James Russell Hamilton

media-32395.jpeg UPL 32395 "Drawing of Sgt J R Hamilton, a tail gunner on a Boeing 'Flying Fortress' of the 401st Bomb Group, England 27-Mar-44."

Object Number - UPL 32395 - "Drawing of Sgt J R Hamilton, a tail gunner on a Boeing 'Flying Fortress' of the 401st Bomb Group, England 27-Mar-44."

Assigned to 615BS, 401BG, 8AF USAAF. On a mission to Oschersleben 11-Jan-44, the B-17 42-39904 'Bad Penny', was attacked by fighters for three solid hours. Hamilton was hit by a 20mm shell at the base of his skull, and knocked out. He soon recovered and continued firing his gun. Plane and crew returned to base safely.

Awards: SS, DFC, AM (3OLC), PH, WWII Victory, EAME (2 x Battle Stars).

Silver Star Citation:

"During the bombing run and while leaving the target are, Sgt Hamilton's aircraft was subjected to fierce attacks by enemy fighters and intense fire from hostile ground installations. As a result, the planes No4 engine was knocked out and the plane sustained severe damage. Enemy fighters, noting that the fortress had started to straggle, attacked the plane. In the running battle that ensued, a 20mm cannon shell hit Sgt Hamilton's neck and head, rendering him unconscious. He revived however and though suffering from severe pain and loss of blood, Hamilton remained at his guns fighting off attacks by the enemy. From his position in the tail of the plane, he destroyed three enemy airplanes (confirmed) and was instrumental in diverting many others due to the accuracy of his fire. It was not until the last enemy plane had been driven off after three hours of steady fighting that he left his guns to receive emergency treatment. Upon returning to England, Sgt Hamilton was hospitalised. The determination to fight, gallantry and devotion to duty displayed by Sgt Hamilton on this occasion reflect the highest credit upon himself and the armed forces of the United States."


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Units served with

A pathfinder B-17 Flying Fortress (serial number 44-8258) of the 401st Bomb Group. Image by Robert Astrella. Written on slide casing: '48258 14 A, Mount Farm.'
  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment


  • Aircraft Type: B-17 Flying Fortress
  • Nicknames: Bad Penny
  • Unit: 401st Bomb Group 615th Bomb Squadron



Event Location Date Description


Georgetown, Scott Kounty, Kentucky 26 April 1922 Son of Onan and Mary [Webster] Hamilton.


Cincinnati, OH, USA 9 October 1942 Cincinnati, Ohio


Scott County, KY, USA 10 February 1976


Georgetown Cemetery Georgetown, Scott County, KY Georgetown Cemetery Georgetown, Scott County, Kentucky


Deenethorpe Assigned to 615BS, 401BG, 8AF USAAF.


ChangesChanges to middlename, biography, awards and events
ChangesChanges to service number, biography, awards, events, unit associations, place associations and aircraft associations
ChangesAAM ingest

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / http://www.401bg.org/Main/History/Members/Details.aspx?ID=59">http://www.401bg.org/Main/History/Members/Details.aspx?ID=59>7, Lorenza Dow Eads, 132 Westover Road, Frankfort, KY  40601

James Russell Hamilton: Gallery (4 items)