2LT Thomas E. Cartmell USAAF – A Young Man Went Off to War

Related to my previous post, here is another one of those great connections that this website helps make possible.  In 2019, I was contacted by reader, with the following story:

My uncle, 2LT Thomas E. Cartmell, was a pilot with the 417th NFS in March and April of 1945. I have had the opportunity to read, photograph, transcribe and compile the 343 letters he wrote to his sister, his parents, and his girlfriend (later wife) during his wartime experience. The letters chronicle his training, from preflight through transitioning to the P-61 Black Widow.
He was assigned as a replacement pilot to the the 417th, joining them at LaVallon in March, 1945. He moved with them to St. Dizier, and then to Giebelstadt, Gerrmany.
On April 26th, 1945, Tom and his RO 2LT Hal Anderson were shot down and killed by friendly fire over the Dillingen Bridgehead. It was their first and only combat mission. ”

Dr. Hughey has compiled the collected letters and created a beautiful website  to honor the memories and tell the story of a young man who went off to war, but did not return.  I have placed a permanent link to “2LT Thomas E. Cartmell USAAF-A Young Man Off to War”  on the Letters, Diaries and Tributes page of the 417th-nightfighters website.

Alternative, you can click here, and go directly to Dr. Hughey’s website .

2 thoughts on “2LT Thomas E. Cartmell USAAF – A Young Man Went Off to War”

  1. What a wonderful collection of letters! This was a huge undertaking! I looked up in my Dad’s journal and he talks about the crash and the event happening. It doesn’t sound like he was close friends with them but it’s still interesting to read. Dad and Bob King only flew one mission and it was on April 28th so only a couple days after the other two soldiers were killed in the crash.

    I can’t find an email for Dr. Hughey but I’d love to send him the pdf of Dad’s journal or the few pages where his uncle is mentioned if you can get that to me.

    1. Julie:
      Thank you for your thoughts. I found a copy of your Dad’s journal on the 41t7h website and located his comments about my uncle. This was the first time I learned that Tom had flown only one combat mission. I found it a sad irony that he spent two years of his life training for ultimately a single mission, lasting less than an hour.
      I found your Dad’s diary very interesting. It documents the day to day life in the 417th NFS during the war, and also his personal observations. It is a rich document. Technically, I was fascinated that he was so diligent in writing exactly one page for each day, while a war was going on and he had many other things to do. I found him to be a complex and interesting man.
      Thank you for sharing his diary.

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