with the formation they were protecting. A Mustang group led by Col. Don Blakeslee of Fairport Harbor, Ohio, accompanied the heavies over Poland.
The targets of the Italy-based Forts and Liberators were the Wiener Neustadt Nord and Wollersdorf airdromes along with the Noll aircraft factory near Wiener Neustadt and the Atzgersdorff plant six miles southwest of Vienna.
Intense anti-aircraft fire was encountered over all the Austrian targets, headquarters at Naples announced, and considerable numbers of German planes challenged the raiders.
Italy-based Liberators in a companion action flew two missions over Jugoslavia to hammer German troop concentrations in support of Marshal Tito's Partisan forces.
About 400 American Marauders and Havocs, the biggest force of its kind ever mobilized, this afternoon attacked bridges in Northern France and Belgium and the Achlet air field in France.

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Only Five of Old Eagle Squadron are Left

From BETTY KNOX, 12 June 1944 - The Old Eagle Squadron hatched a brood of fledgling flyers and pushed them out of the nest in the fighter-bomber Mustang on D-Day.
Only five of the original Eagle Squadron are left now. Once there were 75 members of the unit that flew with the R.A.F. before America entered the war.
Don Blakeslee's fighter group, transferred to the U.S.A.A.F. in the fall of 1942. It is the highest scoring group in the U.S. Air Force, having accounted for 200 enemy airplanes in the air and 186 on the ground in the three months before D-Day.
Of the five veterans who remain, only three flew with the old outfit on "D" day.
The bulk of the squadron is made up of relatively new boys. Some of them in fact arrived the day before "D" day; since then these 19 and 20-year-olds, young in comparison with the old hands, are now flying from one to three missions a day.
In the ranks of Blakeslee's group are four of America's top five Fighter aces, none of whom has less than 27 kills to his credit. They are: Major James A. Goodson, with 30; Captain Don Gentile, with 30; Captain John Godfrey, with 29; and First Lieutenant Ralph Hofer, with 29.
The fifth, Major Bob Johnson, with 27, flies a Thunderbolt.
D-Day was an unlucky day for three of the big five.
After flying in all the major shows since the tough old days, Gentile, Godfrey and Johnson could not keep the most important date in their flying lives, because they were on long-overdue leave in the United States.

Crash-landed
As for Lieutenant Hofer, D-Day was different.
Two enemy troop trains did not get where they were going, or anywhere, because at 7 a.m. Hofer stopped them - with our bombs.
Major Goodson says it was a good day considering everything. With Goodson, "everything" includes almost not getting back. But he thinks he's pretty lucky. He is the only one of the five aces who is in Britain today.
That is because yesterday Hofer crash-landed on an emergency strip on the Allied beach-head. Hofer is doing O.K.

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WELCOME TO A HERO

13 Sept. 1944 - Lake County joins with Fairport in rejoicing over the safe arrival home of Col. Don Blakeslee, Eighth Air Force Mustang group commander, one of the outstanding heroes of World War II.
Fairport's rousing welcome to her famous son when he arrived in the early morning hours Tuesday was a heartwarming, patriotic and civic demonstration, which, for enthusiasm and sincerity, could not be surpassed. Col. Blakeslee was visibly affected by the community greeting, which came as a complete surprise to him.
The entire county will have an opportunity Thursday night to honor the air ace at a celebration sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and Better Business Board of Painesville and the Men's Civic club of Fairport. This event, to be featured by a parade and a testimonial dinner in Painesville, is expected to be one of the greatest and most spontaneous celebrations ever held here.
Every patriotic citizen of Lake county is proud of Col. Blakeslee, his country is proud of him, for his heroic service in the Allied cause. He is credited with between 400 and 500 combat missions. He wears two Distinguished Service Crosses, the Distinguished Flying Cross, with seven clusters and two silver stars, and he wears them with modesty and dignity.
To the people back home, Col. Blakeslee is more than an inspiring leader of men, he is more than a famous ace — he is a living symbol of the courage, gallantry, and devotion to duty shown on the battlefield by thousands of other Lake county service men, many of whom already have made the supreme sacrifice.
Yes, Col. Blakeslee will receive another great "welcome home" Thursday. And, like the one at Fairport, it will be a tribute that comes from the heart.

MRS. GERALD JONES AND HER FAMOUS SON - Col. Don J. M. Blakeslee, 27-year-old commander
of the Eighth Air Force Mustang group, at home in Fairport, receives a cup of coffee from his mother,
Mrs. Gerald Jones, the morning after his arrival. The heavily-decorated hero hopes to return to combat duty.

  MRS. GERALD JONES AND HER FAMOUS SON

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Don Blakeslee  

To Honor Ace Tonight

14 September 1944 - Thousands plan to pay tribute tonight to Col. Don Blakeslee, Fairport's modest hero who won his way to fame the hard way and now is flight commander of the Eighth Army Air force. An international hero, Col. Blakeslee began his career in 1940 when he left the employ of the Diamond Alkali Co. in Fairport to enlist in the Royal Canadian Air force, in pursuance of his desire to make flying his life's work.

 

Col. Don Blakeslee

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Col. Blakeslee, Parents Express Appreciation

16 September 1944 - Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Jones of Fairport and Col. Don Blakeslee, Eighth Air force Flight commander, today expressed their appreciation for the reception given the famous war hero here Thursday.
They lauded the committee in charge, officials, all participants in the parades and program, and all who honored Col. Blakeslee in any way. Mrs. Jones expressed thanks also for the lovely corsages presented to her and for the patriotic bouquet sent to her son.

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Victories Include :

401 Sq.
18 Nov1941
22 Nov 1941

  8 Dec 1941

28 April 1942
30 May 1942

133 Sq.
27 June 1942
18 Aug 1942
19 Aug 1942



USAAC
15 Apr 1943
14 May 1943
20 Dec 1943

  7 Jan 1944
  6 Mar 1944
16 Mar 1944
18 Mar 1944
23 Mar 1944

22 Apr 1944
24 Apr 1944

30 Apr 1944
29 May 1944
  2 July 1944


one Me109
one Me109
one Me109
one Me109

two FW190
one FW190


one Ju88
one FW190
one Do217
one FW190
two FW190s


one FW190
one FW190
one Me110

one FW190
one Me210
one Me110
one FW190
one FW190
one He177
two Me109s
one FW190
1.5 FW109s
3/4 Seaplanes*
one Me410
one Me109

damaged
destroyed &
damaged
damaged

probables
damaged


damaged
destroyed
destroyed,
probable &
damaged


destroyed
destroyed
destroyed

destroyed
destroyed
damaged
destroyed
damaged
destroyed OTG
destroyed
destroyed
damaged
destroyed OTW
destroyed
destroyed

14 / 3 / 10.5

plus 1.75 (& possibly 2 more w/401 sq.) On the Ground or Water

* 1/4 share of three (3 seaplanes destroyed On The Water by 4 pilots)

He is thought to have 'given' kills to new pilots on occasion therefore his score may be somewhat higher

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Famous color photo of Don Blakeslee in his Mustang
It is believed Blakeslee holds the record for the most combat hours flown by an American during the war

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Colonel Blakeslee To Be Honored

CLEVELAND, 17 Jan. 1946 - Seven of the nation's high-scoring Army Air force pilots will be honored here tomorrow at the heroes' day luncheon at the National Aircraft show.
Among the aces to be feted are Col. Don Blakeslee of Fairport, O., who scored 15 air victories, and Capt. Don Gentile of Piqua, Ohio's leading flyer with 32 victories.

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Two Of America's Top Aerial Aces Competing Again

By WILLIAM JORDEN TOKYO, 11 January 1951 - (AP) - Two of America's top World War II aces, once friendly rivals in battles against Hitler's Luftwaffe, are competing with each other again against the Red enemy in Korea.
They are Lt. Cols. John C. Meyer of Forest Hills, N.Y., and Donald J. M. Blakeslee of Fairport, O.
They lead units equipped with America's latest types of Jet fighter planes.
Both fliers made amazing records over Europe.
Johnny Meyer is America's leading living ace from World War II. As commander of the 56th Fighter Group, Meyer was credited with 37½ victories. His group accounted for 1,011 enemy planes.
Don Blakeslee commanded the 4th Fighter Group in Europe. The outfit was credited with 1,016½ kills. Blakeslee himself piled up more combat time than anyone has ever flown in a single engine plane — more than 1,200 hours.
Blakeslee beat Meyer to the punch by taking his 27th Fighter Group out on its first combat mission in Korea Dec 7. Meyer, who now commands Blakeslee's old Fourth Fighter Group, was nine days behind.
The two aces have reversed their loyalties to aircraft. During World War II Blakeslee flew an F-51 Mustang, made by the North American Company. Now his outfit is equipped with Republic F-84 Thunderjets.
Meyer, in his World War II days, was devoted to his Republic F-47 Thunderbolt. He has switched to North American's F-86 Sabre, which he calls "the finest fighter plane I have ever flown."
The two fighting airmen are now in the air over Korea hammering hard at Communist targets. Meyer already has scored a victory over one Russian made MIG-15 jet. Blakeslee has taken his Thunderjet group out on many a close support mission, flying low over the front and raking enemy troops and supplies.

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Thanks go out to

On these pages I use Hugh Halliday's extensive research which includes info from numerous sources; newspaper articles via the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation (CMCC); the Google News Archives; the London Gazette Archives and other sources both published and private.

All content on this site is probably the property of acesofww2.com unless otherwise noted.