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Paul Elisha Williams


Paul Elisha Williams


Williams, Paul Elisha. b. 1909 (June 17, 1907), Youngstown, Ohio, African American, Pilot, Possibly served as a civilian Naval aviator (?), Single, Pilot, No political affiliation, Sailed August 11, 1937 aboard the Queen Mary, Served with the Republican Air Force, ground crew with coastal aviation unit, Returned to the US in December 1937 aboard the Aquitania, WWII served in the Merchant Marines.

Sources: R. S. Allen.

Photograph: Paul Williams aboard the Aquitania, Kurt Baker.




Paul Williams was an African-American pilot in the Spanish Air Force during the Spanish Civil War. He was born in Youngstown, Ohio, in 1909. After he graduated from high school, Williams attended Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh. As a student he worked at the Pittsburgh railroad yards. He later transferred to the Ohio School of Aeronautical Engineering and subsequently obtained work as a pilot flying for the Ohio Aero Company. Williams was the only black pilot working in the Ohio area at that time. Later, with three partners, he formed a company to design and manufacture a light bomber plane to sell to the government. The venture failed because they were unable to compete with the larger companies. During this period Williams also worked as a test pilot and taught aeronautics to Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) workers at Patterson Field in Dayton. In September 1936 Williams began to build another plane of his own design, the WX21. Williams was a member of the Communist Party and departed for Europe, along with James Lincoln Holt Peck, aboard the Queen Mary, on August 11, 1937. Williams and Peck were sent to Valencia for an intensive refresher and ground training courses. Neither pilot was allowed to fly in Spain. The completion their training coincided with the arrival of Spanish pilots who had been trained in Russia and France. Consequently all international pilots were summarily withdrawn. Williams and Peck agreed to act as ground crew at a coastal base. Williams and Peck left Europe aboard the Aquitania in December 1937. After returning to the United States, Williams participated in the activities of the Friends of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and during World War II he served in the Merchant Marine.~ Chris Brooks

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Paul Williams taken during his return to the United States about the Aquitania in December 1937. (Courtesy of Kurt Baker).

Full Database Record

Last Name Williams
First/Middle Name Paul Elisha
Ethnicity Note
Immigration Status
AKA Last Name 1
AKA First / Middle 1
AKA Last Name 2
AKA First / Middle 2
Foreign Nation
Foreign Nation City
Alt Pob State, City
Family: Name
Family: Relationship
Family: Begin Date
Family: End Date
Family: Comments
Education HS
Education College / Univ 1
Education College/Univ Notes
Education College/Univ 2
Graduate or Doctoral Work
Graduate or Doctoral Work Notes
Prior Military Service
Passport #
Passport Series
Passport Reported Lost in Spain
Passport Age
Passport Date
PP or Known Address Street
PP or Known Address City
PP or Known Address State
ALT City
Alt State
Sail Date
Marital Status
Marital Notes
Vocation 1
Vocation 2
Vocation 3
Party Affiliation
Date Affiliation
ALT Affiliation
ALT date
ALT affiliation 2
Arrival (in Spain) Date
Units served with
Battle action
Returned Date
Returned other
WWII Service
Place Died City
KIA/MIA/Died other
KIA/MIA/Died other Date
KIA/MIA/Died other Location
KIA/MIA/Died other Battle
Additional Notes