Anyone have any info on the missions Jimmy Stewart did?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Pong, Dec 2, 2010.

  1. Pong

    Pong Active Member

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    Does anyone have combat reports of the missions flown by Colonel Jimmy Stewart? I heard he flew Liberators with the 445th 453rd BG.

    Also, I'd appreciate if anyone can post photos of the B-24 he was in!

    Thanks!

    -Arlo
     
  2. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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    Can't help but some trivia. The actor Walter Matthau also served in the same group (453rd BG) as a radioman-gunner, rising to the rank of Staff Sergeant.
     
  3. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    According to a biography I googled up, Stewart flew 20 missions in B24s as a command pilot. He was a licensed pilot when the war began but had a hard time enlisting because he was too underweight.
     
  4. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Ren - he had 20 recorded missions with the 445th but did fly quite a few more when he took over the 453rd BG as Gp Exec. I heard 15 more, flown mostly when the 453rd was the lead BG in 2nd CW.

    He also allegedly flew some BUF missions in B-52s as an observer during VietNam war - against strict orders -

    I never met the man but I heard nothing but glowing words about this great man.
     
  5. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    I heartily recommend the book "Jimmy Stewart, Bomber Pilot" by Starr Smith. It focusses on Jimmy's wartime career and the respect he earned from his peers because of his leadership in combat and his down-to-earth personality. No silver-screen pseudo-hero was he! :salute:
     
  6. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    In August 1943 he was assigned to the 445th Bombardment Group at Sioux City AAB, Iowa, first as Operations Officer of the 703rd Bombardment Squadron and then as its commander, at the rank of Captain. In December, the 445th Bombardment Group flew its B-24 Liberator bombers to RAF Tibenham, Norfolk, England and immediately began combat operations. While flying missions over Germany, Stewart was promoted to Major. In March 1944, he was transferred as group operations officer to the 453rd Bombardment Group, a new B-24 unit that had been experiencing difficulties. As a means to inspire his new group, Stewart flew as command pilot in the lead B-24 on numerous missions deep into Nazi-occupied Europe. These missions went uncounted at Stewart's orders. His "official" total is listed as 20 and is limited to those with the 445th. In 1944, he twice received the Distinguished Flying Cross for actions in combat and was awarded the Croix de Guerre. He also received the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters. In July 1944, after flying 20 combat missions, Stewart was made Chief of Staff of the 2nd Combat Bombardment Wing of the Eighth Air Force, and though he was no longer required or expected to fly missions, he continued to do so. Before the war ended, he was promoted to colonel.
     
  7. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    He certainly seems to have been a very good man and he was a good actor although when he was in extremis his emotions seemed a little overdone and always made me wince. He was at his best in light comedy, IMO.
     
  8. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    Stewart was an avid pilot and had accumulated over 400 hrs flying time by 1939. Stewart was drafted in 1940 but failed the height/weight requirements by 5lbs. he hired a personal trainer to build more muscle mass and tried to enlist. He failed again to pass but convinced officials to give him a third try. In March '41 he successfully enlisted as a private in the air corps. He became the first major star to wear a uniform. after Pearl Harbor he was commissioned as a 2nd Leut. in Jan '42
    As a major star he was assigned a pilot training, army film making, and war bond promotion role. The 36YO appealed to his CO for a combat role which finally happened in '43
     
  9. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    I remember reading about Jimmy Stewart even flying a Judas Goat across the channel ahead of his group...when I get home, I'll see if I can round that info up.
     
  10. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    An absolute true American hero by any yardstick
     
  11. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    Entirely agree Mike. I always enjoyed his movies but when I found out that he'd volunteered for military service well before Pearl Harbor, just as his movie career was taking off. And not only did he volunteer for service, he actively sought to lead in combat....and he was a real gentleman ontop of all that. He was a truly rare individual!
     
  12. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    I wasn't sure of the date until I got home and checked, but it was on D-Day that Jimmy Stewart flew the Judas Goat (assembly ship) on a raid with his BG over the French coast.
     
  13. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    Hello
    I agree with Drgondog, Buffnut and Mikewint
    IIRC his B-52 sortie was a kind revenge to the death of his adopted son. Also IIRC he post-war expressly forbade film companies to use his war-time records in promotions of his films. I have high regard on him.

    Juha
     
  14. Pong

    Pong Active Member

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    That made me laugh, Colonel James Stewart flying a candy colored Lib! :lol:

    Thanks for all the info guys!
     
  15. krieghund

    krieghund Member

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    This is a clip out of "Consolidated B-24 Liberator" by Martin Bowman
     

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  16. R Pope

    R Pope Member

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    FWIW, Clarke Gable served as a gunner in a B17. I had photos of him and Stewart in an old Life mag years ago, long gone now though.
     
  17. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    #17 buffnut453, Dec 13, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2010
    Although he trained as an air gunner, I don't think he flew operational missions in that role. He did make a movie of air gunners in action while in the service. He was based for a while at RAF Polebrook near where I used to live. I also believe he has associations with RAF Molesworth, which is even closer to my old abode.
     
  18. Dilbert

    Dilbert New Member

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    There is an excellent biography on Jimmy Stewart, entitled, oddly enough, "Jimmy Steward, Bomber Pilot." The author is Starr Smith and is published by Zenith Press. I doubt you will find a copy at your local book dealer but you can readily find at Amazon. It is 267 pages long with photos and follows his life with heavy emphasis on his WWII experiences. It is a very good read and gives you some great insight into what was a great man.

    He was early to join up and worked very hard. He was already a star in Hollywood and the moguls there were not happy with him for leaving. He was initially assigned to B-24's and, due to fear of what propaganda might make of his capture or death, he was assigned to stay in the US as an instructor in '24's. He wasn't happy about it and was very concerned when it became clear that the Army was going to get him out of the cockpit and busy touring the US for bond rallies. He and his very brave CO concocted a plan that got him posted overseas with a group leaving for Europe. It was a done deal when the brass found out as by that time he was in England. He was very unassuming and didn't try to leverage his fame.

    My favorite story from the book was told by a couple of enlisted crewmen in his outfit. They had arrived in England with no paperwork and no one could get paid. These guys had been to the admin office and had been turned away rather curtly by a 1Lt there and told he would get to them when he had a chance, maybe in a week or two. They were walking back downhearted when Stewart stopped them and asked why the long faces. They told him what had happened and he told them to come with him back to admin. Stewart, a captain by then, found the 1Lt and asked him why the delay. The Lt replied they would be paid in a few days. Stewart's reply was, "Lieutenant, we just don't have a few days. I believe we ought to pay them right now. Not in a few days. I mean kinda like, now- in the next thirty minutes." Stewart looked at the Lt, then back at the crewmen. He said, "I will be back in here in a little while, and, you know- if Lieutenant Wright's crew isn't paid by then, I believe that we will just have to find a new finance lieutenant for this one will be on his way out of here to the Infantry." The crewmen were paid right away.

    This is the kind of guy you wanted to serve under. I don't think he would have accepted poor performance from any crewman, and he fully expected everyone else to treat his men with the respect they deserved. Truly a remarkable man.
     
  19. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    I believe he made five missions. The story is detailed in Tex McCrary's First of the Many about the 8th AF. Great book!

    I'll see if I can dig up the details.
     
  20. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    Hello
    I agree with Drgondog. IIRC during Gable’s 5th sortie a German mg bullet took off the heel from his boot and when the brass hear on that they decided that that was too close call and took him away from ops.

    Juha
     
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