There are quite a few veterans in my family tree, and even more in my husband’s. But where my research currently stands, there’s only one among them who paid the ultimate price.
Albert Clifford Joyce, Jr., was the son of my great-grandfather’s sister, my first cousin twice removed. He was born in 1919, in Salem, Massachusetts, the youngest child and only son of Margaret Theresa Catherine (Whelton) and Albert Clifford Joyce, Sr. He was educated at Boston Latin School and then Harvard University, which he graduated from in 1942. He had intended to become a lawyer, but because of the war he instead ended up in the US 8th Army Air Corp (390th Bombardment Group, 568th Squadron).
On April 18, 1944, Albert was co-pilot on a B17 Flying Fortress under the command of Ben C. Wassell, when it took off from Suffolk, England, on a bombing run to try to take out an aircraft factory about 20 miles from Berlin. When their tail section was shot off, almost directly over their target, they went down so quickly that witnesses reported no parachutes at all. None of the 10 crew members aboard survived.
It was their 6th mission.
Albert and his crewmates were buried near the site of their crash, all except pilot Ben Wassell in a common grave. In 1952, their remains were moved, Wassell’s to Ardennes Military Cemetery in Belgium, and the others to Arlington National Cemetery, where they still share a grave.
Photo of the crew taken upon completion of training.
Back, left to right
1st Lieutenant Ben C. Wassell, Schenectady, NY – Pilot
2nd Lieutenant Albert C. Joyce, Jr., Salem, MA – Co-Pilot
2nd Lieutenant Anthony C. Formato, Bronxville, NY – Navigator
Flight Officer Leonard Hersch, Brooklyn, NY – Bombardier
Front, left to right
Staff Sergeant Robert D. Stetler, Van Wert, OH – Waist Gunner
Staff Sergeant Eugene J. Harpster, Furnace, PA – Radio Operator
Staff Sergeant James T. Finch, Wantagh, NY – Tail Gunner
Staff Sergeant Pete N. Rayhawk, Sharpsville, PA – Waist Gunner
Staff Sergeant Leon J. Sarnowski, New Britain, CT – Ball Turret Gunner
Staff Sergeant Victor B. Ratliff, Hellier, KY – Engineer & Top Turret Gunner