Dan Ford's books
For print editions of Dan's books, go here      For the e-books, go here

HOME > TIGERS > 2ND AVG

Jungle Jim

The following item appeared in the December 7, 1942, issue of Time magazine, and appears to describe a member of the 2nd AVG:

Until a few months ago the U.S. and Australian troops in New Guinea were treated at long intervals to grey-bearded hits like Broadway Bill. Now they get some new films (their favorites are musicals, especially the Crosby-Hope-Lamour circuses). The man who brought the movies to the jungle is New Guinea's Red Cross Field Director, Jimmy Stewart (not to be confused with Cinemactor Jimmy Stewart, now a lieutenant in the Army Air Corps).

Like many another American, Jimmy Stewart was always restless. He quit Schenectady's Union College after a year, dabbled-and fumbled-in Florida real estate. At last he settled down to a mildly lucrative ice business in Oneonta, N.Y. When it looked unlikely that he would be drafted (he is 37, has a wife and two sons), Jimmy Stewart enlisted as a driver for the British American Ambulance Corps in Libya.

The Nazis captured Jimmy on the Zam-zam, detoured him to a concentration camp in Occupied France. En route, Jimmy and another American smashed a train window, leaped to freedom, made their way to the U.S. Consulate at Vichy.

Back in the U.S., Jimmy Stewart volunteered for Brigadier General Chennault's Flying Tigers. He was on his way, at sea, on Dec. 7 [1941]. So were several Red Cross men. When the ship reached Australia he volunteered for Red Cross service at Port Moresby.

His chief job was to provide entertainment for some of the loneliest men on earth. With a 16-mm. projector and a few reels of antediluvian film, Jimmy borrowed a jeep (which now is practically his personal property), started on a series of one-night stands at the various bases. The setup was as simple as Eden. Jimmy would drive up, find a space whacked out of the jungle, set up his screen and put on his show. One of the early screenings was interrupted three times by Japanese bombers. Wrote Jimmy: "We would all dive for the slit trenches until the Nips passed and then come out again and go on with the show. Gosh we have fun. Those were the days."

Later Jimmy demanded and got more modern equipment and pictures through Australia. Grateful Australian airmen built him a hut, rebuilt it when a 500-lb. bomb took it apart (Jimmy was staying, at the moment, in a nearby slit trench named Pooh-Bah Palace). Australians and Americans have also built a chain of eight theaters which extend from Port Moresby to Milne Bay and deep into the jungle. The seats are smoothed logs nailed to stumps. The theater's acoustic walls are the jungle, which adds its own soundeffects and out of which appear like moths a few shy, amazed natives to watch from afar. The ceiling is the South Pacific night. Now that the New Guinea stand looks permanent, Jimmy is planning to extend the chain.

I'm a bit puzzled by the yarn, but there's enough circumstantial evidence to warrant including Mr. Stewart in the Roster of the 2nd AVG.

Question? Comment? Newsletter? Send me an email. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford