We continue to share some of the student work from a recent course collaboration! This semester, University Archives Director Dina Kellams worked with Ron Osgood’s Honors H228: Creating Archival Stories course. For one of their assignments, students were asked to select an IU affiliate from the Archives War Service Register records and dig into their story. Due to COVID, students were not able to visit the Archives so all research was done online, largely through free or subscription services available to them through IU Libraries, and the students did a marvelous job. Hope you enjoy these samples of student work and the stories they discovered!
Frank Elliott by Sam Jones
Who was Frank Vernon Elliott? And how did he go from a small town in Indiana to ending up in England just years after graduating college? Born in about 1914, Frank Elliott was raised Rushville, Indiana, by his parents Mr. and Mrs. William Elliott. Rushville is a small city in rural Indiana about 1-hour east of Indianapolis. Coming from a small area of only about 5,000 residents, Frank Elliott made the most of opportunities to get involved in anything he could at a young age. In his high school days, he participated in many different extracurriculars, including Rushville High School’s varsity basketball team, football team, and agricultural club. He came from a family of two older brothers who previously dominated the sports scene at Rushville High School, however, Frank was arguably the best talent the school had seen. After graduating from Rushville High School in 1931, he took time off from school before later enrolling at Indiana university in the year 1937.
Frank Elliott enrolled at Indiana University Bloomington to continue his studies with a focus in business. He matriculated September 9th of 1937 and received his Bachelor of Science in Business on June 2nd of 1941. With World War II beginning in the year 1939, it is certain that times were tough, confusing, and stressful for the student population of college students across the nation. The war very well influenced the future generation of college grads, giving opportunities to enlist in the military and make a difference in the war efforts. Frank Elliott was one of these students who had to make tough decisions on how to proceed with his future after graduation. According to his hometown newspaper, the Carthage Citizen, after graduating from Indiana University, Frank Elliott worked as a “paper drying and trimming machine operator for the Container Corporation of America.” After his time in the workforce, Frank ultimately made the decision to enlist in the military in the beginning of 1943.
Elliott enlisted in the military in the midst of WWII. Military records show that he was an ordnance flight chief in Col. Kyle L. Riddle’s 479th fighter group of the 2nd air division. Known as “Riddle’s Raiders,” the group commanded its first combat mission in England in May 1944. Riddle’s Raiders were a part of the Eighth Air Force (Air Forces Strategic) (8 AF) and served as the center point of America’s heavy bomber force, a key group in the Allies war efforts at the time. Elliot’s role in the squadron was to conduct regular inspections of both ammunition and bombs for P-51 Mustang fighter planes. In addition to this role, Sgt. Frank Elliott also performed weekly checkups of firearms, tactical weapons, and various supplies belonging to enlisted soldiers and officers. His air force squadron, stationed across the Atlantic Ocean in England, was commended for the part it played in making it possible for the destruction of 43 enemy aircraft and the damaging of 23 others on a German-held airdrome. Sgt. Elliott’s flight group also played a role in both the Normandy invasion, the Allied operation that launched the successful invasion of German-occupied Western Europe, in June 1944, as well as the Battle of the Bulge, the last major German offensive campaign on the Western Front during World War II, from December 1944 to January 1945.
To add to his resume of serving in key battles for the Allied forces, Sgt. Frank Elliott earned recognition through multiple awards and medals. According to the Rushville Republican Newspaper issued in 1944, he was “awarded the Good Conduct medal for fidelity and faithful performance of duty at his Eighth AAF Fighter station in England”. In addition to this award, it was reported that he wore the E-A-ME ribbon alongside five bronze battle stars.
When reflecting on one’s life from the past, many of their achievements, accolades, information, and overall acknowledgement of success can be absent. Through using the IU libraries and archives, what was thought to be lost information about Elliott turned out to be impactful knowledge and insight about his time both in school and in the armed services. Frank Vernon Elliot, once a buried name in the IU registrar’s list from the early 1900s, is now a recognized name for his achievement in high school and college as well as his selfless dedication to the military in World War II.
479 Flying Training Group, www.cnic.navy.mil/regions/cnrse/installations/nas_pensacola/about/tenant_commands/air_force/479_FTG.html.
Ancestry Library Edition. ancestrylibrary.proquest.com/.
“Archives Online at Indiana University.” Indiana University War Service Register, 1920-1946, webapp1.dlib.indiana.edu/findingaids/view?doc.view=entire_text&docId=InU-Ar-VAD4127.
“Historical Newspapers from 1700s-2000s.” Newspapers.com, newscomwc.newspapers.com/.
Hoosier State Chronicles: Indianas Digital Historic … newspapers.library.in.gov/.
“Indiana University.” Media Collections Online, media.dlib.indiana.edu/.
The Golden Book, goldenbook.iu.edu/.