Stanford Hardee was born in Florida on 22nd November
1921. He was the second son of Walter Robert Hardee and Bessie S.
The US census
of 1930 shows that the family had moved around quite a lot during
the hard years of the 1920s but by 1930 had returned to Walter’s
native Georgia. The family was living in the Militia District of
Appling County, which is part of the city of Baxley.
||Place of Birth
|Walter Robert Hardee
||Public school teacher and WW1 veteran
|Bessie S. Hardee
|Walter Robert Hardee jnr
|Sellers S. Hardee
|Earl A. Hardee
|Harry E. Hardee
|Ted L. Hardee
When war broke
out in December 1941 Sellers was working as a Sales Clerk, and this
young man was now 5 feet 9 inches tall and was a slim 161 lbs. His
older brother had already volunteered for the Army Air Corps, and
Sellers followed his example, joining at Napier Field, Dothan,
Alabama, as trainee pilot with the rank of Staff Sergeant.
1943 he was at Pinellas Army Air Base, Florida, flying the P-40F
Curtiss Warhawk. By April of the same year he had moved to Harding
Field Louisiana, and was flying the P-51A Mustang.
It was on 28th
October 1944 that he joined the 357th Fighter Squadron,
part of the 355th Fighter Group, based at Steeple Morden
Airfield in Cambridgeshire, just West of Royston. The 355th
had won recognition for attacking the Luftwaffe on the ground, and
had become known as the “Steeple Morden Strafers”. Now 1st
Lieutenant Hardee, he was to add the score of the fighter group
being credited with two aircraft destroyed and another three
damaged. These strafing victories were won flying the P-51D
Mustang, serial number 44-14402, recognition code OS-H, named
‘Barbara’ by the previous pilot Captain Fred R. Haviland Jnr.
photograph courtesy Bill Marshall, Author and
355th Fighter Group Historian
|3rd February 1945
|9th February 1945
|9th February 1945
|9th February 1945
|23rd February 1945
Lt. Hardee was
an experienced pilot totalling 1859 hours flying time, including 190
hours in the P-51D, winning a distinguished flying cross, and an Air
Medal with five oak leaf clusters. Although practices varied
between fighter groups it was common practice to award the Air Medal
to fighter pilots after completing ten operational sorties, with an
oak leaf cluster being awarded after each subsequent ten operational
sorties. Lt. Hardee had by this reckoning logged at least sixty
On Monday 26th
February 1945 Lt. Hardee was #2 in yellow flight, call-sign Custard
91, wingman to flight leader Lt. Joseph Lake. The flight had just
completed a 6˝ hour sortie over occupied territory and was returning
home. They crossed the coast south of Ipswich and tracked across
country at an altitude of between 1,000 and 1,500 feet. At
approximately 16.00 hours Lt. Lake noticed Lt. Hardee’s Mustang drop
behind him, and turned to watch what would happen.
The engine had
failed, and Lt. Hardee had to think fast. At about 50 feet Lt.
Hardee jettisoned his canopy. It was clear that Lt. Hardee was
trying to make an emergency crash landing. Lt. Hardee had picked an
open field, behind Glandfields Farm, directly in line with his
descent, but unfortunately had not reckoned on a tree which he
clipped. This collision threw the aircraft from level flight, and
the left wing hit the ground, breaking away from the fuselage,
flamed briefly and then went out. The aircraft began to cartwheel,
the engine broke free, and the fuselage cart-wheeled again and came
to rest upright.
obtained a location fix, ordered Lt. Forehand to circle the crash
site while he flew to nearby Andrews Field to initiate a rescue and
refuel. A Spitfire was ordered up from Andrews Field to relieve Lt.
Forehand who was also low on fuel.
Back on the
ground the crash had been observed by farm workers who then rushed
from all directions to help Lt. Hardee.
the owner of Glandfields Farm witnessed the crash and immediately
called the police.
and Charles Cheshire, had been working at Glandfields Farm and ran
to the crash site, and being closest were first to arrive, where
they cut Lt. Hardee’s harness. They were quickly joined by James
Bundock, who was also working at Glandfields Farm. Coming from the
other direction was William Wright who had been working at North End
place, and together they lifted Lt. Hardee clear of the fuselage,
which was making a buzzing crackling noise. Percy Jarvis who had
been at Camsix Farm was next to arrive and helped make Lt. Hardee
Also on the
scene were twenty-one women and Land Army Girls, including 19 year
old Vera Cook who volunteered their coats to keep Lt. Hardee warm.
He was conscious but very badly injured. An ambulance from the
Polish Wing based at Andrews Field arrived about twenty minutes
later with a Royal Air Force doctor and Lt. Hardee was taken the US
Hospital No. 121 in Braintree.
from Andrews Field were posted to guard the crash site until the
aircraft could be salvaged.
USAAF Officer Cap Badge
Medal Group including
US Distinguished Flying Cross,
Air Medal with one oak leaf cluster
Sellers S. Hardee's grave
United States Cemetery, Madingley, near Cambridge
Lt. Sellers S. Hardee, died of his injuries on 10th March
1945. He was survived by a widow Anne and a daughter Patricia, both
He is buried at
the US Cemetery, at Madingley, near Cambridge, and commemorated at
Melton’s Chapel, Methodist Church, Appling County, Georgia. As part
of a memorial service at the Melton’s Chapel in 1945 a small cedar
tree was planted in front of the church. As time passed, the small
tree grew so large that it had to be removed. A small portion was
used to create a plaque which was placed in the Sanctuary of
Melton's Chapel. Seller’s youngest brother Frank placed another
marker in the family cemetery several years ago to provide a
permanent memorial, visible to all, to his brother who paid the
ultimate sacrifice for the price of Freedom for all