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Ernest James Henry Wright

Civilian

Jim Wright joined the Royal Flying Corps in 1916 and trained as a pilot, after the First World War he became a flight instructor. In 1928 Jim left the RAF to pursue a career in film making, initially joining the Fox Film Corporation, and becoming a production manager at Movietone. In July 1930 Jim joined British Paramount News as an assistant to Tommy Cummins.

Following the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 Jim trained as a war cameraman for Paramount. In 1942 he appealed to re-join the RAF to film their operations but was rejected for being too old. Jim instead made the same appeal to the US Army Air Forces after meeting John McRary, who accepted his offer. After completing five days of combat crew training alongside members of the Wrighting 69th, Jim joined the 91st Bomb Group at Bassingbourn.

Jim was assigned to William Clancy's crew, and undertook his first mission over Hamm in February 1943. Jim's film footage of the mission prevented Clancy from being court martialled, after his flight refused to abort. Jim completed 31 missions with the 91st Bomb Group.

In late 1943 Jim transferred to the 323rd Bomb Group at Earls Colne to film tactical missions from B-26 Marauders flown over Northern France against rail and communication targets. He completed 13 tactical bombing missions before transferring to the Mediterranean Theatre of Operations

Jim joined the 12th Air Force to capture bombing raids over Italy, flying missions over Palermo, Sicily and Naples. He attempted to film US troops landing at Anzio in early 1944, but found weather prevented filming.

Jim's son, Jimmy (James Ernest Frederick Wright), who was also serving as a cameraman in Italy, with the RAF's No 2 Film Production Unit, was seriously injured when his B-26 Marauder crashed on 23 February 1944. Upon learning of the incident Ira Eaker made his personal aircraft available to Jim to ensure Jimmy had safe transport to the UK.

After Jimmy was admitted to East Grinstead hospital under the care of Archibald McIndoe, Jim returned to Italy where he joined the US 5th Army. He became the first journalist to enter Monte Cassino, after filming the battle from the ground and from the air in May 1944, and subsequently recorded the 5th Army's operations around Rome.

Jim claimed to have flown 48 missions with the USAAF, though the true number is likely higher, as he chose to only count those in which he successfully captured footage. He was interviewed by IWM in 1981.

Service

People

  • William Clancy

    Military | Major | Pilot | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    Clancy was assigned to the 91st Bomb Group in 1942

  • Ira Eaker

    Military | Lieutenant General | Commanding General, 8th Air Force
    Commanding General of 8th AF 1 December 1942 to 5 January 1944. Following that, Eaker was given command of all Allied air forces in the MTO, and in April 1945 became Deputy CG of the USAAF. Retired July 1947. ...

  • Robert Gordon

    Civilian | Cameraman
    Ken Gordon joined the Daily Mirror as a press photographer in 1908, in 1911 moved to Gaumont, where he began making newsreels. Later employed as a cameraman for British Pathe, Gordon undertook a week-long USAAF combat crew training course in February...

  • John McCrary

    Military | Captain | Public Relations 8th Air Force
    Assigned to 8th Air Force, public relations.

  • John Ramsden

    Civilian | Cameraman | 305th Bomb Group Can Do
    Jack Ramsden joined British Movietone news as a cameraman in 1938. He filmed the Blitz in 1940 and the Vaagso Raid against Norway in 1941. In 1943 Jack, completed a five-day USAAF combat crew training course alongside five other British newsreel...

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Units served with

  • Royal Air Force

    Royal Air Force


    Formed on 1 April 1918, The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the UK's aerial warfare force. The RAF has undertaken support, combat and reconnaissance roles in conflict since 1918, and continues to do so today.

  • 323rd Bomb Group

    323rd Bomb Group

    Group
    The 323rd Bombardment Group operated with B-26 Marauders, American medium bombers. They were the first Eighth Air Force Group to fly a medium level bombing mission with this aircraft on 16 July 1943. After flying a total of 33 missions with the Eighth,...

  • 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars

    91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars

    Group
    The 91st Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated at Harding Field, Louisiana on 15-April-1942 and went to MacDill Field, Florida for the first phase of training from 16-May-1942 to 25-June-1942. The Group was then assigned to 2nd Air Force at Walla...

  • 323rd Bomb Squadron
  • The Writing 69th

    The Writing 69th

    Misc
    In February 1943 the Eighth Air Force sponsored a group of eight American civilian and military journalists and a number of British newsreel cameramen to undergo training to fly missions aboard bombers for promotional purposes. A week long training...

Aircraft

  • 41-24639 'Careful Virgin'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 9/9/42; Boise 16/9/42; wrecked on landing with broken crankshaft, rep; Cheyenne 11/10/42; Assigned 323BS/91BG [OR-W] Bassingbourn 29/1/43 and first in group to have AFCE fitted at 2 SAD Lt Staughton 8/3/44; transferred 7/5/44 50+m...

Associated Place

  • Bassingbourn

    Military site : airfield
    Now home to a museum all about the aifield and its USAAF residents (http://www.towermuseumbassingbourn.co.uk/) , Bassingbourn opened in 1938 as part of the RAF's pre-war expansion programme. The RAF continued to use it until late in 1942 when its long...

  • Earls Colne

    Military site : airfield
    Earls Colne was built in 1941 as an airfield for No.3 Group, RAF Bomber Command, although never used as such. Assigned to the US Eighth Air Force (as Station 358) in 1942, its 36 hardstands were increased to 50, bringing the airfield up to Air Ministry...

  • Chateaudun

    Military site : airfield

Events

Event Location Date
Born 4 October 1899
Died Surrey January 1983

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
21 January 2022 16:39:20 Emily Created entry with surname, middlename, firstname, nickname, nationality, role, biography, person associations, unit associations, place associations and aircraft associations
Sources

IWM 4891 Oral history interview with Jim Wright

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