Skip to main content
Edit entry 

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 in Hadley's B-24D, HADLEY'S HAREM, in North Africa and participated in and had completed his part of the bombing raid, Operation Tidal Wave. But, Lt. Lindsey and Lt. Gib Hadley were killed in action (KIA) when their battle damaged B-24 was unable to complete the return flight home to Benghazi, Libya, and crashed on the return trip. The two pilots elected to try to make it to Nicosia, Cyprus, with Col. John Kane in HAIL COLUMBIA, Robert Sternfels in THE SANDMAN, and Royden LeBrecht in his plane, THE SQUAW. But they crashed HADLEY'S HAREM in the Mediterranean Sea off the south coast of Turkey after losing their last two engines. The two pilots perished when the HAREM's engines froze, sending them crashing into the sea, and caught them in the crushed forward section of the HAREM as it sank in 50' of water.
- 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. 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 bombardment smoke and flames on that terrible day. Hadley and Lindsey were approaching their target, part of a refinery complex, code named, White IV, when their plane took two direct flak hits in it's nose section killing their bombardier instantly. “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, powering up to clear the smokestacks 200 feet tall.” Hadley jettisoned his bombs and ordered the crew to get rid of everything else they could jettison, fire extinguishers, Mae West life preservers, parachutes, anything to lighten the airship, which was now struggling to stay in the air on only two engines. South of Ploesti, they joined up with another group of shot up straggler B-24s, like themselves, led by their 98th Bomb Group Leader, Col. John "Killer" Kane and Johnny Young in Kane's B-24, 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, John Kane, Johnny Young, and Bob Sternfels and turned his plane back in the darkness, toward the Turkish coast. “We got 25 miles off the coast of Turkey and were flying barely above stall speed,” Newton recalled. "It was about 8 o’clock at night, and we were losing oil pressure and altitude.”

Newton remembers Hadley asking his fellow crew members, “Do you want to try for the beach or the water ?”, when, suddenly, the two remaining engines, out of oil, froze and stopped. The ship plunged 150 feet, hitting the water nose first, breaking into three pieces. Neither Lt. Hadley or Lt. Lindsey emerged from the sinking wreckage. They were both caught in their collapsed cockpit and drowned killed in action (KIA) with their already dead bombardier. Three men survived the crash, including SSgt Newton, swam to shore, and were interned in Turkey. Lt. James Rex Lindsey and the others who died, received the Distinguished Flying Cross, posthumously, for their valor and sacrifice over Ploesti - KIA. 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.

Service

People

  • Gilbert Hadley

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

  • 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,...

Show more

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 he was approaching his target refinery, code named, "White IV", Hadley's...

  • 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 in Benghazi, Libya, North Africa, during 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 in ditching of his B-24 of 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
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.

Share