American War Correspondent
Plot A, Row 12, Grave 9
George Bede Irvin, was born in Des Moines, Iowa in 1910. Irvin attended the University of Iowa and Drake University before joining The Des Moines Register and Tribune, where he worked for eight years. In August 1936, Harris joined the Associated Press in Kansas City. He covered part of the Landon presidential campaign in 1936 and was transferred to the Detroit bureau of the AP in January 1937.
Described as a tall, good-natured man, Irvin volunteered for Foreign Service in the early part of World War II. Irvin left the United States in April 1943 for London, England where he spent the year covering invasion preparations.
When D-Day came, Irvin, attached to the U.S. Army Air Forces, took numerous aerial shots of the invasion as the Normandy beachhead was established. He also took the first pictures of the German rocket gun site on the Cotentin peninsula. Lloyd Stratton and Robert Bunnelle, AP executives who visited Irvin in mid-July, said he was in excellent health and had only one complaint ¾ that he was not seeing enough action. They added that he was extremely popular among army, air force and newspaper representatives and generally admired for his personal bravery.
On July 25, 1944, Irvin was near St. Lô, photographing the bombardment of German positions. Lee McCardell of the Baltimore Sun, who was with Irvin at the time that Ninth Air Force B-26 Marauders flew over the location, said Irvin "apparently hesitated a split second to pick up his camera before diving for a nearby ditch. He was caught in mid-air by a bomb fragment and killed instantly." Irvin was found by McCardell, lying in a ditch, with one camera around his neck and the other lying near an outstretched hand.
Maj. Gen. L.H. Bereton, commander of the Ninth Air Force, made the following statement: "During the period of his assignment with the Ninth Air Force, I came to know Mr. Irvin well. He flew frequently as a photographer observer with our medium bombers and performed exceptionally meritorious service in the pictorial coverage of personnel and activities of the entire Air Force. I feel a deep sense of personal loss at his passing, which should be regarded by one and all as the loss of a highly trained professional soldier who died in service of his country.” Irvin was 34 years old.
Irvin’s famous works include a series of photographs capturing the 29thInfantry Division liberating Isigny-sur-Mer.
George Bede Irvin is buried in Normandy American Cemetery Plot A, Row 12, Grave 9.