Pitman, James H

Rank: Major

Unit: 42d Cavalry Recon Squadron, 2d Cavalry Group (Mecz)

Silver Star

Awards: Silver Star, Purple Heart Medal, American Campaign Medal, Europe / African / Middle East Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, French Croix de Guerre with Palm

Commissioned: United States Military Academy class of 1940

Date of birth: 1 February 1915

Hometown: Camden, New Jersey

College: West Point class of 1940

Married: Theodosia B. Pitman

Children: 15 month old son, James H. Pitman

Campaign: WWII

Died: 18 September 44

Age at death: 29

Cause of death: Killed in action

Location of fatality: Luneville, France

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Place of interment: Lorraine American Cemetery in St Avold, France

Click to open a new window to view Soldier’s grave site on the Find A Grave website.

Notes: James H. Pitman was born February 1915 in Camden, New Jersey, his family was of early American stock, dating from Cavalier Virginia on his mother’s side and Huguenot lineage on his father’s. As a youth the family was moved to Atco in Southern New Jersey. He attended secondary school in Haddonfield, New Jersey and later Washington College.

After graduation from Haddonfield he enlisted in the Army to attend the First Corps Area West Point Preparatory School at Fort Totten. He did not attain a hoped for West Point appointment, so he entered Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland in 1935. In the winter of ’35-’36, Jim was successful in securing Congressman Wolverton’s appointment to the Academy through competitive examination, and upon completion of the school year at Washington, entered West Point in July 1936.

Commissioned in the Cavalry, his first assignment was the Cavalry School at Fort Riley. In the fall of 1940 he joined the 7th Cavalry at Fort Bliss, where he was shortly made Troop Commander of Special Weapons Troop. While on this assignment he met Theodosia Burr at Fort Bliss, and they were married in May 1941.

Jim left the Third Army maneuvers in Louisiana in the fall of 1941 to become an Instructor in the 8th Corps Area West Point Preparatory School at Fort Sam Houston where he was promoted to his First Lieutenant in December of 1941. March 1942 found him on his way to Fort Riley to Join the 16th Cavalry Regiment and after a brief session at Motors School, he became Commander of the Service Troop. His captaincy came through in June 1942 and a little later the assignment as Regimental S-3. Then came both a Majority and assignment to the 2nd Cavalry at Fort Jackson in January 1943 and during the activation period he served as S-4.
A son was born while Jim and his wife were living in Columbia, South Carolina.

Jim became a member of the 15th Class of the Command and General Staff School at Leavenworth in September 1943, and upon graduation rejoined the 2nd Cavalry as Executive Officer of the 42nd Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Mech.). In April 1944 the 42nd was ordered overseas to England the 42nd was attached to Patton’s Third Army.

In July the 42nd moved into France and participated in the breakout the Third’s dash across France. Hospitalization of the Squadron C.O. early in the battle had moved Jim into command of the Squadron and he led them through France. On the 18th day of September they advanced miles beyond the heavy Armour force of the Third Army when Major Pitman was Killed in Luneville, Franc. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star.

The citation the Silver Star Citation:

“For gallantry in action on 18 September 1944 in France. Major Pitman in command of the 42nd Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Mechanized) had disposed his unit through the Foret de Mondon and the villages of Gerberviller and Cheneviers, to protect the city of Luneville and the left flank of the XII Corps. Attacked at 0730, 18th September by the 11th Panzer Division, in overwhelming strength, Major Pitman skillfully and courageously directed the defense of his positions until about 1300 when elements of the 4th Armored Division arrived for his assistance. Constantly with his forward elements he personally directed the placement of his units and directed fire of his light tanks and assault guns against the heavier enemy tanks until he was killed by enemy tank gun fire while reporting the situation to his group commander. Major Pitman’s courageous attitude, his coolness and skillful handling of his troops under heavy fire was an Inspiration to his men and guided them in the defense of the pivotal city of Luneville until assistance arrived. His heroic efforts to keep the enemy from the outer defense of the town were successful and above and beyond the call of duty. They are in accord with the highest standards of the Military Service”. (G.O. No. 55 (1945))

Plaque located at the Battle of Luneville in France dedicated to MAJ Pitman.


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