Walter Vernon Gresham jr.

USAAF   Colonel 

DFC w/ 4 Oak Leaf Clusters,
Air Medal with 13 Clusters,
Croix de Guerre (Fr)

Born 6 May 1921 in Portsmouth, Virginia.
Graduated from Wilson High School in 1939.
Attended Virginia Military Institute 1939 – 1940.
Graduated from Senior Air Force Management School in 1940.
Graduated from Air Command and Staff College in 1951.
Graduated from Industrial College of the Armed Forces 1963.
Married to the former Mary Chandler Robertson of Portsmouth, VA.
They had two children; John Robertson Gresham, born 1 January 1950 & Walter V. Gresham III, born 28 May 1953.
He joined the Army Air Corps in 1942.
He was a fighter Squadron Commander in the European Theatre
358th Fighter Squadron, 355th Fighter Group.
During World War II he flew 111 combat sorties and
rose from Second Lieutenant to Major before he turned 24.
After WW2, he remained in the service as a career officer and held many commands around the world.
Rated as a “Command Pilot”
Walt Gresham
Gresham flew over 4,000 flying hours in an assortment of aircraft from P-47 Thunderbolts & P-51 Mustangs, to a variety of supersonic fighters and B-52 bombers.
Col. Gresham retired in April 1972 after 30 years of outstanding service.
After retirement, Mr. Gresham resided in Nags Head, North Carolina and Jensen Beach, Florida
Walter Gresham passed away from cancer in February of 1994 in Jacksonville, Florida with his wife Mary by his side. He is survived by his wife, two sons and four grand children; Corey, Catherine, Hunter and Lindsey Gresham.
I'm saddened to say Mary joined Walt in April 2014.




Pix from the Gresham collection showing his P-47 "Trigger" & P-51 "Trigger III"

The kill markings represent air, ground and shared kills






Victories Include :

2 March 1944
16 March 1944
5 April 1944

11 April 1944

4 May 1944

15 Aug 1944

10 April 1945
17 April 1945
one FW190
one Me109
one FW44 tr
two He111s
1/2 Me410
1/4 Me410
1/4 Ju88
one Me109
one Me109
one Me109

one Me262
one He177
  3 u/i 2/e e/a
damaged &
destroyed OTG
destroyed &
probable &

destroyed OTG &
damaged OTG




4 / 1 / 3 

plus  3 / 0 / 3  On The Ground

[1] Egon Mayer KIA by Walt Gresham - see combat report for 2 March below. In 1942 Mayer shot down B-17 "Pandora's Box" piloted by Major Harold C. Smelser. Smelser's son Laurence, learned from this page, who the man was that avenged his father. Pretty cool huh?

It is said that the actual guncam footage from this kill was used at the end of the movie "12 O'clock High", the shot where the left wing of the FW190 comes off.

[2] Same FW44 trainer subsequently shot down by F/O Dudley. Normally this would have resulted in a shared claim.

[a] Shared with Lt. Fussell.
[b] Shared with Lt. Fussell, Lt. Martyn & F/O Dudley.
[c] Shared with Lt. Fussell, Lt. Martyn & F/O Dudley.

[3] See the combat report for 15 August below.


March 2, 1944

A. 358th Fighter Squadron. Major Raymond B. Myers leading,
B. 18    UP: 1252    DOWN: 1545
C. 2 (1 belly tank, 1 oxygen).
D. Ramrod, provided withdrawal support 1st and 2nd ATF's. F.O. #257.
E. – G. Nil
H. 7-0-1

One Me 109 destroyed, Major Myers
One Me 109 destroyed, Lt. Hoffman
One Me 109 destroyed, Lt. Blair
One FW 190 destroyed, Lt. Gresham (Egon Mayer - KIA)
One FW 190 destroyed, F/O Dudley - shared with Lt. Fussell
One Me 109 destroyed and One Me 109 damaged, F/O McGinty (shared with either Major Myers or Lt. Blair)

I. Squadron made L/F on course at 26,000' at 1342 and made R/V at Charleroi flying at 27,000' at 1352. Squadron was assigned to cover rear box of B-24's but since they could  not be located permission was asked of group leader to go back into e/t along bomber course to find them.   Squadron flew back and SE of Liege spotted about 8-10 e/a. 3 e/a believed to be 109's were diving for the clouds around 1352. We were at 25,000' and they were at 15,000' and heading away from the bombers and down in a northerly direction. 3 Me 109's with belly tanks (F or G) in a poor V formation were first spotted SE of Liege flying at 23,000' to our 23,000'. Trooptrain Red and Yellow Flights chased them for app. 5 min, to app. 25 mi. N of Liege. They were flying without attempting to take evasive action and no maneuvers to get away. Bounce resulted in 3 Me 109's destroyed with F/O McGinty sharing a destroyed with either Maj. Myers or Lt. Blair. F/O McGinty also claimed a damaged.

2 FW 190s flying abreast and staggered, similar to our battle formation, heading north and diving from 20,000 to 15,000' were seen at 1410. They were bounced by Trooptrain Green Flight from 25,000' resulting in one destroyed for Lt. Gresham and one shared by F/O Dudley and Lt. Fussell. e/a tried violent evasive action and split S-ing when they saw bounce coming. B-24's were never seen by Trooptrain. Squadron made L/F out over Blankenbergh at 19,000'.

1 B-17 probably ditched half way across the channel. Sighted by Trooptrain Yellow 2 who called him in to yellow leader. Message never received because of poor reception. Bombers were flying at 18,000', straggler left formation and went down towards the water in a normal glide. There were no fighter planes in the vicinity and no chutes or flares visible from bomber. After reporting straggler, Yellow 2 looked back and bomber had disappeared. Bomber probably ditched 90 or 95 degrees from here.

5 e/a were destroyed resulting in claims of 7-0-1.

1st Lt, AC
Sqdn. Intelligence O.


APO 637

A. Combat
B. March 2, 1944
C. 358th Fighter Squadron
D. 1420 Hours
E. S.E. of Charleroi
F. 3/10ths Cum.
G. FW 190
H. 1 FW 190 destroyed
I. I was leading Green Flight flying at 25,000' S.E. of Charleroi. We saw two e/a diving N.E. about 18,000'. Our Squadron leader dispatched us with Blue Flight to cover and we started a bounce from out of the sun at 1420 hours. The 2 e/a split, one going to the right and the other to the left, I told Green #3 and #4 to take the second e/a while I took the leader who was in a left turn. I gave him a short burst at 400-500 yards and closed to 300 and opened fire. Hits were seen in and around his cockpit and on both wings. I saw an explosion on the right wing root and about this time almost half of his left wing disintegrated and broke off completely. The e/a, identified as a FW 190, snapped and did a half cartwheel and then went into a violent spin. The combat took place between 15,000' and 12,000' and at the time of the attack I was indicating 500 mph and not closing too fast. I closed to about 200 yards.
In view of the effective hits, the explosion, the disintegration of his left wing, his violent spinning and the supporting statements of my wing man, Lt. Martyn, and those of Capt. Wright, Lt. Dissette and Lt. Harrington, I claim 1 FW 190 destroyed.
All through the bounce my Green Flight was given excellent cover by Blue Flight.
My wing man, Lt. Martyn, stuck with me through the entire attack and gave me splendid cover. The second element of Green Flight rejoined immediately following the attack.

WALTER V. GRESHAM, 1st Lt, AC, March 3, 1944
F.O. #257
563 AP
374 INC


Supporting statements for Lt. Gresham's claim:

"I was flying Lt. Gresham's wing. At about 1420 hours S.E. of Charleroi, two e/a were reported. Green Flight bounced them and the e/a dove and then split up, one passing under me with Green #3 and #4 breaking after him. I cleared our tails, then called to Lt. Gresham that he was clear. The e/a lead levelled out at about 12,000' and made for the cloud in a gentle turn with Lt. Gresham closing fast and firing. I identified it as an FW 190 and saw strikes in and about the canopy which resulted in a large flash of fire in the right wing root. A large piece flew off the left wing; the a/c snap rolled, did what appeared to be a cartwheel, then spun violently to the right, disappearing as we pulled up and to the left. I believe that the pilot of the e/a was killed by the strikes in and around the cockpit which caused the canopy to disintegrate."

2nd Lt, AC


"I was flying Blue Leader in Trooptrain Squadron at about 1420 hours S.E. of Charleroi when two e/a were reported. Green Flight, with Lt. Gresham leading, made a bounce as they were in better position and Blue Flight covered. The e/a split up and the plane Lt. Gresham was bouncing dove and tried to make for the clouds about 12,000'. Lt. Gresham closed fast, firing. I saw strikes on the wings and then a large section of the left wing break off making impossible for the e/a to continue in flight. The FW 190 appeared to snap roll, then cartwheel and I last saw it disappear in a cloud, spinning violently. I saw many pieces of the e/a thrown off as a result of Lt. Gresham's fire."

Capt, AC

"I was flying Blue #4 in Trooptrain Squadron. We provided cover and support to Green Flight during their bounce on two e/a, following about 200 yards behind Lt. Gresham, Green Flight leader. I saw the e/a that Lt. Gresham had been firing at doing what appeared to be continuous rolls. My first thought was admiration for the pilot that could perform this feat. Upon closer observation I realised what had happened. Half of the left wing of the e/a was missing and the a/c was whirling madly about, out of control with pieces flying off. The e/a finally disappeared earthward in this same condition at about 10,000'."

1st Lt, AC

"I was flying blue #2 with Capt. Wright leading when we started down to cover Green Flight's bounce on 2 e/a. On the way down I saw one e/a which Green Flight was chasing go into a violent and rapid flick roll, and then soon after started tumbling with pieces flying off of it, some of which passed right by on the way down. I started pulling out at 8,000', levelling off and climbing back up from 5,000'. I could see the e/a still tumbling below me and it was headed right for the city directly below. I would say the e/a hit within the city limits."

2nd Lt, AC


15 August 1944

A. 358TH Fighter Squadron, Capt. Gresham leading,
B. 15 P-51's Up: 0950. Down: 1440.
C. 1 early return.
D. Ramrod; F.O. 516. 8TH FC.
E. 1st Lt Michael B. Graczyk. NYR. Reason unkown.
F - G. Nil.
H. 1-0-0 Air. Capt Walter V. Gresham (Me 109).

5-0-7 Locomotives
0-0-23 Boxcars
0-0-1 Flak car
1-0-0 Tractor, Semi-trailer, and trailer.
0-0-2 Tug boats
0-0-2 Barges
2-0-0 Trucks
0-0-1 Gun battery

I. Rend. on course over water, 20,000'. Bombers 20-25,000'. 1115.
Target. VECHTA A/D. 10,000'. Bombers 23,000', 1210.
Dep. Escort at target. 1220. On deck.
1 Gun battery attacked and damaged S W of target.
Capt Gresham leading Squadron left target and headed W and encountered 1 Me 109 over A/D N of ZWOLLE. 3,000' for E/A and 9,000' for Bentley Red Flight. 1245. Capt (Gresham) destroyed it causing it crash. This same A/D believed to have a good no. of Me 109's on it. Very heavily defended by flak, light, intense and accurate.
1 Locomotive pulling 8 box cars and a flak car headed S. NW of the target strafed damaging all.
1 Locomotive pulling 5 box cars and one flat car W of target strafed and all damaged.
2 Flat cars by themselves on a RR siding W of target strafed and damaged.
1 tractor, semi-trailer and trailer destroyed W of target. 50 ton job.


358TH Fighter Squadron 355TH Fighter Group
16 August, 1944. F.O. 516

A. Combat
B. 15 August, 1944.
C. 358TH Fighter Squadron, APO No. 637.
D. 1245 hrs.
F. Clouds nil. Visibility unlimited.
G. Me 109.
H. 1 Me 109 destroyed.
I. On August 15 I was leading Bentley Sq, and we had just completed escorting B-24’s which were bombing VECHTA A/D. We made a pass at VECHTA A/D which was heavily defended, but saw no planes on the field. We then climbed to 9,000' and headed W looking for targets of opportunity. We spotted a large A/D NW of ZWOLLE. We then sighted an Me 109 flying at about 4000'.
Bentley Red Flight started after him and the ground defences opened up immediately. He saw us coming in plenty of time and turned into us. I blacked out turning on to his tail. He then took a pot shot at Red 3 and I started firing at extreme range to scare him off. He did several tight Chandelles and very steep dives. I was continually using flaps and throttle to stay on his tail, taking short bursts at every opportunity. After I had hit him with a few bursts he hit the deck and started taking evasive action. I then hit him with two more bursts and observed large chunks of his right wing root coming off. His engine either cut or he cut it, and he started fish-tailing trying to make a belly landing. I downed 40 degrees of flaps and got in another short burst which hit him hard. He then crashed into a woods with one wing low
My initial firing was done from 500 to 700 yds and the last several bursts were between 200 and 300 yds.
I had excellent cooperation from the other men in my Flight, Lt Peters and Lt Taylor.
I claim 1 Me 109 destroyed.

Capt, AC.


Supporting Statement For Capt Gresham’s Claim

On August 15, I was flying Bentley Red 4. After leaving the target we sighted an Me 109 N W of ZWOLLE. Capt Gresham chased him and after considerable action the E/A hit the deck.
I observed the E/A crash into the woods. I was flying at about 2000' as top cover after the action went on to the deck.

2nd Lt, AC.


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Thanks go out to

son Walt for the photos & infos !

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.

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