John Comer kept a journal of the 25 missions he flew in 1943, when the casualty rate on his base was close to 80 percent. His book is handwritten history, recorded within hours after the battles occurred. Comer vividly creates his experiences as top-turret gunner/flight engineer in a B-17 squadron that was thrown against the best pilots the Luftwaffe could offer. In 1943 the army air force had no long-range fighters to protect the B-17s as they flew deep into enemy territory. Immediate, straightforward, and compelling, Combat Crew is a classic of aerial warfare.
©1988 John Comer (P)2015 Tantor
I enjoy history and particularly books on the First and Second World Wars. I also enjoy novels based on the period and modern day combat.
Maybe a part of the Second World War not appreciated by us who know the RAF effort but where less aware of the sacrifice made by the USAAF.
The story conveys very clearly the fear and tension of daylight raids into the heart of Germany. The incredible odds of completing 25 missions and the tension as the milestone came closer.
The description of the air combat and the camaraderie of Comers crew as they looked out for one another during the long raids. The dangers both from the enemy and equipment failures are starkly described. I have learnt an enormous amount from this book and have tremendous gratitude and respect for these brave men's sacrifice.
I really enjoyed this book. I have listened to it more than once. The narration is superb.
Those who are interested in this era are fully aware of the horrendous casualties suffered by RAF bomber crews. This book covers the period before P 51 Mustang began escorting American day bombers when casualty rates were even higher. As an account by a straightforward USA gunner it tells the story well. The account is factual and a little repetitive .
I enjoy reading biographies of famous World War One and World War Two generals. I also enjoy reading the memoirs of the average soldier from these two Wars. These firsthand accounts by the ordinary soldier are great ways to understand these two Wars better.
Many of these memoirs are weak and fragmented trying to paste together memories from long ago. Therefore, I always am looking for those stores that are taken from a day to day diary. This is such a book; it provides us with the day to day viewpoint of a B-17 turret gunner/mechanic. Comer tells the story of his 25 mission in the early days of the American campaign against the Nazis. Comer tells us about his crew members and ground crews. I had the feeling that I was riding right beside Comer on his missions. Comer did a tour flying mission in Italy for a total of 80 combat missions. Comer died in 2005 in Texas.
I understand that with the help of his son he first self published the book in 1985. It was then bought by the William Morrow publishing company and was published internationally quite successfully. Recently it has been published as an e-book and an audiobook again with great success. Patrick Lawler did a good job narrating the story. The book is of average length of about eleven hours.
"great details behind the flying"
being an air plane nut and an airplane mechanic by trade this book covers a part of the story that I had never read before. instead of following a pilot through the missions, you get to see it from the view of a crewman. and not just any crew, the guy who kept track of the mechanical details while also fighting off attacking fighters. the crew battles with oxygen systems, electrical failures, gun jams, hung up bombs and frostbite, bringing the incredible challenge each mission was, even if fighters and flack hadn't been there.
the odds these men faced are brought out in a easy to understand way, without being boring or repetitive.
other than some odd musing in the writers mind , the book has a good flow and story, bringing home exactly why 25 missions was such an almost impossible goal in the those days.
"My favorite WW II book!"
Yes, I love the book and the narrator did a fantastic job.
The story line is gripping from beginning to end.
I've read this book twice in book form and was so excited to see it on Audible. This is so well written from the perspective of the perfect position on the crew. The Flight Engineer had his hands in everything on the aircraft and it's nice to get the story from his point of view rather than the usual pilot point of view.
I don't write many reviews but I would highly recommend this book to anyone I know.
"Excellent Personal Diary"
The first person narrative, based on Comer's diary and experiences. The story was therefore about a young man and the thrills, the shocks, the challenges, the pain and the memories. It was not about generals and strategy and logistics. As such it offered yet another valuable perspective on what war is really like.
"Best WWII First Hand B17 Crew Book Ever"
Well written first hand account of a B17 Crew over Nazi Germany. It puts you right in the action and deep into the emotions of comraderie, anticipation, and not knowing if you are going to live or die from day to day.
"this book is the best."
this book is a rare treasure. an amazing life. buying hard copy.
Very personal account. I loved the technical detail of daily missions. I recommend this to any aviation history buff
"Riveting Story About B-17 Combat Missions"
This story kept me revited to my car seat. An excellent performance by the narrator, I could visualize the drame as it unfolder. I felt as I was onboard.
"The greatest generation"
My dad was one of the P-47 escorts, and became a POW while getting his ace kill. He commented on how impressive it was to break out of the clouds and see the "big friends" filling the sky from horizon to horizon.
This is an inspiring account of one crew member's life as a flight engineer and turret gunner. This is an unforgettable eloquent portrait.
"So lucky a diary was kept"
Another story of very brave men who were real heroes. Sad that so many had to die.
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