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Not Home for Christmas: A Day in the Life of the Mighty Eighth

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1934193310
ISBN-10: 1934193313
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Quail Ridge Press (May 19, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934193313
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934193310
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,138,316 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Author John Meurs had the experience of seeing an American B-17 bomber crash in his yard in Holland when he was just a child. The date of the crash was Sunday, November 26, 1944. Many years later, Meurs began investigating the events of this day. He found out that well over 1,000 American planes were in the air that day, and many of them attacked the synthetic oil fields near Misburg, Germany. 34 American bombers were lost that day, and Meurs has researched each one. In "Not Home For Christmas", Meurs discusses each lost plane's roles in the mission that fateful November day.

The skies around Misburg were filled with German fighters and flak. Despite having fighter escorts, many bombers found themselves being shot from the sky. Many of the crews were killed or captured; some were murdered by furious civilians. Relying on first-person interviews from survivors as well as testimonies from relatives and other crew members, Meurs paints a picture of what it was like for the crews of the 8th Air Force on this bloody day.

I found "Not Home For Christmas" to be an informative book, but it did have some drawbacks. There are many spelling and grammatical errors throughout which makes it difficult to follow. Further, there is very little input from the author. Instead, he relies solely on the first-person accounts while adding very little of his own thoughts. On the other hand, the first-person accounts are very eye-opening, and I learned a great deal from them. For example, Americans who were captured by the German military were usually treated fairly well, unlike prisoners of the Japanese, who were constantly tortured, starved, and many times, killed. Once the American POWs neared liberation, many Germans threw down their arms and surrendered to the former POWs.
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I purchased this book because Mr. John Meurs wrote me and asked the 306th Bombardment Group Historical Association, where I am the volunteer historian, for assistance in collecting information on ten aircrews and the one hundred one men of the 306th that were lost 24 April 1944 on a mission to bomb Oberpfaffenhofen. His third book will be addressing this 24 Apr 44 mission. I highly recommend Not Home For Christmas, which is his first book. It is an anthology of the stories, letters and relatives accounts of the men lost on 26 November 1944 flying B-17s and B-24's against various targets in the Third Reich. It is not a history book. It is not a history of the mission or the 8th AAF per se, but recounts the events that took place in each aircraft when shot down, what the men experienced in first person narrative, what happened after they were captured. It also has stories told through letters from loved ones after they had lost their husbands and sons. There is the recounting of an evasion by three men of the same crew, behind enemy lines, with the help of the Dutch underground which cost two Dutch families dearly. Mr. Meurs tells the story of each man on the crew of the thirty-four planes that were lost that day, recounting what they did before the war or what their life was after being held as POWs and being repatriated after the end of the war. Simply put, this is a book honoring each of those men. There is much to be learned in the details found in the narratives of the airmen, from what navigator manning was on PFF "Mickey" radar ships to a navigator who delayed pulling his ripcord and found that he could maneuver around while free falling by changing the position of his arms and legs (an early skydiving experience?).Read more ›
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Being the daughter of one of the brave men of the Mighty Eighth, my heart broke for all of these men and their families. John Meurs contacted me personally while he was researching this book. Sadly to say, I didn't ever respond to him about my father and his story about that time because I didn't think I had anything to contribute. Now, looking back, I wish I would have at least told him about that wonderful, talented, loving and spiritual father that I knew. He never spoke of his time in the war except to say that he was a prisoner for 6 months and they had a guard that resembled Schultz from TV. He had three girls and I am sure we would not have understood the significance of his story. My dad's picture and name are in this book and I am very proud of him for defending our country at a time that I am sure he would have rather have been home on the ranch and planning the wedding to my mother.
He was taken prisoner on Nov. 26th. This is significant to me as I was born on Nov. 25th 1952. I now wonder if he thought about that day every year around my birthday and what were those memories.
This book is very interesting as it was written as an accounting of that time through the eyes of the men that were there and also from the perspective of their families as the story was told to them.
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