World War IIUS Army Air Forces
42nd Bomb Squadron, 11th Bomb Group
Service Number: O-431796
Born: about 1914
Inducted: January 1941
Killed in action September 8, 1942, Rendova Island, South Pacific
Buried: Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri
Son of Freeman W. and Velma V. (Matney) Morris of Armel.
Single grave for the crew of B-17E #41-9071:
Capt Robert H. Richards - Pilot
1st Lt Robert H. McGhee - Co-pilot
1st Lt William F.B. Morris - Navigator
Cpl Yvon W. Bailey
S/Sgt Charles E. Bayer
Cpl Otis O. Black Jr.
Cpl Peter Charuk
Sgt. Hugh M. King
Pvt. William Omanoff
Pueblo Pilot Shot Down but Unhurt in Pearl Harbor Attack
A narrow brush with death was experienced by Lieut. William Morris, former Pueblo junior college student, who was shot down in a U.S. army flying fortress during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Writing to his sister, Mrs. Vernon Van Dyke 2223 Spruce, Lieutenant Morris said he was navigator aboard one of the group of flying fortresses that was being ferried from the mainland to Honolulu. Their airplane had just reached Pearl Harbor when the attack began.
The plane was shot down, Lieutenant [Morris] wrote, and three fellow crew members were injured, altho he escaped.
Lieutenant Morris worked in the coke plant of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Corp. here until January 1941 when he enlisted in the U.S. air corps. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Freeman Morris of Armel, Colo.
While in Pueblo, Lieutenant Morris lived at his sister's residence.
Wray Gazette November 4, 1943
LT. BILL MORRIS IS OFFICIALLY LISTED AS DEAD
Armel Youth, Missing More Than A Year, Apparently Killed in Plane Crash
Mr. and Mrs. F.W. Morris of Armel were notified yesterday by the War Department that their son, First Lieutenant William F.B. Morris, missing more than a year in the South Pacific War area, is now officially listed as dead. The youth who was a navigator on a B-17 and who has been decorated for meritorious service, was a member of a a crew of a bomber which crashed on Rendova Island, off New Guinea, on September 8, 1942. It has since been learned that the bodies of members of the crew were unrecognizable and were buried by natives before the wrecked bomber was discovered by Army men. The entire crew, it is said, has been accounted for by identification marks and the number of bodies recovered.
It is reported that on the day of the disaster, the bomber had successfully completed its mission and was on its return trip when it crashed on the island.
1944 newspaper clipping
PURPLE HEART FOR LT. MORRIS
Freeman W. Morris, of the Armel vicinity, has recently been informed by the Secretary of War that the Purple Heart has been awarded posthumously to his son, Lieutenant William F.B. Morris of the Air Corps. Lt. Morris was a navigator on one of the heavy United States bombers and was in action around the Solomon Islands. He was out on duty back in August of 1942 and according to the history of his case was out on a mission and had dropped bombs on Japanese installations and was returning to the base when the crew of the bomber sighted enemy ships. They engaged these ships and according to information received had damaged a heavy cruiser but the bomber did not return to its base. The first word that Mr. Morris received listed his son as missing in action. But not so long ago Mr. Morris received another communication from the war department stating that it had been officially announced that the son had lost his life. The plane wreckage had been found on Rendova Island in the Solomons and the report further states that a few days after the crash, friendly natives on the island visited the scene and buried the unidentified remains which they found there. Tags and identification papers found at that time definitely established the fact that Lt. Morris was one of the victims. The date of his death in the first communication would probably set the time as of September 8, 1942.
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