Duane Willard "Bee" Beeson

Duane Beeson  

RCAF  &  USAAF   -   Lt/Col

DSC, Silver Star, DFC w/5 OLCs,
Air Medal w/3+ OLCs, Croix de Guerre (Be)

Born Boise, ID. 16 July 1921 to Carl & Zelda Parsons Beeson
Liked boxing & football, graduated from Boise High in 1939
Moved to California - Hotel clerk
Joined the RCAF 23 June 1941 in Vancouver, B.C.
Trained at
6 EFTS, Prince Albert &
11 SFTS, Yorkton, Saskatchewan
Commissioned 26 Feb. 1942
Conversion to Hurricanes in Bournemouth, UK
Conversion to Spitfires at 55 OTU, Usworth
Transferred to Eagle Sq. arrived 5 Sept. 1942, Debden, Essex
He flew no combat missions with the RAF
24 days later he transferred to the 4th FG
Became the 4th FG's first ACE on Oct. 8th 1943
Assumed command of the 334 FS on March 15th, 1944
Shot down by flak and taken prisoner April 5, 1944
Liberated by Russians 19 April 1945
Married Tracy Waters in January 1947 but then he
Died of a brain tumor on 13 February 1947
He is buried at the Arlington National Cemetery



Lord Trenchard visits with Ex Eagle Squadron members
Lord Trenchard visits with former members of the Eagle Sqns, now part of the 4th Fighter Group at Debden. In the picture are "Mike" Sobanski (2nd from left?) "Goody" Goodson, (3rd); Beeson, (6th, head showing) then Trenchard. Anyone know who the rest are?

Yank Ace Lost After 23rd Win

A U.S. FIGHTER BASE, England. 20 April 1944 - (UP) - Capt. Duane Willard Beeson's stuttering guns fell silent over an enemy airfield near Berlin on April 5 and the race to beat Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker's combat record of 26 enemy aircraft destroyed lost one of its top contenders.
Capt. Beeson's radio sputtered and two American Mustang pilots who were strafing the German field with him heard an exasperated, "Damn it." as a burst of flak wrecked his plane's cooling system.
The 22-year-old Boise, Idaho ace - he had 21 enemy planes to his credit before this mission - switched off his radio with those words, knowing his number was up.
His flying mates didn't see him go down, but they have confidence in "Bee's" ability and they believe he may have come down safely in enemy territory.
Capt. Beeson quit his job as a hotel clerk in Oakland, Cal., early in the war to join the Royal Canadian Air Force, eventually winding up with the RAF's Eagle Squadron which later became part of the U.S. Eighth Air Force.
In his last raid, Capt. Beeson had shot down one German plane and knocked out a second on the ground before his Mustang was hit by flak. His companions reported both kills and headquarters raised his official score to 23.


Third Ranking American Flier Lost Thursday

London, 20 April 1944 — (U.P.) — Flying mates of Capt. Duane Beeson, third ranking American ace in the European theater who is missing in action, said Thursday they believe he was safe.
Beeson, 22-year-old pilot from Boise, Idaho, with 21 planes to his credit, was strafing a German air field with two other pilots on April 5 when his engine cooling system was wrecked by enemy bullets, his companions said.

Probably Three More
Beeson, they said, downed three additional planes on his final mission, but they had not been claimed officially since he is missing.
Beeson, a former member of the RAF'S Eagle Squadron, trailed Capt. Don S. Gentile, Piqua. O., the leading American ace credited with 30 planes, and Capt. Bob Johnson, Lawton, Okla., who has shot down 25 Nazi planes in combat. Only 22 of those have been confirmed, however, with three pending. Seven of Gentile's planes were destroyed on the ground.
In the Pacific theater, three pilots have tied or exceeded Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker's World War I record of bagging 26 planes. They are Maj. Richard I. Bong, Poplar. Wis., credited with downing 27 Japanese planes In the Southwest Pacific, Maj. Joe Foss, Sioux Falls, S.D., who has 26 victories in the same area, and Maj. Gregory Boyington, Okanogan, Wash., missing in the Pacific since downing his 26th enemy plane.
Beeson started flying with the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1941 and transferred to the U.S. Army Air Corps after a tour of duty with the Eagle Squadron.
Only a few weeks ago he had written his mother that he hoped he would be permitted to participate in the invasion, although he long since had completed the minimum number of operational flights over enemy territory.
No details were given in the War Department report that he was missing, received by his parents, but the April 5 date immediately led to speculation that he may have been shot down when American fighter planes made their first sweep over Berlin and Munich. Long range Mustang fighter planes were used in that raid and that was the type of ship he was flying his father said.

  Duane Beeson


34 Army Air Force Aces Have Score of 15 or More
Maj. Bong Leads List with 40 Enemy Planes; Colonels Gabreski, Lynch Also Included

WASHINGTON, 22 Dec. 1944 (UP) — An honor roll of 34 Army Air Force fighter aces, each of whom has destroyed 15 or more enemy planes in combat, was issued by the War Department today and at the top of the list was Maj. Richard I Bong, of Poplar, Wis.
Among them, they have shot down a total of 689 1/4 German and Jap planes.
The Eighth Air Force, which operates in Europe against the Germans, had the most aces — 13 — with scores of 15 or better kills. The Fifth Air Force, operating in the Southwest Pacific, was next with 10, but it boasted the two top men - Maj. Bong and Maj. Thomas B. McGuire, of San Antonio, Tex., who has bagged 30 Jap planes.
Next in line were the 15th Air Force which operates in the Mediterranean and has four aces in the select circle; the Ninth which operates in Europe and has three top-ranking aces, and the 13th (based in the South Pacific) and the 14th (based in China) each with two.
Maj. Bong is credited with 38 kills but since the list was tabulated Dec. 15, he has run his bag to 40.
Other high ranking fighter pilots and their scores were:

Lt. Col. Francis S. Gabreski, of 95 Spruce St., Oil City, Pa., Eighth A.F., 28 (POW in Germany)
Maj. Robert S. Johnson, Lawton, Okla., Eighth A.F., 27.
Maj. George E. Preddy, Greensboro, N.C., Eighth A.F., 24.
Capt. Don S. Gentile. Piqua, O., Eighth A.F., 23.
Maj. Gerald R. Johnson, Eugene, Ore., Fifth A.F., 23.
Maj. Fred J. Christensen Jr., Watertown, Mass., Eighth A. F., 22.
Col. Neel E. Kearby, Dallas. Tex., Fifth A. F., 22. (Missing in action).
Col. Glenn E. Duncan, Houston, Tex., Eighth A.F., 21½ (Missing in action).
Capt. John J. Voll, Goshen, O., 15th A.F., 21.
Maj. Walker M. Mahurin, Fort Wayne, Ind., Eighth A.F., 21.
Maj. Jay T. Robbins, Coolidge, Tex., Fifth A.F., 21.
Lt. Col. Robert B. Westbrook, Hollywood, Cal., 13th A.F., 20.
Col. Charles H. MacDonald, St. Petersburg. Fla., Fifth A.F., 20.
Lt. Col. Thomas J. Lynch, of Catasauqua, Pa., Fifth A.F. 26, (killed in action)
   [Col. Lynch was an engineering student at the University of Pittsburgh and was graduated in
   1940. His widow, a Swissvale resident, was the former Rosemary Fullen, of 7368 Schley Ave.]

Col. Hubert Zemke, Missoula, Mont., Eighth, 19½.
Lt. Col. David C. Schilling, Traverse City, Mich., Eighth, 19.
Col. David L. Hill, Victoria, Tex., 14th A.F., 18½.
Capt. John T. Godfrey, Woonsocket, R. I., Eighth, 18 (prisoner of war in Germany).
Lt. Col. Herschel H. Green, Mayfield, Ky., 15th A.F., 18.
Capt. Duane W. Beesen, Boise, Ida., Eighth, 18 (prisoner of war in Germany).
Maj. Walker Carl Beckham, Defuniak Springs, Fla., Eighth, 18 (prisoner of war in Germany).
Maj. Don M. Beerbower, Hill City, Minn., Ninth A.F., 17½ (killed in action).
Capt. James S. Varnell, Charleston, Tenn., 15th, 17.
Capt. Cyril F. Homer, Sacramento, Cal., Fifth, 17.
Maj. Edward Cragg, Cos Cob, Conn., Fifth, 17 (missing in action).
Capt. Glen T. Eagleston, Alhambra, Cal., Ninth, 16½.
Lt Col. William N. Reed. Marion, Ia., 14th, 16½.
Maj. George S. Welch, Wilmington, Del., Fifth, 16.
Lt. Col. Richard E. Turner, Bartlesville, Okla., Ninth, 16.
Maj. Samuel J. Brown, Tulsa, Okla., 15th, 15½.
Maj. Bill Harris, Springville, Cal., 13th A.F., 15.
Capt. Richard A. Peterson, Alexandria, Minn., Eighth, 15.


Duane Beeson in the cockpit of his P-51 "Boise Bee"
Duane Beeson in the cockpit of his P-51 "Boise Bee"


Victories Include :

18 May 1943
26 June 1943
28 July 1943

2 Oct 1943
8 Oct 1943
14 Jan 1944
29 Jan 1944

31 Jan 1944
20 Feb 1944
25 Feb 1944
28 Feb 1944
5 Mar 1944
18 Mar 1944
23 Mar 1944
27 Mar 1944

1 Apr 1944
5 Apr 1944
one Me109
one Me109
one Me109
one FW190
one FW190
two Me109s
one FW190
one FW190
one Me109
one ME109
one FW190
one FW190
1/4 Ju88
one Me109
one Me109
two Me109s
1.5 Ju88s
one He126
one Me109
1/3 Ju88
one Ju88
destroyed &
damaged [3]
destroyed [4]
destroyed [7]
destroyed [9]
destroyed [10]
destroyed [11]
destroyed OTG
destroyed [14]
destroyed [16]
destroyed OTG *
destroyed &
destroyed OTG [3.75]

17.33 / 0 / 1

plus 3.75 On The Ground

* At Cazaux Airdrome

[3] "I was flying Blue No. 3 position as we came up, about 30 miles east of Rotterdam, behind the bombers and saw them being attacked. Blue Section started down to engage e/a at 2 o'clock when I saw a single Me109 attacking our section from 9 o'clock. I broke left, got on his tail and started firing at 300 yds closing to 75 yds. I saw many strikes, his port wing-tip blew off and then there was an explosion just in front of his cockpit, when he lurched violently and went down smoking. During this action, Lt. Mills, leading remainder of Blue Section, and Lt. Care leading Green Section, circled above and gave excellent cover. While climbing back to rejoin them, a 190 got on my tail and Lt. Care closed up behind and opened fire. There were many strikes and the pilot bailed out. Shortly after this,
I sighted a FW190 about 3000 feet below, heading for the bombers, and positioning myself in the sun, went down after him, when he turned diving inland. I gave three
2 seconds bursts at 800 yards and saw strikes on port wing, then broke away and dived for home, crossing out just north of Schouwen Island. Landed Bradwell Bay 1240 hours.
I claim one Me109 Destroyed and 1 FW190 Damaged."

[4] "I was flying White Three position in Pectin Squadron, which had just crossed over the bombers and we were getting out ahead of them when I sighted 10 plus FW 190s below. These appeared to be positioning themselves for a head-on attack on the bombers, and I reported them on the R/T.
At this time they started to turn in for their attack, so I started down on them, at the same time calling up to say I was going down. They were flying in very tight formation and as I closed on their rear, they broke in several directions. I watched them to see that none came around on me, then as they split up and headed down, I picked the tail-end Charley and opened fire at about 250 yards. I saw strikes around his cockpit and engine, then large pieces began coming off and he jettisoned his hood. I broke off at about 150 yards as we were getting quite low and climbed back up to rejoin the Squadron. At about this time Lt. Hively says he saw a parachute in the same area. Rejoined the Squadron on port side of the bombers and we set course for home soon after.
I claim one FW190 destroyed."

[7] "I was flying Green 1 position in Pectin Squadron at about 28,000 feat when we saw ten or twelve FW190s about eight thousand feet (8.000 ft.) below us diving inland. The Squadron immediately dived, giving chase and finally caught them at 6,000 feet. I picked one of the last four who ware flying somewhat line abreast and opened fire at 250 yards range. I had about 100 m.p.h. closing speed and rapidly closed to about 50 yards when I broke over him and pulled up into the sun. While firing I saw very severe strikes and large flashes in the wing roots and fuselage, then as I overshot him, I observed a large hole in his cockpit hood. The aircraft fell off into a dive, turned over on the way down and exploded as it hit the ground.
Claim - 1 FW190 Destroyed."

[9] "We sighted approximately fifteen Me109s and FW190s flying near the bombers, and when Pectin squadron attacked them they went into a dive. As our squadron bounced this group of enemy aircraft, I saw about six other Me109s coming in to get on the Squadron's tail. Lt. Chatterley and I turned into these. One of them put a hole in my tail-plane before we could turn onto them, but when the turn was completed, I saw Lt. Chatterley on the tail of a 109, shooting and getting very good strikes. These 109s also started to dive and I got on the tail of the nearest one, and opened fire at 250 yards, closing to about 50 yards. I was using A.P.I. ammunition and saw very severe strikes on the fuselage and wing roots, then a large flash somewhere in the cockpit area and the enemy aircraft flicked violently to the right and went down trailing a long stream of grey-black smoke. This combat took place from 23,000 feet down to about 13,000 feat, and the last I saw of the 109, he was going straight down through 10/10ths cloud below.
I was then alone and saw a combat going on far below so started down again when I sighted an aircraft off to starboard also diving. When I went over to investigate, he turned out to be a yellow-tailed FW190 with a belly tank. I don't think he saw me as I was approaching him out of the sun, but he steepened his dive a little and I was closing on him slowly, so I fired a burst out of range trying to slow him down. No results were seen so I continued behind him as he went into cloud at about 3,000 feet and when we came out below was about 300 yards behind. I opened fire again and saw many incendiary strikes on his fuselage. He dropped his nose at about 200 feet altitude and went into the deck. I then pulled up in a zoom to 5000 feet where there were many P-47s of Greenbelt squadron and came home with them.
Claim 1 Me109 and 1 FW190 Destroyed."

[10] "Pectin's Red and Green sections dive-bombed Gilze-Rijen Aerodrome, and as we orbited near the target about 20 plus Me109s were seen above preparing to bounce.
I was leading Green section and saw a 109 diving down to attack a section of P-47s, so dived after him to cut him off. He evidently saw us coming and turned into us, but he started his turn too late and I was able to get on his tail after flicking out a few times. I opened fire at about 300 yards and observed some good strikes around his cockpit and engine. He had begun to climb before I opened fire, but as my shots hit him he fell off into a dive and smoke and flame began coming from the starboard side of his engine. When I saw him again most of the fuselage was covered in flame, and the e/a was going straight down. This combat took place from 20,000 feet down to approximately 15,000 feet.
Claim 1 Me109 Destroyed."

[11] "I was flying as Pectin Green leader as we circled above the Forts and we sighted about four aircraft coming in at 5 o'clock to the bombers, and slightly below them. Pectin Blue and White Sections started down and Green Section fell in behind them; then I sighted two more aircraft - FW190s - at about seven o'clock below the bombers, so went after these two. They were about 5,000 feet directly below, and as we circled around to come in on their tail, they both began to go around in a circle and we ended up with Green Section coming at them straight down from above. I pulled up about 2,000 feet above and tried to get on their tail again but they kept themselves directly below, and we again finished going straight down. After another attempt I finally managed to get around behind them as another P-47 came in and they started to dive away, still flying line astern. The other P-47 was nearer than I and closing fast, so I waited for him to get the last one so I might take the leader. He overshot and they whipped around in a starboard turn, so I closed in on the No.2 who began to climb as his leader dived for the cloud. I opened fire at about 300 yards range, closing to 100 yards and got very good strikes around his fuselage and on his wings. As I overshot him he pulled straight up and jettisoned his cockpit hood, then balled out. At this time many other P-47s arrived, including Capt. Goodson who also observed the 190 pilot bail out. I took a picture of the parachute with my cine-camera, then joined the other P-47s and our sections formed up to come out."

[14] "I was leading Pectin Squadron as our Group was going in to give target support at Munich. There was 10/10ths cloud at 10,000 feet with another layer at 17,000 feet, and we were flying at 17,000 ft. just under the top layer. Shirtblue Squadron, who were on our port, reported several a/c below, then Lt. Chatterley (Pectin Blue 1) identified them as 9 Me109s directly below Pectin Squadron.
We started down on them but they began to dart in and out of cloud. I picked one and closed to 200 yards before opening fire and fired a short burst but saw no results. Fired another short burst which must have hit his belly tank because the whole aircraft immediately blew up in my face. A large sheet of flame suddenly appeared in front of my a/c and I tried to avoid it but was unable to and flew through it, feeling pieces of 109 strike my a/c before I could break clear. At the same time I could feel the heat in my cockpit and upon breaking away, began to check engine instruments. Last saw what was left of the 109 going down, covered in flame.
Later made two more passes at Me109s but they went into the cloud and though I chased them down, was unable to find them below the cloud layer. One of these last two 109s was flying just above the cloud layer when three bursts of flak came very near him and a fourth appeared to hit him; then he fell off into cloud and we lost him.
I then climbed up and we reformed the a/c which had dropped their tanks and started to come out. 'Upper' continued with the rest of the group to make rendezvous.
I claim one Me109 destroyed."

[16] "I was flying Pectin White 1 as we made a starboard turn near Hanover and sighted a box of bombers west of us. As we approached them we could see that they were heavily under attack, and I saw several bombers going down, one of them in flames, another minus a wing. P-38s could be seen circling above and around the bomber formation. There were many e/a around and then an Me109 made a head-on pass through our squadron, circling around behind as though to come in again, so I turned after him. He dived to about 12,000 feet and as I started to close on him, he suddenly pulled up into a steep climb, so I opened everything and went after him. Closed slightly at first, than fell back a little between 15,000 and 18,000 feet where I operated the second blower manually to get full boost and was able to close again. At about 25,000 feet, was in range and got good strikes on him, he began to smoke and dived for cloud at 6,000 ft. I got on his tail as he came out of cloud and clobbered him again, but he stuck to his airplane and crash-landed in a field. I strafed the a/c on the ground, but as I come around again, I saw the engine beginning to flame and the pilot getting out of the cockpit. He ran very fast across the field and fell behind a fence post as I came over again.
Made a pass at a freight train and got good strikes on the locomotive.
Climbed to cloud level at 3,000 feet and saw an Me109 flying with it's wheels down so turned after him, but he went into cloud. Saw tracers going past my port wing, so made a quick break to starboard and saw another 109 behind. He pulled up into cloud and as I came around in the turn he dived down, allowing me to get on his tail. Fired short bursts and saw many flashes, and he jettisoned his hood so I fired again, got more strikes and oil from the e/a covered my windscreen. The pilot bailed out at about 1,000 feet but the chute did not open; his a/c crashed nearby and burst into flame.
I claim 2 Me109s destroyed and one locomotive damaged."

[3.75] "Our group was strafing aerodromes near Berlin. We had left one drome behind with many burning Ju88's on the ground when another was sighted, so we went in to attack it. There were five Ju88's parked wing-tip to wing-tip along the perimeter track so I opened fire on them. The first one burst into flame and there were strikes all over the others, so I picked a big assed Me323 to shoot at next. Just as I opened fire and began to see some results, tracers flashed past my cockpit and my a/c was hit. Leaving the aerodrome behind I climbed to 1,000 ft. and tried to get the engines running again but had no luck so decided to get out. Had lost alt. down to 400 ft. when I finally shoved the stick forward and bunted my way out of the a/c. The 'chute opened just in time to carry me over a fence and deposit my carcase in a field surrounded by many members of the "Super Race" - including one blonde fraulein on a bicycle."


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On these pages I use Hugh Halliday's extensive research which includes info from numerous sources; newspaper articles via the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation (CMCC); the Google News Archives; the London Gazette Archives and other sources both published and private.

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