Last Known Activity
According to his NARA enlistment form, Ward M. Kirkpatrick was born in 1923 in Montana. However, the U.S. Census (1930) lists him as being 5 years old. Likewise, the U.S. Census of 1940 lists him as being 15. His parents were Warren and Vivian Kirkpatrick. His enlistment form states he enlisted as a private in the Army Air Corps in Missoula, Montana on December 28, 1941.
After basic training, he under went training in flexible aerial gunnery training, and became so proficient he was retained as an instructor until fall of 1942 when he was shipped to England and assigned to the 303rd Bomb Group.
He flew on 13 combat missions, with four different pilots. Then, he flew on all missions by Lt. Jaques' crew. On May 15, 1943, he was part of a raid on the Heligoland Islands. The formation was attacked by up to 75 German fighters, resulting in a running fight from landfall to target to the return route.
His aircraft was last seen at 24,000 feet, being attacked by a number of enemy fighters. It was shot down, crashing into the North Sea just west of Scharnhorn Island. There were no survivors.
Sergeant Kirkpatrick is remembered at the American Cemetery in Cambridge, England on The Walls of the Missing.
NOTE: One family source states he flew 24 missions. The records of the 303rd Bomb Group do not support this claim. This same source gives his middle initial as "W."
U.S. Census 1930
U.S. Census 1940
NARA Enlistment Records
SSgt Kirkpatrick was acting as the ball turret gunner on B-17F #42-29481, unnamed and without nose art, assigned to the 427th Bomb Squadron.
Missing Air Crew Report 15515 was issued. This, and loading lists, state the crew members were:
1 Lt Chester D. Jaques p
1 Lt Alvin D. Holder c-p
1 Lt John W. Bradshaw, Jr. nav
2 Lt Robert C.A. Carlson bomb
TSgt Lester O. Corns eng/tt gun
Sgt Warren T. Vasel r/o
SSgt Ward M. Kirkpatrick btg
Sgt Clayton W. Ryan lwg
SSgt Warren G. Morrison rwg
SSgt Keith L. Clapshaw tail gun
The crew photo is of the Hagenbuch crew after an earlier mission. SSgt Kirkpatrick is in the front row, 3rd from left.
Service photo source: