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2LT Gilbert A Malrait (Gill) Birth 07/07/1919 - KIA 04/04/1944


Gilbert with his parentsGilbert was born in Central Falls, Rhode Island on 07/07/1919.   His father Albert Malrait was from Ronse (Belgium) and his mother Anna Ellen Bradley was from Blackburn, England. Albert Malrait was a weaver living at Beestenmarkt 196 Ronse. Gilbert's father, Albert, emigrated to the U.S. on April 20, 1909 through Liverpool on the ship "SS Ivernia”. They lived in 29 Henry Str, Central Falls RI. Albert and Anna Ellen returned to Ronse with Gilbert in 1927. The little family of Malrait lived at a little house in the "Moortelstraat 134".Shortly after his return Ann Ellen Bradley (Nellie) passed away on the July 28, 1928 due to an operation in a hospital at Brussels.
It was a big change for a little boy who came from the USA. Gilbert learned French and Dutch, after one year he could speak and write French and Dutch courantly. See here a photo of his class in 1934-35.
While living in Belgium, Gilbert went to school at the Atheneum of Ronse in the directionGilbert Malrait Atheneum Ronse 1938-39 of Science. He studied untill 1939 in Ronse. Click here to view the school results of Gilbert from 1928 to 1939, he was a welcome guest and one of the founding members of the school magazine "Sphinx". See the image on the left.
In February 1946, Sphinx printed an article, "In Memoriam" for Gilbert Malrait.In Memoriam He loved distant horizons and astronomy which he studied independently. Perhaps this is why Gilbert trained to be a navigator. He passed the entrance examination for the Belgian navy. He was offered an education at the famous Mercator School at Oostende, but Gilbert decided to explore distant horizons instead. On December 9, 1939 he departed from Antwerp aboard the ship "SS Black Hawk" a cargo ship of the Black Diamond Lines with destination New York and arrived on 21 December 1939. Here you can see Gilbert going to school 1938Gilbert's name on the list of passengers.
Gilbert lived for a while with his uncle Richard K Bradley (uncle Dick) at 33 Elder Street, Pawtucket, RI (see here the US census 1940). Gilbert found work on a labratory at Pawtucket, what he did prior his enlistement on the US Army. The daughter of his cousin Ethel Bradley was telling: "According to Ethel (my mother), Gilbert's father sent his son to Richard Bradley in the U.S. assuming Richard would send him through school. Richard got Gilbert a job in Brown & Sharpe manufacturing co. since heGilbert and his cousins Gertrude, Gladys and Ethelhad 3 girls of his own working there. It didnt seem right to Richard Bradley to have his own children working at the factory to make ends meet and yet send Gilbert to school instead of working. Gilbert wanted to work rather than school. He desired to earn his keep so to factory work he went. Gilbert's father was angry because he did not want Gilbert working in a "factory". Therefore, none of the relatives in this country heard from Gilbert's father for a longGilbert and friends in Ronse 1938 time."
On the picure beside Gladys is on the left in the back row (tallest one), Ethel beside her. Gertrude and Gilbert in the front.
Here another picture of the Bradley family of RI. Richard was the brother of Anna Ellen Bradley (Nellie). Gilbert's cousin, Gladys was also in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) see here a pic of Gladys in uniform with her sister Ethel.

Here pictures of Gilbert and friends during his last year at school in Ronse, Belgium.

Gilbert in school at Ronse
Gilbert at school in Ronse Gilbert at school in Ronse Gilbert at school in Ronse

Here more pictures of Gilbert in school at Ronse, Belgium:

https://goo.gl/photos

On October 24,1940 he joined the army in Providence RI and was assigned to the medical
service. His military serial number was 11011541. I found this information at the NARACadet Gilbert in 1943(National Archives USA). From From October 25, Military path prior 19431940 to 30 June 1941, he stayed at Fort Devens, Massasuchets. From August 14, 1941 to 1 October, 1941 he stayed at Camp Edwards, Massasuchets. From 2 November, 1941 to 15 November , 1941 in Muskogee Oklahoma. From May 18, 1942 to September, 1942 in Monroe, Louisiana. In 1942, he was a candidate for pilot training. He did nine weeks of basic training on a Fairchild PT-19 A Cornell. This was on the same base where he took his navigator training. After this instruction, he was selected for training to become a navigator. This was a logical choice because Gilbert was very good in mathematics and had been interested in astronomy from a young age. This was a very exciting and eventful time for a young man who loved adventure. He began training at the Army Air Force’s Advanced Navigation School at Selman Field Louisiana Monroe. This was the only base where the entire training could be taken at one location during the Second World War.
Gilbert Malrait was in class 43-5 FLIGHT 67 received his navigator wings and was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant on 10 April 1943. After a well deserved few days rest, he probably stayed with his uncle in Pawtucket. On May, 1943 Gilbert begin crew training at Gilbert at Selman Field Monroe LADavis-Monthan Field located near Tucson, Arizona.Gilbert and the Bolick crew were at Davis-Monthan Field when they were ordered to the 392nd BG. There he wasBolick crew 577th Sq 392th Bomb Grp. assigned to the " Bolick crew, nr 39-4-69 ",On May 4,1943. The 392nd BG was located at Army Air Base, Alamogordo, New Mexico. Gilbert was replaced by 2LT Jesse C Maupin just before the movement overseas of the 392th Bomb Grp due to a short period of illness, that was the principal reason of his mutation to the 449th Bomb Grp.
The 392th Bomb Group was activated in January 1943 at Davis-Monthan Field, Tucson, Arizona, equipped with B24 Liberators, trained at Biggs Field, El Paso, Texas and Alamogordo Army Air Base, New Mexico. The group consisted of the 576th, 577th, 578th and 579th Squadron. The group was moved to England in August 1943 and was assigned to the Eighth Air Force at Wendling Air Base in East England.
On May 1st the 449th Bomb group was also activated at Davis-Monthan Field located near Tucson, Arizona. The 449th Bomb Group consisted of the 716th, 717th, 718th and 719th squadrons. On July 1st, 1943 the Group was moved to Alamogordo, New Mexico
Gilbert at Central Falls where was also located the 392th bomb Group. Here Gilbert was assigned to the 719th squadron of the 449th Bomb Group. On 6th September 1943 the 449th Bomb Group was again relocated, this time to Bruning Army Air Field, Nebraska. The move to Bruning was completed on 18th September 1943. At that time the 449th consisted of a total count of 184 officers and 1,203 enlisted men. The 449th moved from Bruning, Nebraska to Topeka, Kansas over a few days beginning on 17 November.  While at Topeka, the 449th went though final staging and inspections for overseas movement. From Topeka, the 449th went to Morrison Field in Florida and then departed the US.
At Bruning the 449th was equipped with some 61 B-24 aircraft.  Each aircraft required a crew of 10 men.  By December 1943, training was complete and the 449th was ordered overseas at Europe. Gilbert was assigned to the Thieme Crew 9-12-D as navigator.
The B-24 Tail # 11; serial # 41-29215 was delivered on October 20, 1943 to the Thieme crew and named "Betty Ann" after the pilot F/O William Thieme's wife. This aircraft crashed on Dec 15, 1943 en route to Europe over Meknes, Morocco, North Africa due to excessive icing on the plane. The entire crew bailed out but the guest pilot Captain Hiero Hays died when his parachute didn't open and he fell to death.

Original Thieme Crew 9-12-D

F/O WILLIAM M THIEME
2ND LT EDWARD J O'ROURKE
2ND LT GILBERT MALRAIT
2ND LT FRANCIS L BECK
Sgt Mark J Ebert
Sgt Guy E Blakely
Sgt Roger E Edgar
Sgt Louis N Lannon
Sgt Carl Vaagen
Sgt Ingmar Hippe

2ndLT Malrait get mentioned in this document of the 449th Bomb Group.

Fragement dagboek 449th Bomb Group

In December 1943, the entire 449th Bomb Group was transferred to Grottaglie, the operational base in the far south of Italy near the city Taranto.  On January 1, 1944, the 449th was ready to fight against the Axis powers. The range of the group reached the far north of Germany (Regensburg, Munich), Austria (Vienna) to the south of France and in the east to Rumania (Ploesti, Bucharest).
After the crash of the "Betty Ann", the Thieme crew flew several planes and on January 30 there was a second crash with the "Maui Maid" Tail # 16, # serial 41-28623. This was theAccident Maui Maid plane of the Commander of the 449th Bomb Group Col Alkire. Because of landing down wind Thieme had to get the brakes fully in and the nose drilled into the ground.
2LT Malrait flew probebly +/- 20 missions with the Thieme crew and the final mission #40 on 04/04/1944 was fatal.
2ndLT Malrait's name is listed in the "War Diary April 1944, 719th Sq".
The B-24 was hit by flak and enemy fighters and crashed in flames near Bucharest at the vicinity of Baneasa in the Vlasca province, the B24 crashed on the territory of the community of Melete.
Here the statement of Circomstanse of the Police post of Baneasa on the April 5, Click here to see the Crash site pictures1944. Gilbert was buried together with the other crew members in a civil cemetery in Giurgiu, Rumania on the 5 April 1944. Some time later the body was exhumed by the American Graves Registration Service and reburied asAmerikaans kerkhof Sinaia "Unknown X-4402", on 6 September, 1945 at 11:Pm, on plot A row 3 grave 34,at the temporary American military cemetery at Sinaia, Romania. Click on the photo on the right.
There was a wooden cross placed on his grave with the inscription "believed to be one of eleven".
The body of 2Lt Malrait Gilbert was finally transferred to the Ardennes American Cemetery at Neuville-en-Condroz and buried in Plot T, Row 9, Grave 208 on Dec 21, 1946 at 11:00 AM still as "Unknown X-4402". On November 18, 1948 the remains were once Le Journal de Renaix 27 August 1950.again disinterred and moved back to a central identification laboratory for final identification of each individual body. On December 1, 1949 "Unknown X-4402" was definitively identified as 2LT Gilbert Malrait after examination of the teeth. It was compared with data from dental charts of Gilbert, Unknown X-4402 and the other crew members.
Gilbert’s father, Albert Malrait, wrote a letter on 5 February 1946 to ask where Gilbert was buried! Read the letter here. On 13 February 1950, the City counsil of Ronse approved the burial of 2LT Malrait in the the Municipal cemetery beside the heroes of WWII.
Funeral 2ndLT Gilbert A. Malrait On August 18, 1950 the body was transferred to Ronse on demand of the father of Gilbert (Ellen Bradley his mother Anna was deceased) and lie in state in the City hall of Ronse. Here, the people of Ronse could bring the last salute to this young hero who died for the freedom of Belgium and Europe. Read here the article published in the "Journal de Renaix" on August 27, 1950.
On Sunday, August 20, 1950 a sad procession left the City hall towards the old cemetery of Ronse, the coffin on a cart pulled by horses. In the funeral procession were Mayor Eugene Soudan and city council members accompanied by the fire department’s orchestra. Also in the military funeral were representatives of both the American and Belgian armies.  The most moving moment was the ceremonial folding of the American flag that covered the coffin and the presentation of the flag to the father, Albert Malrait. He had seen his son depart in December 1939 and he never saw him alive again. There was also a speech given by Mr. Georges Vancoppenolle who was classmate and chief of the resistance at Ronse during the war. It was a sad end of a young adventurous American with roots in Ronse. I will continue to research Gilbert’s battle comrades and I encourage everyone with new information or photos of Gibert and the crew to contact me, Everything is welcome so that the ultimate sacrifice that Gilbert gave will never be forgotten.
Flag who was on coffin of 2LT Gilbert Malrait2LT Gilbert Malrait posthumously received the both the "Purple Heart" and the "Air Medal".
Gilbert’s father, Albert, received a letter from the veteran’s organization "Eenheidsfront", praising Gilbert for receiving this awards. See the letter here.

On the left the original flag who was on the coffin of 2LT Gilbert Malrait on his burial August 20, 1950.

Below is the speech Mr. Georges Vancoppenolle gave at the burial at 10am on 08/20/1950 and the Memorial Stone at his old School in Ronse (Belgium)
Speech Mr VancoppenolleSpeech Mr VancoppenolleMemorial Stone at the Decroly School RonseMemorial Stone at the Decroly School RonseMemorial Stone at the Decroly School Ronse
Letter from Gilbert's family in search for information through the Red Cross.  By the time they got the answer, Gilbert was already KIA,note the date. Everything had to pass through the Red Cross and the German censor. Albert Malrait was very worried about the fate of his son whom he never saw again after his departure to the USA in 1939.  Also the report of Gilbert death and the MACR pages. Also a letter from Richard K Bradley dated 08-21-1944.
click on imageclick on imageclick on imageclick on imageclick on imageLetter Richard BradleyLetter Richard Bradley
Gilbert is also listed on the Memorial Wall at Selman Field in memory of all navigators who received their training there and died during WWII. The monument is at the regional airport of Monroe, Louisiana. In the Class 43-5 to which Gilbert belonged, there was a loss rate of 25 percent which is particularly high.

Memorial Wall Monroe, LA Memorial Wall Monroe, LA Memorial Wall

WWII Memorial at  Providence with the name of 2LT Gilbert MalraitNational WWII MemorialOn the 11 November, 2007 at Providence, Rhode Island has been dedicated the WWII Memorial. The granite memorial honors the 2,562 Rhode Islanders who died in the War. Gilbert A Malrait his name is on the memorial stone. Click on the picture on the left.
On June 18, 2010 I added Gilbert on the National WWII Memorial registry. Click on the image on the right for a direct link.


In December, 2009 Gilbert Malrait's name was engraved on the WWII Memorial at Central Falls, RI his birthtplace. See below some pics made by Robert Petrone who was helping to get this done.

WWII Memorial Central Falls, RIWWII Memorial Central Falls, RIWWII Memorial Central Falls, RI

Veterans Day 2010 at Central Falls, RI. Veterans Day 2010 at Central Falls, RI.
Below are some original letters recieved by Albert Malrait. Clik on the image to enlargeclick on imageclick on imageclick on imageclick on imageclick on imageclick on image
Here more letters from the War Departement to the father Albert Malrait and vice versa.
Click on the dates to read the letters.

- Letter Albert Malrait to the War Departement on 30 September 1946.
- Letter from the Memorial Division to Albert Malrait on 16 October 1946.
- Letter Albert Malrait to the Memorial Division on 30 October 1948.
- Letter Memorial Division to Albert Malrait on 20 December 1948.
- Intern doc from Memorial Division to Albert Malrait 18 January 1950.
- Letter Memorial Division to Albert Malrait 17 July 1950.

Albert Malrait passed away on March 6, 1955 at Ronse, Belgium.

On Sept 22, 2015
we visited the Monument in Central Falls, RI where Gilbert's name is engraved (in 2009). We had a great reception and there was a small ceremony in memory of 2LT Gilbert Malrait. Council member Bob Ferry and the Local Legion post were present and Photoalbum visit Central Fallsalso Mr. Bob Petrone who helped to get the name on the Memorial stone. Was a great day for me and my wife! Click on the camera for the Google photoalbum on this event.


On Friday May 26, 2017 there was for the 8th time a Memorial Day Ceremony at his grave.





Filmed by Herman Guns for https://www.beleefhet.be .

PhotoalbumThis Ceremony will be done every year from now by the AOMDA Belgium and the City of Ronse, Belgium. It was a emotional ceremony with the presence by family of Gilbert.
I made a photoalbum on this event, just click on the camera to view the photos of 2017.

Hey Philippe - I found a new video last week with images of the Romanian POWs. The video is called "Knights of the Sky: Air War over Romania" (2010)You can view the 50 minute video online. Stop your screen at 32:18 - 32:21. There is a group of POWs posing outside the Bucharest schoolhouse. In the 2nd row center (between the 2 men facing each other) is my Dad. He thinks the man standing 3 spaces to the left in the photo (white shirt - arms behind his back) is Bill Bontly. I thought you might like to send it to Bontly's kids to see if it's their Dad. It would be a great find for them if it is!! Hope all is well in Ronse. It's in the 80's here in Florida and beautiful!

Beth Ciullo (daughter of John McCormick also downed 04/04/1944)



KNIGHTS OF THE SKY: AIR WAR OVER ROMANIA from Kogainon Films.

 

Here a photo compilation made by Robert Petrone from Charlestown, RI.


To be continued with new information.