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The Writing 69th


In February 1943 the Eighth Air Force sponsored a group of eight civilian and military journalists to undergo training to fly missions aboard bombers for promotional purposes. A week long training session took place at Bovingdon, where the journalists were taught to adjust to high altitude, identify enemy planes, and parachute. They were trained to shoot weapons, though were forbidden to do so whilst in combat. The group of journalists named themselves The Writing 69th in reference to the Fighting 69th.

On 26 February 1943 the Writing 69th flew its first and last mission over Wilhelmshaven. Six of the eight journalists boarded B-24 Liberators and B-17 Flying Fortresses to bomb the submarine pens. The mission saw heavy losses for the participating groups, the aircraft of Andy Rooney of the Stars and Stripes was damaged by flak and the Robert Post of the New York Times was killed in action when his B-24 exploded. Whilst the other aircraft returned safely, Post's death brought an end to the Writing 69th flying missions with the Eighth Air Force. The journalists disbanded but continued their work as war correspondents. Post's death highlighted to the public the dangers that the airmen of the Eighth Air Force faced during missions.

The Eight Journalists were:
Paul Manning, CBS Radio
Robert Post, New York Times
Walter Cronkite, United Press
Andy Rooney, Stars and Stripes
James Denton Scott, Yank magazine
Homer Bigart, New York Herald Tribune
William Wade, International News Service
Gladwin Hill, Associated Press


Part of
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  • 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs

    44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs

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Station Location Date
Established Bovingdon February 1943



  • Homer Bigart

    Civilian | War Correspondent | 303rd Bomb Group
    Journalist for the New York Herald Tribune, who in 1942 was invited to become a war correspondent, one of eight journalists known as The Writing 69th, sent to the UK to fly with the US Army Air Force on bombing missions over Europe. Bigart was...

  • Walter Cronkite

    Civilian | War Correspondent United Press | 303rd Bomb Group
    War Correspondent with United Press, Cronkite was the most famous of the eight reporters sent to the European Theatre to fly with the Eighth Air Force who made up The Writing 69th. On 26 February 1943 he flew with the 303rd Bomb Group from Molesworth...

  • Jack Denton Scott

    War Correspondent for Yank Magazine, one of eight journalists invited to join the 8th Air Force on bombing missions over Germany as part of the Writing 69th. In February 1943 Denton Scott underwent a week long training program, he was one of two...

  • Gladwin Hill

    War Correspondent for Associated Press, In 1942 he was one of eight journalists known as the Writing 69th trained to take part in bombing missions with the Eighth Air Force. ...

  • Paul Manning

    Manning was a war correspondent for CBS radio, he worked closely with Edward Murrow throughout the Second World War. Manning was one of 8 journalists of the Writing 69th who trained and flew missions with the 8th Air Force. He underwent a week-long...

  • Robert Post

    Post was a Journalist and War Correspondent for the New York Times, he had joined the London Bureau of the New York Times in 1938 and had covered the Battle of Britain and Rudolph Hess' flight to Scotland, establishing himself as a veteran reporter by...

  • Andrew Rooney

    Military | Sergeant | Staff Reporter, Stars and Stripes
    Andy Rooney was a war correspondent and journalist for the Stars and Stripes, in February 1943 he was selected as one of eight journalists to accompany the 8th Air Force flying bombing missions over Germany. After a week's extensive training, Rooney...

  • William Wade

    War correspondent for the International News Service. Wade was one of 8 journalists chosen to fly missions with the 8th Air Force. In February 1943 he joined the Writing 69th and underwent a week long extensive training course to prepare for a bomber...




Date Contributor Update
19 August 2019 19:14:28 jmoore43 Changes to description

Corrected a typo in the "Unit history highlights" section.

Date Contributor Update
02 June 2015 13:52:37 Correspondent Changes to stations

Jim Hamiltons book and website .. 'The Writing 69th' .. Green Harbor oublications

Date Contributor Update
02 June 2015 10:22:08 Correspondent Changes to unit encompassing associations

Jim Hamiltons book and website 'The Writing 69th' Green Harbor publications

Date Contributor Update
02 June 2015 09:57:53 Correspondent Changes to insignia

Jim Hamiltons book, 'The Writing 69th', Green Harbor publications

Date Contributor Update
01 December 2014 11:37:13 Emily Created entry with type, category, name, nicknames, description, air forces, person associations and stations

The Writing 69th

Gay, 'Assignment to Hell: The War Against Nazi Germany with Correspondents Walter Cronkite, Andy Rooney, A.J. Liebling, Homer Bigart, and Hal Boyle', 2012