Dudley Amoss

Dudley Moore Amoss was born on July 7, 1922 in Baltimore, Maryland. The son of a pathologist and diagnostician at Johns Hopkins Hospital, he became interested in flying after a trip to China with his parents.

Amoss found his way into a cockpit any way he could. His first lesson was a prize from a naming contest at an air show and, after catching the flying bug, he hitchhiked all the way to Florida from his school in Connecticut for more lessons from the instructor. He never stopped thinking about flying.

After graduating from high school, Amoss visited his brother at school in North Carolina, found a pilot to befriend and began to trade maintenance work on airplanes for flight time. From there, he joined the Navy ROTC and put in an application for flight school. When the Navy turned him down, Amoss traveled to Florence, South Carolina and earned his private pilot’s license.

He heard the Royal Air Force (RAF) was looking for pilots, so he enlisted in the RAF in New York City in January 1942. After passing his flight exam on Long Island, New York, he traveled by train to Florida for flight school, finishing in nine months and flying aircraft such as the Boeing-Stearman PT-17, the Vultee BT-13 and the North American AT-6.

After spending some brief office time in Canada, Amoss traveled to England only to find no available pilot positions. He was offered a position in North Africa, but didn’t want to fly there, so he asked the Americans in England if he could join them. While waiting for his chance, the British sent Amoss to an operational training unit where he gladly flew Spitfires.

He learned that the Americans were finally looking for pilots and, after the British recommend him, Amoss was assigned to the 38th Fighter squadron of the 55th Fighter Group, starting out as a Staff Sergeant and then given the non-commissioned rank of Flight Officer.
His first contributions came in September 1944 when Amoss destroyed an unidentified enemy plane and shared in the destruction of a Junkers Ju-52/3m on the ground. After this modest success, Amoss had an embarrassing incident, accidentally shooting down one of his own, mistaking an American aircraft for an Me-109 from a great distance. Captain John F. (Jack) Coonan would become a prisoner of war and later be told the truth about who shot him down – by Amoss himself – after Amoss was also captured. Coonan reportedly just grimaced and shook his head.

By February 1945, Amoss, now a Second Lieutenant, scored his first aerial victories. First an Fw-58 transport and a share of another. Then, as he was leading his flight group away from a strafing mission over Amberg, Amoss spotted a lone Me-262 heading in his direction. He flew low and passed under the Messerschmitt, allowing the unknowing German pilot to pass over him before spinning around and firing on him from about 800 yards. The German fighter went down in flames as the pilot ejected.

On his 59th and final mission in March 1945, Amoss was taking one final strafing pass across an airfield when he was hit by ground fire in the radiator. As he was limping back to allied territory, he came upon three Fw-190s returning from a mission. Flying low, Amoss was able to pull in behind the leader and hit him as he turned, forcing him to clip the trees and crash. Amoss then turned on the second and, just like the first, caused the Fw-190 to clip the trees and go down. As the third German pilot tried in vein to turn away, Amoss turned with him, shot him down and, that quickly, Amoss was an ace.

But there was no time for a celebration. His P-51 was losing power fast and he needed to land. Amoss was fortunate to find a clearing and bellied-in near Lingen, Germany. Because German civilians were known to have shot Allied pilots, Amoss became concerned when he saw a group of Germans near him, but a Luftwaffe officer arrived and took charge.

Amoss was taken to Stalag Luft 1 where he was interrogated and eventually rescued by B-17s and taken to France, and freedom, at the end of the war.