By: John Cuddy – January 2020
Originally from Gloucester, Massachusetts, Bro. James Broderick is now a retired Catholic priest at the Regina Cleri Home for Retired Priests in the Archdiocese of Boston. After graduating from Saint Ann’s High in Gloucester, with the promotion of 1943, he joined the US Army Air Corp. desert before leaving for Europe.
Father Broderick served in the European theater of operations, reaching the rank of Master Sergeant before the end of the war and before he could even legally drink a beer. Bro. James “Jim” Broderick was assigned to the crew of a US Army Air Corp B24-H Liberator as a bomber, flying during the air campaign against the Germans in World War II. During the war, the crews of the US Army Air Corp, as well as the crews of the RAF and Free France, bombed Germany 24 hours a day. While serving with the 445th Heavy Bombardment Group in the As part of a 10-man B24-H Liberator crew, he flew thirty-nine bombing missions and twenty other auxiliary missions. It was the same unit in which Hollywood actor James “Jimmy” Stewart served.
During World War II, three heavy bombers were flown by the US Army Air Corp, the B-17 Flying Fortress, the B-24 Liberator, and, very late in the war, the B-29 Superfortress. How dangerous was the bombardment of the Germans in WWII? On September 27, 1944, Father Broderick’s unit was on a bombing mission over Germany. The flight of thirty-five bombers was blown up by more than one hundred and fifty German fighters. In the ensuing combat, twenty-nine German fighters and twenty-five American bombers were shot down. Only four of the thirty-five American planes returned to their home base. The next day, only one was fit to fly! For Unit service during World War II, Airmen of the 445th were awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation.
After defeating the Germans and saving the world in 1945, Master Sgt. Broderick became one of the millions of American veterans who were demobilized after serving our country in World War II and returned to civilian life. Through his GI Bill benefits, he attended and graduated from Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH. After college, he worked as a banker for Old Colony Trust, reaching the rank of junior vice president.
During our conversation, Fr. Broderick told me about the Irish waitresses who treated him badly at business lunches at the Durgin Park restaurant. The poor service and rude treatment continued until a colleague told the girls that they too were Catholics. While working as a banker, he met a young woman and got engaged to get married. During his preparation for marriage, he attended the Catholic retreat, it was during this retreat at St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts, that he made the decision to become a Catholic priest.
One of his most interesting assignments as a priest was to serve the Quechua Indians in Peru. The tribe was so remote that Father Broderick often traveled on horseback while serving the tribe. Recently, at the age of 93, he had the opportunity to ride at the Myopia Hunt Club again. He has also served in many local parishes including Sacred Heart in Haverhill, MA, Our Lady of the Presentation in Brighton, MA and Immaculate Conception Parish in Newburyport, MA Although he grew up as an only child, his room in Regina Cleri , is covered with photos of dozens of families to whom he ministered during his priestly career.
From interviewing him, I learned that one of the most remarkable traits of this man is; the humility he showed when discussing his life; as an aviator, student, banker and priest. During World War II, the 16.5 million men and women who served faced danger and the prospect of dying at a young age. The risk was particularly high among European theater bomber crews and Pacific theater submarine crews.
Father Broderick told me about his bombing missions on Nazi Germany with the same demeanor, and with the same ease, as he did during our discussion of his service duties in a parish in Newburyport, Massachusetts. . Truly a “hero among us”.
Join us at the Dracut American Legion on RT 113 in Dracut on February 15, 2020 at 7 p.m. as we pay tribute to Phil and Don Everly of US Marine Corp Veteran with a free concert showcasing their music. Family event, without admission.
The American Dracut Legion is asking all WWII and Korean War veterans to call 603-518-5368 and register for an honor flight to memorials in Washington DC!
John Cuddy served in the US Navy Construction Battalions (known as the Seabees) after retiring from the Navy; he received a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in economics from the University of Massachusetts on the Lowell campus. He has worked in logistics at FedEx for 22 years. If you know of a WWII veteran who would like their story told, please email them at [email protected] ??