Last Known Activity
Joseph H. "Bubbles" Payne, Jr. was born in Coblenz, Germany on February 1, 1921. His parents were Joseph H., Sr, and Gertrude Payne. He arrived in the U.S. with his parents on the SS Cambrai in New York in 1922. The US Census 1930 shows the family living in District 1, Jefferson County, Kentucky, while the US Census 1940 has them in Lexington.
Payne, a naturalized citizen, enlisted in Fort Thomas, Kentucky on January 19, 1942 as an aviation cadet. His enlistment record states he was enlisting from the National Guard, had completed 4 years of college, ( unnamed, although further research proved it to be the University of Kentucky,) and his civilian occupation lay in the "actor/actress" category.
After completing training as a navigator, he was commissioned, awarded wings, and sent to crew training. He was an original member of the Blakley crew, one of the first in the 100th Bomb Group. He made a name for himself as a navigator, and soon became the Group navigator. According to medal tradition, he flew at least 20 combat missions.
On April 28, 1944, he was on the Lakin crew when the crew was assigned to bomb V-weapon sites in France (The so-called "No Ball flights.") The 100th Bomb Group commander, Colonel Robert H. Kelly, who had assumed command 9 days earlier, took over as pilot of the Lakin crew, and flew it as Command Lead Pilot. For unknown reasons, no bombs were released on the first bomb run. Colonel Kelly ordered another run on the same heading, and at the same altitude and air speed. The German gunners had all the information from the first run, so they bracketed the formation with intense and accurate flak.
Kelly's aircraft took several direct hits, and crashed near the target in flaming wreckage. Nothing has been located concerning burial there nor subsequent retrieval, but today, Captain Payne rests in the Normandy American Cemetery near Omaha Beach, France.
US Census 1930
US Census 1940
NARA Enlistment Records
Headstone and Interment Record Card (Foreign Cemeteries)
University of Kentucky Yearbook (1942)
Captain Joseph H. Payne, Jr. was performing the duties of Lead Navigator on B-17G # 42-107024, unnamed, assigned to the 350th Bomb Squadron.
Missing Air Crew Report 4234 was issued for this loss. Crew rosters and personnel files show the crew consisted of:
Col Robert H. Kelly COM p
Cpt William G. Lakin p
2 Lt Herbert Alf c-p
Cpt Joseph H. Payne, Jr. nav
2 Lt Maurice H. Cain bomb
TSgt James C. Brown eng/tt gun
TSgt Leo R. Cannon r/o
SSgt Albert M. Fertas btg
SSgt John N. Spiker wg
SSgt Joseph A. Richard wg
SSgt Delbert E. Barnhart tail gun
Ranks and grades as of mission date.
Lt Alf was in the tail gunner's position, acting as Observer for the formation. SSgt Barnhart was in the radio room, acting as dorsal fin gunner. (This was usual manning on Lead Crews.)
Service photo source: