Resources

RESOURCES

The sheer amount of information that's been produced about World War II in the Pacific, and is available now especially due to the evolution of the Internet, is simply mind-boggling. As an author with a passion for historical authenticity, it's nothing short of miraculous. For the family member hoping to find out about a relative who was a veteran of that war, and what that war was like for him, it's a godsend.

Below I've listed those websites that I've found the most helpful in my own research, and books that have helped me fill out that picture even more.

Websites

Ken's Men - Home of the 43rd Bomb Group

Group and squadron histories and records, photos, diaries, newsletters and more from Ken's Men, courtesy of the 43rd Bomb Group Association. Their quarterly newsletters are the most professional and informative of any group I've seen.

Australia @ War

Peter Dunn has personally amassed, and continues to daily, one of the Internet's greatest resources on the war in the Pacific, air and otherwise, as it relates to Australia. Not to be missed.

Pacific Wrecks

While its primary mission is to locate those who have gone missing in action and preserving crash sites around the world, Pacific Wrecks has become an invaluable research tool on the locations, aircraft, and naval vessels of the Pacific theater.

World War II Database

Complemented by a massive and growing photo collection, this ambitious site breaks down the story of WWII by people, events, locations, and vehicles, with summaries, chronologies, and official documents as well.

20th Combat Mapping Squadron

Chuck Varney's website dedicated to this squadron is a fascinating education in itself, but his discussion of the hardware used in the type of aerial reconnaissance and mapping done by the Eager Beavers and the rest of the 43rd is incredibly informative. 

National Personnel Resource Center

The NPRC is part of the National Archives, and houses personnel records for both the U.S. military and civil services.  Searching for a veteran's records? This is the place to start.

Books

The war in the Southwest Pacific is so vast in subject matter, it next to impossible to capture all of its complexities. Fortunately, the bomber war in the theater has benefitted from some exceptional writers and, over the last couple of decades in particular, historians, researchers, and authors working together to piece together the tapestry that was their war. Even so, sometimes is's the single author relating his personal experiences that brings the real character of the war, the individual experience of it, most to light.

The following collection consists of books that I have and haven't read. Those I haven't are included based on their high recommendations from readers in general and experts on the theater whose opinion on the subject matter I trust.

Enjoy!

Nonfiction

IHRA's magnificent Pacific bomb group histories have to be seen to be believed—detailed histories and mission descriptions, aircraft profiles and paintings, and so much more. Ken's Men Against the War Vol. 1 follows the 43rd BG from its formation to the B-24 transition in 1943, Vol. 2 through the end of the war.

Like Kens's Men Against the Empire, IHRA's history of the 22nd Bomb Group is exhaustive, tracking the 22nd from its prewar training all the way to the end of the conflict on the island of Okinawa.

Considered by many to be the definitive history of the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, this is an updated and corrected version of the classic.

Martin Bowman does yeoman's work telling the story of the various B-17 units that served throughout the Pacific from Pearl Harbor to the end of the war.

Gene Eric Salecker finds a fascinating way to tell the story of the B-17 in the Pacific, by tracing the journey of every B-17 to serve in the Pacific during World War II. (The account of '666 suffers from the traditional issues.)

In this epic, well-regarded trilogy, Bruce Gamble details the transformation of the sleepy, tourist port of Rabaul into “Fortress Rabaul,” the headquarters of Japanese forces in the Southwest Pacific, and the long, arduous Allied effort to neutralize it. It plays a central role in the story of the 43rd BG in the early stages of the war, and in the story of the Eager Beavers.

An intriguing, insightful look at all elements of the air war in the Pacific, from technology and tactics to medical and morale challenges, from high command to the individual combatant.

Researcher, historian, author, and artist MIchael Clairingbould could stock a library on this subject alone. His research into and books on the Pacific air war and the aircraft which fought it, on both sides, are considered among the best of the best. Check them all out.

While Fire in the Sky focuses on the air war in the south, Whirlwind, by the always excellent Barrett Tillman, takes on the air war as a whole in the Pacific, giving a much fuller context for the efforts of the 43rd and the Eager Beavers.

More Tillman, filling a need: "Since 1918 more than 100 American aviators (pilots & crew) from all military services have received America's highest military decoration . . . Here are the incredibly valiant & inspiring stories behind the medals & in many cases sets the 'official record' straight."

Steve Birdsall set the original high bar for aviation research and writing. A classic of the air war in the Southwest Pacific, his account of the Fifth Air Force is rightly celebrated for its blend of historical facts with rich accounts from the actual participants. Criminally out of print, find it if you can. You won't be disappointed.

Fiction/Memoirs

World War II grants a young Kansan his dream of flying, but changes his fate in ways he never expected. Drawing inspiration from the bomber war in the SW Pacific and his own life, this novel from private pilot/author Del Hayes nails the period as only a member of that generation can, the passion of flight as only a pilot can, and the excitement and pain of changing fortunes as only someone who's lived it can.

A poignant and compelling look, told through letters and official documents, at the efforts of one Brooklyn mother to get her sons back—navigator Charles Lewis, a contemporary of Sarnoski and Zeamer who went missing on a reconnaissance mission to "Fortress Rabaul" on June 1, 1943, and his younger brother Ben, an infantryman taken prisoner by the Germans in December 1944.

B-17 pilot Jim Murphy was part of the 43rd's legendary 63rd Bomb Squadron that first successfully refined the low-level skip-bombing technique that helped turn the tide in the Pacific war. I've read no other memoir that so vividly paints the picture of the early bomber war in the SW Pacific. Unfortunately out of print at Amazon, I'm listing it here because it's worth the search.

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