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  #1  
Old 1st May 2016, 20:28
dsetzer dsetzer is offline
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The Catch-22 Bomb Wing

The new book is called: The Bridgebusters - The True Story of the Catch-22 Bomb Wing by Thomas McKelvey Cleaver

Here is my review of the book:

The exploits and achievements of the 57th Bomb Wing in the Mediterranean Theater are not well known especially considering the number of unique firsts and superlatives they amassed during the fighting there from February 1943 until the end of the war in May of 1945.


After the war Herman Göring stated to Army interrogators: “The disruption of our [transportation] lines has done more harm to us than the destruction of our factories.” This was the job at which the Bridgebusters excelled.


The lack of general knowledge about the Wing is even more puzzling when you consider that the greatest novel to come out of WWII, Joseph Heller's Catch-22, was woven from the very fabric of his personal experiences as a bombardier in the 57th Bomb Wing.


The Wing could not have found a better historian than Tom Cleaver to bring their story to the attention of WWII historians and enthusiasts everywhere.


Cleaver uses his encyclopedic knowledge of operations in the MTO to recount the action on the ground as well as in the air in order to establish the context of the sacrifices made by the men of the 57th.


Mr. Cleaver is the first author to have total access to the complete archives of the 57th Bomb Wing Association, and was able to do personal interviews with the crewmen who braved the dreaded German 88's over Italy and France. Cleaver's text was fact-checked by Wing historians and veterans of the 57th assuring the reader of the most accurate and comprehensive account of the Wing's history ever published in English.


His crisp, fast-moving descriptions of the action inside stricken B-25 bombers will have you on the edge of your seat, as well as the accounts of the fliers evading capture after bailing out over enemy territory.


And then there is Catch-22. Cleaver looks at some of Heller's toughest missions and shows how they were incorporated into his work of 'fiction' almost detail for detail. Cleaver also incorporates some never before seen resources that cast new light on Heller and the origins of Catch-22.


The Bridgebusters is an absolute 'must' anyone who wants to have a full understanding of the war in the MTO.
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  #2  
Old 2nd May 2016, 06:01
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Jim Oxley Jim Oxley is offline
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Re: The Catch-22 Bomb Wing

Thanks for the run down on the book Dan, appreciate it.

Catch 22 is an iconic war novel, and anything that brings it back into the events of the 'real' war is not to be missed.

I wonder how it will stack up against Heller's own autobiography "Now and Then", which touches on his war time service.
http://www.amazon.com/Now-Then-Coney...2158050&sr=1-1


And a much more recent book also on the Heller's Catch 22 340th Bomb Group, which is titled "The True Story of Catch 22: The Real Men and Missions of Joseph Heller's 340th Bomb Group in World War II" by Patricia Meder.
http://www.amazon.com/True-Story-Cat.../dp/1612001033
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  #3  
Old 2nd May 2016, 17:52
Richard T. Eger Richard T. Eger is offline
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Re: The Catch-22 Bomb Wing

Dear All,

I saw the movie in the 60's and, afterwards, wished I hadn't. Same with the "Deerhunter". The movie seemed over the top and the 2 gruesome scenes have, unfortunately, stuck in my memory. Was there any truth to these?

Regards,
Richard
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Old 3rd May 2016, 16:56
dsetzer dsetzer is offline
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Re: The Catch-22 Bomb Wing

If you are interested in Catch-22 and Joseph Heller's experiences in the 340th Bomb Group, I would propose that you read my essay on Catch-22.

Spoiler alert: Heller didn't make anything up. Nearly every event in the novel actually happened, and nearly every character in the novel lived and breathed and walked the sandy beaches of Corsica in 1944.

Take a look: http://dansetzer.us/heller_index.htm
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Old 4th May 2016, 18:31
Richard T. Eger Richard T. Eger is offline
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Re: The Catch-22 Bomb Wing

Dear Dan,

I didn't read the book and certainly wouldn't have after seeing the movie. My question is whether or not the 2 gruesome scenes in the movie actually happened.

Regards,
Richard
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Old 4th May 2016, 19:32
dsetzer dsetzer is offline
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Re: The Catch-22 Bomb Wing

The pivotal gruesome scene involved Snowden the gunner who was hit by flak.

Everything in that episode happened just as Heller reported it. The aircraft was hit by flak. The co-pilot panicked and ripped control of the ship from the pilot sending it into a steep dive. Heller in the bombardier's compartment was plastered to the roof of the 'greenhouse' in the nose and his intercom cable pulled out of the jack. When he jacked back in the pilot was yelling, "Somebody help the bombardier!"

When they got it strait that the call for help came from the rear of the plane, Heller was sent to the rear to help. He found the gunner Carl Frankel with a massive wound in his leg. Heller gave him a shot of morphine, packed the wound with sulfa and bandaged it. He stayed with Frankel until they got back to Corsica.

Unlike the novel, the gunner did not die and have his guts spill out on the floor.

See my essay here for more detail: http://dansetzer.us/heller_index.htm

What was the second gruesome scene you are referring to? I am not recalling it from the movie.
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Old 4th May 2016, 23:14
Bruce Dennis Bruce Dennis is offline
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Re: The Catch-22 Bomb Wing

Richard, the scene from the movie was visually powerful but in the book that episode was a 'punchline' to a long buildup of conflicts eating at the central character: the book is simply brilliant and shouldn't be missed.

But that is just my opinion.
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Old 5th May 2016, 01:28
Richard T. Eger Richard T. Eger is offline
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Re: The Catch-22 Bomb Wing

Dear Dan,

The second gruesome scene was of someone standing on a rock out from the shore and a pilot buzzed too close and cut off his torso and above with his propeller blade. Gruesome enough?

Regards,
Richard
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Old 5th May 2016, 17:11
dsetzer dsetzer is offline
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Re: The Catch-22 Bomb Wing

Oh, yes, that certainly meets the 'gruesome' criteria.

The incident where Kid Sampson was killed almost happened.

In my essay on Catch-22 I used a photo from Quentin Kaiser's web site that shows a C-47 buzzing the beach at Alesan, Corsica at an altitude of, maybe, 40 or 50 feet.

http://www.warwingsart.com/12thAirForce/beach.html

After I published that I found this entry in the War Diary of the 340th Bomb Group HQ for August 31, 1944:

Quote:
To many the afternoon at the beach involved a hair raising experience to Colonel Malcolm Bailey,Major Joseph Reubel and remainder of Headquarters Staff, Miss Davis Red Cross girl and a host of other beach mongers. A reconnaissance Piper Cup flying low thought it great fun to buzz the length of the beach. Coming to a height of no more than two or three feet, the plane forced each and every person to lay flat. Many unsuspecting the quietly approaching plane and who were not able to take cover till the last minute nearly had their head cut off. The plane then decided to take after Miss Davis chasing her over sand dunes into the water and on two occasions coming too close for comfort or desirable fun. The young lady with proper provocation was frightened well out of her wits. Colonel Bailey was talking of writing a letter asking for severest disciplinary action to be taken. Moral: Don't buzz beach or bathers when high ranking staff officers are around......
Colonel Bailey was the Deputy Commander of the 340th BG and the model for Colonel Korn in Catch-22.

If Joseph Heller was not at the beach that day, he certainly would have heard about the incident in full detail.
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  #10  
Old 1st June 2016, 15:34
dsetzer dsetzer is offline
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Re: The Catch-22 Bomb Wing

You can hear the author of Bridgebusters, Tom Cleaver, talk about the book in this online podcast interview:

https://archive.org/...5-27-TomCleaver
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