A Wing And A Prayer: The "bloody 100th" Bomb Group Of The U.s. Eighth Air Force In Action Over Europe In World War Ii

  • Manufacturer: Harpercollins
A riveting memoir of a World War II Air Force navigator brings the reader on a series of harrowing missions over Germany, facing walls of flak and machine gun fire, and his raunchy, boisterous exploits between missions. National ad/promo.

Customer Reviews

One of the best accounts of the Air War in Europe, July 16, 2003
By Philip A. True

Harry Crosby's account of the 100th Bomb Group and the air war against Naze Germany from mid-1943 till the end is one of the most informative and thoughtful memoirs of those dark days. Crosby relates many stories in his accounts, of his own experiences as a navigator, of the impact that Curtis LeMay and other group commanders had on combat techniques, of the sometimes touchy relationships between AAF personnel and their British hosts, and some thoughtful observations of the nature of war and the overall bombing campaign. Crosby with a degree in English and considerable writing experience writes lucid, stripped-down prose, and his accounts of navigating under difficult circumstances brought a reality than few other accounts--written mainly by former pilots--have done. His story of an early mission to Trondheim, in Norway, is a gem of the navigator's problems--of unexpected cloud cover, of flying over Norway where, as Hobler put it, one fjiord from the air looks like another, and the element of luck and chance in any mission. As a WWII navigator in the Pacific, these types of details were welcome, as was his understanding of the "place" of navigator's in the AAF pecking order. When I was informed in December 1945 that I was on a preferred list of those to man the postwar Air Force, I politely declined knowing that navigators would be highly unlikely to advance at the rate of pilots. (I did, however, remain the reserves for 20 years}. What comes through most clearly, however, was the terrible losses that the 8th suffered in its campaign against Germany's manufacturing capacity and infrastructure, and of the courage and perseverence of those who served. The 100th BG, for example, arrived in midyear, 1943, with 35 crews; only one intact crew completed 25 missions, though a few other crew members from crews broken up because of casualities and other reasons also survived. Was it worth it? Did the damage done justify the loss in life, not only of the air crews but also those of German civilians and others killed by the raids. Crosby is a bit ambilavent--he joined the anti-war movement in the 1960s. Nonetheless, no one can take away from the aircrews, and those who did not return, their courage and belief that they were part of a grand but terrible endeavor to bring the war to an end and of the demented policies of Hitler and his Nazi cohorts . May they rest in peace.

Great story of the air war over Europe, March 28, 2001
By Rob Morris

Harry Crosby was a navigator in the 100th Bomb Group in World War II. He was one of the original members of the 100th, a bomb group that, because it ventured into battle with less training than groups preceding it, and because of its unenviable position flying in the lower part of the formation on many missions, suffered heavy losses and became known as "The Bloody Hundredth". Crosby uses his obvious skill as a student of the English language to recreate the drama, the humor, and the terror of flying B-17's out of East Anglia in the war. He describes many of the historic missions flown by the 8th Air Force as an eyewitness. I have read the book several times and it is good history as well as a good study of human beings and the stresses they face daily in war. I highly recommend this book.

A must read, July 24, 2009
By J. Lord

This is the best book I have ever read regarding the B-17 over Europe. Harry Crosby descriptions and memory of his experiences are vivid and detailed. This is one book that I truly had a hard time walking away from. After reading it, I gave it to my daughter and son to read.

A great book, June 22, 2009
By D

This is a great book. Harry Crosby tells a very moving story about his life in the 8th AF and also his personal life.
The book is well written and insightful.

Being there, April 4, 2005
By Mark E. Brotherton

Harry captures it all. Being a navigator in one of the most colorful bomber groups of the 8th Air Force in WWII, (if not the most colorful.) Harry is there as an original crewmember of the Bloody Hundredth. In a time where your life expectancy was 8 missions and you had to fly 25... Harry's a one off, what a story, what a history. Should be mandatory reading for anyone who claims to be American.. Well done.

Amazing recaptured experience of B-17 missions over Europe., November 5, 1998
By Don Struke

Author Crosby's graceful, sensitive memoir of the contributions and sacrifices made by U.S. airmen high over Europe is a landmark work not only in combat literature but as a study of men (and women) in the epoch that was WWII. His musings about what future poets, artists. and statesmen did not survive this war (or any war, I say) helped put all of world history in perspective. Bravo, Mr. Crosby, and thank you so very much.

Incredible Account of Strategic Bombing Campaign, July 13, 1998
By Scott A. MacPhee smacphee@juno.com

Dr. Crosby's book is an engaging read, providing many insights into the day-to-day operations of a bomb group in the ETO during WWII. This work has been an invaluable source for my own examination of the strategic bombing campaign. Before I read it I knew the numbers, the big picture, but Dr. Crosby has helped me to understand the lives of the crews and the pressures and demands they faced during missions. My grandfather was a flight engineer on a B-24, twice wounded and awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Silver Star for gallantry. By learning the terminology of the crews and the tasks they performed I am now able to talk with my Grandfather intelligently about the war. Thank you Dr. Crosby for making that possible.

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