Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

The Catch-22 Bomb Wing

Discussion in 'ETO, MTO and the Eastern Front' started by dhsetzer, May 4, 2016.

  1. dhsetzer

    dhsetzer Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    16
    The Bridgebusters: The True Story of the Catch-22 Bomb Wing, by Thomas Cleaver

    The exploits and achievements of the 57th Bomb Wing in the Mediterranean Theater are not well known especially considering the number of unique firsts and superlatives they amassed during the fighting there from February 1943 until the end of the war in May of 1945.

    After the war Herman Göring stated to Army interrogators: “The disruption of our [transportation] lines has done more harm to us than the destruction of our factories.” This was the job at which the Bridgebusters excelled.

    The lack of general knowledge about the Wing is even more puzzling when you consider that the greatest novel to come out of WWII, Joseph Heller's Catch-22, was woven from the very fabric of his personal experiences as a bombardier in the 57th Bomb Wing.

    The Wing could not have found a better historian than Tom Cleaver to bring their story to the attention of WWII historians and enthusiasts everywhere.

    Cleaver uses his encyclopedic knowledge of operations in the MTO to recount the action on the ground as well as in the air in order to establish the context of the sacrifices made by the men of the 57th.

    Mr. Cleaver is the first author to have total access to the complete archives of the 57th Bomb Wing Association, and was able to do personal interviews with the crewmen who braved the dreaded German 88's over Italy and France. Cleaver's text was fact-checked by Wing historians and veterans of the 57th assuring the reader of the most accurate and comprehensive account of the Wing's history ever published in English.

    His crisp, fast-moving descriptions of the action inside stricken B-25 bombers will have you on the edge of your seat, as well as the accounts of the fliers evading capture after bailing out over enemy territory.

    And then there is Catch-22. Cleaver looks at some of Heller's toughest missions and shows how they were incorporated into his work of 'fiction' almost detail for detail. Cleaver also incorporates some never before seen resources that cast new light on Heller and the origins of Catch-22.

    The Bridgebusters is an absolute 'must' anyone who wants to have a full understanding of the war in the MTO.
     
    CAC likes this.
  2. lwd

    lwd Ace

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Messages:
    12,312
    Likes Received:
    1,238
    Location:
    Michigan
    Kindle version is on my wish list. As an aside I'm of the opinion that there was no "greatest novel to come out of WWII" and certainly wouldn't place Catch-22 in that position. That shouldn't taken as detracting from the work mentioned..

    How did you become aware of this book? I note that it isn't due to come out for a few days yet.
     
  3. dhsetzer

    dhsetzer Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    16
    Hi Ace,

    I am a member (2nd generation) of the 57th Bomb Wing Association made up of WWII Veterans and family members.

    http://57thBombWing.com

    I was sent an advance copy to review.
     
  4. lwd

    lwd Ace

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Messages:
    12,312
    Likes Received:
    1,238
    Location:
    Michigan
    Thanks again for the review looking forward to reading the book.
     
  5. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2008
    Messages:
    3,223
    Likes Received:
    452
    Catch 22 was a great read but my choice would still be the cruel sea.
    Given where I live I have mostly looked at the operations of the 57th bomb wing "from the receiving end", a couple of years ago they reopened to visitors a coastal battery and was one of the catch 22 raids target as it's fire was blocking the advance, and that generated a surge of interest around the topic, a good US side source looks like a very interesting read.
     
  6. dhsetzer

    dhsetzer Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    16
    Where is the coastal battery that was raided by the 57th BW?
     
  7. lwd

    lwd Ace

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Messages:
    12,312
    Likes Received:
    1,238
    Location:
    Michigan
    TOS if you could post some pictures of the battery I know I'd enjoy it and I suspect other would as well.
     
  8. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2008
    Messages:
    3,223
    Likes Received:
    452
    The raid I was referring to was on December 1944 and had probably as target the 6" guns of Batteria Dante de Lutti at punta bianca that was firing on the US troops but most bombs hit closer to the nearby Batteria generale Chiodo that at the time had just AA weapons (its original amament was 11" anti shipping mortars) .

    There are some pictures of the punta bianca battery here

    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151374028232397.1073741834.371554427396&type=1

    http://www.panoramio.com/photo_explorer#user=1501395&with_photo_id=78878536&order=date_desc

    Batteria G. Chodo is now converted to a resort so there is not much left of it.

    https://www.google.it/imgres?imgurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.liguriaheritage.it%2Fheritage%2Fdownload%2Ffstore%2F1384342587929%2FLH-ramparo.jpg&imgrefurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.liguriaheritage.it%2Fheritage%2Fit%2FLiguriaTerreDiForti%2FLaSpezia.do%3FcontentId%3D30094%26localita%3D2183%26area%3D212&docid=YFMjquxONs-YeM&tbnid=Z8YSPReVtfPWnM%3A&w=644&h=370&bih=904&biw=1920&ved=0ahUKEwjdwPerrMbMAhUEmBoKHcjGDDwQMwghKAQwBA&iact=mrc&uact=8l

    La Spezia was a main Regia Marina base,there was a huge number of batteries around it, and many were manned by the Germans after September 1943.
     
    lwd likes this.
  9. dhsetzer

    dhsetzer Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    16
    Thank you for the links to the gun batteries.

    The 57th Bomb Wing 'visited' La Spezia on multiple occasions. However, I do not see any missions flown in December of 1944.

    On the other hand, the 340th Bomb Group of the 57th BW hit gun positions three times in April 1945:

    http://57thbombwing.com/340th_History/487th_History/missions/040645_LaSpezia.htm

    http://57thbombwing.com/340th_History/487th_History/missions/040845_LaSpezia.htm

    http://57thbombwing.com/340th_History/487th_History/missions/041445_LaSpezia.htm

    .
     
    TiredOldSoldier likes this.
  10. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2008
    Messages:
    3,223
    Likes Received:
    452
    From the information I have the April raids did target the same batteries, amongst other targets, but they were still mostly intact when ultimately abandoned as we can see from the pictures. The December raid may not have involved planes of the 57th BW, people "on the receiving end" are not likely to know the exact attacking air unit unless the cross referenced with US records, which is why I'm interested in the upcoming book. IIRC Heller does not give exact dates and locations, but its long time since I read his book.

    6" naval guns are "medium heavy artillery" in land terms, and can be pretty nasty due to the very long range. (a 6" howitzer would probably be a medium, the Germans classed the 150mm Sw FH 18 as such, the naval guns were 50 calibers, for comparison a 155mm Long Tom is an L45 and the FH18 an L/30). Looking at those forificatiions it would be pretty hard to damage them with standard GP bombs, do you know if any "special weapons" were used? The US forces tended to go for "quantity has a quality of its own" rather than fewer specialized weapons with the associated logistical problems.
     
  11. dhsetzer

    dhsetzer Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    16
    I think you are correct, TOS, for the most part the B-25's were using GP (General Purpose) bombs. They would also carry fragmentation bombs and phosphorus.

    However, I do also find references to 100 and 300-pound demolition bombs, usually used on airfields or shipping, as well as 1,000-pound semi-armor piercing bomb loads.

    Note, for example, on the April 6, 1945 mission http://57thbombwing.com/340th_History/487th_History/missions/040645_LaSpezia.htm the mission description specifies 18 x 1000 SAP (Semi-Armor Piercing) bombs.
     
  12. dhsetzer

    dhsetzer Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    16

Share This Page