James Stewart and Walter Matthau in 453rd Bombardment Group.


The title is not a tagline for a Hollywood blockbuster, although it should have been. I am sure it would have made a great movie.

James Stewart and Walter Matthau did serve together in the 453rd Bombardment Group during WWII.


Prior to becoming a Hollywood icon,Walter Matthau was a radioman-gunner in the U.S. Army Air Forces with the Eighth Air Force in the United Kingdom, crewing a Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber. He was assigned to the same 453rd Bombardment Group as James Stewart. When he was  based in England at RAF Old Buckenham, in Norfolk he partook in several  missions across  Europe during the Battle of the Bulge. He ended the war with the rank of Staff Sergeant. He served with Jimmy Stewart, who was an operations officer giving mission briefings to the group.


When it comes to Hollywood greats, they don’t get any bigger than James Stewart, the list of iconic movies he made is endless. Prior to the war he already made a number of classic movies”Mr Smith goes to Washington” being one of them.


Having learned to fly in 1935, he was drafted into the United States Army in 1940 as a private (after twice failing the medical for being underweight). During the course of World War II he was promoted  to the rank of Colonel in March 1945, first as an instructor at home in the United States, and later on combat missions in Europe.

On March 30, 1944, he was sent to RAF Old Buckenham in a function as group operations officer of the 453rd Bombardment Group, a new B-24 unit that had just lost both its commander and operations officer on missions. Leading as an example, he flew as command pilot in the lead B-24 on several missions deep into Nazi-occupied Europe.

B 24

Two heroes, who not only fought for freedom, they also entertained us and still do .



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