Operation Thunderclap and the Black March: Two World War II Stories from the Unstoppable 91st Bomb Group. By Richard Allison. Havertown Penn.: Casemate, 2014. Photographs. Notes. Bibliography. Index. Pp.240. $34.95 ISBN: 978-1-61200-265-1 (digital 978-1-61200-266-8)
In 2008, Addison Bartush, a co-pilot on 31 missions with the 91st Bomb Group in 1944 and 1945, agreed to share his memories of that tumultuous period in his life with Richard Allison, a business associate and friend. Fortunately, Bartush had meticulously saved the letters he received from the States along with other items documenting his role bombing Germany. Bartush also suggested interviewing another crewmember, Paul Lynch, who had survived the war after capture by the Germans.
Based on these interviews and extensive research, this first-time author, a former naval officer and retired attorney, has brought to life the final year's operations of the 91st while detailing the ordeal of captivity experienced by thousands of captured American airmen. Over 13 chapters and an epilogue, he tells these two veterans' stories in vivid detail. At the same time, he avoids, for the most part, contrived dialogue to enhance the narrative.
This story, like most on military air operations, begins with training and, in this case, formation of what would become known as the Bishop crew, after pilot Dave Bishop.
Arriving at Bassingbourne Airfield, about a dozen miles southwest of Cambridge, England, in November, 1944, the Bishop crew flew combat missions by the end of the month. However, Bartush filled in with another crew a day earlier and missed the mission of November 26 in which German fighters downed the Bishop aircraft, Wild Hare.
With Bartush flying and Lynch imprisoned, Allison alternates chapters describing their experiences. Regarding Bartush, he examines the Combined Bomber Offensive during the last year of the war in Europe. He emphasizes the Allies' decision to use American...