|Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut||Worker for United Aircraft Corporation|
|U.S. Army Air Forces||Enlisted 6719295 / Officer O-797760|
|Zone of Interior (American)||612th Army Air Forces Base Unit|
|Military Occupational Specialty||Entered the Service From|
|1054 (pilot, single engine)||Meriden, Conecticut|
Early Life & Family
Edgar Brewer Worley, Jr. was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on June 26, 1915. It appears that he was the only son of Edgar Brewer Worley (1883–1956) and Mabel Close Worley (1893–1976). As of September 12, 1918, when Worley’s father registered for the draft, the family was listed as living on Oak Park in Lansdale, Pennsylvania. Worley was recorded on the census on January 12, 1920, living with his parents on Oak Park Avenue in Hatfield, Pennsylvania. His father’s occupation was listed as traveling cigar salesman. (The family may not have moved at all since Lansdale and Hatfield are neighboring boroughs, although it appears that Oak Park is indeed in Hatfield, not Lansdale.)
By 1926, the Worley family moved to Wilmington, Delaware. Edgar and Mabel Worley were listed in a directory living at 835 Jefferson Street, Apartment 1. Worley’s father was described as a sales agent for Egry Register Systems. The family was listed in a 1930 directory as living at 8 East 4th Street. On the 1930 census, the Worley family was recorded living at 10 14th Street in Wilmington. The elder Edgar Worley was listed as a printing office salesman.
Worley reportedly went by the nickname Jim rather than Edgar. He graduated from Wilmington High School in January 1935.
In a postwar letter to the state archivist, Worley’s mother wrote of her son: “Although he was born in Pennsylvania he considered himself a Delawarean, having received his education here from primary school until his graduation from Wilmington High School in February [sic] 1935.”
First Enlistment & Marriage
Journal-Every Evening reported on February 16, 1935:
Edgar B. Worley, 19, of 201 West Twenty-first street, this city, a graduate of the January class of the Wilmington High School, was yesterday enlisted for the Field Artillery, U. S. Army, for duty in Panama by Sgt. W. J. Stewart, Sixth and King streets. Worley has joined an artillery unit.
However, rosters indicate that when Worley arrived in the Panama Canal Zone, he was in fact assigned to Company “D,” 33rd Infantry at Fort Clayton, joining that unit on March 20, 1935. He was promoted to private 1st class in July 1935. On August 1, 1935, Private 1st Class Worley went on detached service attending the School for Bakers & Cooks at Corozal, Canal Zone, returning to his unit on December 2, 1935. He was reduced back to private in February 1936.
On March 17, 1937, Private Worley was transferred back to the depot in Brooklyn, New York, for reassignment. He was assigned to the 26th Infantry effective March 27, 1937, but went on furlough for a month beginning March 25, 1937. Worley joined Company “F” of the 26th Infantry at Plattsburg Barracks, New York, on April 25, 1937. He was promoted back to private 1st class in May 1937. He was hospitalized at Fort Hayes, Ohio, on September 15, 1937, but rejoined his unit on October 6, 1937. He went on furlough again on January 5, 1938, but rejoined his unit on March 6, 1938. Private 1st Class Worley was honorably discharged at the end of his term of enlistment on May 19, 1938.
In a letter to the state archivist, Worley’s mother wrote that after his discharge, her son returned to Wilmington until March 1940, when he was hired by the United Aircraft Corporation in East Hartford, Connecticut.
That fall, Worley began taking flying lessons through the government-sponsored Civilian Pilot Training Program, recording regular flights out of Hartford and East Hartford as a student pilot beginning on September 26, 1940. After accumulating nine hours of flight time with an instructor, Worley soloed for the first time on October 25, 1940. By the time his course ended that December, Worley had accumulated 12 hours of flight time along with an instructor as well as 25 hours of solo flight time.
When Worley registered for the draft on October 16, 1940, he was living at 844 Hebron Avenue in Glastonbury, Connecticut, and working for Hamilton Standard Propeller, a division of United Aircraft. The registrar described him as standing six feet tall and weighing 160 lbs., with brown hair and blue eyes. An alteration to his draft card made on an unknown date stated that he had moved to 57 Meriden Avenue in Meriden, Connecticut.
The Meriden Daily Journal announced Worley’s engagement to Lucille Gunther (1919–2015) on April 19, 1941. The couple married in Meriden on May 30, 1941.
Worley resumed flying in July 1941, mainly out of Bristol. He logged his last flight as a civilian on May 3, 1942. Prior to entering the military, Worley had recorded 86 hours and 20 minutes of flight time, including 65 hours and 20 minutes’ solo flight time.
Service in the Army Air Forces
According to his mother’s statement for the State of Delaware Public Archives Commission, Worley reenlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces at Wilmington on March 12, 1942. In her letter to the state archivist, he explained that “he came down to Wilmington to enlist because he considered this his home and returned to his position in Conn. until he was called to service.”
According to his mother’s statement and newspaper accounts, Aviation Cadet Worley attended preflight training at Maxwell Field, Alabama (May 12, 1942 – August 6, 1942). He then attended primary pilot training at the Alabama Institute of Aeronautics in Tuscaloosa (August 7, 1942 – October 8, 1942). Worley’s first flight behind the controls as an aviation cade took place on August 10, 1942. He soloed eight days later. Worley also had his first experience with instrument flight during primary.
Worley then moved to basic pilot training at Blytheville, Arkansas (October 9, 1942 – December 17, 1942). He logged 74 hours and 40 minutes of flight time during basic, including his first experience soloing at night on November 12, 1942. Worley then completed advanced pilot training at Craig Field, Alabama (December 18, 1942 – February 16, 1943). Beginning at Craig Field, Worley no longer recorded individual flights in his original logbook. However, his final entry noted that during advanced, he accumulated 137 hours and 35 minutes of solo flight time (including 12¾ hours at night), as well as 62 hours and 20 minutes flying with an instructor and 18¾ hours in a link trainer.
Worley was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant on February 16, 1943. His mother wrote that he immediately transferred to Eglin Field, Florida. She added that he was promoted to 1st lieutenant on December 23, 1943.
Around April 1944, Lucille Worley gave birth to their son, John Gunther Worley.
As of September 12, 1944, 1st Lieutenant Worley was assigned to the 612th Army Air Forces Base Unit (Fixed Gunnery School), Army Air Forces Proving Ground Command, at Eglin Field. One example of a gunnery class held around that time was Class 44-1-G (August 14, 1944 – September 21, 1944), which trained 804 students who fired a collective total of 1,892,576 rounds of ammunition. Worley was the operations officer for the 612th’s Maintenance Section 3.
Shortly before the U.S. entry into World War II, the Army Air Corps (later the Army Air Forces) had begun a major expansion at Eglin, building numerous auxiliary fields. The decentralized nature of the base made ferry flights between the fields a common occurrence.
By September 12, 1944, Lieutenant Worley had 903 hours and 35 minutes of flight time as lead pilot, including 61¼ hours in the past 90 days. He was assigned a L-3B (serial number 43-26932) to make a routine ferry flight with a passenger, 1st Lieutenant William K. Crawford (Maintenance Section 3’s engineering officer), from Auxiliary Field No. 5 (Piccolo Field) to Auxiliary Field No. 3 (Duke Field). He had about 55 hours in that type of aircraft including 48 hours of flight time in that model. Worley and other pilots had already flown the aircraft on several short flights that day.
Corporal Charles H. Miller was on duty in the control tower. He wrote:
The accident occurred at 1627 […] The aircraft approached the field from the South. I observed the plane about one half mile from the field. Having no radio contact with the plane, I then gave the pilot a green light from the tower, clearing him into the traffic pattern for landing. The pilot acknowledged the signal by rocking the wings of the plane. The plane then dropped down to an altitude of about fifty (50) feet and flew north over the North-South runway for the purpose of checking the wind tee setting.
A witness, 2nd Lieutenant William J. Bishop, wrote what happened next:
He then pulled the aircraft up in a steep climb to an altitude of approximately one hundred (100) feet, apparently preparatory to doing a wing-over for a landing. At the top of the wing-over, the aircraft stalled and fell off on the left wing. The aircraft went straight into the North-South runway at about the middle of the field.
Both men were killed instantly. The investigating officers concluded that, in the absence of any evidence of engine failure, the crash was due to pilot error. They concluded that
the pilot was flying at a dangerously low altitude across the field, pulled up into a steep climbing turn from which if he stalled out he would not be able to recover, and the aircraft in this steep climbing turn went into a stall and dived into the ground killing the pilot and passenger.
After services at the Lamphier Funeral Home in Meriden on September 17, 1944, Lieutenant Worley was buried at nearby Walnut Grove Cemetery. Tragically, Worley’s young son died on September 30, 1944. According to Worley’s widow’s daughter, Emmy Johnston, the baby suffered an anaphylactic reaction after raw egg was added to his baby formula at the suggestion of his aunt, a nurse. John Worley was buried alongside his father.
Lucille Worley remarried to James William Stanley (1924–1983) in South Meriden, Connecticut, on February 14, 1948. The couple raised three children.
It appears that what was recorded on the 1920 census as Oak Park Avenue in Hatfield is now known as Oak Park Road.
It is unclear whether 10 14th Street in Wilmington was East or West 14th Street. It was very close to the boundary line dividing the city North Market Street. Neither address is extant as of 2022.
Special thanks to Lucille Stanley’s children, Emmy Johnston and William Stanley, for providing information, photos, and Worley’s logbook, and to the Delaware Public Archives for the use of their photo.
“1LT Edgar Brewer Worley Jr.” Find a Grave. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/147937982/edgar-brewer-worley
“Enlists in Army.” Journal-Every Evening, February 16, 1935. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/110458658/worley-first-enlistment/
Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930. Record Group 29, Records of the Bureau of the Census. National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/6224/images/4531892_00830
Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. Record Group 29, Records of the Bureau of the Census. National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/6061/images/4385032_00184
“John Gunther Worley.” The Meriden Daily Journal, October 2, 1944. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/110455532/john-gunther-worley-death/
Johnston, Emmy. Email correspondence, October 1–3, 2022.
“Lt. Edgar B. Worley.” Meriden Record, September 16, 1944. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/110456300/edgar-worley-obit/
“Lucille Worley Wed Saturday.” The Meriden Daily Journal, February 16, 1948. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/110472645/lucille-worley-remarriage/
“Miss Gunther Plans May Wedding.” The Meriden Daily Journal, April 19, 1941. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/110471910/gunther-worley-engagement/
Polk’s Wilmington City Directory 1926. R. L. Polk & Company Publishers, 1926. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2469/images/16116509
Polk’s Wilmington City Directory 1928–29. R. L. Polk & Company Publishers, 1928. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2469/images/16027469
Polk’s Wilmington (Delaware) City Directory 1930. R. L. Polk & Company Publishers, 1930. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2469/images/16214954
“Report of Aircraft Accident 45-9-12-10.” Reel 46421. Courtesy of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.
“September 1944.” Reel A2618. Courtesy of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.
U.S. Army Enlisted and Officer Rosters, July 1, 1918 – December 31, 1939. Record Group 64, Records of the National Archives and Records Administration. National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, Missouri. https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C3H5-SQW4-D (March 1935), https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C3H5-SQ7Y-F (July 1935), https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C3H5-SQ4B-C (August 1935), https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QHV-F3C6-RX8S (December 1935), https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C3H5-SQGJ-Y (February 1936), https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C3H5-SQ8N-3 and https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C3H5-SPNV (March 1937), https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C3H5-S5CB (April 1937), https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C3H5-S99Y-V (May 1937), https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C3H5-SP7H (September 1937), https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C3H5-S9Q9-X (October 1937), https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C3H5-S99K-F (January 1938), https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C3H5-S9WP-1 (March 1938), https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C3H5-SY27 (May 1938)
World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917–1918. National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/6482/images/005270011_01667
Worley, Edgar B., Jr. “Pilot Log.” September 1940 – December 1942. Courtesy of William Stanley.
Worley, Mabel C. Edgar Brewer Worley (Jr.) Individual Military Service Record, September 3, 1945. Record Group 1325-003-053, Record of Delawareans Who Died in World War II. Delaware Public Archives, Dover, Delaware. https://cdm16397.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p15323coll6/id/21511/rec/1
Worley, Mabel C. Letter to Leon deValinger, Jr., May 23, 1949. Record Group 1325-003-053, Record of Delawareans Who Died in World War II. Delaware Public Archives, Dover, Delaware. https://cdm16397.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p15323coll6/id/21515/rec/1
WWII Draft Registration Cards for Connecticut, 10/16/1940–3/31/1947. Record Group 147, Records of the Selective Service System. National Archives at St. Louis, Missouri. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2238/images/44002_09_00061-00661
Last updated on November 5, 2022
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