Scott County

* *

Iowa County


Lt. John "Jack" N. Beilstein



IN BRITAIN—Lieut. John N. Beilstein (see photo), master bombardier with the U. S. air corps, has arrived safely in England, according to a cablegram received by his wife, Mrs. Virginia Green Beilstein, who is now residing with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. B. A. Green, 721 Taylor street.  He enlisted in the army Jan. 5, 1942, and received training at several camps in California.  He was commissioned at Hobbs, N. M., on Nov. 21, 1942, and was stationed at Kearney, Neb., for a time before being ordered for embarkation.

Lieut. Beilstein is a graduate of St. Ambrose college.  He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Roy Beilstein of Williamsburg, Ia.

Source: Quad-City Times, Davenport IA – Sunday, May 9, 1943 (includes photo)

Lt. J. N. Beilstein, Whose Heroism In Air Raids on Nazis Earned Six Decorations, Is Reported Missing.

First Lt. John N. Beilstein of Davenport, whose heroism in nearly a score of air raids on Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe has earned him six decorations, has been missing since Sept. 16 [1943] it was revealed today.

A telegram received Sunday by his wife, who lives at 721 Taylor street, from Adj. Gen. Ulio of the War Department did not supply any additional information.

Newspaper dispatches of Sept. 16, however, said that, “American Flying Fortresses, following up an inaugural dusk raid on Hitler’s Europe and probably the Allies’ biggest night assault on the continent, bombed naval installations at Nantes in France in their second foray in two days.” Previously, it was said, “A combined force of American Flying Fortresses, Liberators and Marauders ….raided the Paris area.”  Where the “Hispana-Suiza and Caudron-Renault aircraft plants and a ball bearing works were the main targets.” 

Lt. Beilstein, a St. Ambrose college graduate from Williamsburg, was a bombardier and won wide publicity late in June when two Fortresses  in which he flew figured spectacularly in raids on Germany.

He had been awarded the air medal and four oak leaf clusters by reason of these and other exploits, and had informed Mrs. Beilstein in a letter of Aug. 31 that he had earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, but that it would not be presented until had participated in his twentieth raid.  He had been in 17 or 18 aerial attacks on the enemy then, and he and Mrs. Beilstein were looking forward to the time when he would make his twenty-fifth, and possibly have gotten leave to visit home.

Thrilling Experiences.
Lt. Beilstein was one of the bombardiers who blasted a synthetic rubber plant at Huls, Germany, June 22, and his Fortress “El Diablo” (The Devil) went through the major part of the raid on three engines after the supercharger of one broke over the German coast, seriously endangering the crew as its parts flow through the air like bullets.

In a raid on northwestern Germany June 25 in another Fortress, “Dangerous Dan,” Lt. Beilstein’s crew shot down seven of 20 attacking Nazi planes in 23 minutes, and then faltered home on two engines.

After the last raid which he mentioned in a letter to his wife, he said:
“Another bad one—God has been with me in answer to your prayers, or I would not be back.”

It is recognized that he has rendered unusually outstanding service with the American air force to have qualified for the Distinguished Flying Cross without having completed the number of missions usually required.

Lt. Beilstein, who is 27 years of age, had made his first raid on Nazi installations toward the end of May after having been in England since April 24.  He enlisted Jan. 5, 1942, and received his commission as a second lieutenant at Hobbs, N. M., Nov. 21, 1942, after training at Santa Ana, Visalia and Bakersfield, Calif.

Married in 1942.
He and Mrs. Beilstein, the former Miss Virginia Green, were married at Hobbs, Sept. 12, 1942, and after he was commissioned they visited his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Roy Beilstein, Williamsburg, and her parents, Mr. and Mrs. B. A. Green, Davenport, during a leave of absence.

His last visit to Davenport was in April, 1943, and he was stationed at Kearney, Neb., when he received his orders for combat assignment shortly afterward.  Mrs. Beilstein returned here to live with her parents, and he went overseas.  His promotion to a first lieutenancy came July 23.

Lt. Beilstein was born in Marengo Jan. 5, 1916, and reared there, receiving his education in that city until he came to St. Ambrose college, from which he was graduated four years ago.  He has a brother, Robert, in Williamsburg.

Source: The Daily Times, Davenport IA – Monday, Sept. 27, 1943


Monday, Sept. 27.
First Lt. John N. Beilstein of Davenport, a bombardier, has been reported missing since Sept. 16 in raids on Germany.

Source:  The Daily Times, Davenport IA – October 2, 1943

Bombardier, Missing Since Sept. 16, Indicates a Visit Home Soon.

Mrs. Virginia Green Beilstein, 721 Taylor street, Davenport, today was excitedly awaiting further word from her husband, First Lt. John N. Beilstein, Flying Fortress bombardier, after learning late Saturday that he had escaped from the Germans.

He had been reported “missing in action” after a bombing raid over northern France or Germany Sept. 16.

Two letters from him, written March 15 and 19, indicated that he will soon be home on leave.

Mrs. Beilstein was unable to guess from the information in the letters where her husband had been when he wrote them, but she addressed an answer to the old APO address of his base in Britain.  He told her guardedly that he had “arrive safely” and was “waiting to get along farther.”

“What a wonderful feeling, my darling—safe—after six months!” he wrote to Mrs. Beilstein. “The feeling in my heart is beyond any sort of description.  I am free!”

“Today, I got some new clothing, and yesterday I got my first bath and haircut.

“I am the luckiest man on the face of God’s earth.  When I look back, I don’t know how I ever made it—only with God’s help!

“It’s been 181 days since I last wrote you, and no one can imagine the feeling in my heart to know that I will soon see you.”

Happiest Day, Says Wife.
“Saturday was the happiest day in my life!” exclaimed Mrs. Beilstein today.  “It was happier even than my wedding day.”

After learning in November that the pilot of her husband’s plane had been killed and that five crew members had been taken prisoner by the Nazis, Mrs. Beilstein had never given up hope that her husband would return safely some day.

“In my letter,” she said, “I told him that both his Christmas present, and the present I got him for his birthday—Feb. 5—were waiting for him.”

Mrs. Beilstein was back at her desk in the quad-city regional office of the Chicago ordnance district today after having spent the week-end with her husband’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Roy Beilstein, Williamsburg.  She hurried to their home Saturday afternoon following the arrival of the two letters in plain envelopes marked only with Lt. Beilstein’s name and serial number, and an American censorship stamp.  His mother also had a letter from him.

Lt. Beilstein’s escape from the Nazis constitutes another chapter in sensational experiences during which he won the air medal and four oak leaf clusters.

Previous Exploits.
Before he was reported missing, wide publicity was given to exploits in which his bomber, “El Diablo,” (“The Devil”) almost miraculously limped home with a broken supercharger after having helped wreck a hugh synthetic rubber plan at Huls, Germany.

Two days later, there was a story telling how the crew took over another plan, “Dangerous Dan” successfully dropping their bombs on the target, and then knocked down seven of 20 attacking Nazi planes before faltering back to base on two engines, the ship having been riddled by enemy fire.

Lt. Beilstein is a former St. Ambrose college student and football player.

Source: The Daily Times, Davenport IA – Monday, April 10, 1944 (photo included)

Lt. Jack Beilstein, Davenport Flier,
“Back From the Dead,”
Greeted by Wife in Chicago.

How Did He Escape After Bailing Out of Fortress Over Nazi Territory?—That’s a “Super-Special” Military Secret.
By Fred C. Bills

They clung to each other in the train shed at the LaSalle street station—the young lieutenant and his wife.  And with eyes swimming, they kissed.  First Lt. John N. “Jack” Beilstein of Davenport was “back from the dead,” and his wife was in Chicago to greet him.

Other train passengers watched delightedly.  They knew they were witnessing one of the little dramas of the war.  But they couldn’t known that the officer with wings of the army air force was the first man of the quad-city area to make his way home after having parachuted from his stricken Flying Fortress to land among the Nazis.

Lt. Beilstein can’t tell about it, either.  It’s the deepest kind of military secret.  The lives of too many others—both the fliers who may follow in his path, and those who aid them—depend on it.  One indiscreet word might mean death for one, or many.

“I find,” he said, “that I’m a ‘hot potato.’

“After I got through with questioning by army intelligence officers in England and Washington, they told me:  ‘If anybody asks, you can say, ‘I was forced to bail out over enemy-occupied territory, and made my way back to my base.’  And that’s all I will say.”

Lt. Beilstein is scheduled for a lecture tour—when the War Department decides what his speech will be—and he will probably speak in Davenport after he and Mrs. Beilstein have “a second honeymoon” in Chicago.

“Super-Special Secret”
It will be a different speech, though, from the one has given in a tour of army air bases in England.  There, he gave other fliers the benefit of his experiences, but they were sworn into the conspiracy to keep his “super-special secret”—under the penalty of court-martial.

His wife, the former Miss Virginia Green, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. B. A. Green, 721 Taylor street, was one the verge of illness Monday night and Tuesday morning as she prepared to go  to Chicago on the Rock Island Lines 10:10 “Rocket.”  Sheer nervousness.

As the train neared Chicago, she powdered her nose again.

“Jack,” she said, “never did like a shiny nose.”

“Will you take my bag?” she asked this reporter, “I want both hands free to grab him.”

We took her bag. And she grabbed her husband.

Throngs in the LaSalle street station stared as they walked along, their arms around each other, but as far as the Beilsteins were concerned, there was no one else in Chicago.

It had been a year and a month to the day since she bade him goodbye at Kearney, Neb., as he finished his training to go overseas as a bombardier on a Flying Fort, and eight months since he was reported missing.

There were months during which, Mrs. Beilstein said, she never lost faith in his return.  Her wedding handkerchief has been the symbol of her confidence.

“After word came that Jack was missing,” she said, “I had two letters from him, one written Sept. 15, the day before his last mission.  He asked me to send him something which would remind him of me.  I picked out my wedding handkerchief, and sprinkled it with cologne which he had always liked.  Every Sunday I added fresh cologne.  And,” she concluded triumphantly, giving the handkerchief to her husband, “here it is!”

As Lt. Beilstein caught up with the news of his family—his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Roy Beilstein, live in Williamsburg—and of his friends in the Davenport area, he deprecated “all the fuss and feathers” of a newspaper interview and pictures.

The occasion was both joyful and tearful as First Lt. John N. “Jack” Beilstein, Davenport, was greeted Tuesday afternoon at the LaSalle street station in Chicago by Mrs. Beilstein on his return as the first flier of the quad-city area to come home after eluding the Nazis when forced to “bail-out” over enemy-occupied territory.  These pictures were taken a second after they were reunited.  When he landed in New York, Lt. Beilstein said, he kissed the ground—as he had sworn to friends in England. “Next to my wife,” he explained, “I love the United States best.”

Mum in Nine Languages.
“But,” asked the interviewer, “didn’t you parachute into France after your Fortress was shot down, and then have some pretty exciting experiences getting back to Britain with the aid of the French underground, or something like that?”

“I can’t say what happened to me,” he said.
“Did you get hurt?”
“I can’t say.”
“Suffer hardships?”
“I can’t say.”
“I’m no hero,” said Lt. Beilstein.  “The real heroes are fellows like Lt. Clark Moore of LeClaire—I was talking to him in the station while I was waiting for Virginia—who’s home after having completed his missions.  I got shot down on my nineteenth—didn’t finish the job!”
“And there’s Maj. Jack Roche, who’s still over in England.  I spent two days with him before I came home, and had a nice time.  He’s a great guy, and doing a marvelous job.  Jack’s a squadron commander now, and Davenport can be well and very proud of him.  Right now, he’s not in combat flying.”

Won Decorations.
Contradicting Lt. Beilstein’s opinion of his own accomplishments is the record.  His sensational experiences on disabled planes, which devastatingly bombed German industry merited national publicity before he was reported missing, and during them he won the Air Medal and four Oak Leaf clusters.

He is credited with shooting down a Nazi fighter plane, recorded as the equivalent of five missions, and he would have had his captaincy soon if he had remained overseas.  The Distinguished Flying Cross may be awarded to him later.

It was on a mission to Wilhelmshaven, northwest of Hamburg on the coast, on his second mission that he got the German fighter.

“We were on our way into the target,” he said, “and ran into a lot of fighter attacks.  One cued up on us from about 5,000 years in front.  I watched him, and when he was within range, I started firing—and kept on firing with my 50-calibre machine gun from the nose of our Fort until he zoomed to explode right above us.” 

That last mission? It came just after a week at a rest home which resembles a summer resort.

“It was just another day’s work,” says Lt. Beilstein.  “Before I got into the plan, I reached over and patted it under the belly the way I always did.  Just one of those things you do.

“We gathered a strong force of bombers, with fighter escorts, about noon that day.  Before reaching the objective, our wing ran into the enemy opposition, and crew of our Fort was forced to bail out over enemey-occupied territory.”

Lt. Beilstein won’t talk about just what happened to the plane, nor the crew, although it has been reported one was killed and five were captured by the Nazis.

“Were you hurt?” Mrs. Beilstein asked, worrying about a recurrence of a back injury he suffered as a guard on the St. Ambrose college football squad back in 1936.
The lieutenant was noncommittal.

It’s Tough.
“Some believe there is less Nazi opposition to air attacks now,” he volunteered, “but anybody who goes over still has it tough.  I’d much rather have flak than fighters.  There is still a good deal of luck in a direct hit with flak, which is chiefly used to deter the bombers, rather than known them down.

“We used to fly though flak so thick it looked like you could get out and walk on it—but the lethal part was gone then, and it was just a black cloud.”

“I thought you might have become a German prisoner,” said Mrs. Beilstein, and his response was fervent:
“Thank God, I’m not!”

The Saturday of Holy week seems to play an important  part in his war experience.  It was on that day that he arrived in England in 1943, after having kissed his bride good-bye.  He and the former Miss Green, whom he had met before his graduation from St. Ambrose in 1939, had married Sept. 12, 1942, at Hobbs field, New Mexico. 

And it was on that same Holy Saturday in 1944, the day before Easter, that word came to Mrs. Beilstein that he was safe.

Arriving in New York, May 11, he went to Washington to report to army intelligence Monday, and then he came to Chicago, arriving Tuesday morning.  He expects to obtain his release Thursday at Fort Sheridan for a 21-day leave.  Lt. and Mrs. Beilstein will spend next week-end with his parents. And then come to Davenport.  After his leave, he will report to the Miami Beach redistribution center, probably for an assignment as an instructor.

Source: The Daily Times, Davenport IA – Wednesday, May 17, 1944 (photos included)

* * *
Davenport Ex-Flier Reveals Names of Wartime Rescuers.
* * *

John N. “Jack” Beilstein, Davenport, former Army flier, today disclosed that Mr. and Mrs. Roger Pansart of Parame, a seashore suburb of St. Malo, France, were his benefactors when his plane was forced down in France during World War II.

Beilstein was sworn to keep secret the identity of those who had helped him escape to Spain while in enemy territory since his return to the United States in 1946.

However, the information was released when President Eisenhower sent a letter of commendation to the French family recently.

“I’ll never forget the Pansarts,” Beilstein recalls, “they are a wonderful family.”

“I was at their home for about two months and at one time there were about 13 other American flyers there also.”

“Despite the tension and fear of war, Mrs. Pansart was continually singing and happy.”

Mrs. Pansart was a tiny woman, but exceedingly vivacious and the Americans were treated “royally,” Beilstein declared.

Pansart, a large framed man, took many chances to get the flyers to safety.

Also working for the French underground with the Roger Pansarts were Mrs. Pansart’s father and two brothers-in-law.

“I remember we called one of the brothers-in-law Jack Demsey,” Beilstein said.

“He looked like a boxer and acted like one.  I’m glad he was on our side.”

The heroism of this French family was brought to the attention of Maj. George Viault, who at the time commanded a civil affairs attachment in St. Malo.  Later President Eisenhower sent a letter to them commending them for the bravery in aiding the Americans.

Source: The Daily Times, Davenport IA – Monday, July 13, 1953 (photo included)

John Newman “Jack” Beilstein was born Feb. 5, 1917 to Roy A. and Gertrude M. Flanagan Beilstein. He died Oct. 29, 1996 and is buried in Rock Island National Cemetery, Rock Island, IL.

Capt. Beilstein served in World War II with the U.S. Army Air Corps West Coast Training Command.