Military

Timeline

Douglas_Fairbanks_Jr._-_USN

1937-39:

On a trip to England, Fairbanks hand delivers a private letter to Winston Churchill from Swope. On another trip to Canada, he shares his idea of having King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visit the White House. This plan materialized in 1939 when the King and Queen visited the White House for the first time. Both of these trips were assigned (officially and semi-officially) by President Roosevelt and Secretary of State Cordell.

In 1939, he helped establish the Douglas Voluntary Hospitals in the British countryside. These hospitals were set up to help the RAF and were run by volunteers. Fairbanks funded these hospitals until around 1943.

1940:

Accepted the offer to be head of the White Committee’s southern California branch and to be one of its national vice-presidents. The White Committee attempted to shift public opinion in the United States by urging Americans to defend and aid the Allies in Europe. The committee had the unofficial support of President Roosevelt.

1941:

Sent to South America as a presidential envoy to investigate national groups that were veering toward Nazism and to submit an analysis of their influence and ideas on what the U.S. could do about it. Fairbanks was sent under the guise that he was investigating how American movies were effecting public opinion in South America.

April 10: Commissioned as a lieutenant (junior grade) in the U.S. Naval Reserve.

Assigned to the USS Ludlow where he served as an assistant gunnery officer, assistant communication officer, and watch officer.

Assigned to the USS Mississippi, the flagship of U.S. Task Force 99 and attached to the British Home Fleet, where he served as assistant gunnery officer and watch officer.

Assigned to Mountbatten’s Combined Operations staff. The organization developed every detail of amphibious war plans, including the weaponry, methods, types of ships and vehicles. Fairbanks was first assigned to studying the effects of bombing and explosives. He then went on to study camouflage and create deceptions.

Attended officer training at Ballantrae in Scotland.

Assigned to a secret amphibious naval base called the HMS Tormentor where he was trained in navigation and pilotage, to use a tommy gun, and to command and defend a flotilla of six to eight Higgin Boats. Shortly after, he was assigned to command a flotilla of amphibious raiding craft.

1942:

Received orders to report to the Navy Department in Washington where he was assigned to the chief of the Bureau of Ordnance.

Transferred to a post with the public relations director in the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence.

Assigned to the USS Goldcrest, an old minesweeper, and served as the executive officer.

Assigned to the staff of Commander Task Force 99 on the battleship USS Washington. He served as flag lieutenant and aide to the task force commander.

Temporarily assigned to the USS Wasp to aide Captain Hall on a mission to aide the British in Malta. In addition to aiding the captain, Fairbanks also served as assistant gunnery officer. He was also assigned to write detailed reports of the whole operation in the form of a combined log report and history for the U.S. Navy’s official records.

Temporarily assigned to the USS Wichita doing the same duties as those he did on the USS Wasp. The USS Wichita was part of a protective force, code-named P.Q.17, for the convoy to Murmansk and Archangel.

1943:

Given the title of Special Operations Planning Officer and served as Chief Staff Officer for Special Operations Task Group 80.4, also known as The Beach Jumpers.

Participated in the invasions of Sicily, Italian mainland, Elba, and South of France.

Achievements

The Silver Star Medal for “conspicuous gallantry” at the Battle of Salerno

Combat Legion of Merit with “V” for valor attachment for the invasion of South France

World War II Victory Medal

Expert Pistol Shot Medal

American Defense Medal, Fleet Clasp, with bronze “A” for the USS Mississippi

American Area Campaign Medal

European-African-Middle Eastern Area Campaign Medal with a bronze star for the USS Wichita

Decoration and Diploma of Office of the National Order of the Southern Cross from the Brazilian government

French Croix de Guerre with palm

Made Chevalier of the Legion d’ Honneur by the French

British Royal Navy’s Distinguished Service Cross

Italian War Cross for military valor

Belgian Order of the Crown

Made an honorary Knight Commander by King George VI

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