Tne Consolidated B-24 was the main USAAF bomber in the Pacific during World War II. Yet surprisingly, few books have been published on B-24 PTO ops. To redress the balance, we now have Phil Scearce's FINISH FORTY AND HOME, THE UNTOLD WORLD WAR II STORY OF B-24s IN THE PACIFIC, which traces the combat career of Scearce's father who served in the Liberator-equipped 42nd BS, 11th BG. It's an appealing story well told.
A combat tour in the Pacific for USAAF aircrew was 40 missions. Herman Scearce, who enlisted at the age of 16(!), logged his 40 missions from February 1943 to March 1945, an unusually lengthy tour. In part, this was due to the limited combat his squadron saw in 1943 and the fact that it also served as a training squadron in early 1944. Scearce served as a radar operator and gunner.
Using much material from former 42nd BS personnel and other B-24 vets, Phil Scearce
has fashioned an excellent, appealing and sometimes saddening chronicle of young men at war. FINISH FORTY AND HOME provides a rare, up-close-and-personal look at the unique war waged by 11th BG crews. Scearce's dad and the other men of the unit really come alive in this evocative book.
Short and sweet: FINISH FORTY AND HOME is one of the best books I've read on the B-24. Highly recommended.
on July 26, 2011
Your library on WWII is INCOMPLETE WITHOUT THIS BOOK. The Pacific Theater is often refereed to as the Forgotten War, except by those who fought and died there. Phil has written on one of the GREATEST Air Corp Units of the Second World War.
The 11 TH BGH and its' Four Squadrons were awarded the Marine DUC by their Naval Commander in 1942/43. Their own Commander, the HIGHEST ranking Native American and the FIRST AMERICAN GENERAL LOST IN WORLD WAR TWO was lost LEADING HIS UNIT IN MIDWAY. General Clarence Tinker did not send me into Battle HE LEAD them!!
This was NEVER DONE BEFORE THE 11 TH BGH and its Four Squadrons the 42 nd, the 431 ST, the 26 and 98 were presented with this extreme Honor.
This Honer was followed by A Presidential Unit Citation as well.
The book covers the era of the NEW B-24 bombers that came to replace and continue the war against the evil in the Pacific and no one did it better. I have waited and waited for this book.
I purchased three, two are going to 2 men who fought in this VERY 42 Squadron.
The Forgotten War is only forgotten by some individuals who thought the world was flat. Ask Lou Zamapini about his time as a POW, or the Australian Pilot whose friends had their livers cut out and eaten by Japanese Commanders.
NO ONE COULD HAVE WRITTEN A MORE FITTING AND HONORING BOOK AS HAS PHIL, WELL DONE YOU HAVE HONORED ALL THOSE THOUSANDS WHO LANDED ON THE PACIFIC NEVER TO BE RECOVERED OR BURIED AS did those in Europe.
God bless you and your book, I am guessing it will HAVE TO BE A BEST SELLER, here and in Japan.
Unless this book is not on your library shelf or at your own home library shelf you history of World War Two and the ARMY AIR CORP/FORCE IS INCOMPLETE. AGAIN WELL DONE!!!
"Finish Forty And Home" is a remarkable book, one that a great many Americans, particularly children should read.
It is written by the son of a man who served in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II. It is a biography of a father written by a clearly loving son and, at the same time, a portrait of what America's youth were once willing to do to protect the United States. It is an inspiring story.
Herman Scearce was but 16 years old when he lied about his age to an Army recruiter and joined up in the first days after he Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor. A few months later, Scearce had been trained as a radio operator and gunner aboard a B-24 Liberator bomber and shipped out to the Pacific Theater Of Operations. The B-24 was the most produced heavy bomber of WWII, with more than 18,000 being built.
Early in the war, an airman had to complete 25 combat missions to qualify for removal from combat and rotation back to the United States. Initially the attrition rate among bomber aircrews was mortifyingly high, especially in Europe. As air combat became relatively "safer", the mission requirement crept upward to 40 combat missions - and not every mission involving the dropping of bombs or mines was not considered a combat mission.
Phil Scearce's writing style is a bit rough around the edges and the editing could have been a bit sharper.
But these aren't really flaws in that they heighten the feeling of this book as an expression of love for and pride in his father's achievements, along with those of the entire 11th Bombardment Group and, by extension, the United States, which fought for freedom, not the aggrandizement of its territory.
Scearce and his unit are moved from one Pacific Island to another. They flew thousands of miles in their B-24s to drop bombs on Japanese held island bases. Through meticulous research, the young Scearce has assembled his father's old unit, the 42nd Squadron. He follows it and its peers through combat. Imagine yourself willingly climbing into an airplane to spend hours flying hundreds or thousands of miles to a point in the Pacific where you know other people will be making a determined effort to kill you. That was the reality of life for the young Herman Scearce.
Oh, yes, there were hijinks in the all-male society they lived in, occasional moments of levity, a delight in the simple things they might, by hook or crook, obtain such as ice and beer. But there was constant awareness that your friends and buddies might die at any instant - the 42nd Squadron lost nearly half its men in 1943. Dead. Killed. Almost always violently and often without leaving a trace of their existence. It was a hard life: it was war.
Phil Scearce tells this story well. There is a huge amount of detail, but it is never boring. He describes a war that has largely been forgotten, with most of those interested in such things, more concerned with the "glamorous" war in Europe. In fact, the United States campaign in the Pacific was the greatest technological feat in history. Thousands of naval combat vessels were constructed, entire new military doctrines such as the carrier offensive created, armies and navies transported and supplied over lines of communications thousands of miles long, strategic aerial bombardment campaigns conducted over the trackless Pacific and much more.
While chronicling the life of his father, who was but one person involved in this gigantic conflict, Scearce also describes the effort as a whole - and he does well at it. Little things are so impressive. For example, to build housing and facilities, the United States Navy and Merchant Marine had to transport lumber across an ocean together with the nails, screws, saws, hammers, door hinges and everything else required to sustain life above a primitive level. The bombs dropped from the elder Scearce's bomber had to be brought thousands of miles along with every bullet fired by the 10 machine guns on a B-24 and every drop of gasoline that powered its engines.
The younger Scearce touches on all of this in telling the story of his father's war.
This is an excellent book, a remarkable book. It is a story of a time that once was and never will be again. It is both the story of one man, a lowly sergeant in a great aerial army and, at the same time, the story of a nation at war. Great reading.
World War II history is fascinating because of the many different battle zones spread throughout the world. Oftentimes certain areas and battles are almost forgotten as time marches on and our remembrances dim. So it's a joy for a history buff to read an account like the one Phil Scearce gives us in Finish Forty and Home. This is a detailed look at the story of Phil's father Sergeant Herman Scearce and his quest to complete forty missions in the Pacific theater aboard the workhorse Liberator B-24 Bomber.
Herman was a remarkable man, joining the service at the age of 17. Age verification was not strict in those early days and many lied because they were so intent to get in and serve their country. Herman made it in and thus began a journey into the world of air wars. The author gives us a step by step account as his father proceeded through various levels of training in the States before finally making his way into the Pacific. Much of our history on air warfare emphasizes the European front and the bombing of Germany. Somehow, the air war in the Pacific is not as well covered. Yet, we are all familiar with those many islands spread across the Pacific like Guam, Truk, Saipan, Tinian, Iwo Jima and so many others mainly because of the Marine invasions. The author gives us a look at this war from the eyes of the airmen as he tells in detail how our bombers prepared these many islands for invasion by constantly bombarding them month after month. These missions were different from the European missions because of the long range to travel to Pacific targets, the lack of visual navigational aids and no fighter escorts.
Throughout the story, the author brings in numerous characters who made up the flight crews and tells us personal stories as to how they coped day by day. The men were loyal and great supporters of one another. Some of the stories are so funny as they did their best to stay positive yet have some fun with each other with their jokes and pranks. When you realize how young these men were and what they accomplished it makes you proud to be an American. It's a good story, well told and a fine tribute to the author's father and those with whom he served.
on May 31, 2015
I bought this book to help me understand my father's role in World War II. He was flight engineer aboard a B-24 stationed on Moratai in the fight to re-take the Philippines. He entered the war somewhat after the author's father, flying in the 13th Air Force, also known as the "Long Rangers". My dad was wounded twice, but managed to finish 55 missions before the Army let him come home. After reading this book, I can only imagine the courage it took to climb into one of these tin cans (my dad called it a bucket of rivets) for each mission with the full knowledge you stood a good chance of not coming home. One of the pictures I have from that experience shows an envelope on his cot pillow labeled, "Instructions if I don't return". These men were heroes.
My dad entered the war an Eagle Scout, valedictorian of his high school, and editor of his college newspaper. He returned from the South Pacific with malaria, an addiction to nicotine and alcohol, and a budding case of PTSD, all of which sent our family onto a road none of us would repeat. Still, he fought through his demons and emerged to live a purposeful life. Many thanks to the author for the insights I gained into his war experience. My dad passed away in 2001; I miss him very much.
on February 19, 2015
This book was written in the same journal style as Unbroken (Laura Hillenbrand), most likely because it's easier to follow documentation over the many years of the WW-II theater in the pacific. The authors were careful to avoid telling unsupported stories - everything was careful footnoted and documented. Some parts are a little boring, but required to keep the bigger story in perspective. And, not to be a spoiler, this crew who were among the first to enter the war, were sidelined for a year before they are sent back. These missions involved challenging navigation, long distance endurance flying, and even then, only the most resourceful managed to live through it all. Because, for all the things you did right, there were still a things that could never be predicted, that did go wrong with the airplanes, the intelligence information (or lack of it), the weather, and a certain amount of bad luck. These aviators did something that had never been done before - the waged war from very long distances with very little assistance from ground support, forward observers, or escort figure planes..They were on their own. I would strongly recommend reading Unbroken, either before or after this book. They go together and the authors cooperated on some sections, to tell very different war stories.
Its a good read and hard to put down.
on June 8, 2014
Pacific bomb groups have long been in the shadow of the 8th and 15th Air Forces in Europe. What has been written about the Pacific bomber offensive usually concerns the B-29-equipped 20th AF.
This book goes a long way to redress that problem.
I had just finished Hildebrands wonderfully-written "Unbreakable" and saw this book mentioned in the bibliography, so I thought I'd give it a try.
Like the other book it deals wit the 11th BG a B-24 unit that fought its way across the pacific doing valuable work in support of the "island hopping" campaign that led to japan.
Unfortunately, its writing pales in comparison to the earlier book, but since Hildebrand is a master, that shouldn't be seen as too much of a criticism. It was good to learn more about a largely unheralded campaign.
on August 20, 2013
This is in reality a biography of the author's father, but which focuses on his father's experience in World War II, during which time he was a member of a B-24 crew in the Pacific, a relatively unknown--and quite different--bombing squadron during that war. While focusing on his Dad, Mr. Scearce brought into play the totality of the B-24's role in the War, the distances and dangers the crews had to endure, and the mortality rates that resulted. Very good read.
on May 21, 2015
A valuable addition to my collection. The B-24 units assigned to the Pacific Theater of Operations did not get much press. Their brethren over Europe got much more publicity, perhaps of the "Germany first" mindset of the government at the time. An amazing read. One item really stood out, and that was the problems the B-24 crews had with their Pratt & Whitney engines. P&W produced the magnificent R2800, found in the nose of the Corsairs, Thunderbolts, and Hellcats of that era. However, the B-24 engines were of a size roughly 1800 inches in displacement; the comparable Wright Cyclones worn by B-17's were more robust.
on June 14, 2015
Written with great detail and love for a father, this book is a must read. I got it as one of my friend's fathers was in this squadron. His plane is mentioned. I THOROUGHLY enjoyed it and loved the style of the author. It's a loving tribute to his dad but a tribute to all the guys who were part of the operations of the Pacific Theater air war. I also love how the author talks about FATE figuring in to these life and death situations. Phil Scearce should be very proud of this work. Highly recommended reading for anyone who loves to read real stories about real guys who were real heroes in WW2. Can't say enough good things about this book other than I bought several copies for others I know, they all LOVED it too.