Crilley, Joseph “Joe” James, born on 08-01-1920 in Philadelphia and spent many hours of his youth at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, each a four mile walk from his home. His work was first published in 1938, a black and white wash self-portrait as a Boy Scout, on the cover of “The Quaker City Scout” magazine. He was a Life Magazine photographer and enlisted in the American Army as a paratrooper, on 04-08-1942, following the Engineers Training School in Fort Belvoir and the Para school on 02-11-1942. As a Lieutenant of the 101st Airborne Division, C Company 326th Engineers , he landed in the Merderet area, with the start of Operation Overlord, D-Day. The 326th Engineers were organized in November 1921 at Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was wounded in the battle for Carentan and received the Purple Heart. Joe always carried his camera with him, a Leica 35 mm, and made hundreds of interesting battlefield photos. Joe Crilley was promoted in the field, on 09-07-1944 as his Captain Francis Liberiton was paralyzed for life by a shot in the spine.
Crilley, here with the famous U.S. Lieutenant-Colonel, 502 company, 101st Airborne Division. Medal of Honour for battle in Carentan June 1944, Robert Cole, you are in charge now, Captain Liberiton said. Crilley’s Company was transferred to England again for a necessary rest and on September 17th 1944 they landed near St. Oedenrode, Holland, for Operation Market Garden (see Richard “Dick”Winters) (see About). Robert Cole was killed by a sniper in Best, Holland during Operation Market Garden. With his company Crilley liberated the little town of Sleeuwijk Ewijk, the Americans couldn’t pronounce this name and named it Slicky Wicky. The heaviest battles for all 101st Airborne Division, “Screaming Eagles” soldiers, Commander General Maxwell Taylor, came in Belgium. The Germans opened the Battle of the Bulge, on December 16 General Taylor was on vacation in the US at that time. They could hold the important city of Bastogne, where General Anthony McAuliffe, he replaced Maxwell Taylor, said “Nuts”
as an answer as the Germans wanted them to surrender Bastogne. “Nuts” was advised by colonel Harry Kinnard.
The Germans didn’t know what to do with this answer. At last General Georg Smith Patton‘s and (son) Third Army could relieve the city. Joe was also in Berchtesgaden to visit Hitler’s house, the Berghof on the Obersalzberg, which was already plundered and destroyed by that time.
The casualties of the 101st Airborne Division during their campaign in Europe; In Normandy, killed/died of wounds 868, wounded in action 2.303, missing/captured 665. In Holland killed 752, wounded 2.151 and missing 398. In the battle of the Bulge in Belgium, killed 482, wounded 2.449 and missing 527, in total killed 2.043, wounded 2.782 and missed 1590. After the war Joe Crilley was a famous painter, photographer and writer, specialized in painting marine and street scenes of New Hope, Pennsylvania, where he lived from 1948 to 1980. In summers the artist painted at his studio in Nova Scotia and flogged the waters daily for salmon and sea trout. Crilley enjoyed skiing and traveling to Europe each winter. The rest of the year he worked at home in Carversville, Pennsylvania. Although he painted trompe l’oeil and still lifes when his eyes were young, his travels at home in the Delaware Valley, in Canada and abroad informed his work.
Before specializing in these subjects, he was a trompe l’oeil still-life painter and worked as a commercial photographer. Joe was also an enthusiastic fly fisher and was often to find in the small water ways in Nova Scotia. He with his dear wife Suzanne Corlette
came to Holland twice and stayed with us for the Remember September festivities. Our mayor Rein Welschen invited them in the townhall. Welschen died alas a few years later of a brain tumor. These festivities in Eindhoven are a great event every year, with parades and lightshows.
Joe presented my his captain stripes, see above in the frame.
Death and burial ground of Crilley, Joseph “Joe” James.
Over in Holland Joe made a small painting with his first impression of Holland and presented it to us, Holland a country full of bicycles. This dear friend died of gall bladder cancer, at the old age of 88, on 04-12-2008 in Calversville, Pennsylvania and is buried in this town, on the local cemetery, and just on the other side of their street. Joe’s wife, dear Suzanne, made the gravestone picture for me.