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ON4583

Original U.S. WWII KIA B-17 Navigator 305th Bomb Group Silver Star and DFC Named Uniforms and Documents

Regular price $2,995.00

Item Description

Original Items: Major Melvin J. Robertson, serial number O-659030 of the 305th Bombardment Group. Robertson was one of the first American aviators in Europe and was KIA on March 2nd, 1945. He was the recipient of the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with Three oak leaves and his service and story are simply jaw dropping.


NINETY-SEVENTH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (H) AAF
OFFICE OF THE GROUP OPERATIONS OFFICE ETO USA    APO 875
August 13, 1942
TO:  Commanding Officer, 97th Bombardment Group

SUBJECT: Recommendation for Award  

1. Whereas, MELVIN J. ROBERTSON, 2nd Lieut., AAF, ASN 0-659030,did, while engaged in authorized aerial flight, perform a deed beyond his normal call of duty, on July 21, 1942, at. Grafton-Underwood, England, the accomplishment of which resulted in valuable and, at that time, irreplaceable combat equipment being saved from serious damage and possible total destruction,and which placed the above named officer in a position where he might have sustained serious injury for certain and even death, it is hereby respectfully recommended that. the above named LIEUT. MELVIN J. ROBERTSON be awarded an appropriate medal in recognition of his act.

2. A few minutes after take-off in a strong cross-wind, in a B-17-Eaircraft, number 4l-9024, the undersigned being principal pilot thereof, trouble was encountered in lifting the landing gear on one side, with one landing gear in position for landing and the other completely retracted. It was only after mildly abrupt pull ups were used that, the gear would either drop into landing position or retract. Some moments later as preparations were being made to land, it was discovered that the locking lever in the lower ball turret was broken making it impossible for the turret to be placed in proper position for landing without serious damage if not total destruction to the ball turret as the guns would extend straight downward as the result of gravity. It was also soon apparent that the one solution to the difficulty lay in the necessity for some one person being detailed to stay in the turret during landing and hold the turret in landing position by use of a crank, normally used to enable turret gunner to manually control turret in event of power failure in getting out of the turret. The runway on which the landing had to be made, due to the intensity of the cross-wind made landing even more dangerous as in landing,the wings cleared by a few feet horizontally trees at the end of the runway,(since removed due to their hazardous position). In full realization of the dangers involved, and because the gunner was inexperienced(new personnel), Lieutenant. Robertson insisted that he be allowed to remain in turret during the landing. It was only when it was apparent that, by so doing was the only way and means of saving the turret,that permission was granted. Happily the landing, was made without mishap, and it is view of this heroic and brave example set by Lieutenant Robertson, that recommendation is hereby made that appropriate cognizance of his deed be taken.

MARVIN M. WALDROUP, JR.2nd, Lieut, AAF Ass’t Group Operations Office


Newspaper Article 1943:
Capt. Melvyn J. Robertson of 15 Winchester drive, Lindenhurst, L. I., who has been on eighteen missions, two over Germany, said: “The bombing was good. Our target was a factory and before we left we saw a column of smoke rising from it about 10,000 feet high.”

Capt. Robertson, who's a navigator, wants to get back home. He has a girl friend, whose name is Friede Kuehnal. “But that won't be her name three days after I get home,” he said He's the wit of the squadron; no one can be serious when he's around. Before the war he was a laboratory assistant at the American Can Company in Jersey City.

 

CITATION FOR DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS
Received March 7, 1944
    MELVIN J. ROBERTSON, 0-659030, Captain, Army Air Forces, United States Army. For extraordinary achievement while serving as Navigator of a Combat of B-17 airplanes on a bombing mission over enemy occupied Europe, 16November 1943. Shortly after starting on this long mission, most of which was over water, the radio navigation equipment on his aircraft ceased to function. In spite of adverse weather conditions and lack of important instruments, Captain Robertson led the formation unerringly to the target area. He also assisted the bombardier in locating the target, which was exceedingly hard to identify as a result of a heavy fall of snow. After the target had been successfully bombed, Captain Robertson skillfully navigated the formation back to bases in England. The courage and high degree of technical skill displayed by Captain Robertson materially aided in the completion of an important mission and reflect highest credit upon him self and the Armed Forces of the United States.


The Lindenhurst Star, at Lindenhurst, New York.
AN EIGHTH AIR FORCE BOMBER STATION, ENGLAND: Pictured above being awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action is Captain Melvin J. Robertson, of Lindenhurst, New York. He is being presented with award by his commanding officer Colonel Anthony Q. Mustoe, of Bellevue, Pennsylvania.Capt. Robertson's citation reads: "For gallantry in action against the enemy on April 24, 1944. On this date, Captain Robert-son was Lead Navigator for a combat Wing of B-17 aircraft, attacking an important target in Germany. Approaching the target, a burst of flak shattered the plexiglass nose of the plane and severely wounded Captain Robertson in his left arm, causing him to momentarily lose consciousness. After regaining consciousness he gave the pilot a new heading, despite the fact that hewas in great pain and bleeding profusely. While the bombardier held a compress on his left arm to step the heavy flow of blood, Captain Robertson skillfully navigated the Combat Wing back to England. The gallantry, fortitude and devotion to duty displayed by Captain Robertson contributed materially to the successful completion of a vital bombing mission.

Captain Robertson is a veteran of 21 bombing missions over Germany and has previously been awarded the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Purple Heart. Since the award of the Purple Heart, he has fully recovered and is again on active combat duty.

TO: Mrs. Melvin J. Robertson
Evergreen Drive, New York, NY

FROM: Chap. E.J. Morkowski, 0-4415246
Gp. Hq. 305 Bomb. Gp.Lindenhurst,
APO 557

April 12, 1945

My dear Mrs. Robertson; You are all hoping and praying that Robbie, as we all knew him, will be all right. Well, you haven’t a thing on us. When the boys came back on March 2 and told us that your husband went down, we felt sick about it. Those of us who knew him so well lost something when he didn’t return. You see we all thought the world of him. I met him the second day that he arrived here and we did take somewhat of a shine to each other. I am the Catholic Chaplain, but there wasn’t a single time that he went out that he did not remind me to sweat him out with a prayer. I was with him when they brought him to the hospital when he was injured. He was rather worried about himself and I did try to assure him that he’d be all right. He smiled and said "Well, as long as you say so, I guess I will be all right". I visited with him in the hospital and then met him again when he returned from the States. He was all filled with new zest for life because he had you waiting for him. A day without mail and Robbie was off color. Came a letter and he was all thrilled. "Yep, she still loves me’, was his remark as he would read your letter while trying to eat lunch. We kidded him about it and he would smile and remark, "You guys don’t know what I know". Golly I could go on and tell you many more things that would make you proud of him.Its been over six weeks since he went down and we are still waiting for a word, any word,a bout him. You see we can never be sure what happens. And we refuse to believe that there is anything seriously wrong with Robbie. He was the kind who would do everything to make the best of any situation. I can tell you that we refuse to give up even the slightest bit of hope for him. As you say, details cannot be given because there is nothing that can be told with any degree of certainty. Knowing how much you meant to each other and how anxious you are to hear something definite, I find it very difficult to tell you that there is nothing that we can add to what little you know. As long as he is only missing, we must keep our hopes high. We heard so much about you that we feel we know you and so we do want to help you as much as we can.This letter isn’t of very much use to you, but I just want you to know that you do have friends out here who are most anxious to help you. We all feel that in helping you we are helping him and we never hesitate to do our best for him. I have been remembering you and him in all of my prayers and in my daily Mass in the hope that the words that we most want to hear will soon come to us. Please do join us in hoping and praying that he’s all right. He just must be. Do be sure that we understand your anxiety and that we want to help you as much as we possibly can. Extend my best wishes to his dear parents. Try to worry as little as possible. Please write again soon and let us know if you should hear anything. We in turn will keep you posted with all the information that might come our way. May God bless you always.
Very sincerely yours,

Edward J. Morkowski Capt. Chaplain

Newspaper Article June 1945
Major Robertson Killed In Action On AAF Mission
Word has recently been received that Major Melvin J. Robertson, who had previously been reported missing was killed in action on March 2nd , 1945. Major Robertson was killed on a bombing mission over Germany, and has been interred in a United States Military Cemetery in Holland. He is survived by his widow, the former Friede Kuenel, of 6 Evergreen Drive, Lindenhurst, his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Melvin Robertson, of 15 Winchester, Lindenhurst and two brothers, Jay, who is in the Navy stationed somewhere in the Pacific, and William.Major Robertson entered the Army Air Corps in November, 1941. He received his cadet training in San Antonio, Texas and was commissioned as a second lieutenant on April 1st , convalescent leave prompted by injuries which he had received in Americans to arrive in the ETO. He flew 26 missions as Group Navigator of a Flying Fortress group. He returned home in July 1944 on a 30 day convalescent leave prompted by injuries which he had which he had received in combat. In September 1944 he returned overseas to rejoin his bombardment group.
    A graduate of the Lindenhurst High School, he was awarded the Silver Star, Purple heart, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with four clusters and wings of RAF.

 

13th August 1945

Dear Mrs. Robertson,
            I know your husband pretty well, he was one of the navigators with me that day [March 2nd, 1945] and he was flying in the nose. The third navigator is a radar operator and he flies in the radio room. I was flying in the waist.
           We were hit by flak about three minutes before bombs away, (I learned later our no. 1 engine was hacked clean off the wing and it was my impression we got hit in the radar room or bomb bay too). I was knocked out and when I came to, we were going down fast. I stayed with the ship as long as I could, then jumped out. I passed out again after I pulled my zip cord. I never saw the plane or any other chutes after I came to.
     I was taken prisoner soon after I reached the ground. The Germans couldn't speak English and I couldn't speak German. They took me to a village about four miles from where they captured me and locked me up in a shed at a civilian house.

    About five hours later, they came back to interrogate me, one of them could speak two words in English and he asked me if I knew Major Robertson (we were briefed never to give any information). No I answered no, he then asked if I knew a Captain Robertson. I answered no again. Then they went away again. I wish now I had of answered yes, maybe he could have told me something. But I had security pounded into me. So much that I didn't want to give any military information out. And then I got back home. I met a kid on the same flight, he said there were two chutes reported seen leaving the plane. One of them must've been mine and I'll always feel the other one was your husband's. What could've happened to him. I can't answer and I don't want to make any suggestions. As you know, there are a million and one things that could have happened to him. I'll let you draw your own conclusions. Maybe I shouldn't have told you this, Mrs. Robertson. Because its cruel, but as you say have received the worst news, and I'm very sorry for you. Your husband is a fine man. In all my contacts with him he treated me as his equal, his rank never went to his head.

    I wish I could you more information but that is as much as I know. Incidentally the whole crew was reported as killed. The families all wrote mine and told them. I guess the the lord didn't have a place for me just yet.

    Mrs. Robertson, please believe me when I tell you all of my sympathy is with you and if there is I haven't made quite clear, write me again, and I'll try to answer it.

Sincerely,      
Bob Lynes

Included in the amazing grouping are the following:

- Class A four pocket officer tunic named to Melvin Robertson Jr. dated 2/2/42 with Sterling Silver Navigator Wings, rank of Major metal wire embroidered oak leaf on each shoulder, early 8th Air Force patch, 4 overseas bars on left sleeve, Royal Air Force metal wire embroidered "O Wing" Observer patch. Gold U.S. tunic button with one Russian and one New Zealand Air Force Button, Presidential Unit Citation, Silver Star Medal Ribbon, Distinguished Flying Cross Medal Ribbon, Purple Heart Medal Ribbon, Air Medal Ribbon with Three Oak Leaf Clusters, American Campaign Medal Ribbon, American Defense Medal Ribbon, Europe-Africa-Middle East Campaign Medal Ribbon with one star.

- Class A four pocket officer tunic metal wire embroidered Navigator Wings mounted on blue felt background, rank of Lieutenant metal wire embroidered bars on each shoulder. Distinguished Flying Cross Medal Ribbon, Air Medal with Three Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart Medal Ribbon.

- Ike Jacket named to M.J. Robertson and dated April 21, 1944 with Sterling Silver Navigator Wings, rank of Major gold oak leaf insignia pins on each shoulder, 8th Air Force patch, Silver Star Medal Ribbon, Distinguished Flying Cross Medal Ribbon, Purple Heart Medal Ribbon, Air Medal Ribbon with Three Oak Leaf Clusters.

- Officer overseas garrison cap with rank of Major gold oak leaf insignia pin.

- Royal Air Force Sight Log Book named to Lt. Melvin J. Robertson ASN- 0-659030, 414th Bomb Squadron. Book has 72 entries beginning on August 18th, 1942 and ending on April 17th, 1943.

- Navigator's Log Book named to M.J. ROBERTSON. Contains an Operational Route Forecast from 17 April 1944.

- Three original news paper articles: the first from the New York Sun Dated April 4th, 1944 which is titled New Yorker's on Berlin Raid which reads:

- Photographs of Robertson in Uniform, one wearing his Class A jacket included in this grouping.

- United State Army Air Corps Invitation to the Graduation Ceremony for the Navigation School Class 425 at Kelly Field, Texas on April 11th, 1942.

- Multiple unattached patches including a 305th CAN DO and 8th AF.

- Multiple unattached medal ribbon bars.

- Multiple unattached uniform pins and insignia.

- A binder with copies of Robertson's recommendation for awards, Silver Star citation, original news paper articles, letters from crew mates to his wife.

- Original  heart breaking original letter from crew mate Bob Lynes or Roberson's wife where he describes his final Mission on March 2nd, 1945.

All in all an amazing set of a true air hero from WWII that was shot down over Europe in his B-17 never to be heard from again.

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