The Forgotten Squadron: The 449th Fighter Squadron in World War II. By Daniel Jackson. Atglen, Penn.: Schiffer, 2010. Maps. Tables. Diagrams. Illustrations. Photographs. Notes. Appendices. Bibliography. Index. Pp. 160. $59.99 ISBN: 978-0-7643-3537-2
This book is noteworthy not only for its subject and narrative quality, but also for other aspects including photo quality and depth of scholarship. Most surprising is that Lieutenant Jackson conceived and finished this research project while still a college student. The excited response of veterans and families to his requests for information and the lack of official documentation on the 449th's activities convinced him this was a story that needed to be shared. The result is first class and would do any historian proud.
I didn't know P-38s served in the China-Burma-India Theater. The 449th was the virtual unknown of Chennault's not-well-known Fourteenth Air Force whose contributions have faded like the mists of the mountainous land they defended. It was the only P-38 unit stationed in China and dealt with the same maintenance, support, and supply problems that plagued every other unit there. Jackson does an excellent job discussing the unit's struggles from all perspectives and helps the reader appreciate fighting in such unforgiving circumstances.
The account of the squadron from inception to deactivation is excellent. Jackson provides enough background of world and theater events to frame the squadron's activities and help the reader understand the unit's efforts and contributions. He interviewed or corresponded with twenty-nine unit veterans, one Chinese civilian, and a Japanese researcher in developing his narrative. Numerous memoirs and reminisces, published and unpublished, helped him recreate a robust picture of events. He even traveled to China to see some of the locations he writes about. His success is evident in the frequent firsthand accounts of events as varied as the accidental shooting of a pilot by an armaments officer demonstrating rifle...