Bert Stiles of Denver, Colorado, was one of among many who gave
their lives while serving in the U.S. Army Air Forces in WWII, but
he was one of a relative few who left a written legacy.
His single book, Serenade to the Big Bird, was published
posthumously and is broadly regarded as one of the great literary
works to emerge from WWII.
Published editions of Serenade to the Big Bird.
Other works by and about Bert Stiles.
Bert Stiles was a writer and a dreamer. He had for his young age an
astute sense of his world and the adept ability to convey it
through words with honesty, candor, and utmost sincerety. It is
our great fortune that much of Bert's written work is available to
us today, for through his eyes can we have brought to life a time
gone by and an accounting of wartime experiences which most would
fail to fully imagine or appreciate.
As a B-17 co-pilot in the 401st Squadron of the
91st Bomb Group of the
U.S. Army Eighth Air Force, Bert Stiles flew nearly thirty missions.
His driving desire, however, was to fly the P-51 Mustang, and in
September, 1944, he transferred to the 505th Squadron of the
339th Fighter Group. On November 26, 1944, Bert Stiles was
killed in action when his plane crashed as it followed down an
enemy FW-190, Stiles' first confirmed kill. This was his sixteenth
fighter mission. Bert was 24 years old.
Serenade to the Big Bird had been finished by Bert during
his time at a rest home prior to completion of his bombing missions,
and was hoped by Bert to be published. The book, which
eloquently and emotionally describes the life of Bert and his
B-17 crews, was returned to his family and subsequently
published, first in England.
Writing was Bert Stiles' passion and intended vocation, but his
desire to fly and his sense of duty to his country were to leave
us only guessing where Bert's talents would have led him. His
life was indeed an unfinished story.
Many thanks to Robert F. Cooper for his generous time, assistance,
and encouragement which made this page possible. I am also
grateful for the vast amount of knowledge and printed materials
by and about Bert Stiles which Bob has shared. Much appreciation
goes to Bob, and to Roland Dickison, for their efforts to keep
alive the memory and writings of Bert Stiles.
Photo of Bob Cooper (left)
and Roland Dickison (right) at a book signing event.
Updated: 20 November 2009.
[Bert Stiles |
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