Last Known Activity
John J. Joyce was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to John T. and Mary A. Doyle Joyce on May 21, 1916. No census data or early life records have been located.
Joyce was drafted, and inducted into military service, in Philadelphia on January 30, 1941. His enlistment documents show he was drafted by his service number, and states he had completed 1 year of college (unnamed), and was working as an unskilled mechanic.
He was assigned to the Army Air Forces, and sent to navigator training school. After completing this instruction, he was commissioned, awarded wings, and assigned to crew training for further navigational studies. The crew trained in several places, especially in Dalhart, Texas. They deployed as a crew in October, 1943, arriving in England in November, 1943. Sometime prior to this, he married a woman named Catherine T. (only initial is given.)
After transitional training, the crew began flying combat missions. They flew at least 15 such missions. On February 4, 1944, the crew was tasked to participate in bombing the railway marshalling yards in Frankfurt, Germany.
Over the target, the formation was attacked by enemy fighters, and also encountered weak and inaccurate flak.
One flak shell did manage to hit the aircraft, and damaged at least one engine. The aircraft pulled out of formation, and headed home to England. Enemy fighters followed the straggler, but could not shoot it down. At the Dutch coast, more flak was encountered, and the aircraft dropped in altitude and vanished, still seemingly under control, probably crashing into the North Sea.
No crew members were recovered, although in the following days, several bodies washed ashore on the Dutch islands. The remains of Joyce were washed ashore on April 6, 1944, and was buried in the Haanstedte Cemetery in Ellemet, Holland. After the war, Joyce was moved to the Ardennes American Cemetery in Belgium where he now lies in Plot B, Row 17, Grave 18.
NARA Enlistment Records
Lt John J. Joyce was the navigator on B-17G # 42-37975, unnamed, assigned to the 418th Bomb Squadron. (The crew's regular aircraft, B-17G #42-3508, named "Bastard's Bungalow," was in maintenance for an engine change, and not available.)
Missing Air Crew Report 2343 contains details of this downing. Crew rosters reflect the crew was composed of:
1 Lt William E. Green p
2 Lt Jack P. Jensen c-p
2 Lt John J. Joyce nav
2 Lt John S. Hamilton bomb
SSgt Roman B. Beran eng/tt gun
SSgt Robert W. Valentik r/o
SSgt Richard K. Anderegg btg
SSgt Sanford Tisdale wg
SSgt Harry J. Waskewicz wg
SSgt Leroy R. Leist tail gun
Ranks and grades as of mission date.
SSgt Valentik replaced SSgt Tom Sasser from the original crew.
In the crew photo -training, Joyce is in the front row, at right.
In the crew photo -combat, Joyce is in the back row, 3rd from left.
Service photo source: