Donald's parents are Charles and Hazel (Hammond) Gamble.
He was a member of the St. Martin's Episcopal Church and was awarded a cross for his long service as a choir boy there. He attended New Bedford High School and prior to going into the Navy, Donald was a clerk at the Minkin Auto & Radio Store in New Bedford, MA.
He actually lied about his age to try to get into the Navy. He signed up on his 17th birthday but told the officials he was 18. Well - they didn't believe him and told him to get his Father's "ok"....which a few days later he did. He was stationed at Newport, RI, Jacksonville, FL, Norfolk, VA and lastly at Dunkeswell, Devon, England. His hut was called the Buzzard's Roost. His Great Nephew, Weston Sherman, has named his tree house the Buzzard's Roost to honor his Great Uncle.
Cute story: Per Auntie Barbara, she had a school project to write to a Serviceman in WWII and she wrote to her brother Donald...his letter back told her to "take care of Patsy and Henry". My Mother (Donald's sister Patricia or Patsy as he called her) was between 6 and 9 years old when he was in the service so unfortunately she does not remember him.
Donald's duty during WWII was the ball turret gunner (the one under the plane just behind the wings also known as the Belly gunner). His plane from the Bombing Squadron of Flight Air Wing 7 VB-110 was called the PB4Y-1 Consolidated Liberator (also known as B-24's) with the tail data of "M" B-12 BuNo. 63948. These Liberators were powerful with bomb bays loaded with depth charges and bombs for use against the U-boats and its machine gun magazines filled with hundreds of rounds for use against the German JU88's. A mission lasted eleven or twelve hours and covered up to 1,600 nautical miles.
On March 31, 1944 his plane went missing over the Bay of Biscay near England as his bomber was patrolling for German submarines and they encountered bad weather with no fighter escorts when they came out of a cloud bank. A German fighter named Dieter Meister in a Ju-88 twin engine got them and they were listed as lost at sea on the 31st then declared killed in action on April 1, 1944. FYI - Navy records indicate a documented official death date of April 1, 1945 because they had to wait the customary 1 year.
He is mentioned and/or memorialized on the following websites: Find-A-Grave, the Dunkeswell Memorial Museum Facebook page, Friends of Dunkeswell Museum Facebook page, on the Military Hall of Honor website, on the Wartime Memories Project website, HonorStates.org website, WW2awards.com website, VP-110 Patrol Squadron Mishap website, American Battle Monuments Commission website, National WWII Museum on Facebook, The Uncle Donald Project on Facebook, on the U.S. Navy Memorial website in their Log, The Purple Heart Recipient National Hall of Honor website, Purple Hearts Reunited database, Air Medal Facebook, Massachusetts WW2 NMCG Casualty List – G Surnames website, American Battle Graves website, the Gold Star Family Registry website, the National WWII Memorial website, and the FOLD3 website. His name is on the WWII Memorial Wall (on a brass plaque) at the Battleship Cove in Fall River, Mass. And lastly, he has a veteran's memorial stone at the Rural Cemetery in his home town of New Bedford, Mass.
The U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, DC will fly a flag in his honor on what would have been his 90th birthday on 10/10/2015. This flag will be sent to the family for safe keeping.
He is memorialized in England too - His name, pictures and documentation are at the Dunkeswell Memorial Museum, and his name in a book viewed by the public every day at the St. Paul's Church in London. There is a guestbook entry about Donald on the website called WWII US Naval Aviation Collectors Guide: "http://pilotsmanyourplanes.com/Guestbook.php".
FYI - The book "U.S. Navy PB4Y-1 (B-24) Liberator Squadrons: in Great Britain during World War II" by Alan Carey is very much like our Uncle's life in England and his life during the WWII. He is actually pictured on page 58 with the rest of his VB-110 squad members!!
His parents (Charles and Hazel Hammond Gamble) were awarded the Navy Air Medal with 3 Gold Stars and a Purple Heart posthumously for Donald's outstanding ability and zeal during day and night missions in defense of our vital supply line to the European theater of war. He was one of a group which played an important part in reducing the German U-Boat menace from their home station at Dunkeswell in Devon England. His unwavering devotion to duty throughout a period of intense operations was in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval service. He participated in many operations under constant threat of German aerial attack and in the face of treacherous weather conditions.
He was a member of the Navy Club of Greater New Bedford, MA SHIP NO. 22. His Service Number was 2025326 and he had an Aviation Ordnanceman Second Class (AOM2c) rank when he died which was an unusually high ranking for such a young man of 18 or 19 years old. He was a very brilliant man so the family was not surprised.
Because a few of the children died young or in WWII with the name "Charles" as a first or a middle name - this name was never used again and was considered to be jinxed. My grandmother even told her children to never use the name again (as the first or middle name) and they never did. And this philosophy has even been passed to the next generation and should be carried forward to generations to come.
Donald is a direct descendant of Mayflower Pilgrims Myles Standish (GS #86,222), George Soule (GS #86,222), John Alden (GS #86,222), Francis Eaton, John Howland, Thomas/John Rogers, Degory Priest, Henry Howland, Richard Warren, Francis/John Cooke and John Tilley.
***And lastly, one nice thing is that we all have at least one picture of him displayed proudly in each of our homes - even though many of us never met him - he is still in our hearts and consider him our hero.***
These are a list of books (excluding the Silver Mayflower books) that our family lines are documented in:
- A history and genealogy of the descendants of William Hammond of London, England by Dr. Roland Hammond, MD
- William Ricketson, William Ricketson, Jr., and their descendants by Grace Williamson Edes
- The Richmond Family by Joshua Bailey Richmond
- A genealogical history of the descendants of Joseph Peck by Ira Peck
- John Vial of Swansey, Mass and Some of His Descendants by David Jillson
- Some of the descendants of Philip Sherman, the first secretary of Rhode Island by Roy Sherman
- A contribution to the history, biography and genealogy of the families named Sole, Solly, Soule, Sowle, Soulis.
- The Kempton/Kimpton Families in North America by Morton Saunders
- Dunham genealogy: English and American branches of the Dunham family by Isaac Watson Dunham
- Damon memorial: to the descendants of eleven Damon families by Brazil Monroe Damon
- The Matthew's Family of Yarmouth, MA by C.W. Swift
- Haskell Family in North America - Descendants of William Haskell and Elinor Foule.
- Descendants of John Maxfield of Salisbury, Massachusetts
- The Jenney book: John Jenney of Plymouth, and his descendants
- Elizabeth (Alden) Pabodie and Descendants by Mary Langford Taylor Alden