Robert C. Lewin
Biography: Robert Clyde Lewin, “Bob”, was born on May 9, 1920, in New York City, New York. He was the son of Irving Lewin and Mildred Stern and attended local schools in New York. He went on to attend Yale University, graduating in 1942. His enlistment record identifies that he was working as an author, editor or reporter.
Service Time: Bob entered the service on January 20, 1942, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and was assigned to the 805th Tank Destroyer Battalion. They arrived in England on August 18, 1942, and then moved to Algiers, Algeria, a month later, seeing action at Kasserine Pass and Gafsa with M3 tank destroyers. It was during this time that Lt. Lewin lead a small team of volunteers on a special “suicide mission”. Bob’s desire to be a writer someday moved him to be part of the group for the experiences it would provide. The mission went well and the men survived but they returned to find that their main camp had been attacked and there were heavy casualties. Bob’s own sleeping area had been hit. He always said that if he had not participated in the mission, he may have become a casualty too. It was this mission that later inspired him to write “The Bold and the Brave”.
The unit converted to the towed 3-inch guns in October, 1943, and were the first to use them in combat. They shipped to Italy and debarked on October 28, at Bagnoli. They shipped out again, landing on the Anzio Beachhead on March 12, 1944. The 805th provided artillery support after re-equipping with M18’s from June through August. They were the only unit in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations to use the purpose-built M18s. The 805th’s TDs were part of the advance units to help capture Bologna and Brenner Pass.
The actions of the 805th are highlighted in the book, The Blue Devils in Italy, written by John P. Delaney. The book speaks of a 24-hour dash along Highway 11, which included troops of the 1st Battalion, 350th Infantry Regiment, of the 88th Infantry, along with the 752nd Tank Battalion and the 805th, which led to the capture of the town of Vicenza. Bitter house to house fighting was necessary during their lightning move eastward, which trapped thousands of Germans from more than six divisions. Benjamin F. Klein, who joined the 805th at the Anzio Beachhead, served under Lt. Lewin. He states that Lt. Lewin commanded the convoy of troops “from his lead TD position with great courage and skillful attention”.
The 805th received credit for five campaigns; Tunisia, Naples/Foggia, Rome Arno, North Apennines and the Po Valley. Bob left the service at the rank of Captain. The main photo shown above, is Lt. Bob Lewin, who at the time was taking notes, while a Captain, interrogated three German prisoners. The full photo is shown in the 805th Photo Gallery.
Bob returned to the U.S. and began his career as a reader for Warner Brothers in New York. He then worked for the Atlanta (Georgia) Constitution as a general news reporter and for Life Magazine as a reporter on the west coast. In 1951, he partnered with Leonard Kaufman and Marvin Schwartz to form a public relations firm, which worked with many famous stars including Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable and Gary Cooper. In 1956 he received an Academy Award nomination for “The Bold and the Brave”, which was based on his experiences in WWII. The movie itself starred Mickey Rooney. Bob’s heart was in writing for movies and television and in 1963 he got his big break, writing a script for “The Rifleman”.
He went on to write and produce many television shows, including Star Trek – The Next Generation, Kung Fu, Mission Impossible and numerous others. He wrote, independently produced and directed “Third of a Man” in 1962, a film which was accepted as an entry in the Venice International Film Festival.
Bob and his wife Elyse had three children, Lian, Cheryl and Jim. Later in life, Bob’s second marriage was to Linda Feldman. Bob Passed away on August 23, 2004. I want to thank Bob’s son, Jim, for providing the materials for this tribute.