2LT Robert Francis Toner

2LT Robert Francis Toner

Woonsocket, Providence County, Rhode Island, USA
Death 13 Apr 1943 (aged 26)
Cenotaph Carthage, Tunis, Tunisia
Plot Tablets of the Missing
Memorial ID 56251495 · View Source
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2nd Lt. in the US Army Air Force in World War II. Part of a flight crew assigned to a B-24 Liberator bomber named the Lady Be Good, stationed in Soluch, Libya. Their first assignment was as part of a 25-plane, high altitude bombing raid over Naples, Italy. Their nighttime return flight caused them to miss the base, located on the Mediterranean coast, and unknowingly fly 350 miles into the desert. Against all odds, 8 of the 9 crewman (one, John Woravka, died on impact after bailing out of the plane), made the perilous trek, through 130° F daytime temperatures and freezing temperatures at night, and made it an astonishing 130 miles before perishing.
The nearly intact Lady Be Good was discovered in the Libyan desert by an oil research company in 1959.
Their remains were not discovered until early 1960. The total lack of moisture had preserved personal possessions, among them a diary that Robert had kept. As per a March 1960 Life Magazine feature, the entries read:
April 4, 1943
Naples: 28 planes. Things pretty well mixed up. Got lost returning, out of gas, jumped, landed in desert at 2 in morning. No one badly hurt. Can't find John, all others present.
Monday 5.
Start walking NW. Still no John. A few rations, 1/2 canteen of water, 1 cup full per day. Sun fairly warm, good breeze from N.W. Nite very cold. No sleep. Rested and walked.
Rested at 11:30, sun very warm, no breeze. Spent P.M. in hell. No planes, etc. Rested until 5 P.M. Walked and rested all night, 15 min. on, 5 off.
Same routine, everyone getting weak, can't get very far, prayers all the time, again P.M. very warm, hell. Can't sleep. Everyone sore from ground.
Hit sand dunes, very miserable, good wind but continuous blowing of sand, everybody now very weak, thought Sam and Moore were all gone. LaMotte's eyes are gone, everyone else's eyes are bad. Still going N.W.
Friday 9.
Shelley, Rip, Moore separate and try to go for help, rest of us all very weak, eyes bad. Not any travel, all want to die, still very little water, nites are about 35°, good N. wind, no shelter, 1 parachute left.
Still having prayer meetings for help. No signs of anything, a couple of birds, good wind from N. Really weak now, can't walk, pains all over, still all want to die. Nights very cold, no sleep.
Still waiting for help, still praying, eyes bad, lost all our wgt., aching all over, could make it if we had some water, just enough left to put our tongue to, have hope for help very soon, no rest, still same place.
MONDAY 12. No help yet. Very cold night.

At the request of family, Robert's body was flown back to Massachusetts for burial in St. Marys Cemetery where he was laid to rest on March 26, 1960, near Arthur Toner and Annie Carr Toner, in whose home he was raised.

His name is remains on this memorial monument, the Tablets of the Missing on North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial, but with a rosette next to his name, indicating his remains have been located.

Lady Be Good crew members:
1st Lieut. William J. Hatton, Pilot
Whitestone, New York;
2nd Lt. Robert Toner, Co-pilot
North Attelboro, Massachusetts;
2nd Lt. Dp Hays, Navigator
Kansas City, Missouri;
2nd Lt. John S. Woravka, Bombardier
Cleveland, Ohio;
T/Sgt. Harold S. Ripslinger, Flight Engineer
Saginaw, Michigan;
T/Sgt. Robert E. LaMotte, Radio Operator
Lake Linden, Michigan;
S/Sgt. Guy E. Shelley, Gunner/Asst Flight Engineer
New Cumberland, Pennsylvania;
Staff Sergeant Vernon L. Moore, Gunner/Asst Radio Operator
New Boston, Ohio;
S/Sgt. Samuel E. Adams, Gunner
Eureka, Illinois.

Bio by: tbickellb


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  • Maintained by: tbickellb
  • Originally Created by: War Graves
  • Added: 6 Aug 2010
  • Find a Grave Memorial 56251495
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for 2LT Robert Francis Toner (5 Aug 1916–13 Apr 1943), Find a Grave Memorial no. 56251495, citing North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial, Carthage, Tunis, Tunisia ; Maintained by tbickellb (contributor 47136488) .