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LT COL  John M. BENNETT

UNIT: 349th BOMB Sqdn POSITION: COM

 Portrait of John M. Bennett, acting Group CO twice (100th Photo Archives) 

Lt Col John Bennett receiving Silver Star for March 8, 1944 Berlin Mission

SERIAL #: STATUS: CPT
MACR:

Comments1: ACTING GP CO 3 times, Air Exec and 349th BS CO.

COMMENTS & NOTES

MEMO 1:

                                                   LT COL JOHN M. BENNETT JR.

LT. COL. JOHN BENNETT assumes temporary command from  07 MAR 1944 -- 18 APR 1944  
LT. COL. JOHN BENNETT assumes temperory command again)29 APR 1944 --06 MAY 1944
LT COL. JOHN BENNETT would assume temporary command one last time from June 21, 1944-July 5, 1944 while the Group was on the 1st Russian Shuttle Mission.
349TH BS C.O. 
AIR EXEC

LT COL JOHN M. BENNETT JR. was assigned to the 3rd Air Division of the 8th Air Force in the summer of 1943.  Not satisfied with a "desk job", then Major Bennett requested and was granted active combat status. On November 1, 1943 Major John Bennett was assigned to  the 349th Squadron of the 100th Bomb Group at Thorpe Abbotts.  John was given his arrival "pep talk" by none other than Capt. Sammy Barr. John would later say "Whatever success I may claim as Squadron CO was due too the excellent work of the Barr Crew.  They taught me how to play the game".  Sometime in late 1943 Major Bennett assumed command of the  349th Squadron when Maj. William Veal moved to Wing HQ.  On Feb 9, 1944 he was promoted to Lt Colonel and on March 5, 1944 was asked by Col Neil "Chick" Harding (Group C.O.) to be his Air Executive which made him second in command.  24 hours later, Col Harding ended up in the Hospital with gall-stones and Lt Col. John Bennett assumed temporary command of the 100th Bomb Group. The date, March 6, 1944 a black day for the group, the target that day was BERLIN and the 100th BG lost 15 aircraft that day.  Having assumed command on March 7, 1944,  Lt Col Bennett took his cue from Col Harding and decided to fly the next mission to instill confidence in his crews.  What he did not count on was a return trip to BERLIN.  On March 8, 1944, the 100th BG was sent back to the target that had just cost them half the group two days earlier.

When Maj John "Jack" Kidd (operations officer) heard that BERLIN was the target, he was  overheard to say "What are those fools trying to do, Kill all of us".  Bennett called 13th Combat Wing HQ and requested that the 100th BG lead the Wing on the 8th.  He was granted this request and the 100th BG put up 15 B-17's that day and only lost 1 plane after the bomb run. Lt Col Bennett stays in tempory command from March 7, 1944 through April 19, 1944.  During this time, Maj Harry Crosby credits Bennett with getting the 100th BG in shape both in the air and on the ground.  "After Bennett implemented a shakeup with two new squadron commanders, a new Air Exec,Ground Exec, S-2 and 
a new adjutant, you knew this guy meant business. The group flew better formations, we flew, flew and flew.  More of us survived and got to go home.  For that, I give a great deal of credit to one man, Lt Col John Bennett".  On April 19, 1944, the 100th received a new C0 in Col Robet Kelly.  Eleven days later he would be killed on his first mission and John Bennett would again assume temporary command of the 100th Bomb Group until May 6, 1944 when Lt Col Tom Jeffrey assumed command of the Group.  John Bennett would assume temporary command one last time from June 21, 1944-July 5, 1944 while the Group was on the 1st Russian Shuttle Mission.  On July 30, 1944, Lt Col Bennett was assigned to Elveden Hall, Headquarters, 3rd Air Division as Director of Operational Analysis and Training.  CO was Maj Gen Curtis LeMay and Chief of Staff was Brig. General A.W. Kissner.  His duties entailed planning missions, study mission reports and prepare tactical analysis for LeMay and the training of Crews (new, old and Lead).  It was Lt Col Bennett who gave the OK for Maj Robert Rosenthal to lead the 3rd Air Division to BERLIN on Feb 3, 1945.  During his time in the ETO he was awarded the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star, Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Croix de Guerre with Palm. Sevice ribbons are American Defense, American Theater, and ETO with six battle stars.       

MISSIONS OF LT COL. JOHN BENNETT (not complete) mpf 2001
 DATE  TARGET  POSITION AND PILOT    

1. 05/11/43 GELSENKIRCHEN DEPUTY LEAD w/MAJ. OLLIE TURNER ("SKIPPER")
2. 16/11/43 RJUKAN  GROUP LEAD
CREW:  
COMMAND PILOT:                  MAJ.JOHN M. BENNETT 
LEAD PILOT:                            LT OWEN "COWBOY" ROANE 
CP/FORMATION OFFICER:     F/O REGINALD A. "SMITTY" SMITH  (FLEW IN TAIL)
LEAD NAVIGATOR:                   CAPTAIN JOSEPH "BUBBLES" PAYNE
LEAD BOMBARDIER:                CAPTAIN ROBERT PEEL
TOP TURRET ENGINEER:        T/SGT ROBERT A. STUART     
RADIO OPERATOR GUNNER:  T/SGT CLARENCE R. TOMB  
BALL TURRET GUNNER:             ?      
LEFT WAIST GUNNER:            T/SGT RICHARD DETWEILER             
RIGHT WAIST GUNNER:             ?                                         
TAIL GUNNER:                         S/SGT RICHARD TANGRADI ((BUMPED FROM CREW, CP FLEW AS FORMATION OFFICER ON THIS MISSION)

3. 30/11/43 SOLIGEN  GROUP LEAD w/CAPT. SAMMY BARR
4. 05/01/44 NEUSS(ST)  13TH CBW LEAD w/CAPT. SAMMY BARR 
5. 25/02/44 REGENSBURG  GROUP LEAD
6. 08/03/44 BERLIN   13TH CBW LEAD w/CAPT. JACK SWARTOUT, LT LEONARD BULL-NAV LT CHARLIE STAPELTON-FORMATION OFFICER  Receives Silver Star for this. 
7. 25/04/44 DIJON   GROUP LEAD
8. 25/05/44 BRUSSELS  GROUP LEAD
9. 14/07/44 MAQUIS SUPPLY DROP  GROUP LEAD


Obituary: Houston Chronicle Monday, May 17,1993

Decorated World War II bomber pilot Bennett dies

John M. Bennett, Jr., reputedly a model for the forceful Gen. Savage the 
character Gregory Peck portrayed in the film Twelve O'Clock High, died Sunday at the 
family ranch in South Texas. He was 84. A native and longtime resident of San Antonio, 
Bennett was a decorated bomber pilot during World War II.

In 1943, a raid he lead on a nuclear facility in Norway was credited with 
slowing German efforts to develop an atomic bomb. Bennett received the Silver Star
for heroism in leading a daring daylight raid on Berlin in 1944.

A banker and rancher, he served as chairman of San Antonio’s Chamber of 
Commerce and City Public Service Board, as a director of the University of Texas 
Development Board and as a member of the Texas Historical Commission.

Private services were scheduled at The Garcitas, a ranch at La Salie, near 
Victoria, where Bennett lived in his later years. He is survived by two daughters, 
a son and a sister.  Was once 349th Commanding Officer. 


Return to Thorpe Abbotts (from Second Issue 1994 Splasher Six)

On Saturday, 2 July, 1994, a lone T-6/Harvard, the plane in which MAJOR-GENERAL JOHN M. BENNETT, JR. trained, flew 
over the Control Tower of Station 139 where veterans of the 100th, family members, and British friends gathered to remember 
the Group Commander and the men whose lives changed and were changed by the course of war fifty years ago. From the 
plane the General's ashes were scattered over the base where there is now a Museum, thanks in large part to his efforts.

Nine members of the Bennett clan were able to participate in the occasion, including daughter MISSY MARLOW, 
daughter-in-law WENDY BENNETT JACKSON, grandsons CHRIS MARLOW and BENITO BENNETT, and granddaughter 
SHANNON WOOD BUSH and her husband CHRIS BUSH. The General's son, JOHN S. BENNETT, who was there with his wife 
JANIE and young daughter ELEANOR, addressed the group on Saturday on behalf of the family. 

In the lovely Anglican church of Thorpe Abbotts last July, Reverend Paddison addressed members of the 100th: "Who 
knows what the future holds? Time is a very peculiar thing sometimes. Yet to have a future and a hope is very important." 

REVEREND MICHAEL PADDISON, Rector of All Saints' Anglican Church in Thorpe Abbotts, led the onground memorial 
service for General Bennett. PAPPY DAIGER offered the eulogy.

RON BATLEY of the British Committee explained that long before most of the 100th veterans were involved with the 
Museum John Bennett visited and assisted the project in moral and financial ways. For those who may not know it, the General 
made the Control Tower Museum the beneficiary of his Gl Insurance which provided a sizable legacy.

According to Missy, "When Pop (as we all called him) said, 'ashes - Thorpe Abbotts,' he meant at some point in time if a 
family member went to England, perhaps he/she could swing by and sneakily 'sprinkle' his request. Little did he know how 
elaborate and grand the actual event would be.

"Being a modest man, he would have cringed at the extensive planning and fanfare execution of his wish. Being a 
Southern Gentleman, he would have been embarrassed ("mortified" is more accurate) that two British ladies, JEAN 
HARVEY and JEAN TIMEWELL, actually hand-swept the airstrip prior to the ceremony.

"Being totally devoted to the 100th BG in general and Thorpe Abbotts in particular, he would have thrilled to the actual 
event: the aerial release of his ashes from the Harvard (flown by UK Association members MAURICE HAMMOND and MIKE 
NICE) was precisely timed and right on target.  Pop 'landed' at Thorpe Abbotts at precisely 1500, exactly after the last words 
of eulogy were spoken. It was perfect. He loved it! And now, he is at peace in England."


John M. Bennett Jr. '31
Published in Sept. 15, 1993, issue 
JOHN PASSED away May 16, 1993, at his ranch in south Texas. His father was Princeton Class of 1900. He prepared at Salisbury and at Andover Academy. He left Princeton in 1929 to attend the Univ. of Texas, where he graduated in 1931. John was chairman of the Nail. Bank of Commerce in San Antonio, retiring in 1976. During WWII, he served in the air force and commanded a heavy bombardment group of the Eighth Air Force in Europe. He received a number of decorations, including the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross with cluster, Legion of Merit, Air Medal with three clusters, Bronze Star, and Croix de Guerre with palm. When he retired from the U.S.A.F. reserve, he was a major general. John's civic activities were numerous and varied. He also wrote several books. He lived most of his life in San Antonio. John is survived by two daughters, Eleanor and Carolyn; a son, John; a sister; eleven grandchildren; and four greatgrandchildren.

MEMO 2:

Hi, Mike,

I wish I had a list of all my father's missions, but sadly I don’t.  I will continue to dig, however, in case I can find more info.  I’ll be back on our ranch in South Texas for Thanksgiving and will see what additional records I can find there, including anything on the Legion of Merit medal.

My memory is that, when he completed his 25 bomber missions, he was moved to 3rd Air Division HQ, where he worked (I believe) in three areas:  

—  Planning new bomber missions
—  Assessing the effectiveness of recent missions
—  Enhancing bomber crew training

He told me that he also flew a few fighter missions while at 3rd Air Div. HQ.  From conversations I remember with him, the fighter missions were an “extracurricular activity.”  After he was transferred from the 100th BG to 3rd Air Div., he would occasionally “borrow” an unused fighter and go looking for German planes over France.  (I suppose he found scouting for Luftwaffe aircraft to be an entertaining way to spend a day off!)  He told me about doing this on D-Day, and I think he described some of that in his book, Letters From England.  

At one time or another, he made a point of flying every WWII Army Air Force combat plane used in the European theater.  (Not all of those flights, of course, were in combat.)  He wrote a short booklet about how many of those planes handled in the air — I think the title was Volabamus (“We Flew”). John M Bennett Son of John Bennett

KIA / MIA / EVA / INT INFORMATION:

TARGET: DATE:  
AIRCRAFT: CAUSE:  

BURIAL INFORMATION

PLOT: ROW:  
GRAVE: CEMETERY:  

PHOTOS:

From left: Robert E. Flesher and John Bennett. (100th Photo Archives)

Neil  B. Harding and John M. Bennett Jr being awarded the Air Medal

 Lt Col John Bennett with Crew of "Old Dan Boone" PFF 297555 ( named Island F for Fox and "Old Dan Boone" (100th Photo Archives) This photo includes the crew that flew with John Bennett on March 8, 1944 mission to Berlin 08/03/44, 13TH CBW LEAD w/CAPT. JACK SWARTOUT, LT LEONARD BULL-NAV LT CHARLIE STAPELTON-FORMATION OFFICER.  John Bennett will 
 awarded the Silver Star for this mission. 

 John Bennett, third from right front row, representing the 100th at 3rd Air Division - Elveden Hall. Detailed Information (100th Photo Archives) 

Maj Horace Varian, Lt Col John Bennett and Maj Bucky Elton.  Awarding Purple Heart Medals. Photo courtesy of Anne Cowing

Lt. Col. John M. Bennett and General August Kissner (from the collection of Edmund Forkner)

John Bennett in Full flight gear 

John Bennett (from the collection of Robert Shoens)

Irv Waterbury & John M. Bennett, visiting East Anglia in 1983 (photo courtesy of Richard Gibson)

Michael Harvey and John M. Bennett (center) at Thorpe Abbotts (photo courtesy of Richard Gibson)

John M. Bennett, Thorpe Abbotts Museum dedication (photo courtesy of Richard Gibson)

 From left: John Bennet, the Air Exec, and Ollen Turner the 351st Squadron Commander watching a mission departure from the Control Tower catwalk. (100th Photo Archives) 

 "SQUAWKIN' HAWK" with Albert Mikkelsen, left, John Bennett (Air Exec), and Charles A. Brooks 

3rd Air Division roster

 John Bennett, left, congratulates Col. Thomas Jeffery, the 100th's Commanding Officer on the completion of a successful mission. "Rosie" (Rosenthal) defined a successful mission and "Milk Run" the same way - ".. if you got back the mission qualified on both counts." Detailed Information (100th Photo Archives) 

Sam L. Barr Crew: Standing from left: James T. Hiten, William Ohl, Bennett (Air Exec), James S. Doughterty, Max Russ, and Robert E. Cliff 
Kneeling from left: Howard D. Bassett, Joseph P. Armanini, and Sam L. Barr    Detailed Information    (100th Photo Archives)

PFF “Island F for Fox” and "Old Dan Boone" was assigned at this point to 96th BG at snetterton Heath. MZ-F 297555. Snetterton Heath was homevto all 3rd AD PFF radar planes from April 44-early June 44
Lt Col John Bennett flew as Command Pilot in  "Old Dan Boone" on the March 8, 1944 mission to Berlin. As 13TH CBW LEAD w/CAPT. JACK SWARTOUT, LT LEONARD BULL-NAV LT CHARLIE STAPELTON-FORMATION OFFICER.  Lt Col Bennett will be awarded the Silver Star for this mission. 

Left to right: Capt Douglas (Group Bombardier), Lt. Ken Welty (Nav), Lt Col John Bennett (349th CO and Air Exe) Col Neil B. "Chick" Harding (Group CO), Maj John B. "Jack" Kidd 351st CO and Group Operations), Maj Harry Crosby (Group Navigator), Lt Robert "Rosie" Rosenthal (from the collection of Anthony Pecyk)

 This group of 100th airmen are identified only as the Luther Bennett Crew. Blain Crooks is Standing third from the left. Detailed Information (100th Photo Archives) also in Photo is Col John Bennett standing fat left and John Hermann kneeling 2nd from Right 

Lt Col John Bennett, Capt Howard Bassett, Maj "Little" Sammy Barr after a Mission.  Photo courtesy of Anne Cowing 

From left: E. L. Johnson, "Red Bowman, John Bennett, and S. A. Clark - This is the Group S-2 Officers. Bennett may have been the Air Exec at the time of this photograph. Photo Courtesy of Anne Cowing

Pathfinder "Island F for Fox"/ "Old Dan Boone" flown by Lt Noble Crew was originally with the 96th Bomb Group, then transferred to the 13th CBW, 95th Bomb Group in June 1944 and lost with Lt Noble/Capt Floyd Mason Crew on July 28, 1944. (Photo Courtesy of the 95th BG Photo Archives, Phil Samponaro) 

Originally with 482nd BG (P) then transferred to 96th BG in April 44 - MZ-F 297555, then transferred to the 95th Bomb Group in June 1944. A/C carried nose art for  Old Dan Boone.

 

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