James Alexander Goodson

Military

Object Number - UPL 18900 - Major James A Goodson 336FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF.

Major Goodson was a U.S. citizen born in New York City on 21 March 1921 of British parents. He was raised in Toronto, Canada, by his mother following his father's death. In 1939, upon graduation from high school, he had no money but a desire to meet relatives in England, so he decided to go to sea and ship-out as a crew member. He obtained a job aboard an ocean liner as a pantry boy. He made it to England and was able to visit his aunt and uncle in Kent., and then went on to France. He was in Paris when the Germans invaded Poland.

He decided to return to Canada, booking passage on the S.S. Athenia, the last ship to leave Liverpool prior to war being declared. When off the Hebrides, the passenger ship was struck by a torpedo from a German U-Boat. Of the 112 killed, 88 were women and children fleeing the conflict in Europe. Goodson helped with the survivors and then had to swim to a lifeboat.

They were later rescued by a Norwegian tanker, which returned them to Galway, Ireland.
He was so angered by the attack that he immediately enlisted in the RAF. He was sent to the RCAF in Canada to train. Back in Canada, the RCAF gave him flight training in Dunville, Ontario.

After completing his training in the RCAF on 12 May 1941 he was assigned, as a Sergeant Pilot, to the RAF and sent to an Operational Training Unit, flying Hawker Hurricanes. On 6 June 1942 Jim joined his combat squadron, No. 416 (Canadian), flying Spitfires. He saw plenty of action with the squadron, including covering the ill-fated Dieppe landing in August.

On 24 August Jim was transferred to No. 133 (Eagle) Squadron, based at Debden. On 29 September the unit was accepted into the USAAF. Jim was in the 4th Fighter Group, 336th Squadron. As a Lieutenant in the newly formed group he still flew Spitfires until January 1943, when U.S. planes became available. His group switched to P-47 Thunderbolts, a very different plane from the Spitfire, but quite potent in its own right.

With the advent of the P-47 there began a new chapter in the history of the 4th Fighter Group. The increased range of the P-47 allowed victories to start accumulating. Colonel Don Blakeslee, the Group Commander, was not yet satisfied, and fought hard to get the P-51 Mustang for the Group and was finally successful, when in February 1944 the Mustang was introduced into the conflict.

Goodson's first victory, an Fw-190, on 23 June 1943, was followed by many more. He became proficient in shooting down Luftwaffe planes, and soon 15 had found they could not outfight him.

In the meantime, he became known as the "King of the Strafers", wrapping up 15 enemy aircraft destroyed on the ground for a tortal of 30 destroyed. The end of his combat with the 4th Fighter Group was not the least unusual. Now a Major and CO of the 336th Squadron, he strafed Neu Brandenburg Airfield in Germany. A 20mm found its mark and he was badly wounded in his legs, but managed to crash-land and hobble off to a nearby wood.

He kept on the run for a week before being captured. He was questioned by the Gestapo and summarily thrown into solitary to be shot the next morning. Jim, who spoke German well, cleverly convinced the SS that he was too valuable to the Reich alive and was transferred to the Luftwaffe's jurisdiction. He was welcomed and duly interrogated by Hanns Scharf, the Luftwaffe's master interrogator. He was assigned to Stalag Luft III, and was greeted by many of his friends who had preceded him.

During the winter of 1944/45, Jim, along with many other POWs were marched across Germany away from the advancing Red Army, finally arriving at a camp near Nuremberg. Then were on the march again, this time toward Moosburg, at which they were finally liberated.

"Goody" had flown combat in Hurricanes, Spitfires, Thunderbolts and Mustangs, and had 30 enemy aircraft to his credit. His decorations included the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross with eight Oak Leaf Clusters, the Air Medal with 20 Oak Leaf Clusters, the Distinguished Unit Citation, and the Purple Heart.

After the war he married Gwen, his English wartime sweetheart, and earned an MBA from Harvard University. Eventually he became head of two U.S. companies in Europe and later a Vice-President and Group Executive at IT&T. He retired to Duxbury, Massachusetts.

Connections

See how this entry relates to other items in the archive by exploring the connections below.

Units served with

People

  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 4th Fighter Group 334th Fighter Squadron 336th Fighter Squadron No 133 'Eagle' Squadron
  • Service Numbers: O-885191
  • Highest Rank: Major
  • Role/Job: Pilot

Aircraft

  • Aircraft Type: P-47 Thunderbolt
  • Unit: 36th Fighter Group 4th Fighter Group 336th Fighter Squadron 53rd Fighter Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: P-47 Thunderbolt
  • Nicknames: Miss San Carlos
  • Unit: 4th Fighter Group 336th Fighter Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: P-47 Thunderbolt
  • Unit: 404th Fighter Group 4th Fighter Group 336th Fighter Squadron 506th Fighter Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: P-51 Mustang
  • Unit: 4th Fighter Group 336th Fighter Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: P-51 Mustang
  • Nicknames: Flying Dutchman
  • Unit: 4th Fighter Group 336th Fighter Squadron

Missions

Places

Line up of P-47 Thunderbolts of the 82nd Fighter Squadron, 78th Fighter Group, at Duxford air base. September 1944. Printed caption on reverse of print: '55432 AC - War Birds Home To Rest - Republic P-47 Thunderbolts lined up on an 8th Air Force field in England after a daylight sweep over Germany. Crews have finished inspections and refueling.'
  • Site type: Airfield
  • Known as: "Duckpond"
  • Site type: Prisoner of war camp
  • Known as: Stalag Luft III, Sagan, Germany

Events

Event Location Date Description

Born

New York, NY, USA 21 March 1921

Died

Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, USA 1 May 2014

Buried

Massachusetts National Cemetery Bourne, Barnstable County, MA 4 May 2014 Massachusetts National Cemetery Bourne, Barnstable County, Massachusetts Plot: Section 54 Site 489

Prisoner of War (POW)

Toronto, ON, Canada

Revisions

Date22 Feb 2021 20:57:28
Contributorjmoore43
Sources

Updated the Born event and Added a Buried event per Find-a-grave Memorial ID 129017267.
SOURCE: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/129017267/james-alexander-goodson

Date11 May 2016 22:13:12
ContributorWD-C Mustang
Sources

Associated media already in the database

Date25 Feb 2016 13:58:11
ContributorAl_Skiff
Date10 Nov 2015 13:12:11
ContributorAl_Skiff
Date13 Mar 2015 14:36:52
Contributorapollo11
Sources

Personal research & 'Eighty-One Aces of the 4th Fighter Group' by Frank Speer.

Date13 Mar 2015 14:32:56
Contributorapollo11
Sources

Personal research & 'Eighty-One Aces of the 4th Fighter Group' by Frank Speer.

Date12 Mar 2015 21:35:12
Contributorapollo11
Sources

Personal research & 'Eighty-One Aces of the 4th fighter Group' by Frank Speer.

Date27 Sep 2014 18:14:03
ContributorAAM
Sources

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / Fighter Aces of the U. S. A. and Mustang Aces of the Eighth Air Force; MACR 6252 / MACR 6252 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database / Ted Damick, VIII Fighter Command pilots list

James Alexander Goodson: Gallery (30 items)