James N. Thorne
James Neale Thorne was born on October 11, 1919, in Rye, New York, his father, Samuel, was 45 and his mother, Mary, was 41. He had five brothers and one sister. The family lived at 472 Boston Post Road, which is near the intersection of Boston Post Road and Oakland Beach Avenue. At the turn of the century, the Thorne Estate as it was called extended from the above mentioned intersection to Disbrow Park. James attended Yale University and was a member of the American Yacht Club. He enlisted and served in the Royal Air Force during World War II.
James finished three years of college before enlisting on September 24, 1941 as an Aviation cadet. He served in the Royal Air Force 122 Squadron as a Pilot Officer. In January 1944 it re-equipped with the North American P-51 Mustang to operate long-range bomber escort duties and it also attacked targets in France and the Low Countries.
In August 1944 Flying Officer James Neale Thorne reported to the Allied Expeditionary Force Supreme Headquarters that German invasion barges built in the hope of invading Britain were being used to carry the defeated Army across the Seine.
Flying Officer Thorne was reported to have sighted a collection of the barges in a small concrete Harbor near Rouen. It was believed they were built by the Germans late in the summer of 1940 and concentrated in channel ports after Dunkirk. They carried about 500 men. Flying Officer Thorne was attached to a Canadian squadron flying fighter planes.
Within a few months the Mustangs were converted into fighter-bombers and the squadron started long-range ground-attack sorties into continental Europe. It was heavily involved in D-Day operations and within a few weeks had moved to France to support the invasion. After three-months of intense operations the squadron was withdrawn to England and continued till the end of the war providing long-range escorts to both Bomber Command and the United States 8th Air Force.
The Air Ministry reported that James Neale Thorne was killed 9/10/1944 during air assaults over Holland in a prelude to what would become
Operation Market Garden. He was rewarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and was credited with downing five enemy aircraft. James was a graduate of Yale University and a member of the American Yacht Club.
James Neale Thorne is buried at Manchester, Hartford County, Connecticut.
British Chapel Dedicated to James N. Thorne
A chapel, believed to be the first in England built to commemorate a single American soldier was dedicated in Birmingham, England, October 21 in memory of James Neale Thorne, of Rye, a Yale undergraduate who was killed in World War II while on a mission for the Royal Air Force. The chapel is part of the rebuilt St. Martins in the Bull Ring Church.
It was built with funds donated by Mr. Thomes family, classmates and friends. The ceremony was attended by the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, the Chief Marshal of the R. A. F. and Mr. Thornes father. Samuel Thorne, of Boston Post Road, Rye. Mr. Thorne joined the R. A. F. in 1941 in what would have been his senior year at Yale. He flew combat missions from 1942 until his death in September 1944, while flying- over Holland. He had received the Distinguished Flying Cross and was credited with downing five enemy aircraft.
November 1, 1956 THE RYE CHRONICLE PAGE FIFTEEN