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Archives at The Museum of Flight

Norman B. Moerbe World War II Collection

Identifier: 2018-11-07
The Norman B. Moerbe World War II Collection documents Moerbe's military service as a bombardier through military records, correspondence, photographs, and other ephemera, primarily dating from 1943-1945.

Series I. Military records consists of documentation of Moerbe's time in the U.S. Army Air Forces, from his time as a student through active service with the Twelfth Air Force, 340th Bomb Group, to his time in reserve status. The documentation consists of personnel records, health records, flight and bombing records, and military orders.

Series II. Correspondence makes up the bulk of the collection. It primarily consists of letters that Moerbe wrote home to his girlfriend and later wife, Margie Hall. He seemingly wrote letters nearly every day, though there are some conspicuous gaps in the collection (January-April 1944 and correspondence from 1945); those letters are apparently lost. The letters describe life as a soldier, explain what training camps were like, and allude to missions completed over Italy. Due to censorship, he could not go into great detail about his missions, so the letters reflect more the day-to-day life and difficulties of soldiers rather than giving specific accounts of military actions. These letters are organized chronologically; dates given for folders are for postmarks, as the letters themselves were not consistently dated. A folder dated July 1-14, 1944, for example, may actually include a letter written in June 1944.

Additionally, there is a small amount of correspondence between Moerbe and other family members and some letters to Margie from other friends, including some from a previous sweetheart.

Series III. Photographs is comprised of 70 black-and-white prints and 117 black-and-white negatives. The majority of images depict scenes from Moerbe's military service, including aerial views, aircraft in flight and on the ground (mostly B-25s), aircraft nose art, camp scenes, and informal portraits of other soldiers. Aircraft in flight during the August 15, 1944 invasion of southern France (Operation Dragoon) are depicted in several images. Some photos also depict tourist sites, primarily sites in Rome, that Moerbe visited while stationed abroad. There is a small amount of personal images primarily depicting Margie and family and friends. Additionally, there are three panoramic group portraits. One depicts Moerbe's training squadron from Victorville Army Air School. There are two copies of a group portrait of cadets with banners reading "Cadets 36" and Axis Busters;" one has the signatures of all the men on the verso. Prints range in size, but all except the panoramas are smaller than 4x5"; negatives are 120 format. Some photographs have handwritten identifications on their versos. Note that not all negatives have corresponding prints.

The final series, Personal, includes small souvenirs such as photographs, postcards, and printed ephemera such as tour booklets for Rome, that Moerbe collected at the various locations where he was stationed during his military training and service. Seven audio recordings apparently contain telephone conversations and audio correspondence with friends. It is unknown if they relate to his military service. The certificates relate to his education, including, for example, his diploma from Port Arthur High School.


  • circa 1890s, 1939-1968
  • Majority of material found within 1943-1945


Language of Materials

All materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research and is accessible in the Dahlberg Research Center by appointment. The open-reel audio tapes have not been reformatted and may not be used at this time. For more information contact us.

Conditions Governing Use

The Museum of Flight (TMOF) Archives is the owner of the physical materials in the archives and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from TMOF archives before any publication use. TMOF does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.


2.7 Cubic Feet (3 letter-width, full size document boxes; 1 legal-width full size document box; 1 letter-width half size document box; 2 legal-width half size document boxes; 1 expandable folder; 1 oversize folder)


Norman Bernhard Moerbe was a bombardier in the 12th Air Force, 340th bomb group, who flew in campaigns over Italy during World War II. This collection contains military records, correspondence, photographs, and ephemera documenting his military service, primarily dating from 1943-1945.

Biographical Note: Norman B. Moerbe

Norman Bernhard Moerbe was a bombardier who flew in campaigns over Italy during World War II.

He was born in Port Arthur, Texas on April 25, 1917 to Martha and Ben Moerbe. His parents evidently separated at some point. He attended Trinity Evangelical Lutheran School and then Port Arthur High School, graduating in 1934. As a teenager he was a carrier for the Port Arthur News. As a civilian Moerbe worked for The Texas Company in Port Arthur as a research laboratory operator.

Moerbe entered military training in March of 1943 and then his active military service was from November 13, 1943 to September 29, 1945 after which point he served in the Air Force Reserves. Moerbe trained in Victorville Army Flying School in California in Squadron No. 4, Class No. 43-16. He was eliminated from pilot training. Instead, he served as a bombardier in the 12th Air Force, 340th Bombardment Group flying in the North American B-25 Mitchell. He was stationed in Corsica and northern Africa (most likely in Tunisia) and flew on campaigns over Italy. In 1945 he attended further training to be a bombardier instructor at Midland Army Airfield in Texas but then transferred to reserve status.

Moerbe married Margaret "Margie" Hall Moerbe (1923-2013) in early 1944. They did not have any children. He died in 2011.

Biography derived from collection materials.
Historical Note: 12th Air Force, 340th Bombardment Group The 340th Bombardment Group (Medium) of the 12th Army Air Force served in World War II from 1942-1945. The group flew North American B-25 Mitchell bombers. The group entered the war in Tunisia, beginning operation in April 1943 supporting the British Eighth army in the assault on the Mareth Line before assisting Allied groups in Italy. The group completed 898 combat missions attacking targets in Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, France, Greece, Italy, Tunisia, and Yugoslavia. Its targets were bridges, railroads, supply depots, and factories. Some of its most notable campaigns were 'Operation Strangle' in southern France before August 15th "D" day, "the Battle of the Brenner", and the final blitz in the Po Valley in Italy.


This collection is arranged into four series: I. Military Records II. Correspondence III. Photographs IV. Personal

The correspondence from Norman to Margie was originally bundled in groups by month. The chronological arrangement was maintained, though some bundles were split into multiple folders due to quantity of materials. The dates given in the inventory correspond to postmark dates. Other correspondence was loose and unorganized so was arranged by recipient and then correspondent.

Custodial History

The collection was found abandoned in a house in Port Arthur, Texas. The new homeowners gave the collection to their nephew who donated it to the Museum.


No further accruals expected.

Existence and Location of Copies

Materials from this collection have been digitized and are available at The Museum of Flight Digital Collections.

Separated Materials

The following book has been separated from the archival component of this collection and is kept in the Library:
  • Official Guide to the Army Air Forces, Army Air Forces Aid Society, 1944

The following items have been separated from the archival component of this collection and are kept in Objects storage:
  • assorted pins
  • bombardier case (flight bag)
  • book of matches
  • drawing compass
  • silver navigational compass
  • unused packet of Chaff (also called Window)
  • wallet

The following items have been discarded due to lack of uniqueness:
  • 1 issue of Life magazine, August 30, 1943
  • book, The Vatican City with 300 illustrations and 2 maps, Rome: Casa Editrice Dalmatia Di Luciano Morpurgo, 1944
  • 35 maps (state highway maps, local historical maps for Texas), circa 1960s-1980s
Guide to the Norman B. Moerbe World War II Collection
Completed - Level 3
N. Davis
Description rules
Language of description
Edition statement
1st edition

Repository Details

Part of the The Museum of Flight Archives Repository

9404 East Marginal Way South
Seattle Washington 98108-4097

The Museum of Flight | 9404 E. Marginal Way South | Seattle WA 98108-4097 | 206-764-5874
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