Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Fallen Hero

This coming Tuesday marks the 68th anniversary of the death of a first cousin twice removed, so it seems only fitting that I post this column ahead of that date, to honor his memory.

Edward Franklin Nelson, Jr. was born in West Orange, New Jersey, circa 1917.  My knowledge of him is fairly limited, but what I do know about him makes me wish I knew more.  He was a 2nd Lieutenant in the 8th Army Air Force, and he was killed in action on September 27, 1943, fighting the Axis powers during World War II.

Here is a photograph of “Ned” Nelson Jr., all decked out in his officer’s uniform.

The back reads:  “Ned Jr. Nelson, son of Ned Nelson, who was killed in battle second world war—he was a bomber.”

Little information is available online about his service, though he is on the West Orange website’s “lest we forget” memorial page, which lists all of the servicemen from that township who died during the war.

Based on the date of his death, I suspect Ned Jr. may have participated in the bombing of Emden, Germany.  The historic, first US radar-led bombing raid took place on September 27, 1943, during which seven B-17’s and one P-47 were lost.  It is possible my cousin was aboard one of those planes.  Perhaps time will tell if that was the case.


  1. Wonder if you can research it online and find some details? I'd want to know more about what he did in the war.

  2. This sounds like your man. "Date of bombing raid, as you mentioned above. Name: Lt. E. F. Nelson, CP, KIA, Mission lost on: Emden; Crash Location near Norden; reason, fighter; code QE-X; squadron 94 BG 331 BS; plane type / name
    B-17F-30-VE, "Elusive Elcy"; serial number 42-5888" Data from:, also available on other websites. That one is actually from the German viewpoint. Poor visibility over target meant they sought targets of opportunity apart from Emden, hence being shot down at Norden, alternative target. 2 of my relatives, brothers, were in another B-17, Marge H., shot down on the same raid. Brothers listed as MIA, but according to report, only one parachute ejected from plane and that person never recovered.