Pilot Officer Grant Eugene Eichar was born on 20 April 1915 in Marshalltown, Marshall County, Iowa, USA, the son of Frank Eugene Eichar (1892-1983) and Lucy May Eichar née Grant (1892-1986). His sister, Clover Gladys Eichar (1917-2006) was born on 22 December 1917.
He was initially educated at Abby C. Wing Primary School, Elgin, Kane County, Illinois, USA. He went onto Elgin High School and eventually to the University of Illinois, Champaign, Champaign County, Illinois. He was an Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America and became the Scoutmaster of a local troop. In 1936 he was employed as an apprentice druggist leaving in 1940 to work on automobiles.
He was married three times: to Maxine Elliott (b.1917) in 1935 in Elgin, Illinios, to Delores Wirth in Clinton, Iowa, and finally to Vernette Christinabelle Anderson (1919-1980) in Burlington, Iowa, on 9 November 1940. He had two children: James Grant Eichar (b. 23 October 1936) and Richard Donald Eichar (23 July 1941-7 January 1942).
He moved to Canada and on 8 December 1940 he applied to join the Royal Canadian Air Force and was accepted in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, as an Aircraftman Second Class (AC2) on 14 December 1940. His service number was J/15650. He was promoted to Leading Aircraftman (LAC) on 27 May 1941 and to Sergeant on 25 September 1941 when he was awarded his pilots flying badge. He was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on 22 June 1942 and was attached to the Royal Air Force's No.133 Eagle Squadron.
The American Air Museum in Britain website states that on 31 July 1942, aged 27 years, he was flying a Supermarine Spitfire Mark Vb, serial number BM646, as 'an escort on Rodeo for Boston bombers to Abbeville. intercepted on return journey by Fw190's and shot down'. 'Boston' bombers were actually Douglas A-20 Havoc bomber aeroplanes. However, the Aircrews Remembered website shows he was flying on Operation Circus 201. This is more believable as Circus operations were escort duties whilst Rodeo operations were fighter sweep over enemy territory with no bombers. His Squadron Leader, E. H. Thomas, states in a letter dated 2 August 1942 to his mother that 'the squadron was escorting bombers to an enemy aerodrome in Northern France. After bombing successfully the Squadron was engaged with enemy fighters as we were crossing the French coast on the way home. A general 'dog fight' ensued and your son has not returned to base. Your son has been with the squadron since 22nd February and had taken part in many convoy patrols and 15 offensive operations over enemy occupied France'. Also killed in action on the same operation were Flight Lieutenant Coburn Clark King and Pilot Officer Carter Woodruff Harp.
As he has no known grave he is commemorated on Panel 100, of the Runnymede Air Forces Memorial, Coopers Hill Lane, Englefield Green, Egham, TW20 0LB. He is also commemorated on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's website, on the Royal Air Force Commands website, on the memorial at St George’s RAF Chapel of Remembrance at Biggin Hill airport in Kent and on page 71 of the Canadian Government's Second World War Book of Remembrance. He is shown as P/O Grant Eichar on the Eagle Squadrons war memorial in Grosvenor Square, London, W.1.
He was posthumously awarded the 1939-1945 Star, the Air Crew Europe Star, the War Medal 1939-1945 and the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal together with its overseas bar and these were sent to his mother on 13 May 1947 at 279 Douglas Avenue, Elgin, Illinois.
Credit for this entry to: Andrew Behan.