Forrest Ray Cope
S/Sgt 35680079 614th
1922 - 1943
Ball Turret Gunner onboard 42-31098 (Penny's Thunderhead)
Mack Cemetery, Frenchburg, Kentucky, USA
Forrest Ray was born October 19, 1922 at Spring Hill, Okfuskee County, OK to Henry Allen Cope
Eunice Temple Gose and a grandson of John Anderson Cope and Saphonia Adams cope.
He was the oldest of five children.
His parents were natives of Frenchburg, Menifee, KY, but moved to Oklahoma for a few years to work
in the oil fields before moving back to Frenchburg, KY.
It was while his parents were living in Oklahoma that Forrest Ray was born.
He graduated from Frenchburg High School in 1941 and went to Middletown, Ohio where several of his
mother's family were living to work at Armco Steel.
He was registered for the draft in Frenchburg, KY and in late 1942 he had to report for a physical
exam and was assigned to the U.S.Army Air Corps.
He took basic training and testing at Miami Beach, Florida and was selected for combat air crew training
as a gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber.
This training started about the first of January of 1943 and lasted until late September.
At this time the crew were all granted a furlough for about ten days prior before going overseas.
Most of his furlough was spent with his family but he did get in a lot of visits with his girl friend, Juanita.
When his furlough ended, his brother Owen wrote, "we watch him leave, our hearts are heavy.
The last words he ever said to me were, 'Owen, I'll be seeing you'."
Forrest Ray's family received a message on December 20th, 1943 that no family wants to hear.
The message said that Forrest's plane was shot down on a mission over Germany on December 11th and
he was missing in action.
Over the next several months, his parents received letters from the War Department giving information
as they acquired it.
One message said the plane was badly damaged over Emden, Germany, and was on fire.
The pilot gave orders to bail out, and eight of the crew did so, including Forrest.
The bombadier had trouble getting out, in the meantime the fire went out and the pilot decided to try to
get back to England, which it did.
Another message said that two crew members were picked up off the coast of Holland and taken prisoner,
three crew member's bodies were found later.
Three crew members were never found.
Forrest was one of them.
One letter received by the family was from Major General Edward F. Witsell, the Adjutant General of the
Army in 1946.
He wrote, "My deepest sympathy is with you in the great loss you have been called upon to bear."
Forrest Ray's family has kept the last letter he ever wrote.
It is dated, "Somewhere in England, Wed. Nite, Dec. 8, 1943", which was 3 days before his fatal mission.
In the letter he begins, "Dearest Mother", then proceeds to inquire about everyone in the family,
especially mentioning his four-year old baby sister, Temple, several times.
At one point he said, "I sure would like to see her (Temple) and the rest of you. Hope it won't be
long until all us fellows can come home again."
The three page letter is signed, "Your Loving Son, Forrest."
Margraten cemetery, Netherlands.
Wall of Missing
Forrest Ray Cope's father, Henry Allen Cope, was a veteran of WW I.
Henry Allen moved to Oklahoma about 1914, according to family and he was living in Oklahoma
when the U.S. entered World War I.
He registered for the draft on June 5, 1917 in Creek Co. OK.
He was listed as 22 years old, single, living at Bixby, OK, working as a Gasoline Worker for Gypsy Oil Co.
His physical description was given as medium height, slender build, blue eyes, light hair.
He enlisted 25 April 1918 at Sapulpa, OK.
He volunteered for the service and was soon on his way to Europe and military action.
He was wounded in Meuse-Argonne, France, a day before the Armistice, and reported dead to his parents.
They were informed 3 days later that he was alive but gravely wounded.
After recovering from his war wounds, Henry Allen returned to the Cope farm in Menifee Co. KY.
Upon his return, he married Eunice Temple Gose, and then they returned to Oklahoma
where their first child, Forrest Ray was born at Spring Hill in Okfuskee Co. OK.
They were living at Cromwell, OK in 1924.
When his father became ill and wanted to return to Kentucky from Oklahoma, Henry Allen and his family
accompanied his parents back home to McCausey Ridge, the location of the Cope family farm about a mile
outside Frenchburg, KY.
After his father's death, he continued to live on the farm, raising his family of 3 sons and 2 daughters.
When WW II started, Forrest Ray Cope, was called into the war and the family received the terrible
news in 1943, that he was missing in action.
The family waited for years for news that he might be found, but it never happened.
In the 1950s, Henry Allen Cope tore down the original log house built by his great-grandfther in the 1875,
and built a new, two story house on the farm and the house still stands on the property today.
Thanks to Linda Kaye Lanier
Individual casualty questionaire
Told by 2nd Lt. John Barret , Navigator.
- Did they bailed out ? : Yes.
- Where ? : Northern Holland
- Last contact just prior to loss of plane ? : None
- Where were they last seen ? : All bailing out.
- Any explanations of their fate ? :
When I went out I saw land below and also five chutes open, which I assume to be , Shaw - Cope
Masterman -Nielsen - Bargfrede, because I know Carlson an Robinson went out 5 minutes later
( Carlson told me later ).
I delayed my jump from around 20.000 Ft to around 1000 Ft.
I landed in water a couple hundred yards from mainland ( Holland ).
I fell that those men who opened chutes at altitude drifted out to sea and drowned.
Carlson and Robinson went out later over water and Carlson fortunately was rescued by Germans.
I believe Robinson also drowned.
- Total number of missions of above crew members ? : 3.
- Date and destinations if possible ? : Nov 26, 1943 Bremen
Dec 1, 1943 Solingen
Dec 11, 1943 Emden
Captain Kaufman's first crew.
Back Row: L-R Capt. Kaufman , Lt. F. B. Robinson , Lt. R. C. Fitzgerald , Lt. J. A. Barrett
Front Row: Sgt. FORREST RAY COPE , Sgt. H. A. Shaw , Sgt. D. H. Carlson , Sgt. T. R. Nielson , Sgt. H. L. Bargfrede , Sgt.E. W. Masterman
Photo Courtesy of Rick Kaufman.
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