Navy Lt. Cmdr. Harry Brinkley Bass

Harry Brinkley Bass was born on the 4th of July, 1916 at Chicago, IL to Percy Prescott and Verna Maulding Bass. At a young age the family moved to Jefferson, Beaumont County, Texas. Harry attended school in Beaumont, graduated from Beaumont High School. He attended Lamar College and Halls War College in Columbia MO. He was appointed to the U. S. Naval Academy from the 6th District of Arkansas in 1934. At Annapolis, Midshipman Bass was captain of the tennis team. Ensign Harry Brinkley Bass graduated from the U. S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD in 1938.

August, 1940, he reported to the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, FL for flight training. He graduated as a naval aviator February 18, 1941. He continued training at the naval air Station, Miami, FL until April that year. In May, 1941, he joined bombing squadron 2 based on the aircraft carrier. Lexington, and the following September participated with his squadron in the Army maneuvers held in Louisiana.

Lt. Cmdr Bass had an illustrious and decorated career as a fighter pilot during 1941-1944, serving on the USS Lexington off New Guinea and in the Coral Sea. This page tells of his life and career before coming onboard the Kasaan Bay.

In April, 1944, Lt. Cmdr. Bass reported for duty with Squadron VF-74 aboard the USS Kasaan Bay, where luck will run out and he will meet his fate during the Liberation of South France.

On August 20, 1944, Flight orders were to do an armed reconnaissance up the west hone River to limit range to search for and attack suitable targets. This flight of eight F6F-5 Hellcats under Lt. Cmdr Harry Brinkley Bass, flight leader consisted of pilots Lt. Leo Horacek, Lt. John G. Bartley, Lt. Junior C. Forney, Lt. Noel R. Fox, Lt. Charles D. Garrison, Ensign Edward Clancy, #8 unknown.

The flight reached the village of Saint-Bonnet le Froid, Haute-Loire, about 10 miles west of the Rhone River. There Lt. Cmdr. Bass, the flight leader, dropped low with the first division looking for targets. The four were over the village when suddenly Lt. Cmdr. Bass, according to his wingman and another pilot, pushed over steeply at about 2000’ to dive on a ground target side-car without identification. He went extremely low on his strafing run and his droppable fuel tank hit either the ground or a ground object and was torn away. His aircraft then was pulled upward to approximately 300’ but never regained proper altitude, kept going over to the left and finally fell off shortly on the port wing and plummeted to earth. It exploded and burned immediately when it crashed. Lt. Cmdr. Bass had no chance to escape (his body was found later by U. S. Army troops when they entered the area

One pilot who witnessed Lt. Cmdr. Bass’ attack says his plane did not appear to be under control from the moment it reached the bottom of its strafing run. This pilot thinks Lt. Cmdr. May not have been conscious at this time, that possibly he had been shot by small arms fire or that the controls of his plane had been shot away.

From Saint-Bonnet, the flight headed back down the valley, the second division leader Lt. John G. Bartley reconnoitering while the three pilots remaining in the first division kept. top cover.

Lt. Cmdr. Bass was initially buried in a church cemetery at St. Bonnet Le Foud, Vanose, France August 1944. His remains were moved to the Bass family plot in Roselawn Memorial Park, Little Rock, AR in September 1948. A plate inscribed: "LIEUTENANT COMMANDER H. BRINK BASS, JULY 4, 1916; AUG. 20 1944; WENT DOWN WITH HIS PLANE; ST. BONNET - SOUTHERN FRANCE" marks his grave. An urn inscribed "BASS" marks the family plot.

Lt. Cmdr. Bass was awarded Letters of Commendation, with Ribbon, Purple Heart, Navy Cross, Gold Star, Silver Star, American Defense Service Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, European African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, Distinguished Service Medal, WWII Victory Medal.

On October 6, 1996, a memorial was dedicated to Lt. Cmdr. Bass at Les Villettes, Loire, France that marked the place of his crash. The spot is located on the land of Mr. Marcel Ertel, the French Military historian, whose distinguished work has led to other memorials to downed American pilots.

The Memorial reads:

In memory of LT. COMMANDER BRINKLEY BASS, born July 4, 1916 in Chicago, Hero of the Pacific, US NAVY Squadron 74 (VF-74) On Board Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat Aircraft Number 58109, Aircraft Carrier USS KASAAN BAY (CVE-69). "Operation Dragoon" Landing in Provence. Killed in Combat At Saint Bonnet Le Froid, 20 August 1944, At 13:00

LT. ROBERT JOSEPH JOHNSON, North Aix-En-Provence, 17 August 1944
LT. JOHN DISMAS FRANK, North Aix-En-Provence, 17 August 1944
LT. WILLIAM NATHAN ARBUCKLE, Balaruc, 20 August 1944


With The Assistance Of Robert KARSTENSEN, 45th B/G, Family BRINKLEY BASS, PILOTS (VF-74) CREWMEN (CVE-69) CREWMEN BRINKLEY BASS (DD 887) Marc NUYTTEN, Anne Marie & Marcel ERTEL, and Louis GOMET, 06 October 1996

The Memorial was attended by a large American delegation including 9 members of the Bass family, Franke Keating, sister of Lt. Cmdr. Bass and Lt. Bernard Keating, USS Brinkle Bass, Murray and Suzanne Bass, Clyde and Sandra Brinkley Moore, Judy Keady Harcher, Robin Evans Harcher, Missy E> Chaves McKrosky, Mary V. Watson, Robert Karstensen, President of the 451 Bomber Group, 15th Air Force, former VF-74 pilots from the USS Kasaan Bay, Capt. Harry H and Shirley Basore, Lt. Cmdr. Leo Cora Horacek, Lt. Cmdr. Edwin W and Patsy Castenado, former pilots of VOF-1 from the USS Tulagi, Capt. Rene' Poucel, Capt. Robert P. Schwartz, Lt. Cmdr. Edward Olzwaski, Lt. Cmdr. Robert Lyon, Crewmen and/or relatives of the USS Kasaan Bay; Lt. Edward Gaughy, Richard Uribe, Debbie Hurteau, Suzanne Taylor, Beth Taylor Howell, Mischel Stenslit Howell, Khaty Morris Howell, Christen Ellis Howell, Crewmwn and relatives of the Destroyer USS Brinkley Bass; Lt. Robert and Eleanore Shetron, Richard and Conchita Johnson, Richard Snell, Alfred and Betty Davis.

U.S.S. Brinkley Bass DD-587, one of the last of 105 USS Gearing-class destroyers built for the United States Navy. The ship is named for Naval Aviator Lieutenant Commander Harry Brinkley Bass. After 28 years of service to the United States Navy, the ship was transferred to the Marinha do Brazil ( Navy of Brazil) where she served 24 more years as Mariz e Barros, achieving 52 years of active service to two navies.

Marcel Ertel was a career airman in the French Air Force, specializing in Military Air Control, flying on a Boeing KC-135-F, refueling in flight, jet planes for the FAF. After he retired, his love of flying and admiration for the US pilots that died in the Liberation of South France, led to researching and locating the sites of the crashes and deaths of these pilots. His efforts have culminated in formal dedication ceremonies of memorials for many of "his pilots". He has received numerous certificates and accolades from US Air Force personnel for his achievements at recognizing fellow US servicemen, who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom in France.

You can check out his page here on the Liberation of South France. Please be patient as it has many photos.

The information for this Memorial for USN Lt. Cmdr. Harry Brinkley Bass has been supplied by the researcher in France, Mr. Marcel Ertel. Thank you for making this possible. Thank you, Lt. Cmdr. Bass, and all our military men and women, for your sacrifice for Freedom.

"People sleep peaceably at night because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf"......George Orwell

"Lord, hold our troops in your loving hands.
Protect them as they protect us. Bless them
and their families for the selfless acts they
perform for us in our time of need. I ask this
in the name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

Copyright, 2002-2003
Web Page December 30, 2002

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NOTICE: All research materials regarding VF-74 and VOF-1 Squadrons, including but not restricted to, documents, research, photos are the exclusive property of the French Military Historian and Researcher, Mr. Marcel Ertel, Les Villettes, Haute-Loire, France. The personal photos of various pilots provided by their families are the exclusive property of the pilot's families. Photos from the collection of Captain Harry Basore, USN, remain the exclusive property of Capt. Basore. Mr. Ertel, Captain Basore and the families have graciously permitted me to use the information for this Memory Album dedicated to those pilots. Thank you all.

This information compiled, prepared and submitted to this site by Ethel Taylorand remains the property of the submitter

NOTICE: Ethel Taylor grants that this information and data may be used by non-commercial entities, as long as this message remains on all copied material, for personal and genealogical research. These electronic pages CAN NOT be reproduced in any format for profit, CAN NOT be copied over to other sites. It may be linked to, or other presentation only with written permission of Ethel Taylor.