82nd Fighter Squadron P47D Thunderbolt 42-7998 ‘Kitty’ MX-N 2nd Lt. Grant M. Turley
Operation: Bomb Escort Barenberg Germany
Date: 6th March 1944 (Monday)
Unit: No. 82nd Fighter Squadron 78th Fighter Group
Type: P47D Thunderbolt
Serial: 42-7998 "Kitty"
Base: RAF Duxford
Location: Barenberg, Germany
Pilot: 2nd Lt. Grant M. Turley 0-799276 USAAF Age 21. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Grant M. Turley was born on June 18, 1922 in Aripine, AZ, attended High School in Snowflake, Arizona, living with relatives. His father was a rancher and owner of the Sundown Ranch. Grant and his younger brother spent their summers and off time working on the ranch.
Grant graduated from Snowflake High School where he was Valedictorian of the Class of 1940. He was academically strong in math and science, and also excelled as a football player. He enrolled in Brigham Young University, but soon learned to dislike the weather. He returned to Arizona and enrolled in Arizona State Teachers College, a branch of Arizona University.
He began taking flying lesson at Phoenix Sky Harbour airport in February 1941. He finished first in his class in May 1941. He enlisted in the USAAF and was accepted for Aviation Cadet training. Ordered to report to the class held in Nashville, Tennesse. He completed the required courses in basic and primary trainers, and commissioned as 2nd Lt. on March 25th, 1943. Awarded pilot wings at the ceremony, and assigned to Tallahassee, Florida, where he was assigned to fly the P-47 fighter.
He and his high school sweetheart, Kathleen "Kitty" Ballard (shown extreme right) were married on August 4, 1944 when it became apparent he was destined to go to Europe.
Arriving at Duxford, England, he was assigned to the 82nd Fighter Squadron. Bad weather and a shortage of aircraft kept him grounded until October 9th, 1943 when he flew his first combat mission. He normally flew P-47 No. 42-27339 in rotation with other pilots. Soon, however, he was assigned his own plane, P-47 No. 42-7998 which he named "Kitty" with "Sundown Ranch" painted on the engine nacelle. He flew more than 50 missions, and shot down 6 enemy aircraft. He was credited with a 7th after his wingman confirmed the kills on the day Lt. Turley went missing. He was also credited with 2 ground kills during strafing runs on targets of opportunity.
42-7998 "Kitty" is seen of right photo in the foreground.
On March 6, 1945, Turley was flying a bomber escort mission when he with others from the squadron engaged a force of FW-190 German fighters. Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) No. 2975 applies to Lt. Turley. Attached to the MACR is a statement by one of his companions:
"I was flying Stedman Black 8 in a flight led by Lt. Spalding. We had been with the big friends for about 25 minutes and were about to leave when I saw 4 FW-190s making a head-on attack on a box of the bombers. Stedman Black 5, Lt. Spalding, started an attack on the two that had broken right. One of them turned right, and Lt. Turley, my element leader, bounced him. He in turn was bounced by another 190. I, being in range, fired a short burst at him. He broke left and I looking around, saw a 190 coming in about seven o'clock and firing at me. There were two P-47s on his tail. I broke hard right and down.
Then I called Lt. Turley on the R/T and told him I was not with him anymore. I did not receive any answer from him. That was the last contact I had with Lt. Turley." Time: 12:10 hrs.
Lt. Turley was declared Missing in Action and later confirmed Killed In Action. One of the FW-190s he had been pursuing shot him down. The Germans buried him near the crash scene. His body was later removed and now lies in the Ardennes American War Cemetery in Neupre, Belgium.
2nd Lt. Grant M. Turley. Ardennes War Cemetery. Plot D, Row 14, Grave 23. Son of Fred and Wilma Turley, from Aripine, Arizona, USA.
Researched by Michel Beckers for Aircrew Remembered May 2015. Photographs of the pilot courtesy Wanda Smith (Niece) Grave photo courtesy Dominique Potier.