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Thomas Jonathan Jackson Christian Jr

Military

Thomas Jonathan Jackson Christian, Jr

Colonel, U.S. Army Air Forces Headquarters, 361st Fighter Group

Colonel Thomas Jonathan Jackson “Jack” Christian, jr., O-21782, was the great-grandson of Stonewall” Jackson, one of the Confederacy’s outstanding commanders of the American Civil War. He was born on 19 November 1915, in San Francisco to Brigadier-General Thomas Jonathan Jackson Christian Sr. and Bertha Marguerite Cook.

Before entering in West Point in 1935, he graduated Chicago University High School in 1933 and spent 2 years in Chicago University. He was a member of the Illinois National Guard (122 field Artillery)

He graduated 45th from a class of 456 at West Point in 1939 and choose first to follow his father into the Field Artillery branch of the U.S. Army. However soon after making this decision, he changed his mind and joined the Army Air Corps.

From 1939 to 1941, Christian was a student in Texas at the Air Corps Primary Flying School at Love Field in Dallas; then the Air Corps Training Center at Randolph Field followed by the Air Corps Advanced Flying School at Kelly Field, both in San Antonio. On completion of pilot training in 1940, he was assigned as instructor at Randolph Field, Texas.

In March 1941, he is transferred to the 19th Bombardment Group at Clark Field in the Philippines, where he flew B-18 and B-17’s. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the disaster of the bombing of Clark Field by Japan on 8 december 1941(destroying more than 80% of the US planes in Philippines) he was reassigned to Bataan and then Australia where he ferried P-40 fighters and was later shot down and declared missing in action ‘somewhere’ in Timor Coast. He was able to return to the base after living with natives in the jungle.

Assigned in May 1942 to 67th Pursuit Squadron, Christian was the first US Army Air Corps pilot that landed on Guadalcanal on August 15, 1942. Flying P-400 (an export version of P-39 Airacobra) from Henderson Field, he flew more than sixty hours of combat missions and was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry.

After being granted leave, he returned to the United States, where on January 2nd, 1943, he married Marjorie Lou Ashcroft, whom he met while in Dallas.

While in the USA he formed and trained the 361st Fighter Group (as a major) in Richmond, Virginia on 10 February 1943. The 361st’s nickname was the “Yellow jackets”. He took the unit to RAF BOTTISHAM (later Army Air Forces [AAF] Station F-374), England, for assignment to the 8th Air Force in November, 1943. He flew more than seventy combat missions in the European war and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters and the Purple Heart. In March 1944, he had been promoted to colonel at the age of 28.

While overseas, Christian became a father. His daughter, Lou Ellen was born in Dallas in January 1944.

In a lasting tribute to his actions, in July 1944, a photographic section of the USAAF immortalised his personal aircraft, named “LOU IV / ATHELENE” in a famous set of photos called “Bottisham Four”. The photo seems to be the most moving tribute to all he accomplished at just twenty-eight years of age, but it is a tribute he never saw as he was killed just three weeks later.

He was killed in Action on 12 August 1944 while bombing the station of Boisleux-au-Mont (near Arras, France). He is believed to be buried in Arras Faubourg d’Amiens British Cemetery, but his grave is not again correctly located

Service

Units served with

Aircraft

  • 42-106787 'Lou III'

    P-51 Mustang
    Assigned to 375FS, 361FG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) crashed near Tournai 12-Aug-44 - Lt Merle C Rainey POW MACR 7618.

  • 44-13410 "LOU IV / ATHELENE"

    P-51 Mustang
    one of the plane of the famous photograph serie "The Bottisham Four" - 26/27 july 1944

  • 42-75494 'Lou'

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    Assigned to 375FS, 361FG, 8AF USAAF.

Associated Place

  • Bottisham

    Military site : airfield
    The P-47 Thunderbolts of the 361st Fighter Group damaged the surfaces of the airfield so much in the first months of flying from Bottisham that American engineers were called in to lay a new runway. In January 1944 they constructed a 1,470-yard-long...

Events

Event Location Date
Born Presidio, San Francisco, CA, USA 19 November 1915

Born at the Presidio of San Francisco on 19 november 1915. son of Thomas J J Christian (West Point 1911) and Bertha Marguerite Cook; Great Grandson of General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson

Enlisted United States Military Academy, West Point, NY, USA June 1939

United States Military Academy Graduate, West Point 1939.
Graduate 45 on 456 classmate

Pacific engagement Clark International Airport (CRK), Clark Freeport Philippines, Pampanga, Philippines 8 December 1941

In March 1941, he is transferred to the 19th Bombardment Group at Clark Field in the Philippines, where he flew B-18 and B-17’s. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the disaster of the bombing of Clark Field by Japan on 8 december 1941(destroying more than 80% of the US planes in Philippines) he was reassigned to Bataan and then Australia

Pacific engagement Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands 15 August 1942

Assigned in May 1942 to 67th Pursuit Squadron, Christian was the first US Army Air Corps pilot that landed on Guadalcanal on August 15, 1942. Flying P-400 (an export version of P-39 Airacobra) from Henderson Field, he flew more than sixty hours of combat missions and was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry.

Lived in Sulphur Springs, TX 75482, USA 2 January 1943

Married With Marjorie Lou Aschcroft.

Based Bottisham December 1943 – 12 August 1944

Take command of AAF Base 374 in Bottisham

Promotion Bottisham, Cambridge CB25, UK 1944

Promoted to Lt Colonel.

Promotion Bottisham, Cambridge CB25, UK 1 March 1944

Promoted to Colonel.

Died Boisleux-au-Mont, France 12 August 1944

KIA during a dive bombing on Arras Marshalling Yards in Boisleux-au-Mont (France) on 12th August 1944.

“War must have its toll, even sometimes at a price that may seem unreasonably high. Our Group paid the price when the Group and Station Commander, Colonel Thomas J. J. Christian, Jr. was reported Missing In Action on 12 August 1944 in the vicinity of Arras, France. Having been placed in command of this Group when in its infancy upon activation 10 February 1943 at Richmond, Va., Colonel (then Major) Christian molded a small and weak entity into a strong and hard-hitting unit that is helping to knock out the Nazi power as the Allies push beyond Paris on to Berlin. Words are but silent testimony to the efficiency and admirable qualities of leadership displayed by this officer. His loss is noted in reverent tribute by all who had the pleasure to know, or serve under him.”
Daily Report – 12 August 1944 – AAFB 374 – Bottisham – 361st Fighter Group

On the same mission, two other planes crashed:
The 1st Lt Clarence Zieske, shot downin the area of Rosieres en Santerre (Sum) will be killed in action.
The 1st Lt Merle RAINEY, shot down in the area of Haute-Avesnes, will be hidden until the Liberation.

An other pilot was missing in an early mission that day :
2nd Lt John E Engstrom was hidden until the Liberation

Buried Arras, France 16 August 1944

He is believed to be buried in Arras Faubourg d’Amiens British Cemetery, but his grave is not again correctly located

Buried 1946

Tablets of the Missing
Ardennes American Cemetery

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
12 August 2018 06:58:47 LWiart Changes to aircraft associations
Sources

LW

Date Contributor Update
12 January 2018 22:57:26 Al_Skiff Changes to suffix, events and unit associations
Sources

https://www.fold3.com/record/529855731-thomas-j-j-christian
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/7654938/thomas-jonathan_jackson-chri...
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/10716900/thomas-jonathan_jackson-chr...
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/43994856/thomas-jonathan_jackson-chr...
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/56357548/thomas-jonathan_jackson-chr...

Date Contributor Update
27 October 2015 11:24:53 LWiart Changes to place associations
Sources

LWiart

Date Contributor Update
26 October 2015 12:29:31 LWiart Changes to media associations
Sources

LWiart

Date Contributor Update
17 October 2015 13:46:18 LWiart Changes to media associations
Sources

Bottisham Airfield Museum Collection
LWiart

Date Contributor Update
17 October 2015 13:31:34 LWiart Changes to media associations
Sources

Bottisham Airfield Museum Collection
LWiart

Date Contributor Update
12 December 2014 17:19:20 Lucy May Changes to service number
Sources

Combined two entries for Thomas J J Christian Jr. Now includes information from the following source:
MACR 7784 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database

Date Contributor Update
06 October 2014 07:55:25 LWiart Changes to events
Sources

LWiart

Date Contributor Update
06 October 2014 07:53:26 LWiart Changes to events
Sources

LWiart

Date Contributor Update
06 October 2014 07:46:14 LWiart Changes to events
Sources

LWiart

Date Contributor Update
04 October 2014 07:44:11 LWiart Changes to events
Sources

LWiart

Date Contributor Update
04 October 2014 07:42:18 LWiart Changes to biography
Sources

LWiart

Date Contributor Update
04 October 2014 07:33:52 LWiart Changes to awards
Sources

LWiart

Date Contributor Update
04 October 2014 07:30:44 LWiart Changes to role
Sources

LWiart

Date Contributor Update
03 October 2014 11:23:26 LWiart Changes to events and media associations
Sources

LWiart (Lou Christian Loving)

Date Contributor Update
03 October 2014 11:12:51 LWiart Changes to middlename, nickname, highest rank, role, biography, events, place associations and aircraft associations
Sources

research made by LWiart since 1998 and contact with Lou Christian Loving (his daughter) and with 361st FG veteran and historian

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:26:02 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Ted Damick, VIII Fighter Command pilots list

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