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U.S. public reaction to aircrew casualties

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  • U.S. public reaction to aircrew casualties

    My main focus in WWII has focused on armor for some time in addition to reading on ground campaigns, and a little on the strategic bombing campaigns in Europe. I know from my readings and discussions here that there was a minor uproar in the U.S. over the inability of the M4 to handle German armor, to the extent that newspapers wrote of it, congressmen discussed it and Eisenhower petitioned studies in two armor divisions to assess the experiences of the tankers. Belton Cooper's book Death Traps gets a lot of discussion and stimulates many documentaries, fueling the idea that our tankers were being fed in to a meat grinder.

    QUESTION - Our losses in the air were high. Heavy bomber crews delivering their payloads in daylight had a pretty good chance of not completing the required missions in one piece. Were there any concerns in the states about the losses? Did anyone ever wonder why the survival rate was so bad for the aircrews? Did congress speak up and examine what was going on in the air?
    John

    Play La Marseillaise. Play it!

  • #2
    Ground troops did not get to go home until the war was over, or they were wounded/sick. They did not get clean sheets and Officer's Club to unwind in. Infantry Riflemen had even worse odds of going home than Air Corps crew. My guess would be that Military Police and other rear echelon types had it best.

    Air crews had it bad, but others had it worse.

    Pruitt
    Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

    Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

    by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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    • #3
      Others had it worse. Like the merchant marine and submarine crews.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
        Ground troops did not get to go home until the war was over, or they were wounded/sick. They did not get clean sheets and Officer's Club to unwind in. Infantry Riflemen had even worse odds of going home than Air Corps crew. My guess would be that Military Police and other rear echelon types had it best.

        Air crews had it bad, but others had it worse.

        Pruitt
        The question still stands, why was there static about tank casualties compared to bomber crews or infantrymen or the merchant marine?
        John

        Play La Marseillaise. Play it!

        Comment


        • #5
          The Replacement Program for the US Army was based on casualties suffered in North Africa. Sicily and Italy casualties were worse on Infantry and Armor, but the Replacement Program handled it. There were many Divisions in the CONUS they could strip. By 1944 the Army was fighting in Italy, France, and the Pacific and casualty rates went up again. There were not a number of CONUS divisions anymore to strip for casualties as they had been sent to the Front.

          The US Army found that Draftees were rapidly declining in quality and there were fewer to draw on. Programs like the ASTP were terminated and still there were not enough men. The US Navy was being allowed to let men volunteer as Reservists and wait for calling up. The Air Corps was also skimming off the best recruits. Men sent to Europe as Replacements were all being taken by Infantry and Armor units. Eisenhower even authorized the "culling" of Support Personnel and allowed the Negro Troops to volunteer for service in previously all White units.

          Men who had not fired a weapon since Basic and never been in a Tank were being shown how to drive on the way to the Front. Many Tank units were getting new tanks with new crews that had not been trained for their jobs. They often died in their first combat. You can put an untrained man in a tank as a Loader or Assistant Driver and get by, but when the Gunner and Commander have never done their jobs before, you are in trouble!

          Pruitt
          Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

          Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

          by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

          Comment


          • #6
            John ,i copy you a link originaly provided by RichardS a long time ago.
            This is a medical and surgical study of the fatal wounds of the aircrews.
            You have charts,studies, and sometimes ,a link to the pics of the deceased airmen,or to what killed him .
            Let me tell you that this is trash.

            http://history.amedd.army.mil/booksd...s/chapter9.htm
            That rug really tied the room together

            Comment


            • #7
              I skimmed through the report and I noticed it was primarily for Heavy Bombers. I only found one instance of where a Pacific Air Corps Medium Bomber casualties were reported. Is the inclusion of Fighters, Recon and Medium Bombers important? There is also the fact that Air Corps casualties in the UK due to disease are much lower than the Pacific. You were much more liable to catch an STD in the UK than Malaria, Dengue Fever or one of the other exotic Tropical Diseases.

              Pruitt
              Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

              Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

              by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

              Comment


              • #8
                Not wanting to denigrate the PBI in any way, but every time you lost a kite to enemy action, the crew were your Country's brightest and best young men.

                The long toll of the brave
                Is not lost in darkness
                Over the fruitful earth
                And athwart the seas
                Hath passed the light of noble deeds
                Unquenchable forever.

                Comment


                • #9
                  So that is where the missing subalterns were?

                  Pruitt
                  Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                  Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                  by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    1- the folks back home didn't have access to the statistics we do now, back then it was secret. Letting the enemy know how effective they were wasn't something you wanted to let out.

                    2- People weren't so squeamish back then. They actually understood that people die in a war and wailing about it and gumming up the works with protests and complaints that would start inter-govt feuds would only help the enemy win.
                    Shockingly enough, they had a good point.

                    3- Flying at all was still inherently dangerous in the 1940s, and everyone who volunteered for that duty knew it.
                    Last edited by The Exorcist; 30 Jan 16, 15:29.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by The Exorcist View Post
                      Flying at all was still inherently dangerous in the 1940s, and everyone who volunteered for that duty knew it.
                      Every bloke that volunteered for aircrew training would have been aware of that fact from day one. They'd all seen at least a couple of their comrades turned to strawberry jam long before meeting Jerry's flak and fighters.

                      The long toll of the brave
                      Is not lost in darkness
                      Over the fruitful earth
                      And athwart the seas
                      Hath passed the light of noble deeds
                      Unquenchable forever.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        "Flying, while not inherently dangerous, is peculiarly intolerant of errors in judgement." = T.O.M. Sopwith

                        Susie
                        Will no one tell me what she sings?--
                        Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
                        For old, unhappy, far-off things,
                        And battles long ago:
                        -William Wordsworth, "The Solitary Reaper"

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Von Richter View Post
                          Not wanting to denigrate the PBI in any way, but every time you lost a kite to enemy action, the crew were your Country's brightest and best young men.

                          Hi Von. I do not very often come into conflict with you, but PBI are not brightest or best? Try telling that to their Mums! Another point I must make is, front line PBI are never if ever ' Off duty' and tucked in a nice cozy bed with an egg and bacon brekkie to follow but still this is a standard argument according to your leanings I suppose, a little like who are the best fighting men in the World! lcm1
                          'By Horse by Tram'.


                          I was in when they needed 'em,not feeded 'em.
                          " Youuu 'Orrible Lot!"

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                          • #14
                            To be honest our lot weren't. Mostly like me, a thicko from a council estate, that didn't want to go in the steelworks, darn't pit or on't bins! When Johnny came marching home I never had to... Mrs Thatcher's brave new world had done away with them all.
                            Having said that, one of my mates went on to get a degree after playing at Sowjers, he's just retired from being a school Headmaster... there's allus one that let's the side down!

                            The long toll of the brave
                            Is not lost in darkness
                            Over the fruitful earth
                            And athwart the seas
                            Hath passed the light of noble deeds
                            Unquenchable forever.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by JBark View Post
                              The question still stands, why was there static about tank casualties compared to bomber crews or infantrymen or the merchant marine?
                              Was it tank crew casualties, that worried the Home Front or was it the impression, that US tanks were not competetive against the tanks they had to face?

                              US bombers were lost, of course, but I dont think you could say that a B17 was a worse bomber than anything the Germans had? And it probably wouldn't make much sense to argue that the B17 should carry more armour etc.

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