May 292016

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

Geek Moment

 Posted by at 7:12 am  History  1 Response »
May 302009

First thing I thought of when I woke up this morning and saw the date on my computer?

416 years since Christopher Marlowe was killed in Deptford.

Not accounting for the change of calendars in the 18th century, of course.

Jan 302009

My husband’s book has come out, and is apparently doing quite well.

Unfortunately, the Andover Historical Society, where he’s been curator for the past 2-plus years, and for whom he wrote the book, has just laid him off.

Articles in the local paper here and here.

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Hudson River History

 Posted by at 1:41 pm  History  1 Response »
May 262008

My husband grew up on the bank of the Hudson River, and considering his passion for history it’s hardly surprising that he’d be fascinated by the ruins of Bannerman’s Castle on Pollepel Island. In the last couple of years, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has let the Bannerman Castle Trust lead walking tours.

Andy’s parents took us on the tour Saturday, and oh my gods but it’s a wonderful little excursion. Well worth the $30 a head between the very relaxing boat ride out and back and the hour-and-a-half tour of the grounds around the old arms warehouse and the hilltop residence of the Bannerman family who used to own it.

And, yes, we took pictures. But WordPress seems to be having trouble uploading files just now, so sharing those will have to wait.

Nov 202007

Andy and I went to a reading of the letters of John and Abigail Adams last night at Faneuil Hall. Which in and of itself is a wonderful thing, since the Adams letters are really quite an amazing snapshot of what was going on during those years. Not to mention wonderfully personal.

But this particular event was even cooler because the Massachusetts Historical Society managed to get as readers Ted and Victoria Kennedy, Duval and Diane Patrick, and Michael and Kitty Dukakis.

That’s right. A sitting senator, a sitting governor, and a former governor. Reading historical documents.

And it was wonderful. They obviously had a lot of love for the material. And most of them seemed to be having a ball up there.

And that line between politicians and actors? Very thin indeed.