Mearl L. Toerber - LST 531

Pfc. Mearl L. Toerber - U. S. Army
1st Engineering Special Brigade
3206th Quartermaster Service Co.
Name on the Wall of the Missing
Cambridge American Cemetery, England


Brief History of Mearl L. Toerber by his nephew, Larry Toerber

Private First Class Mearl L. Toerber was born October 14, 1917, to Louis and Lydia Toerber of Toronto, Iowa.  Louis and Lydia had two sons; Burnell and Mearl.  Both were in the Army assigned to the Battle of the Bulge theater of events.  Mearl (nicknamed "Link") entered the Army at Camp Dodge, Iowa on February 5, 1943 with a "killed in action" date of April 28, 1944 (the day Exercise Tiger theater of events were operated).  He was assigned to the 538th Quartermasters Service Battalion Company "B".  He was aboard LST 531, one of the eight Landing Tank Ships of LST Group 32, convoy T-4, and accompanied by their lone escort ship, the British Azalea.  They were enroute to the practice landing area, known as Slapton Sands, England when they were purportedly intercepted by German E-Boats.

At approximately 0217 on April 28th in pitch black night, 4 German Navy "E" Boats torpedoed/struck quickly and decisively without warning LST 531.  It sunk in six minutes.  Of the reported 496 soldiers  and sailors on her, 424 of them perished.  Exercise Tiger would be declassified in early August 1944, two months after the Normandy Invasion, however, the families of the Army soldiers and Navy assigned to Exercise Tiger were told to not speak of the events surrounding the disaster.    

Mearl was awarded a European Theater of Operations Ribbon and A Purple Heart.  The awards were not presented as President Eisenhower demanded that all awards pertaining to "Exercise Tiger" were not to be presented due to the top secret nature of the activity that went very wrong.  The entire event was not to be discussed account it could of had devastating effects on the implementation of actual D-Day invasion. 

Mearl was married to Marie.  They did not have any children.  The immediate Toerber family was told the top secret naval operation; Exercise Tiger losses story, but was told that Mearl was "missing" in action somewhere in the European Area Period; The Toerber Family became to know as Italy. Marie would write numerous letters to the Army with no real explanation or results.  On August 11, 1944, the Army would notify Marie that "sufficient evidence was established to the fact of death was received by the Secretary of War from a commander in the European Theater Area". After a very agonizing period of time, Marie would finally remarry and continue on with her life.