Today I whipped through P. G. Wodehouse's book of shorts called Eggs, Beans and Crumpets. I purchased this book at the famous Blackwell's in Oxford, on the very top floor. Beautifully, Blackwell's first opened as a used book shop of only 12 square feet with 700 items for sale. Look how it's grown! Nine quick shorts do the job of entertaining oneself on a six/seven-hour bus ride home from the west country.
The coolest thing about my book is... Well, several things. The book was originally published by Herbert Jenkins in 1940. My copy is a second publishing, and though I don't know the year this second publication happened, there is a name and military unit information on the title page. Cool, right? "William H. Hylton, 332nd 59d 91st group"
So the internet is a powerful thing. I typed in "322nd" and "Hylton" into Google. I found the previous owner! I have, inadvertently, forged a bond with this person. Here's his deal: the 322nd Bombardment Group was created on 19 Jun 1942, and was activated on 17 Jul 1942. Online, I found some "dailies" from the 91st BG, and they gave me a little more info regarding my Hylton. Wm. H. Hylton was a 2nd Lieutenant and a navigator. On 3 Jan 1943, he was listed as destroying an FW 190. The only other time he comes up in that record is on 4 Mar 1943, as "Lt. William Hylton - Bombadier" and, quite sadly, as MIA. The dailies go through December 1943, but he isn't mentioned again. A little more research, and I found that he was never found, and presumed dead. I also learned that he entered the service from Texas, for what that's worth. The 91st division were nicknamed "The Ragged Irregulars" because they were so depleted by fatalities and injuries. I found a nice commemorative plaque.
So now I'm on a mission. A 2nd Lt. is pretty decent standing in the Air Force, which makes me think that he was older. Maybe he had a family? Maybe they'd like his book back? I'm intrigued that it would surface in a book shop in Oxford. Somehow it made its way over from Germany. How?!?
Time will tell. I'm on the trail.