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Archives at The Museum of Flight

Allen, John W., 1923-2011



  • Existence: 1923 August 26 - 2011 October 30

Biographical Note: John W. Allen

John W. Allen was a B-17 navigator during World War II and later a forester in Washington state.

John William Allen was born August 26, 1923 in Seattle, Washington to Frank Arthur and Hildur E.A. (Peterson) Allen. He grew up in the Queen Anne neighborhod of Seattle, attending John Hay Elementary School. His mother died in 1926 due to complications from an operation, and after that he and his brother Frank went to live with their Aunt Alma and Uncle Art Anderson in Minneapolis, Minnesota for a time. Then they went to Hibbing, Minnesota where they stayed with their Aunt Emma and Uncle Dote Murphy. Their father was a gold miner and when he remarried around 1928 the family returned to Seattle. Allen and his brother then attended Coe Elementary School, completed some high school in Arlington, and then they both graduated from Queen Anne High School in 1940. As a teenager Allen earned money by delivering newspapers and mowing lawns. His father and step-mother divorced in the 1930s. In 1940-1943 Allen attended college, after meeting a forest service employee during a fishing trip who recommended he study forestry at the University of Washington.

On October 26, 1942 he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. He trained with the Army Air Corps Navigation School in Hondo, Texas graduating April 8, 1944. He then was assigned to H.E. Garner's B-17 crew in Alexandria, Louisiana. From there he was sent to the North Platte, Nebraska staging area and then Camp Kilmer, New Jersey from which point he was transferred to England. He was assigned to the 91st Bomb Group, 401st Bomb Squadron in Bassingbourn, England, flying on the B-17 "Times A-Wastin." He flew his first mission on August 3, 1944, flew a total of 35 missions, and flew his last one on January 6, 1945. He returned to the U.S. and then reported to the Air Transport Command at Santa Ana, California. He completed more training on navigation and then ferried planes to the Solomon Islands, New Guinea and other places in the Pacific. Because radio silence was observed, all navigation was by celestial observations.

Allen was discharged in Septemebr 1945 but remained in the Reserves. He returned to his studies at the University of Washington College of Forestry, graduating with a bachelor's degree in 1947 and master's in 1949. Allen then had a career in the forestry industry, working with Nettleton Timber Company in 1947-1949, with the State of Washington Institute of Forest Products as Direcotr of Field Operations from 1949 to 1950, and then with Bloedel Timberland Development Inc. starting in 1951 as a forester. He remained with Bloedel, rising to Forest Manager and then President by 1974. He retired in December 1993 but continued to serve on the Board of Directors and did consulting work.

Allen married a classmate from the University of Washington, Rosemary Bond, in 1947. They had two daughters and one son. He died on October 30, 2011 at his home in Bremerton, Washington.

Biographical sketch derived from donor information.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

John W. Allen World War II Collection

Identifier: 2022-04-29-2
Overview John W. Allen was a B-17 navigator during World War II. The collection consists of visual, audiovisual, and textual materials documenting Allen's missions in Europe with the 91st Bomb Group (H), 401st Bomb Squadron.

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