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Homer William Bigart

Civilian

Journalist for the New York Herald Tribune, who in 1942 was invited to become a war correspondent, one of eight journalists known as The Writing 69th, sent to the UK to fly with the US Army Air Force on bombing missions over Europe. Bigart was attached to the 303rd Bomb Group, 360th Bomb Squadron, flying out of Molesworth.

On 26 February 1943, after completing a week's training Bigart and five other members of The Writing 69th participated in their first and last mission, flying over Wilhemshaven. Robert Post another journalist was killed and Bigart's formation of B-17 Flying Fortresses also suffered heavy losses, as a result, journalists were prevented from participating in further missions with the 8th Air Force.

Desipite Post's death Bigart wrote of the mission: 'A mission to Germany is a nasty experience. Apart from the very real danger to life and limb, there is the acute discomfort of enduring sub-zero temperatures for hours at a stretch and taking air through an oxygen mask. The altitude can affect your sinews, your kidneys, even the fillings of your teeth. You are very tired when you return. If you are a delayed-reaction type, you are likely to feel slightly under par for a couple of days. I must be crazy, but I should like to go again.'

Bigart transferred to the Mediterranean Theatre, reporting on campaigns in North Africa, Italy and the South of France. Following VE Day in 1945, Bigart travelled to the Pacific where he was one of the first journalists to enter Hiroshima following the atomic bombing. He was awarded his first Pulitzer prize for International reporting for his reporting in the Pacific in 1945.

Bigart continued his career as a war correspondent, reporting on the Korean War with the New York Herald Tribune (where he won his second Pulitzer prize in 1951). He joined the New York Times in 1955, covering the course of the Civil Rights movement in 1957 and reporting on the Nazi War Crimes Trial of Adolph Eichman in 1961. In 1962 he travelled to Vietnam for 6 months where he earned criticism for writing negatively on the conflict, to the extent that he was expelled from the county by the South Vietnamese President. He returned to the US and continued to write on the Civil Rights movement, covering the demonstrations in St Augustine Florida. He retired in 1973.

Service

People

  • Homer Bigart

    Civilian | War Correspondent | 303rd Bomb Group
    Journalist for the New York Herald Tribune, who in 1942 was invited to become a war correspondent, one of eight journalists known as The Writing 69th, sent to the UK to fly with the US Army Air Force on bombing missions over Europe. Bigart was...

  • Walter Cronkite

    Civilian | War Correspondent United Press | 303rd Bomb Group
    War Correspondent with United Press, Cronkite was the most famous of the eight reporters sent to the European Theatre to fly with the Eighth Air Force who made up The Writing 69th. On 26 February 1943 he flew with the 303rd Bomb Group from Molesworth...

  • Jack Denton Scott

    Civilian
    War Correspondent for Yank Magazine, one of eight journalists invited to join the 8th Air Force on bombing missions over Germany as part of the Writing 69th. In February 1943 Denton Scott underwent a week long training program, he was one of two...

  • Gladwin Hill

    Civilian
    War Correspondent for Associated Press, In 1942 he was one of eight journalists known as the Writing 69th trained to take part in bombing missions with the Eighth Air Force. ...

  • Paul Manning

    Civilian
    Manning was a war correspondent for CBS radio, he worked closely with Edward Murrow throughout the Second World War. Manning was one of 8 journalists of the Writing 69th who trained and flew missions with the 8th Air Force. He underwent a week-long...

  • Robert Post

    Civilian
    Post was a Journalist and War Correspondent for the New York Times, he had joined the London Bureau of the New York Times in 1938 and had covered the Battle of Britain and Rudolph Hess' flight to Scotland, establishing himself as a veteran reporter by...

  • Andrew Rooney

    Military | Sergeant | Staff Reporter, Stars and Stripes
    Andy Rooney was a war correspondent and journalist for the Stars and Stripes, in February 1943 he was selected as one of eight journalists to accompany the 8th Air Force flying bombing missions over Germany. After a week's extensive training, Rooney...

  • William Wade

    Civilian
    War correspondent for the International News Service. Wade was one of 8 journalists chosen to fly missions with the 8th Air Force. In February 1943 he joined the Writing 69th and underwent a week long extensive training course to prepare for a bomber...

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Units served with

  • 303rd Bomb Group

    303rd Bomb Group

    Group
    The 303rd Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated on 3-Feb-1942 at Pendleton Field, Oregon. They assembled at Gowen Field, Idaho on 11-February 1942 where it conducted flight training until 12-Jun-1942. The Group then moved to Alamogordo Field, New...

  • 360th Bomb Squadron
  • The Writing 69th

    The Writing 69th

    Misc
    In February 1943 the Eighth Air Force sponsored a group of eight civilian and military journalists to undergo training to fly missions aboard bombers for promotional purposes. A week long training session took place at Bovingdon, where the journalists...

Aircraft

  • 41-24559 Ooold Soljer

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    B-17F 41-24559 'Ooold Soljer' was assigned 360BS/303BG [PU-C] Bangor 14-Oct-42; Molesworth 16-Oct-42. ...

Missions

  • VIII Bomber Command 37

    26 February 1943
    After 10 days of weather related delays of the bomber offensive, a mission is organised with the port facilities of Emden, Germany as the primary target. However, Emden is obscured by cloud cover and all formations divert to attack the port facilities...

Associated Place

  • Molesworth

    Military site : airfield
    Molesworth was one of the early stations used by the Eighth Air Force in the UK, first occupied by the 15th Bomb Squadron’s Douglas Bostons in June 1942. Built in 1940 and extended and improved in 1942, Molesworth is most associated with the 303rd...

Events

Event Location Date
Born Hawley, PA , USA 25 October 1907
Based Mediterranean Theatre of Operations 1943 – May 1945
Only WWII Mission in Europe Wilhelmshaven, Germany 26 February 1943

Rode as a passenger in B-17F 41-24559, "Ooold Soljer", 303BG/360BS on a mission to bomb the naval facilites and U-Boat pens at Wilhelmshaven, Germany. RTB OK.

Based Pacific Theatre of Operations May 1945 – August 1945
Reported on Korean War Korea 1950 – 1952
Reported on Vietnam War Vietnam 1952
Retired 1973
Died Portsmouth, NH, USA 16 April 1991

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
29 August 2019 16:38:05 jmoore43 Changes to person associations
Sources

Added connections to the Members of the "Writing 69th" group.

Date Contributor Update
08 March 2016 21:05:13 Lee8thbuff Changes to events and aircraft associations
Sources

Lee Cunningham 8-Mar-2016. Made connection to aircraft and aadded ONLY WWII mission per 303BG website, Gary Moncur, Historian, Mission Report of 26-Feb-43: http://www.303rdbg.com/missionreports/017.pdf

Date Contributor Update
01 December 2014 10:08:55 Emily Changes to middlename, biography, events, place associations and mission associations
Sources

Obituary, 'Homer Bigart, Acclaimed Reporter Dies' New York Times, 17 April 1991.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:13:05 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / Roster

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