Last Known Activity
James H. Young was born in New Hampshire in 1920. His parents were Leon F. and Louise May Young. Both the US Censuses 1930 and 1940 show the family living in Lyme, New Hampshire. Leon died in 1933.
Young enlisted in Manchester on August 5, 1942. He had completed 2 years of high school, and was working as a driver or chauffeur.
Selected for flight duty, he received training as an aerial gunner. Then, he was assigned to the North African Theater of Operations. According to records, he flew at least 30 missions.
On January 11, 1944, he and a crew were participating in a bombing raid on the harbor facilities at Piraeus, Greece. En route to the target, the formation passed through a large cloud bank. Excessive winds, as well as icing conditions were encountered, and two aircraft of the lead element chose to abort. But they turned across the path of the second element.
Accounts vary, but most state two B-17s from the first element almost collided. Williams, to avoid a crash, threw his aircraft into a steep bank, lost control, and crashed. Another account says he actually struck the other aircraft. Anyway, the Williams' ship crashed near Poretso, Greece, killing all the crew but three.
The dead were recovered by monks from a monastery and buried locally. The grave was not located until 1946, and all the bodies were returned to the U.S. for burial. Four crew men are in a common grave in Missouri; 2 are in a common grave in New York; and the last is supposedly buried in North Dakota, although a government agency states he is buried in Italy.
US Census 1930
US Census 1940
NARA Enlistment Records
National Cemetery Interment Records card
SSgt James H. Young was the assigned tail gunner on B-17F #42-30357, ostensibly assigned to the 353rd Bomb Squadron, although the aircraft is not on the list of assigned aircraft.
Missing Air Crew Report 1831 was issued for this loss. Mission loading lists show the crew on board as:
1 Lt Richard D. Williams p
2 Lt Thomas A. Shields c-p
2 Lt Neil F. Daley nav
2 Lt Jerome Elkin bomb
SSgt Roland A. Ruisseau eng/tt gun
TSgt Foster D. Rappleye r/o
SSgt THomas A. Harkey btg
SSgt John W. Day wg
SSgt James H. Young tail gun
Sgt Monte Ogens photo
Ranks and grades as of mission date.
Elkin, Rappleye, and Ogens ere the survivors, but they were captured.