James W. TOLBERT
Zie / see Crash - E&E
S/sgt, US ARMY AIR FORCES
Service # 13088962
331 Bomber Squadron, 94 Bomber Group (Heavy)
Entered service: Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, 29 July 1942
Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Born: 22 September 1923 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Died : 4 December 1997 Pittsburg, Pennsylvania
Prisoner of War: (Stalag VIIB ?) Stalag 17B, Braunau-Gneikendorf, Austria, RMC 2-Jul-45.
Awards: Purple Heart, Air Medal
August 17th, 1943. The "Dear Mom" , a B-17 fighter of the 94th BG, 146 planes were in formation on a mission from England to bomb an airplane factory in Regensburg , Germany.
Above the town of Lummen Belgium, the formation came under attack from the ground.
The "Dear Mom" was blown in half, killing all front crew members instantly. The rear half began to float to the ground with only Arthur Macdonell, a Navigator of MA. and James W. Tolbert, of PA. a tail-gunner, inside.
Macdonell and James W. Tolbert jumped from the plane around the same time German fighter planes began to arrive in the area.
As told by James W. Tolbert: "A fighter made a turn for me as I was hanging in my chute, and flew by me and dipped his wings. The dip is a sign of respect, or a salute."
When asked how he knew this for sure, he explained: "The pilot came to see me in the hospital. He shook my hand, and saluted me"
When James Tolbert landed, he had a broken jaw, and injured ankle. The town was occupied by Germans, and the locals hated them. The towns people quickly picked up James Tolbert, carrying him into a nearby tavern called 'PIGALLE'.
Tavern Pigalle (Picture Roger Morren)
Picture inside from the tavern named 'Pigalle'. Left is the person who helped James, Jef Morren and right his wife Henriette. (Picture from Rudy Kenis)
The blood from the crash brought a priest who read him his last rights. The priest was then given James Tolbert's survival kit, which included chocolate, rather than let it go to a German soldier.
Soon, he was found by the German soldiers and put on a haywagon, where he discovered Macdonell.
They were carted to a nearby hospital (Militairy Hospital Leopoldsburg), and then to various P.O.W. camps.
Info: Claire Tolbert (sister of James)
Telegram aan ouders dat James Tolbert vermist is.
Tolbert wordt gedecoreerd mat het AIR MEDAL met Eiken blad
2 mei 1945, James Tolbert terug uit gevangenschap.
James Tolbert, second from right, with his friends.
(Photo: Family Tolbert)
Info from MACR:
Each year the Tolberts have a reunion. In 2014 John Tolbert received this award after he unveiled a monument at Lummen, Belgium on 17 August 2013.