Adolf M. Drey

(St. Louis, June 10, 1896 – Chicago, August 16, 1948).1

Drey’s father and uncle were born in Bavaria; they emigrated and settled in St. Louis, where they established a prosperous window and plate glass business. Drey’s father died in 1905.2  His mother, born in Cincinnati to German immigrant parents, was prominent in St. Louis musical and Jewish circles for many years.3  Drey spent part of his childhood in New York at the home of his brother Walter, who would go on to co-found Forbes Magazine.4  Drey attended Washington University in St. Louis, where he was president of his class (1917), and active in the dramatic society and the founder of a literary magazine.5  Sometime in the summer of 1917 he signed up for aviation training and attended ground school at the University of Illinois, graduating September 1, 1917.6

Along with most of his ground school classmates, Drey chose or was chosen to continue training in Italy and was thus among the 150 men of the “Italian” or “Second Oxford Detachment” who departed New York on the Carmania September 18, 1917. They stopped at Halifax to join a convoy, and then set off across the Atlantic on September 21, 1917. After an uneventful crossing the Carmania docked at Liverpool on October 2, 1917, and the men learned, to their initial dismay, that they were to proceed not to Italy, but to Oxford, where they spent October going through ground school (again). On November 3, 1917, Drey travelled with most of the detachment to Harrowby Camp near Grantham in Lincolnshire to attend machine gun school.

A handwritten list of ten names under the heading "Waddington."
From Foss’s diary.

In mid-November it was determined that there was room at British flying schools for fifty of the Grantham men, and Drey was among those selected. Along with nine others (William Wyman Mathews, George Orrin Middleditch, Vincent Paul Oatis, Chester Albert Pudrith, Joseph Hiserodt Sharpe, Fred Trufant Shoemaker, Walter Andrew Stahl, Lynn Lemuel Stratton, and Ervin David Shaw), he set off on November 19, 1917, for Waddington (about twenty miles north of Grantham) where several R.F.C. training squadrons were located.7

Drey was one of many men whose appointments as first lieutenants “non flying” were recommended by Pershing in a cablegram of April 8, 1918, and confirmed, finally, over a month later.8 Drey was ordered to active duty May 27, 1918.9  The next information about him comes from his R.A.F. service record, which has a Medical Boards note dated July 19, 1918, “Unfit G. S. [General Service] 8 wks.” Another notation on the service record indicates that he was ordered on October 26, 1918, from Waddington to the No. 4 School of Navigation and Bomb Dropping at Thetford; whether he had remained at Waddington since 1917 or had more recently been reassigned there is not known. From “4 S of N & B D” he was assigned on November 11, 1918, to American H.Q., London.10

After the war, Drey settled in the Chicago area and worked in business and advertising.11

mrsmcq June 29, 2017


(For complete bibliographic entries, please consult the list of works and web pages cited.)

1  For his place and date of birth, see, U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942, record for Adolf Drey. For his place and date of death, see “Ad Executive Dies in Chicago.” The photo is taken from The Hatchet, vol. 15, p. 37.

2  See the biography of Adolf L. Drey on pp. 415-16 of Stevens, St. Louis.

3  See Peters, “A Century of Fridays with Lizzie’s Ladies” and and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1880 United States Federal Census, records for Max, Lizzie, and Jenette Helman [sic].

4  See, 1910 United States Federal Census, record for Adolf M Drey, and Wikipedia, “Forbes”

5  See The Hatchet, vol. 15, p. 44.

6  “Ground School Graduations [for September 1, 1917].”

7  Foss, Diary, entry for November 15, 1917.

8  Cablegrams 874-S and 1303-R.

9  McAndrew, James W., “Special Orders No. 147.”

10  See The National Archives (United Kingdom), Royal Air Force officers’ service records 1918-1919, record for Adolf Drey (this record has been conflated with that of A[dolphe] Drey, who was killed in Egypt I 1917).

11  See the entry for Drey in Gardner’s Who’s Who in American Aeronautics;, 1930 United States Federal Census, record for Adolf Drey; and 1940 United States Federal Census, record for Adolf Drey.