Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Ol' Man Would Like This

English Project Seeks to Honor 8th Air Force's Friendly Invasion: Local English communities have come together under a project to preserve the story of 8th Air Force and its presence throughout eastern England during World War II. The initiative, dubbed "The Eighth in the East," has just received a development grant of some $22,800 (£14,500) to launch its activities. "Inspired by a team of archaeologists, archivists, and museum curators, the project is aimed at helping local people of all ages who live close to one of the 67 war-time airfields to take ownership of this rich legacy by recording oral histories, mapping each air base, and putting together events which will engage everyone with a three-year period that changed the course of history," reads a release from project planners. "It's almost shameful," said BBC's Nick Patrick "that, were it not for a handful of dedicated volunteers and museum professionals, this history has almost been allowed to die." (For more on the Mighty Eighth during World War II, read The Real Twelve O'Clock High and The Cost of Schweinfurt from Air Force Magazine's archives.)
My father served in the Mighty Eighth during the Big One and flew his 25 missions in B-17s over Der Vaterland.  I'm pretty sure he'd be happy to hear the legacy of the 8AF in Britain is being defended; too much of its physical presence has already vanished.  As for me... I'm glad the Brits are putting some effort into preserving the history.  Good On 'Em.

You might wanna chase both of the above links, but especially the "Twelve O'Clock High" link.  An excerpt:
It had an authenticity seldom seen in war movies. It pushed all the right buttons for airmen, who held it in such regard that the movie became something of a cult film for several generations of Air Force members. 

In those days, almost everybody in the Air Force had seen it at least once, and the film was used for many years in USAF leadership courses.
You can count me among that "several generations of Air Force members" referenced in the quote.  I've seen the film at least three times, if not more.  The linked article is a great read.


  1. Buck/

    They have (had)a very nice small museum dedicated to the 8thAF @ Cambridge, plus a near-by memorial wall and grave-yard. I visited circa 70/71.

  2. Better check spam, Buck, lol, under anon about Cambridge museum.

  3. I've been to that museum, Virgil. Small, but good.

  4. I'm not sure I have seen "Twelve O'Clock High" - might have to see it. "Red Tails" should be out, and I want to see it too.

  5. I'm sure you're proud of your father. 25 missions in a B17. Amazing. I remember reading somewhere a statistic (which I may be mis-remembering) that on average, 1 out of 4 planes on those missions did not make it back. Do you know if that's accurate?

    I've seen "12 o'clock high" two, maybe three times. I've always loved it and all the other wwii movies about the U.S. airforce. I spent a good bit (probably too much) of my time in class from the 6th grade to the 8th drawing pictures of B17's, B24's, P51's, etc.

    The linked article in the AF mag was excellent. I learned a lot about the movie and was especially interested to know that the screenwriters were actually involved with the 8th in Britain. There's definitely a different breed in Hollywood today.

  6. Lou: I'll wait until Red Tails hits cable or DVD.

    Dan: Air Force losses in Europe during WWII were horrendous, worse even than the Marines in the Pacific. According to The Wiki, USAAF combat deaths as a percentage of the force were five percent, second only to the ground army's loss rate of 10%. My father was one of the lucky ones.

    And you're right about there bein' a different breed in Hollywood today.


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