Now Comes Theodora


Thanks to Marty Irons, I've been able to update the fate of Marine 1st Lt Edward Croker (formerly listed as Crocker) on the grisly list of the Unlucky Prisoners of Rabaul. Flying a a TBF Avenger against Balle island on 16 September 1943, Croker's plane was damaged. He bailed out, was captured, and was sent to the hellhole of Rabaul, where he was murdered the following year. Bypassed by the Allies, Balle postwar proved to be itself a hellhole, containing the graves of nearly 500 British POWs who had been forced to work on the island's airfield.

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John Croft newspaper story Terrence Alleg turned up this story about John Croft, one of the many Flying Tigers who returned to the US in the spring and summer of 1942 and rejoined their branch of service, flew cargo and men for the military, or became test pilots. It's one of thousands of document pages from the history of the Republic Aviation company on Long Island, New York, that have been archived by the Long Island Republic Airport Historical Society. I did a search for "Flying Tigers" and turned up mention of Croft, Parker Dupouy, Ken Jernstedt, David Harris, and Frank Adkins, all of whom worked for Republic at one time or another and probably flew the P-47 Thunderbolts before they were delivered to the US Army Air Forces.

The formidable Thunderbolt, which became a low-level bomber and strafing machine in Europe and Asia, was preceded by the P-43 Lancer, of which 125 were sent to China in 1942 to equip the 3rd American Volunteer Group, but in the event were turned over to the Chinese Air Force. I did a search for the ill-fated Lancer and was amused to find a December 1940 article in the Republic Aviation News promising that it would "become one of the most formidable units in the air force of this country." Didn't work out that way, for the USAAF or for the Chinese!

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The rip-off artists are piling on to exploit the Hamilton! muscial, but Ron Chernow's Alexander Hamilton has the virtue of being the real deal. (It inspired the musical!) I was a bit skeptical, since I kept hearing hip-hop lyrics as I turned the opening pages, but I soon got hooked. It's the best kind of biography, by a writer who clearly admires his subject, a young bastard from the Virgin Islands who immigrated to the American colonies and with astonishing speed and skill educated himself and then became a member of society. By the age of twenty-two, he was a lieutenant colonel and aide to General Washington. I wrote a thesis on John Boyd, the OODA Loop, and American's war on terror, so I was impressed that young Hamilton understood guerrilla warfare even before the winter at Valley Forge: "By hanging upon [the British] rear and seizing every opportunity of skirmishing," the rebels could make a superior army "insupportedly uneasy." Later, Hamilton was among those who favored a strong central government at the expense of the states, which may go far to explain his popularity today. Indeed, it's fair to say that he was the man, more than any other, who invented our Federal government.

Also reviewed this month: Michael Beschloss's Presidents of War, an interesting excursion through America's military adventures and misadventures from the War of 1812 to Vietnam, though sadly ignoring most of what has happened since; and Richard Rhodes's Energy, another romp through history, this one from torches made of rushes to lightbulks supplied by nuclear reactors, which Mr Rhodes argues are safer than coal and cheaper and more reliable than wind or solar. For more about these books, see the Warbird's Book Club. Blue skies! — Daniel Ford

Welcome to the forum!

Here are a thousand or so files on airplanes, pilots, and the wars of the past hundred years, grouped under these headings:

Annals of the Flying Tigers
Annals of the Brewster Buffalo
Annals of Poland: war and exile, 1939-1948
Japan at War, 1931-1945
Annals of the Chinese Air Force
Glen Edwards and the Flying Wing
Remembering Bluie West One
The Spadguys Speak (carrying a nuke to Sevastopol)
Annals of Vietnam
War in the Modern World

Plus these excellent places to look for more: