Lt. General Frank Maxwell Andrews. Source: Wikipedia
What was the purpose of Lt. Gen. Andrews' flight in May, 1943 aboard the B-24 Liberator Hot Stuff?
Was it a routine inspection tour of remote facilities as some sources indicate?
Or was it a flight home to the USA for an important meeting (with perhaps the "inspection tour" being a cover story for security), taking the opportunity to pilot the B-24 Hot Stuff on its way home to the USA for a war bond tour after being the first heavy bomber to complete its 25th mission (not the Memphis Belle, by the way)?
While researching an answer to this question asking why Eisenhower was chosen to be Supreme Allied Commander in Europe (more on that later this week in another question, by the way), I came across some interesting and inconsistent information about Lt. Gen. Frank Andrews flight which ended in his death in the crash in Iceland on May 3, 1943. Some sources (below) indicate the purpose of this flight was merely an inspection tour, while other sources (below) indicate Andrews had been summoned back to Washington D.C. to meet with Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall, ostensibly to receive a promotion with his 4th star and to be given the position of Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force (SCAEF), the position which then went to Eisenhower because of Andrews' untimely death.
Sources indicating the flight was merely an inspection tour:
- Wikipedia: Bio of Frank Maxwell Andrews;
- Arlington Cemetery: Frank Maxwell Andrews, Lieutenant General, United States Army;
- Wikipedia: Bio of Gen. Jacob L. Devers - ETOUSA;
- The Nashville Post: Nashville now and then: What might have been.
Sources which indicate it was a flight back to the USA for an important meeting with the Chief of Staff:
- Wikipedia: Hot Stuff (aircraft) (see: Crash in Iceland);
- Warbird Digest: WWII B-24 Liberator Hot Stuff – Setting the Record Straight.
I have found some additional potentially credible sources (looking for primary sources) which support the claim that Andrews (for whom Andrews AFB is named) was the original choice for SCAEF, not Eisenhower, which lends tangent or indirect support to the claim Andrews may have been on his way home for the appointment. (This is also controversial because I have also found other credible sources which either contradict this or neglect to mention it at all in the context of SCAEF and SHAEF topics. But this is worth another separate Question).