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James Rex Lindsey

Military

James Rex Lindsey
Born: 12 Apr 1921
Died: 1 Aug 1943

2nd Lt. James Rex Lindsey was Lt. Gilbert Hadley's copilot on Hadley's B-24D, Hadley's Harem, in North Africa. He participated in, and had completed his part of the bombing mission, Operation Tidal Wave. But, Lt. Lindsey and Lt. "Gib" Hadley were killed in action (KIA) when their battle damaged B-24D was unable to complete the return flight home to Benghazi, Libya, and crashed descending to ditch their B-24, on the return trip. The two pilots had elected to try to make it to Nicosia, Cyprus, following Col. John Kane in, Hail Columbia, Robert Sternfels in, The Sandman, and Royden LeBrecht in his plane, The Squaw. But they finally lost the fight with their shot up and failing B-24, Hadley's Harem, in the Aegean Sea just off the south coast of Turkey after one of their last two working engines froze up, as they were descending, trying to ditch the, Harem, just off the Turkish coast. The two pilots perished with their already dead bombardier, when the, Harem's last of two engines froze, sending them crashing into the sea, and trapped them in the crushed forward section of the, Harem, as it sank in 50 feet of water.

- SSgt. Newton's Debrief Report :

Lt. James Lindsey, from Texarkana, Texas, was the copilot of the B-24D, named, Hadley's Harem, with his Command Pilot, Lt. Gilbert Hadley. As part of the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bombing Squadron, based at Lete Airbase, Benghazi, Libya, North Africa, in 1943. Lt. Lindsey flew with Lt. Gilbert Hadley on the large mission to destroy the German held oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania, Operation Tidal Wave. The skies over the Romanian oil fields of Ploesti were black with exploding bombs and oil tanks, huge fires, thick smoke and flames, everywhere on that terrible day. Hadley and Lindsey were approaching their target, part of a refinery complex, code named, White IV, when their plane took a direct flak hit in it's nose section killing their bombardier, Lt. Leon Storms, instantly and destroying their number three engine and damaging another one. “We were two to three miles from our target, flying about 50 feet off the ground when we got hit,” one of the gunners, SSgt. Newton, remembers. “We couldn’t turn because we were in a tight formation with a total of almost 50 other planes in our line abreast flights, so we kept flying in formation, powering up to clear the smokestacks 200 feet tall.” After the flak strike, the Flight Engineer, Russel Page jettisoned the bombs. And Lt. Hadley ordered the crew to get rid of everything else they could jettison, fire extinguishers, Mae West life preservers, parachutes, anything to lighten the plane, which was now struggling to stay in the air on two engines. South of Ploesti, they joined up with another group of shot up and damaged straggler B-24s, like themselves, led by the 98th Bomb Group's Leader, Col. John R. "Killer" Kane and copilot, John Young, in Kane's B-24D, Hail Columbia, and continued following the entire group of planes south to try make it to the British air base at Nicosia, Cyprus.

The two pilots made it all the way to the southern coast of Turkey. But, as they approached Cyprus after dark, low on gasoline and running out of oil for their Pratt & Whitney R-1820 engines, they had to break away from their group of crippled B-24s, Hail Columbia, The Squaw, and Robert Sternfels in, The Sandman. Hadley radioed a goodbye to his friends, Col. John Kane, Lt. Johnny Young, Royden Lebrecht, and Bob Sternfels, and turned his plane around in the darkness, back toward the Turkish coast. “We got 25 miles off the coast of Turkey and were flying on two engines barely above stall speed,” Newton recalled. "It was about 8 o’clock at night, and we were fast losing oil pressure and altitude.”

Newton remembered Hadley asking his fellow crew members, “Do you want to bail out or try to ditch in the water ?”, when, suddenly, one of the last of the two remaining engines, out of gas and/or oil, froze and stopped. The ship plunged 150 feet and hit the water, nose first, breaking the plane into three pieces. Neither Lt. Hadley nor Lt. Lindsey emerged from the sinking wreckage. They were both caught in their collapsed cockpit and drowned, killed in action (KIA) with Lt. Storms, their already dead bombardier. Seven crewmen survived the crash, badly injured, including 19 year old waist gunner, SSgt Leroy Newton, Lt. Russel Page, the flight engineer, and Lt. Tabacoff, injured with flak splinters in his arm, all of whom swam to shore, and were interned (INT) in Turkey. All the men on the Ploesti mission received the DFC medal. Lt. James Rex Lindsey, Gilbert Hadley and Lt Leon Storms, who died, received their Distinguished Flying Crosses, posthumously, for their valor and sacrifice over Ploesti - 3 KIA. 7 INT Turkey August 1, 1943.

Both Lt. Hadley's and Lt. Lindsey's remains were still inside the cockpit when fishermen discovered the wreckage of, Hadley's Harem, in 1994. The two pilots were both 22 years old when they gave their lives for their country and for freedom. Their crew mate, gunner, SSgt. Gilmer, finally paid homage to these fallen soldiers returning for the memorial services for them in Turkey, on January 11, 1997.

- Ploesti hero to return home
by Jimmy Brown

The remains of Flight Officer James Rex Lindsey, who died when the heavily battle-damaged B-24D on which he was co-pilot was forced to ditch in the Mediterranean Sea after the massive Aug. 1, 1943 raid on Ploesti, Romania, oil refineries, will arrive in Texarkana on Jan. 4.

F/O Lindsey's remains, accompanied by Lt. John C. Moore, U.S. Army, who will serve as honor guard escort, will arrive at Shreveport, La., at 9:59 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 3.

The body will be taken to Texarkana from Shreveport, La., arriving about midnight and will like in state in a Texarkana funeral home on Jan. 4, 5 and 6 with a special honor guard of Texarkana area veterans from World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars. "Rex" Lindsey will come home after 54 years.

The remains of both Lindsey and Hadley were reocvered from the wresckage of their bomber about two years ago from the Mediterranean just of the south coast of Turkey. The pilots of the badly battle-damaged B-24D were forced to crash land in the sea. The bombardier was killed over the target, but seven other crewmen, some of them wounded, escaped and were interned briefly in Turkey. They were released unharme

Service

People

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  • Gilbert Hadley

    Military | First Lieutenant | B-24D Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    Name : Gilbert Ben Hadley ...

  • Kittredge Hamlin

    Military | Captain | B-24 Co-Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    Lt. Kittredge "Kitt" Hamlin was assigned as CoPilot on the B-24D Liberator bomber, 41-11803, Rosie Wrecked 'Em, in the 344th BS, the 98th BG, and the 9th AF, "The Force For Freedom", in the MTO in North Africa. He flew on the Ploesti oil refinery...

  • Ronald Helder

    Military | Second Lieutenant | B-24D Co-Pilot | 389th Bomb Group
    2nd Lt. Ronald Lee Helder was a B-24 pilot in the 8th Air Force, the 389th Bomb Group, and the 564th Bombing Squadron in WWII. He flew as Co-pilot with his friend, Command Pilot Lt. Lloyd H. Hughes, in the B-24D Lt. Helder called, Ole Kickapoo,...

  • John Kane

    Military | Colonel | B-24 Bomb Group Commanding Officer / B-24 Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    John Riley Kane was a colonel in the United States Army Air Corps and later the United States Air Force. He received the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Congressional Medal of Honor, in World War II, for his leadership, courage, and heroism for...

  • Samuel Neeley

    Military | First Lieutenant | B-24D Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    Pilot Lt. Samual Neeley was a B-24 Bomber pilot in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations in WWII. He served in the 9th Air force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th bomb Squadron in North Africa, flying bombing and strafing missions, mostly against...

  • Robert Nespor

    Military | First Lieutenant | B-24 Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    1st Lt. Robert James Nespor, Jr. was a B-24D bomber command pilot in the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bombardment Group, "The Pyramiders", and the 330th Bombing Squadron, based at Benghazi, Libya, in North Africa. He was assigned to fly on the huge mission,...

  • John Young

    Military | Major | B-24 Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    Lt. John S. Young was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. Bored with college at SMU in Dallas, and knowing the country was headed for war, he joined the Army Air Force early in 1941 and began training as an aviation cadet. He was known as "Johnny" or ...

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Units served with

  • 9th Air Force
  • 98th Bomb Group

    98th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 98th trained for bombardment missions with B-24 Liberators during the first half of 1942. ...

  • 344th Bomb Squadron

    344th Bomb Squadron

    Squadron
    The 344th Bombing Squadron was first activated at MacDill Field, Florida as one of the original three squadrons assigned to the 98th Bombardment Group. The 344th soon moved to Barksdale Field, Louisiana, where it began to train as a Consolidated B-24...

Aircraft

  • 41-24311 Hadley's Harem

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D, named, Hadley's Harem, was Lt. Gilbert Hadley's personal airplane and the one he flew on the mission to destroy Hitler's oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania, in 1943. As Hadley was approaching his target refinery, code named, "White IV",...

  • 41-11819 Raunchy

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D Liberator, Raunchy, 41-11819, was in the 344th Bomb Squadron, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 9th Air Force, based at Benghazi, Libya, North Africa, in early 1943. ...

Missions

  • Operation Tidal Wave

    1 August 1943
    Operation TIDAL WAVE. B-24D Liberators attack the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. The bombers flew low to avoid radar detection and dropped time delayed bombs. Out of the 177 B-24s that took part in the raid 167 managed to attack their targets. 57...

Associated Place

  • Lete

    Military site : airfield

Events

Event Location Date
Born Crystal City, MO 12 April 1921

Son of Mary Winn [Lindsey] Kingston.

Based 1943 – 1 August 1943

Assigned to 344BS, 98BG, 9AF USAAF.

Died Mediterranean Sea 1 August 1943

Died. Drowned attempting to ditch his B-24 off the southern coast of Turkey.

Buried Gilmer City Cemetery Gilmer, Upshur County, TX 11 January 1997

Gilmer City Cemetery
Gilmer, Upshur County, Texas

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
19 October 2021 06:38:22 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

FO James Rex Lindsey - Find A Grave Memorials

Date Contributor Update
19 October 2021 06:25:54 Kickapoo Changes to biography and events
Sources

Details added. Wording. - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
14 October 2021 03:27:54 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

The Return Of Hadley's Harem - Duane Schultz

Date Contributor Update
14 October 2021 02:54:16 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday - Ploesti - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
14 October 2021 02:44:36 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday - Ploesti - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
04 October 2021 07:57:15 Kickapoo Changes to biography and person associations
Sources

Details added. - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
15 August 2021 23:29:49 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Best Web - B-24 - HADLEY'S HAREM

Date Contributor Update
15 August 2021 23:04:53 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Word changes. - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
15 August 2021 22:56:55 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

FindAGrave Memorial - Gilbert Ben Hadley

Date Contributor Update
15 August 2021 22:43:54 Kickapoo Changes to role
Sources

Word addition. - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
15 August 2021 22:41:13 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

FindAGrave Memorial - Gilbert Ben Hadley

Date Contributor Update
22 March 2021 09:41:47 Al_Skiff Changes to service number, highest rank, role and events
Sources

https://www.fold3.com/image/310763801
https://www.fold3.com/record/529869629/james-r-lindsey-american-battle-m...
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/72804685/james-rex-lindsey

Date Contributor Update
21 February 2021 10:22:03 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

The Flight of the Phoenix Museum - 2nd Lt. James Rex Hadley

Date Contributor Update
21 February 2021 09:59:29 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

The Flight of the Phoenix Museum - Lt. James Rex Lindsey

Date Contributor Update
20 February 2021 10:51:25 Kickapoo Changes to biography and awards
Sources

Lt. James Rex Hadley - FindAGrave

Date Contributor Update
20 February 2021 06:32:09 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

FindAGrave - Lt. James Rex Lindsey

Date Contributor Update
20 February 2021 06:18:18 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

FindAGrave - Lt. James Rex Lindsey

Date Contributor Update
20 February 2021 04:33:27 Kickapoo Changes to role, unit associations, place associations, aircraft associations and mission associations
Sources

Lt. James Rex Lindsey - FindAGrave

Date Contributor Update
20 February 2021 04:26:35 Kickapoo Created entry with surname, middlename, firstname, nationality and highest rank
Sources

FO James Rex Lindsey
BIRTH 12 Apr 1921
Mount Pleasant, Titus County, Texas, USA
DEATH 1 Aug 1943 (aged 22)
Ploiesti, Prahova, Romania
BURIAL
Gilmer City Cemetery
Gilmer, Upshur County, Texas, USA
MEMORIAL ID 72804685 ·

Flight Officer James Rex Lindsey died when the heavily battle-damaged B-24D, 'Hadley's Harem' on which he was co-pilot was forced to ditch in the Mediterranean Sea after the massive Aug. 1, 1943 raid on Ploesti, Romania oil refineries, FO James Rex Lindsey
BIRTH 12 Apr 1921
Mount Pleasant, Titus County, Texas, USA
DEATH 1 Aug 1943 (aged 22)
Ploiesti, Prahova, Romania
BURIAL
Gilmer City Cemetery
Gilmer, Upshur County, Texas, USA
MEMORIAL ID 72804685 ·
12 AM PT

Lt. Gilbert Hadley, was a handsome 22-year-old Kansan known for wearing cowboy boots and toting pearl-handled pistols on the missions he piloted.

Along with another crewman, Hadley was killed when their B-24 bomber crashed in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Turkey.

His body was never recovered, and Hadley never had a real funeral. Instead, the family erected a headstone over an empty plot for the fallen aviator.

Newton was a crewman on the bomber, christened “Hadley’s Harem,” and was manning one of the plane’s .50-caliber machine guns when it went down.

Newton's quest actually began in Arizona at a reunion of his 98th Bomber Group, one of five that took part in the Aug. 1, 1943, raid that was supposed to destroy the vital Nazi-held oil fields at Ploesti, Romania.
he encountered two of the seven survivors of the crash who were still living. In all, the bomber had a crew of 10. The bombardier had been killed by antiaircraft fire that blew out the plane’s nose and crippled two of the ship’s four engines.

“We were two to three miles from our target, flying about 50 feet off the ground when we got hit,” Newton remembers. “We couldn’t turn because we were in a tight formation with other planes, so we kept flying, powering up to clear smokestacks 200 feet tall.”

Lt. Hadley and the co-pilot, James “Rex” Lindsey of Texarkana, Texas, pointed the damaged bird toward Cyprus, then veered toward Turkey. They jettisoned their bombs, then ordered the crew to get rid of everything else, fire extinguishers, Mae West life preservers, parachutes, anything to lighten the airship, which was now struggling on two engines.

“We got 25 miles off the coast of Turkey and were flying barely above stall speed,” Newton recalled. “Hadley turned left toward land, it was about 8 o’clock at night and we were losing oil pressure and altitude.”

Newton remembers Hadley asking his fellow crew members, “You wanna try the beach? Or the water?”

Suddenly, the two remaining engines froze and the ship plunged 150 feet, hitting the water nose first and breaking into three pieces. Hadley and Lindsey never emerged from the sinking wreckage and presumably drowned. Seven crewmen survived the crash. Among them was Newton, who suffered a broken leg. Using a small oxygen bottle as a buoy, he drifted in the ocean for four hours before reaching the shore, where he was rescued by a Turk who carried him two miles to a village.

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