Nathan Bedford Forrest III
|Nathan Bedford Forrest III|
Brigadier General Nathan Bedford Forrest III
|Birth name||Nathan Bedford Forrest III|
April 7, 1905|
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
|Died||June 13, 1943
|Buried||Arlington National Cemetery|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1928–1943|
|Unit||Second Air Force
Eighth Air Force
|Battles/wars||World War II †|
|Awards||Distinguished Flying Cross
|Relations||Nathan Bedford Forrest (great-grandfather)|
Nathan Bedford Forrest III (April 7, 1905 – June 13, 1943) was a brigadier general of the United States Army Air Forces, and a great-grandson of Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest. He was killed in action in Germany during World War II. Forrest was the first American general to be killed in action during the war in Europe.
Early life and education
Forrest was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 7, 1905, the son of Nathan Bedford Forrest II and Mattie Patterson (Patton). On November 22, 1930, he married Frances Brassler; and, according to the Arlington National Cemetery website, he had no children, making him the final male Forrest in his great-grandfather's direct line.
Promoted to brigadier general in 1942, Forrest was serving as chief of staff of the Second Air Force when he flew missions as an observer with the Eighth Air Force in England. He was reported missing in action when the B-17 Flying Fortress he was in, leading a bombing raid on the German submarine yards at Kiel, went down on June 13, 1943. The other members of the squadron reported seeing parachutes, and hoped that the general had survived. However, Forrest was found dead on September 23, 1943, when his body washed up near a seaplane base at Ruegen Island in Germany. He was buried on September 28, 1943 in a small cemetery near Wiek, Rügen.
His family was presented his Distinguished Flying Cross, which he was awarded posthumously for staying at the controls of his B-17 bomber while his crew bailed out. The plane exploded before Forrest could bail out. By the time the Seenotdienst (the German air-sea rescue) arrived, only one of the crew was still alive in the water.
In 1947, two years after the war ended, his widow requested that he be returned to the United States and buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He was exhumed and reburied in Section 11 at Arlington on November 15, 1949.
Dates of rank
- February 4, 1934, first lieutenant
- June 16, 1938, captain
- January 31, 1941, major
- January 5, 1942, lieutenant colonel
- March 1, 1942, colonel
- November 2, 1942, brigadier general
In popular culture
Alternate history novelist Harry Turtledove makes Forrest III a significant character in the Southern Victory Series, and a minor character in the standalone novel Joe Steele. However, the Southern Victory version (who, as an officer of a still-extant Confederacy which has become analogous to Nazi Germany, leads a July 20th-style coup attempt against Hitleresque Confederate President Jake Featherston) may be a same-named analog rather than the historical figure.
- Nathan Bedford Forrest III, Brigadier General, United States Army Air Corps at www.arlingtoncemetery.net