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Combat Crew

4.17  ·  Rating Details ·  300 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
Arriving at Ridgewell Air Base in Cambrideshire in July 1943, at a time when the loss rate for bomber crews was at its highest during the war, John Comer miraculously survived his prescribed quota of 25 missions before being allowed to return to his native shores. With the aid of his log books, he recreates the extraordinary tension-packed existence of those six months. Th ...more
Published August 24th 1989 by Sphere (first published 1986)
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A.L. Sowards
4.5 stars.

I’m glad I read this book. It was written by a flight engineer/gunner with the Eighth Air force in 1943, when American B-17 crews were taking horrendous losses and the chance of completing a 25-mission tour was slim. Later, long-range fighter escorts would arrive, and things would improve (and the number of missions required would go up), but in the summer and fall of 1943, multiple enemies—German fighters, flak, mechanical problems, and the weather—seemed to be winning.

The men who fl
Jim Comer
Dec 11, 2012 Jim Comer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dad's book is based on the journal he kept during his first 25 raids from England over Europe in 1943 when the casualty rate on his base
was 80%. He got the crew together within a few days of each mission so he had a 360 degree view of each hair-raising raid. As many times as
I've read the book, I'm always amazed at how I feel as if I'm on the plane with the crew, surrounded by flak, but without the much-needed fighters that didn't arrive in force until 1944. We took a thousand pages of notes and
Apr 07, 2015 Jeremy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Wrong Stuff : The Adventures and Misadventures of an 8th Air Force Aviator By Truman "Smitty" Smith Brought about my return to my love of building
WWII Aircraft 1/72 scale modeling.
Through the gift of the internet I find myself reading about and researching the Bomb groups and Squadrons these men flew with as well as in depth histories and nose art of their aircraft.
At this
Jean Poulos
I enjoy reading biographies of famous World War One and World War Two generals. I also enjoy reading the memoirs of the average soldier from these two Wars. These firsthand accounts by the ordinary soldier are great ways to understand these two Wars better.

Many of these memoirs are weak and fragmented trying to paste together memories from long ago. Therefore, I always am looking for those stores that are taken from a day to day diary. This is such a book; it provides us with the day to day view
Jun 26, 2013 KOMET rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best combat memoirs I've yet read. Comer was an aircraft mechanic stationed stateside with the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) in November 1942, when he volunteered for combat service as a flight engineer/gunner.

After completing his training, Comer ended up in Britain in July 1943 with a B-17 bomber group in the 8th Air Force. He arrived at a time when U.S. bomber groups were experiencing high casualty rates from flying missions over German-occupied Europe. Each member o
Nov 01, 2012 Timothy rated it really liked it
Written in matter-of-fact style, this account of a B-17 crewman over Europe is at times funny, but frequently startling.

Ten men flew in each B-17. When the author talks about witnessing a B-17 being shot down (as happens often in the tale), the reader realizes that 10 men likely just died. It's chilling knowing how intense and dangerous the skies over Europe were in World War 2.

It's historical and biographical; a good reminder that the cost of war is the loss of many young lives.
Oct 30, 2012 Paveiv rated it really liked it
Excellent book about first-hand experience with (relatively) early B-17 mission over Europe. Day raids without fighter escort to the heart of nazi Germany. You wonder how they could have survived. You learn a great deal about life of an "ordinary" crewman on the land and in the air among the flak bursts and rocket volleys. Only pity is that mr. Comer did not include his later experience over Italy.
Cindy Novak-delaurell
Aug 08, 2013 Cindy Novak-delaurell rated it it was amazing
I have numerous friends who were on B17's in the war and never tire of hearing about their experiences. This book, like the stories from my friends, makes the war that much more real for someone half their age. I'm grateful that he took the time and had the fore site to record and share his experiences.
Feb 01, 2014 Kj rated it it was amazing
I read this book when I was eleven and every subsequent year till I left for college. There was something in his accounting that held me and wouldnt let go. Maybe it was the humanity which filled the pages or the people crafted so carefully from memory it was like I knew them. A WWII story of the sky, one could never forget.
Jun 29, 2012 Mike rated it liked it
Shelves: wwii-history
Good account of his first 25 missions, but he went on to fly 50+ more later on. The fact there were that many more missions left me wanting more.
A B-17 bomber crewman recounts his harrowing combat experiences. The best book of this type I've ever read. So exciting I could hardly put it down.
Maxwell Muehlegger
Mar 01, 2011 Maxwell Muehlegger marked it as to-read
ok i think it is about a b-17's crew and how they fight in war. and what they went through .
Marianne Skarshaug
May 27, 2012 Marianne Skarshaug rated it liked it
This compilation left me with a longing for more vivid descriptions.
Apr 09, 2012 Johnathon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Amazing recount of the battle in the skies over Europe. One of my favorite books growing up.
Garth Mailman
To quote, “There's the right way, the wrong way, and the army way.” Okay, airforce in this case but same diff. The crew we are following learned they were on active duty when they were awakened at 2:30 AM for their first mission. They had not had gunnery practice nor did they know where the guns for their plane were located and lacked key parts for those guns until mere minutes before take-off. If encountering flak made a mission count to a crew's credit they encountered flak, no questions asked ...more
Jan 05, 2016 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book immensely, I find it far more interesting reading about the life and experiences of ordinary soldiers that occupied roles that folks like me would likely have ended up in if we were ever unfortunate enough to endear a event such as WW2. Very few pieces of literature covers normal soldiers lives and experiences in detail and Combat Crew did not disappoint. A story of an remarkable individual, in truly incredible and testing times.
Mar 21, 2016 William rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
A must-read for B-17 enthusiasts. Comer's tales of training and combat as a turret gunner/flight engineer for a B-17 crew based in England during WWII are compelling. The drama of trying to survive over the skies of Europe between 1943-44 (and to reach one's 25th -- and last -- mission) is absolutely riveting.
Houston Landry
Decent, not great

after about the 5th mission, the stories are all the same...a bit dull. But not awful. the direct quotes are cumbersome.
Adam Smith
Aug 01, 2016 Adam Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wish it were longer but a heckuva a ride via stories about great American Boys who do what we have to do when the nose hits the grindstone.

Cheers, Boys, and thank you for your sacrifice.
Sep 08, 2015 Stef rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
it was ok but i still could not finish it. it gets repetitive after a few missions. it is well written but not exiting. It is an engineer describing his experience in a meticulous and flat way.
Jamesm rated it really liked it
Jan 03, 2016
Amy Wood
Amy Wood rated it it was amazing
Aug 18, 2012
Elida Jones
Elida Jones rated it it was amazing
Jun 16, 2015
larry langford
larry langford rated it it was amazing
Dec 28, 2015
T. M.
T. M. rated it liked it
Mar 13, 2013
Susan M List
Susan M List rated it liked it
Dec 26, 2014
Markus Svensson
Markus Svensson rated it really liked it
May 23, 2014
John rated it it was amazing
Jul 29, 2013
John Rubin
John Rubin rated it liked it
Sep 13, 2016
Emily rated it really liked it
Apr 05, 2015
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John Comer flew 25 combat missions over Occupied Europe and Germany in 1943, including the infamous raid on the Schweinfurt ball-bearing plant that is still referred to in the Air Force as Black Thursday.

After completing his tour with the 8th Air Force, Comer returned to the States and was assigned to train new pilots. Believing this duty to be the most hazardous of all, he volunteered to return t
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