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On an early morning in the fall of 1942, Kemp McLaughlin's group set out for a raid on a French target. Immediately after dropping its bombs, McLaughlin's plane was hit. A huge fire burned a four-foot hole in his wing, his waist gunner bailed out, his radio operator was wounded, the plane lost all oxygen, and his pilot put on a parachute and sat on the escape hatch, waiting for the plane to explode. And this was only McLaughlin's first sortie. McLaughlin went on to pilot the mission command plane on the second raid against Schweinfurt, the largest air raid in history, which resulted in the destruction of 70 percent of German ball bearing production capability. McLaughlin also participated in the bombing of heavy water installations in Norway. The Mighty Eighth in WWII also includes the stories of downed pilots in France and Holland who traveled under the cover of night through the countryside, evading the Nazis who had seen their planes go down. As a group leader, McLaughlin was responsible for the planning and execution of air raids, forced to follow the directives of senior (and sometimes less informed) officers. His position as one of the managers of the massive sky trains allows him to provide unique insight into the work of maintenance and armament crews, preflight briefings, and off-duty activities of the airmen. No other memoir of World War II reveals so much about both the actual bombing runs against Nazi Germany and the management of personnel and material that made those airborne armadas possible.
Women Soldier Mother
In 1963 Mukwahepo left her home in Namibia and followed her fiance across the border into Angola. They survived hunger and war and eventually made their way to Tanzania. There, Mukwahepo became the first woman to undergo military training with SWAPO. For nine years she was the only woman in SWAPO's Kongwa camp. She was then thrust into a more traditional women's role - taking care of children in the SWAPO camps in Zambia and Angola. At Independence, Mukwahepo returned to Namibia with five children. One by one their parents came to reclaim them, until she was left alone. Already in her fifties, and with little education, Mukwahepo could not get employment. She survived on handouts until the Government introduced a pension and other benefits for veterans. Through a series of interviews, Ellen Ndeshi Namhila recorded and translated Mukwahepo's remarkable story. This book preserves the oral history of not only the 'dominant male voice' among the colonised people of Namibia, but brings to light the hidden voice, the untold and forgotten story of an ordinary woman and the outstanding role she played during the struggle.
Fighting with the Buffalo Soldiers in World War II
Major General Lew Wallace in the West, 1861–1862
Lew Wallace of Indiana was a selftaught extraordinary military talent. With boldness and celerity, he advanced in less than a year from the rank of colonel of the 11th Indiana to that of major general commanding the 3rd Division at Shiloh. Ultimately, his civilian, amateur military status collided headlong with the professional military culture being assiduously cultivated by Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck, a cautious and difficult commander. The fallout was aggravated by Wallace’s unwillingness to acknowledge the protocols that sustained the military chain of command. The primary result of the collision was that he failed to realize his most cherished ambition: leading men in battle.
Wallace grew from comparative obscurity to become a model for the civilian, amateur soldier. His participation in the Woolfolk affair in late 1861 personified the difficulties the Lincoln administration had with the army justifying, then enforcing, its official policy of conciliation. Wallace’s testimony before the Joint Congressional Committee on the Conduct of the War highlighted that problem anew and galvanized the opposition in his worsening relationship with Ulysses S. Grant. Author Charles G. Beemer’s extensive investigation of primary sources reveals that a number of existing interpretations concerning Wallace, Grant, Halleck, Grant’s aide John A. Rawlins, and the Union war effort in the West from Fort Henry to Shiloh, either need refurbishing or demand discarding.
Deliberately disobeying a direct order from Grant, Wallace thwarted the probable destruction of the Union right flank at Fort Donelson while simultaneously saving Grant’s military career from oblivion. For this, he received little recognition, especially from Grant. At Shiloh, Wallace was absent from the field of battle the entire first day, and a thorough explanation of why this happened has yet to become an integral part of the Shiloh story. Predicated upon Wallace’s presumed errors of judgment and alleged lack of productive activity that day, Halleck, Rawlins, and an unwitting but supportive Grant engineered a campaign of silence, thereby casting Wallace into the unofficial role of scapegoat for the failure of Union arms on the Tennessee. Wallace’s unrepentant desire for exoneration clashed headlong with an aloof and ungrateful Grant, generating a controversy and a cover up that lingers even today.
She flew the swift P-51 and the capricious P-38, but the heavy, four-engine B-17 bomber and C-54 transport were her forte. This is the story of Nancy Harkness Love who, early in World War II, recruited and led the first group of twenty-eight women to fly military aircraft for the U.S. Army. Love was hooked on flight at an early age. At sixteen, after just four hours of instruction, she flew solo “a rather broken down Fleet biplane that my barnstorming instructor imported from parts unknown.” The year was 1930: record-setting aviator Jacqueline Cochran (and Love’s future rival) had not yet learned to fly, and the most famous woman pilot of all time, Amelia Earhart, had yet to make her acclaimed solo Atlantic flight. When the United States entered World War II, the Army needed pilots to transport or “ferry” its combat-bound aircraft across the United States for overseas deployment and its trainer airplanes to flight training bases. Most male pilots were assigned to combat preparation, leaving few available for ferrying jobs. Into this vacuum stepped Nancy Love and her civilian Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS). Love had advocated using women as ferry pilots as early as 1940. Jackie Cochran envisioned a more ambitious plan, to train women to perform a variety of the military’s flight-related jobs stateside. The Army implemented both programs in the fall of 1942, but Jackie’s idea piqued General Hap Arnold’s interest and, by summer 1943, her concept had won. The women’s programs became one under the name Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), with Cochran as the Director of Women Pilots and Love as the Executive for WASP. Nancy Love advised the Ferrying Division, which was part of the Air Transport Command, as to the best use of their WASP ferry pilots. She supervised their allocation and air-training program. She proved adept at organizing and inspiring those under her command, earning the love and admiration of her pilots. Her military superiors trusted and respected her, to the point that she became Ferrying Division commander Gen. William H. Tunner’s troubleshooter. By example, Love won the right for women ferry pilots to transition into increasingly more complex airplanes. She checked out on twenty-three different military aircraft and became the first woman to fly several of them, including the B-17 Flying Fortress. Her World War II career ended on a high note: following a general’s orders, she piloted a giant C-54 Army transport over the fabled China-Burma-India “Hump,” the crucial airlift route over the Himalayas. Nancy Love believed that the women attached to the military needed to be on equal footing with the men and given the same opportunities to prove their abilities and mettle. Young women serving today as combat pilots owe much to Love for creating the opportunity for women to serve.
Memoirs of Lieutenant John M. Porter of the Ninth Kentucky Cavalry
John Marion Porter (1839–1898) grew up working at his family’s farm and dry goods store in Butler County, Kentucky. The oldest of Reverend Nathaniel Porter’s nine children, he was studying to become a lawyer when the Civil War began. As the son of a family of slave owners, Porter identified with the Southern cause and wasted little time enlisting in the Confederate army. He and his lifelong friend Thomas Henry Hines served in the Ninth Kentucky Calvary under John Hunt Morgan, the “Thunderbolt of the Confederacy.” When the war ended, Porter and Hines opened a law practice together, but Porter was concerned that the story of his service during the Civil War and his family’s history would be lost with the collapse of the Confederacy. In 1872, Porter began writing detailed memoirs of his experiences during the war years, including tales of scouting behind enemy lines, sabotaging a Union train, being captured and held as a prisoner of war, and searching for an army to join after his release. Editor Kent Masterson Brown spent several years preparing Porter’s memoir for publication, clarifying details and adding annotations to provide historical context. One of Morgan’s Men: Memoirs of Lieutenant John M. Porter of the Ninth Kentucky Cavalry is a fascinating firsthand account of the life of a remarkable Confederate soldier. In this unique volume, Porter’s insights on Morgan and the Confederacy are available to readers for the first time.
Civil War General and Great Lakes Engineer
Recipient of the Library of Michigan's 2010 Notable Books award
The first biography of Sherman’s chief engineer and the man whose post–Civil War engineering work changed Great Lakes navigation forever
Orlando M. Poe chronicles the life of one of the most influential yet underrated and overlooked soldiers during the Civil War. After joining the Union Army in 1861, Poe commanded the 2nd Michigan Infantry in the Peninsula Campaign and led brigades at Second Bull Run and Fredericksburg. He was then sent west and became one of the Union heroes in the defense of Knoxville. Poe served under several of the war’s greatest generals, including George McClellan and William T. Sherman, who appointed him chief engineer to oversee the burning of Atlanta and Sherman’s March to the Sea. Though technically only a captain in the regular army at the war’s end, Poe was one of Sherman’s most valued subordinates, and he was ultimately appointed brevet brigadier general for his bravery and service.
After the war, Poe supervised the design and construction of numerous Great Lakes lighthouses, all of which are still in service. He rejoined Sherman’s staff in 1873 as engineer aide-de-camp and continued his role as trusted advisor until the general’s retirement in 1884. Poe then returned to his adopted home in Detroit where he began planning his ultimate post–Civil War engineering achievement: the design and construction of what would become the largest shipping lock in the world at Sault St. Marie, Michigan.
Mining an extensive collection of Poe’s unpublished personal papers that span his entire civil and military career, and illustrating the narrative with many previously unpublished photographs, Paul Taylor brings to life for the first time the story of one of the nineteenth century’s most overlooked war heroes.
A Tanker's Story
Memoirs of a Marine Artillery Officer, 1943–1945
The gritty combat memoir of a Marine Corps artilleryman and forward observer
As a married man and Stanford graduate student nearing thirty, Christopher Donner would likely have qualified for an exemption from the draft. Like most of his generation, however, he responded promptly to the call to arms after Pearl Harbor. His wartime experiences in the Pacific Theater were seared into his consciousness, and in early 1946 he set out to preserve those memories while they were still fresh. Sixty-five years later, Donner’s memoir is now available to the public.