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World War I Aviators Papers


Scope and Contents

Adminstrative Information

Detailed Description

Box 0

World War I Aviators Papers | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center

By Aaron M. Lisec

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Collection Overview

Title: World War I Aviators PapersAdd to your cart.

Predominant Dates:1917-1918

ID: 1/7/MSS 338

Extent: 1.0 Boxes

Arrangement: By individual pilot into personal and official papers.

Date Acquired: 11/01/2014

Subjects: World War, 1914-1918, World War, 1914-1918 - Aerial operations, American

Forms of Material: Air pilots, Military - United States - Correspondence

Languages: English


Letters and documents related to the service of three World War I aviators.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

Papers related to aviators Wilmer K. Bond, Robert S. Oliver, and John H. Thompson.  The focus is on their role in the American air effort during World War I with some documentation of their later careers as reserve officers.  Documents include personal letters, military correspondence, photographs, clippings, a program for an 18-week aeronautics club for boys (1928) and a pilot's log-book spanning both world wars.

Collection Historical Note

Wilmer Krusen Bond (1896-1971) was a Philadelphia native and graduate of Temple University.  He enlisted on September 21, 1917, and graduated from the School of Military Aeronautics at Princeton, New Jersey.  After completing flying school he was commissioned in May 1918 as 2nd lt., r.m.a. (reserve military aviator), m.a. (military aeronautics), a.s. (aviation section), of the Signal Corps.  Bond arrived in France in October 1918, a month before armistice.  After the war he served as a reserve officer in the Army Air Service.  In World War II he was recalled to duty in the Signal Corps and served as finance officer at Edgewood Arsenal, Aberdeen, Maryland; he rose to the rank of lt. col. by 1952.

Robert Stone Oliver (1894-1985) graduated from Yale (1916) and completed the School of Military Aeronautics course at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in December 1917.  In March 1918 he was commissioned 2nd lt. in the aviation section of the Signal Corps.  Sent to France in May, he spent the remainder of the war as a flight instructor.  From 1942 to 1947 he served in the Army Air Material Command, flying missions in the U.S. and South America.  Promoted to lt. col., Oliver was assigned to the retired reserve in November 1954.

John Hay Thompson (1890-1971) was born in Ohio to Scottish immigrants and raised in Cleveland.  He enlisted in the army in January 1918, completed the Army Air Service Flying School at Kelly Field in San Antonio, Texas, and in July 1918 was appointed 2nd lt. in the Air Service of the Signal Corps.  Thompson spent the last months of the war stationed at air fields in Texas and Oklahoma.  His correspondence from that time includes letters from a woman named Constance on tour with an unnamed show in Kansas and Oklahoma.  His papers include few postwar items.

The collection also includes one letter from Charles Henry Ramsey (1895-1980) of Albany, New York, who graduated from Cornell in 1917, trained at the army's ground school at M.I.T., the Signal Corps aviation section and flying school at Mineola, New York, and an overseas flying school.  Promoted to 1st lt., Air Service, Ramsey was stationed in France in June 1918 when he wrote to his cousin Margaret Beasom of Nashua, New Hampshire.

Subject/Index Terms

World War, 1914-1918
World War, 1914-1918 - Aerial operations, American

Administrative Information

Repository: Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center

Access Restrictions: Unrestricted.

Use Restrictions: To quote in print, or otherwise reproduce in whole or in part in any publication, including on the World Wide Web, any material from this collection, the researcher must obtain permission from (1) the owner of the physical property and (2) the holder of the copyright.  Persons wishing to quote from this collection should consult Special Collections Research Center to determine copyright holders for information in this collection.  Reproduction of any item must contain the complete citation to the original.

Acquisition Source: M. Benjamin Katz, Fine Books/Rare Manuscripts, Toronto.

Acquisition Method: Purchased.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Box:

[Box 1],

Box 1Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Wilmer K. Bond Correspondence, 1917-1918Add to your cart.

Four letters from Wilmer K. Bond to his mother, Alice W. Schuler, 1917-1918, from Princeton, New Jersey, and France.

One undated 3-page memorandum on World War I era service stationery describing his first solo flight during training.

Folder 2: Wilmer K. Bond Military Papers, 1917-1919Add to your cart.
Vaccination record, special orders, shipboard entertainment schedule, flying school notes, newspaper clippings.
Folder 3: Wilmer K. Bond Military Papers, 1922-1952Add to your cart.
Special orders for reserve officers, personnel record, memorandum (April 4, 1923) titled "Method of Annihilation" suggesting aerial attacks using a flammable mixture of chlorine gas and powdered antimony, inspired by a 1922 National Geographic article about using airplanes to spread insecticide, 1928 proposal for 18-week extracurricular program for an aeronautics club for boys, 1939 oath of office form and instructions.
Folder 4: Wilmer K. Bond PhotographsAdd to your cart.
Photographs of Wilmer K. Bond circa World War I (one formal portrait) and World War II, including group photographs.  Several photographs (8 by 10) depicting office scenes at the Edgewood Arsenal, Aberdeen, Maryland, circa 1940s.
Folder 5: Robert S. Oliver Military Papers, 1917-1918Add to your cart.
Photocopies of World War I orders and details, certificate of graduation from Military Aeronautics school, humorous endorsement from chaplain dated December 30, 1918.
Folder 6: Robert S. Oliver Military Papers, 1947-1955Add to your cart.
Original documents related to the reserve status and retirement of Lt. Col. Robert S. Oliver.
Folder 7: Robert S. Oliver Military Reunion Papers, 1966-1985Add to your cart.

List of members for the World War I Overseas Flyers Reunion held June 3-5, 1966, in Dayton, Ohio (6 typed pp.).

Letter concerning 1980 reunion at Dayton.

Letter of January 23, 1985, to Bob and Ruth Oliver from Henrietta and Herbert Hibbs (ALS, 4 pp.).

Circa 1980 tourist map of Indre-et-Loire department of France.

Flyers and catalogs for books on World War I aviation history.

Folder 8: Robert S. Oliver Flight Log and PhotographsAdd to your cart.

Photocopy of "Pilot's Book" recording training and flight hours beginning with ground school in December 1917.  Covers instruction on several airplane types through 1918.  Continues with log of transport missions flown from 1942 to 1947.

Two single cloth stripes sewn on shoulder straps.

World War I era photograph in uniform.

Reunion photographs circa 1960s-1970s.

Folder 9: John H. Thompson Personal CorrespondenceAdd to your cart.
17 letters, primarily from 1918, but also 1919 and as late as [1925].  Includes letters from father, brother, and sister.  Also includes five letters (and two telegrams) from "Constance," dated August to December 1918, from locations in Oklahoma and Kansas where she was appearing in shows as a member of an unidentified touring company.  Also includes an undated, printed Christmas card from J. Dalzell McKee (1893-1927), pioneer aviator and fellow Army Air Corps veteran.
Folder 10: John H. Thompson Military CorrespondenceAdd to your cart.
Military documents including commission as 2nd lt. (July 26, 1918), furlough application (disapproved), orders, and other official correspondence.  Also includes undated postwar map of Parma Township, Ohio, promoting Thompson as candidate for justice of the peace, Thompson's obituary (published January 28, 1971), and 4 3x5 prints of World War I era photographs.
Folder 11: John H. Thompson Military PapersAdd to your cart.
Includes military entertainment coupon book, one issue of "Plane News" (March 9, 1918), memoranda and bulletins, instructions for the Marlin Aircraft Gun (9 pp., with handwritten notes), and signals diagram/glossary handout (10 pp.).
Folder 12: Charles H. Ramsey letter, 1918 June 14Add to your cart.
Written on AEF stationery from central France to his cousin Margaret Beasom, Nashua, New Hampshire.  Also includes several envelopes without letters, addressed from Ramsey to Beasom.

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