Tommy Hitchcock Jr.

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Tommy Hitchcock Jr.
Thomas Hitchcock Jr..jpg
Tommy Hitchcock Jr., April 6, 1918
Born(1900-02-11)February 11, 1900
DiedApril 18, 1944(1944-04-18) (aged 44)
Cause of deathMilitary test aircraft crash
Resting placeCambridge American Cemetery,
Cambridgeshire, England
EducationSt. Paul's School, Harvard University, Oxford University
Known forLafayette Flying Corps
Polo (10-goal handicap)
P-51 Mustang development
Board member ofLehman Brothers
Spouse(s)Margaret Mellon
ChildrenLouise Eustis Hitchcock, Margaret Mellon Hitchcock, Thomas Hitchcock III, William Mellon Hitchcock
Parent(s)Thomas Hitchcock &
Louise Mary Eustis
Medal record
Men's Polo
Representing the  United States
Olympic Games
Silver medal – second place 1924 Paris Team competition

Thomas Hitchcock Jr. (February 11, 1900 – April 18, 1944) was an American polo player who was killed in an air crash during World War II. He was inducted into the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame.


Born in Aiken, South Carolina, he learned the sport from his parents, Louise and Thomas Hitchcock Sr.. His father was a U.S. Racing Hall of Fame horse trainer who had been a 10-goal player who helped found the Meadowbrook Polo Club on Long Island, New York, and who captained the American team in the inaugural 1886 International Polo Cup. Tommy Jr. played in his first tournament at age 13 and was part of the Meadowbrook Polo Club that won the 1916 U.S. national junior championship.

Hitchcock attended St. Paul's School, where he played football, hockey and was a member of the crew team. After being elected president of the Sixth Form, Hitchcock chose to leave school and join the Lafayette Flying Corps in France during World War I. He was shot down and captured by the Germans but escaped by jumping out of a train. On foot, he hid in the woods during the daytime then walked more than one hundred miles over eight nights to the safety of Switzerland.[1]

After the war, Hitchcock studied at Harvard University and Oxford University. In polo, he led the U.S. team to victory in the 1921 International Polo Cup. From 1922 to 1940, Hitchcock carried a 10-goal handicap, which is the highest ranking in polo, from the United States of America Polo Association. Playing with notable stars such as Pete Bostwick, Jock Whitney, and Gerald Balding, he led teams to U.S. National Open Championships in 1923, 1927, 1935 and 1936.

Author F. Scott Fitzgerald modeled two characters in his books on Tommy Hitchcock Jr.: Tom Buchanan in The Great Gatsby (1925) and the Tommy Barban character in Tender Is the Night (1934).[2][3]

Hitchcock married Margaret Mellon, daughter of William Larimer Mellon, in New York City on 15 December 1928. They had four children: daughters Louise Eustis Hitchcock and Margaret Mellon Hitchcock, and twin sons Thomas Hitchcock III and William Mellon Hitchcock.

In 1937, with fellow polo player Robert Lehman, he became a partner in the Lehman Brothers investment firm. [1]

Serving as a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army Air Forces in World War II, Hitchcock was assigned as an assistant air attaché to the US Embassy in London, England. In that capacity, he was instrumental in the development of the P-51 Mustang fighter plane, particularly in replacing the original Allison engine with the Packard-built Rolls-Royce Merlin. He was killed while piloting one such aircraft near Salisbury, Wiltshire, England when he was unable to pull out of a dive while doing tests. His death was reported to his family by fellow St. Paul's alumnus John G. Winant, then serving as United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom.[4]


Following its formation, in 1990 Tommy Hitchcock Jr. was inducted posthumously into the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame.

Three of Hitchcock's children – Margaret, Thomas II, and William – loaned the Hitchcock Estate in Millbrook, New York to Timothy Leary from 1963 to 1968, and it became a nexus of the psychedelic movement of that decade.


  1. ^ March 18, 1985 Sports Illustrated article titled Tommy Hitchcock: A War Hero And Shining Star Of Sports' Golden Age
  2. ^ Texas oil honcho whose polo playing father was 'Great Gatsby' inspiration sues book dealer over $750,000 inscribed first edition stolen from his home
  3. ^ Son claims his LI dad was 'Great Gatsby' inspiration - and someone stole his $750G book
  4. ^ "Lt. Col. Thomas Hitchcock is Killed in Plane Crash". Daily Racing Form at University of Kentucky Archives. 1944-04-21. Retrieved 2018-11-26.

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