James F. McNabb (#33338720)

Place of Birth
Date of Birth
Rank

Platoon
Company
Battalion
Regiment
Division
Decorations
Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
February 9, 1914
Staff Sergeant

K
3rd
331st Infantry
83rd Infantry
Combat Infantryman's Badge, Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Good Conduct Medal, European African Middle-Eastern Campaign Medal with three Bronze Campaign Stars

James Francis McNabb was born Feb. 9, 1914 in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania to James F.(1868-1934) and Ellen (Coniry), (1888-1978) McNabb.  His father James McNabb was born in Holyhead, Wales and his mother Ellen Coniry was born in County Gallway, Ireland. James Jr. was the third child with two older brothers and a step sister.  Life was good for the family being his father worked as a gardener on a private estate which afforded a comfortable upbringing. He and his brothers attended local parochial elementary schools and James followed his brothers through West Catholic High School in Philadelphia graduating in 1932.  Although college was not as popular as it is today James attended Banks Business College for two years in preparation for a business career of some sort. Unfortunately, jobs were not plentiful at the time and he followed in his father’s footsteps becoming a gardener on a private estate in the Bryn Mawr area.

He maintained this career becoming the head gardener / foreman until being drafted into military service at the age of 28 in 1942.  It was off to Camp Atterbury in Indiana where he joined the 83rd Infantry for basic training.  He was with the 83rd from start to finish.  From Atterbury to Fort Breckenridge in Morganfield, KY to Tennessee for maneuvers eventually onto New York to depart for overseas.  The remainder of the 83rd History is fairly well documented with the Normandy landing on through to the Battle of the Bulge the 83rd fought in five campaigns in the European Theater.  While with the 83rd Jim reached the rank of Staff Sargent mainly in Communications carrying the radio and running communication lines while within various villages.  He was fortunate enough not to sustain any serious wounds but witnessed many of his comrade’s demise and some close friends within the 83rd.  He was awarded two purple hearts and the bronze star.


Photo taken in Luxembourg City (Probably November 1944)
in the background "Viaduc La Passerelle"

In April of 1945 he had the option of battlefield commission to Lieutenant or a 45 Day furlough which he chose the furlough and was on his way back home to the states.  Departing Germany, he made his way back through the lines eventually departing France April 21, 1945 headed for England.  He departed Southampton England April 23, 1945 on voyage home to New York arriving May 5, 1945.  He arrived home in Bryn Mawr, PA on VE day May 8, 1945.  He had earned enough points while in combat that he was not required to return to the unit but was able to muster out of the military at Ft Indiantown Gap, PA receiving his honorable discharge June 1945. During this cruise back home there was a slight problem, the ship he was on was a captured German vessel with electronic controls that jammed and they were on a collision course with another ship.  Orders were given to man life jackets and board life boats.  This was startling to my Dad who never knew how to swim.  With all the combat he endured he was left with the thought that he may drown on his way home.  Fortunately, the problem was corrected and he arrives safely in New York.

Now with his sights on the future he was fortunate enough to land a job with Bell Telephone of Pennsylvania due to his military experience in communications, he started on the Line Gang working as a lineman trainee.  In addition to his career he returned home to the girl he loved and promised to marry if she could wait until after the war, although they contemplated marriage prior to his departure he did not want to burden her in the event he was seriously wounded during the war.  So on October 5, 1947 Jim married Elizabeth Ann Ward at St. John Vianney Church in Gladwyne, PA.  Soon after the family started with their first child James Jr. born August 14, 1947 with five more to follow:  Paul 1951, Bob 1953, Maria 1956, Lisa 1958 & Tom 1962.

James F. McNabb died on July 29, 2004, when he was 90 years old and is burried at the Calvary Cemetery, West Conshocken, Pennsylvania..

Sources:
Bob McNabb (son)
Ancestry.com


(Left) Me and Bob McNabb during our tour in the Ardennes (Right) Me, Myra Miller, my parents and Bob at the Mardasson Monument in Bastogne, Belgium (October 2016)