Book to read "The Candy Bombers"

Discussion in 'Post-War' started by davparlr, Sep 12, 2015.

  1. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

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    I have just complete an excellent book on a period of time I was not familiar with but would affect the world for the following forty years, and that book is, of course, the less than impressive titled “The Candy Bombers”. It is a large, well reference book with about 25% being notes and references. It does an excellent job of setting the stage for the Berlin blockage/airlift. From the decimation of the post war U.S. military, the lingering animosity towards the Germans (U.S. soldiers were forbidden to give food to Germans because “the American people did not give you money to feed the Germans”), to the huge Soviet army poised against the western European nations depleted by the war. Military estimates were that the Soviet army could conquer west European countries, except maybe the UK, in two weeks. Military leaders stated that the military budget would have to be increased to be able to hold North Africa if the Soviets invaded the West. Throw into that the politics of the 1948 election, powerful personalities such a Truman, Forrestal (first defense secretary), General Bradley, General LeMay. And then add to that, the problems with providing the largest airlift in history through hostile airspace, brutal weather and short runways, and good writing, you have an entertaining book.
    Some notes:

    President Truman. In spite of political and military pressure Truman said he would not leave Berlin. In addition, when asked if he would use the atomic bomb he said that no one should doubt that he would. It is my opinion that, at this time, the atomic bomb prevented WWIII.

    General William Turnner. Brilliant logistician who’s planning and leadership ensured the success of the Berlin airlift.

    General Lucius Clay. Stubborn leader in charge of the airlift also responsible for its success.

    General Curtis LeMay. Egotistical Commander USAF Europe who did not like and fought Turnner but who was quite willing to claim Turnner’s successes.

    C-47/R5D/DC-4. Superb and underappreciated airlifter who’s 20,000 lbs load capacity, its ruggedness, and its availability, was vital to the success of the air lift and was instrumental in the winning the first confrontation of the Cold War, the failure of which could have changed the Cold War outlook for western Europe.

    The pilots. Iron men flying a difficult and stressful mission at a sustained rate.

    Gail Halvorsen. One of the heroes of the book. Originator of Operation Little Vittles. His candy dropping efforts convince the Berliners that the US was doing more than holding back the Soviets, but cared enough to drop candy to the kids. When news of this operation reached the US, the typically generous American population enthusiastically got behind it, basically forcing opposition to the airlift to evaporate.

    Some commenters stated that the US and USSR was closer to war then that they were during the Cuban missile crises

    If you want to understand the transition of allies at the end of WW2 to enemies in the Cold War, read this book, it is entertaining and educational.
     
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  2. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the review. I remember watching the Tom Brokaw narrated Christmas presentation with Gail and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Very moving and worth looking up on YouTube.
     
  3. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    Very cool, thanks!
     
  4. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    Gail Halvorsen was the original candy bomber and the guy to whom the nickname was applied. I met him once at a 50th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift commemoration, where he explained how the nickname came about. He said that he'd seen kids lining the fence at Tempelhof when he was flying on finals, which crossed over Soviet held territory - the state of East Germany didn't exist at that point and so he got the idea of throwing bundles of candy to the kids using handkerchiefs as parachutes. When the Soviets found out they protested to the Americans and Halvorsen said he was chewed out by his CO, although his CO said that the Russkies were very upset about what he was doing, he stopped short of telling Halvorsen to stop doing it. Halvorsen took this as read that he was to continue! The name 'candy bombers' also is similar to what the Germans called the stream of aircraft flying over the city - Roisinen Bombern, Raisin Bombers.

    Its a fascinating story alright and there are plenty to reminders of the airlift around Berlin. Tempelhof still exists, although it's closed now. There's a C-54 on display there, which Halvorsen told me he flew into the airfield some time after the airlift and had it formerly presented to the people of Berlin.
     
  5. wheelsup_cavu

    wheelsup_cavu Well-Known Member

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    Definitely need to check this one out.


    Wheels
     
  6. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

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    You won't regret it.
     
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