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Combat Crew

The Story of 25 Combat Missions over Europe from the Daily Journal of a B-17 Gunner
Narrated by: Patrick Lawlor
Length: 10 hrs and 43 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (102 ratings)

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Summary

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

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

possibly the best of the genre

A charismatic narration of an engineer/gunner's war. Probably what audio-books were made for. Buy it!

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Wow

It is unbelievable what the crews suffered. I live close to the airfield that was their base and so was particularly poignant for me.

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Utterly gripping.

An absolutely fantastic story about the men that flew in the 2nd WW.
This book had me from start to finish. You feel as like you were part of the crew.

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Combat crew

A gripping listen for my first audio book what an introduction I'm very happy ☺

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Mission Accomplished!

Listened to this twice in a month, whoa, never done that before. John Comer's gripping story is a must-read for any history buffs with an interest in this period. Made my palms sweat and my heart race. Narration is superb, well-paced, expertly delivered.

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A very interesting possibly unique account

Tour starts Nov 42 and takes nearly 14 months to complete his 25. Over Schweinfurt twice - bloody lucky to survive! Saw introduction of first G models to ETO. Account of a foo fighter sighting. Only account I know of by a Flight Engineer/gunner. Good story well told.

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Felt like i was one of the crew!

A great book revealing the trials and tribulations, loves and laughs and fears of young airmen at war. Excellent narration. Recommended.

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Best Audiobook I've ever heard

What did you like most about Combat Crew?

The perfect storm of a 1st-hand, brilliantly told story, fascinating subject matter, and a masterclass in narration.

What did you like best about this story?

Everything.

Have you listened to any of Patrick Lawlor’s other performances? How does this one compare?

No, but only because the other books don't interest me. In this book he mediates the story such that the characters come alive and the reader forgets there is a narrator at all.. very impressive and skilful!

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

If I were that way inclined, yes.

Any additional comments?

I was surprised I had never come across this book before, as an avid reader of biographies from all sides of the WW2 air war for thirty years. I'm really glad I did; for me it's right up there with the brilliant 'no moon tonight' by Don Charlwood... and that's saying something.

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  • TP
  • 07-01-17

Gripping

I could not put this book down. What an insight. Fear, excitement, tragedy, desperation, exhilaration, relief all in one book. It took you into the middle of what must have been hell at 25,000 feet. 40 below, on oxygen with 109s coming out of the sun.

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good insight about the US airforce in Europe

a very good info on the US airforce in Europe during WW2 and there lives

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  • Jean
  • 17-12-15

Absorbing

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.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Daniel
  • 08-01-16

My favorite WW II book!

Would you listen to Combat Crew again? Why?

Yes, I love the book and the narrator did a fantastic job.

What did you like best about this story?

The story line is gripping from beginning to end.

Any additional comments?

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.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Rowerwet
  • 12-05-15

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.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Michael
  • 27-09-15

Excellent Personal Diary

What did you love best about Combat Crew?

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.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Jeff
  • 17-01-17

Enjoyed it

A really good first hand account of a bomber crew member in WWII. Will be likely to purchase more titles by the narrator.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Christian
  • 08-12-16

a wonderful first-hand account

I've read many books about World War II, including many books of first-hand experiences. I can easily say this is one of the most gut-wrenching yet enjoyable books I've read so far. Highly recommended reading, especially for Aviation enthusiasts

1 person found this helpful

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  • TGower
  • 22-01-20

Very good memoirs

This is probably the best of its type “story” of someone’s WWII experience. It was like a novel, a lot of action, daily anecdotes, and very vivid descriptions of combat missions/experience and what his fellow airmen felt. I could picture myself in the airplane with him. Having flown over 220 missions over N & SVN I could easily empathize with his anxieties before and after missions, even though the fighter attacks were minimal compared to those over Germany. Highly recommend this book.

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  • Mike
  • 13-12-19

a good story of the frontline bomber crews

a good story but the it was a bit preachy at times with the author throwing in his own personal beliefs a bit too much . otherwise a good solid story

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  • Robert Smiley
  • 05-12-19

Brings this period of WW2 to life

I was not looking for this book but it was recommended by my brother. The the story is compelling. Told as it was lived. Narration was excellent as if he had actually lived the experience.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 19-10-19

A must read

I've come back to this book on more than one occasion and it always stays with me, something about Comers narration of his time in the 381st makes one feel as if they too have stepped back in time to wartime Europe.