April 20 – Happy Birthday William H. English

English2.photoThe caption above the accompanying photo that appeared in the September 22, 1944 edition of the Amsterdam Evening Recorder read “Fate Deals Cruel Blow to This Army Officer.” His name was William Howard English. He was a Lieutenant in the Army Air Force during WWII. He flew 50 bombing missions during the war in both Africa and Italy. He had almost been killed on one of those missions, a bombing run to destroy a strategic railroad bridge on the western coast of Italy. Moments after his B-26 Marauder dropped its payload toward that target, shrapnel from a burst of the enemy’s heavy anti-aircraft fire tore through the side of the cockpit and missed English’s head by mere inches.

So he survived that close call and survived the perils he encountered on the 49 other missions he flew against the enemy and then came back to the states where he was reassigned to flight instructor. Then in September of 1944, English was on a training flight over Lovettesfield, VA, when an accident occurred and this young Rug City hero was tragically killed doing what he often told people was something he knew he wanted to do. In fact, according to his Dad at the time of the accident, Lt. English was already planning to continue his career as a pilot after the war.

William J. English was born on April 20, 1917. The family lived at 35 1/2 Lincoln Avenue. His Dad worked in the rug mills and his Mom was a schoolteacher. He graduated from Wilbur Lynch in 1934. He then graduated from Oswego State Teachers College with an industrial arts major but went to work for New York Power & Light. He learned how to fly in the old Civilian Pilot’s Training Corp that used to be operated out of the Schenectady County airport and received his pilot’s license in 1941. He had a sister Margaret who also went overseas in service of her country as a Red Cross volunteer.


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