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An Ace of the Eighth: An American Fighter Pilot's Air War in Europe (Anglais) Poche – 29 avril 2003


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Flight Training

On January 21, 1942, I raised my right hand at the army recruiting center in Manchester, New Hampshire, and was inducted into the U.S. Army Air Corps as a flying cadet. I didn't look closely at the "Agreement to Serve" I signed. I agreed to serve for "the duration of the war plus six months," but I also agreed that I would not marry while still a cadet. According to my pre-induction physical, I was 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighed 135 pounds.

The finality of what I had done was beginning to sink in. I was alone, and for the first time in my life, cut off from the security of home and family-and I was scared.

Within two hours, I was on my way to Maxwell Field in Montgomery, Alabama, along with Clarence (Bo) Beauregard from Marlborough, New Hampshire; Maurice (Moe) Cashman from Franklin, New Hampshire; Jim Owens from Haverhill, Massachusetts; and Henry J. (Hank) Pascho from Somerville, Massachusetts. At twenty-six, Bo was the oldest of the group; at nineteen, I was the youngest.

We didn't get to know each other until after we changed trains in Washington, D.C., and found ourselves in adjoining berths on the Seaboard Atlantic Railroad headed south. We had two small compartments, each with pull-down bunks and enough room to sit around and socialize before bedtime.

We were playing cards early that evening in one of the compartments when someone suggested that we might be able to get a bottle of whiskey from the porter. "I'll see what I can do at the next station," he promised. After the next stop, we had a rather expensive bottle of rotgut whiskey and a bottle of ginger ale to help chase it down.

I was out of my element. I was not a drinker. I hadn't had anything stronger than a glass of wine in my life. But I was now in the army. And army people drank liquor. So I had a few whiskeys and ginger ale, and soon the small compartment became a more pleasant place. I was no longer with strangers, no longer scared; I was among friends!

We played poker, for small stakes because none of us had much money, but we were in the army now, and our perception was that army people drank whiskey and played poker. I did not win any money that night, but I did learn three valuable lessons: Never drink whiskey when you play poker, never play poker with people who really know how to play the game, and there's no such thing as "a friendly little game of poker."

About noon on January 23, the porter came through the cars announcing that we were approaching Montgomery, Alabama. We gathered our luggage and stood by the exit as the train lurched to a stop. As we stepped down, a tall, rugged-looking sergeant directed us to a waiting army bus. We were surprised that about thirty other cadets were on the same train. With more than thirty cadets and their luggage, the bus to Maxwell Field was full.

We didn't quite get to Maxwell Field. The bus stopped in front of an old, shabby-looking two-story building. "This is where you get off," said the sergeant. "Welcome to the Old Mill."

The Old Mill was an old textile mill, condemned as unsafe and closed-until the crunch of hundreds of cadets exceeded the capacity of Maxwell Field to absorb them. This was a "temporary" facility: two floors with roughly fifty cadets on each floor, in two-tiered bunks. We were issued sheets and blankets, and a bunk number: A was bottom bunk, B was top. Bo and I shared the same bunk number; he chose top.

In the next few days, we were subjected to a number of indignities: extra-short haircuts; clothing that didn't fit and had to be reissued; immunization shots to prevent smallpox, tetanus, typhoid, and yellow fever; and the ever-present drill sergeants who marched us to and from the mess hall at Maxwell Field three times a day. "Why can't you civilians understand what a column is? Don't you know how to stay in ranks? Do you really expect to be cadets?"

We learned. In a few weeks, we could march to and from the mess hall at Maxwell Field, about a quarter of a mile away, in some semblance of order but never to the satisfaction of the drill sergeant. We sent our civilian clothes back home: "You won't be needing those for a while," the sergeant told us.

Then came the lectures: military customs and laws, navigation, meteorology, aircraft recognition, and the like. What I remember most was the physical fitness routine. Every day, we had calisthenics: hop-straddle exercises and push-ups and all kinds of traditional drills designed to drain energy from young studs to make them more amenable to discipline. The ultimate routine was what we called the Burma Road, a tortuous two-mile run through the woods and swamps surrounding Maxwell Field, led by a physical fitness nut who set the pace while another brought up the rear to discourage stragglers. There were streams to jump over and hills to climb, but the worst part was the stretch along the edge of the golf course where we could see women playing golf in the distance. They looked young and attractive from our vantage point, but it may have been a blessing that we never saw them up close. We could dream.

At the end of the third week, we were given "open post" (permission to leave the base) while at the Old Mill. We went into town and I drank two "Zombies," strong rum drinks popular at the time. I have no recollection of getting back to the Old Mill that night; Bo guided me to my bunk. I do recall that the old building rocked and swayed and even did a few aerobatic routines that buildings are not designed to do, and I was sicker than I had ever been before. The next morning's calisthenics were brutal.

In late February we were assigned to Craig Field in Selma, Alabama. Finally, we thought, we were being assigned to primary flying school. We were wrong. At Craig Field, we were, as we called it, in "cold storage" until openings for primary flight training became available. There was no Old Mill at Craig Field. We were in cadet barracks, four to a room with adjoining bathroom facilities shared with the four cadets next door.

The routine was the same: Morse code, aircraft recognition, calisthenics, close-order drill, obstacle course, the "Burma Road" torture trail, and all the classroom lectures we had almost memorized by then.

On our second weekend, we were given open post and ordered to return by midnight. Bo and I found a small dingy bar in Selma. He ordered a rye and ginger. Still a neophyte at the drinking game, I ordered the same. I was three months shy of my twentieth birthday, but that didn't bother the bartender. I suppose he figured that anyone in uniform was old enough to drink. We had a few more. Bo had to help me home again.

The weeks dragged by. Craig Field was an advanced flying school, so we saw AT-6 advanced trainers taking off and landing, but we never got near the flight line. It was a frustrating and monotonous time.

We were in Class 42-K, scheduled to graduate in December 1942. When May rolled around, we figured that Class 42-K would be leaving for primary flight school soon. We were right. There was a problem, however. There were too many cadets in cold storage and not enough slots in primary flying schools. So half of the cadet corps went on to primary flight schools in the Southeast Training Command; the rest-including me-were reassigned to class 43-A and given a thirty-day furlough, whether we wanted one or not.

So four months after becoming a "flying" cadet, I was back home, without once having left the ground, except in the hop-straddle exercises of daily calisthenics. It was nice being home, of course, and I was treated like a hero even though I had done nothing approaching heroic.

The thirty days passed at a snail's pace, and finally I headed back to Maxwell Field for assignment to my first flying school.

Primary

Special Order 48 read, "The following named aviation cadets are transferred to AAFTD Embry-Riddle Company, Dorr Field, Arcadia, Florida," followed by the names of 240 cadets. We left Montgomery via troop train on July 5 and arrived at Arcadia at 10:00 a.m the next day. This was not an express train. We were tired and hot by the time we were loaded onto the army trucks for the trip to Dorr Field, about five miles east of Arcadia. This was cattle country; there was not a hill to be seen on any horizon.

Though technically an Army Air Forces Training Detachment, Dorr Field was an Embry-Riddle civilian flight school supervised by the Army Air Forces. All the flight instructors were civilians, but USAAF lieutenants were stationed there for the express purpose of weeding out the unfit. We called them the washboard; they gave the flight checks at the end of each training phase. If you had trouble on your first flight check, you were given one more, by a different lieutenant. If he didn't like the way you flew either, you washed out. Most of the cadets who washed out were reassigned to navigator or bombardier training.

Cadet quarters were in rectangles, four quarters to a side. Each quarter had eight cadets, four in each room connected by one bathroom to the next room. There were thirty-two cadets on each side of the rectangle.

As usual, quarters were assigned alphabetically, so I was in a room with Bob Damico, Vic DeSoto, and Carmen Felice. Carmen was one of those people who look like they need a shave one hour after they've shaved. He was also one of those cadets who seemed to be marching out of step even when they weren't. For some reason, when his feet were in step, his head wasn't, so his head was always bobbing up when the rest of the heads were bobbing down. "Keep in step, Felice!" the drill instructors yelled.

"Yes, sir!" he would respond, though he was convinced that he was in step.

Vic DeSoto was from Tarrytown, New York, and his accent sounded typical Brooklyn to the rest of us. He was short, probably close to the lower limit for acceptance in the Cadet Corps, ...

Biographie de l'auteur

Norman “Bud” Fortier was born in New Hampshire in 1922. In January 1942 he joined the Army Air Corps and became a fighter pilot assigned to the Eighth Air Force’s famed 355th Fighter Group. He flew 113 missions and rose to squadron command. He is officially credited with 5.8 aerial combat victories during the war.

After the war Fortier graduated from the University of New Hampshire and went on to fly for Northwest Orient Airlines. Recalled to active duty in 1947 for the Berlin Airlift, he remained in the air force. After retiring from the air force in 1964 as a lieutenant colonel, he became an elementary school teacher and principal.


Détails sur le produit

  • Poche: 368 pages
  • Editeur : Presidio Press; Édition : Reissue (29 avril 2003)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0891418067
  • ISBN-13: 978-0891418061
  • Dimensions du produit: 10,6 x 2,5 x 17,5 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.5 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (4 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 229.505 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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Première phrase
On January 21, 1942, I raised my right hand at the army recuiting center in Manchester, New Hampshire, and was inducted into the U.S. Army Air Corps as a flying cadet. Lire la première page
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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait
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3 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Latour07 1ER COMMENTATEUR DU HALL D'HONNEURTOP 500 COMMENTATEURSVOIX VINE sur 1 septembre 2009
Format: Poche
Norman "Bud" Fortier, pilote de chasse américain engagé dans la mêlée de septembre 1943 à la fin de la guerre. 8° flotte US basée en Angleterre dans le 355° Groupe de combat. As, il fut crédité de près de 6 victoires en combat aérien.

Il passe en revue les 113 missions qu'il fit au-dessus de la France, de la Hollande, de l'Allemagne. Récits souvent très prenants. L'ouvrage n'est pas sans penser à celui, exceptionnel de Pierre Clostermann Le Grand Cirque 2000.

Bud est un homme très courageux. Les récits de mitraillage des aéroports font froid dans le dos. Il sait rester sur une réserve qu'il ne faudrait pas prendre pour une norme. J'ai en mémoire le souvenir conté par un grand cousin, pilote de chasse de l'escadrille commandée par Clostermann, qui me confiait être terrifié de foncer droit sur la Flak, en plongeant à toute vitesse, à la limite de ne pouvoir remonter l'avion (le Spitfire dans son cas, le Mustang, P51 dans celui de Bud).

Ces hommes ont magnifiquement contribué à sauver l'Europe de la barbarie nazie.

Un belle biographie.
9 commentaires Avez-vous trouvé ce commentaire utile ? Oui Non Commentaire en cours d'envoi...
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Par Blériot2013 sur 8 mars 2013
Format: Poche Achat vérifié
Un livre tres bien écrit par un ancien pilote de chasse, tres bien écrit, sa vie pendant la WW2 a été passionnante.

En lisant le livre on se croit dans l Histoire.
Vraiment un tres tres bon livre.
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Format: Poche Achat vérifié
Ce texte est intéressant car il décrit dans le détail la vie d'un pilote de chasse, depuis son entrée au service, jusqu'aux engagements opérationnels, après les phases d'entraînement de base et avancé. La description bien détaillée des appareils et de leurs particularités est assez rare. Globalement très bon témoignage de première-main sur la vie des pilotes au combat en cette fin de Deuxième Guerre mondiale. Intéressantes photos d'ambiance. On peut seulement regretter l'absence d'un index des noms et une carte des bases US en G-B
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1 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Oscarbob VOIX VINE sur 28 mars 2009
Format: Poche
Le meilleur livre autobiographique que j'ai lu de la part d'un pilote US en Europe.

Basé en Angleterre, ce pilote de Thunderbolt puis de Mustang raconte ses missions sur la France et l'Allemagne principalement.

Le livre est agrémenté de qq photos d'époque.

D'un niveau que j'estime plutot moyen en anglais, j'ai lu ce livre sans trop de difficulté. Mais néanmoins, l'effort de compréhension à produire peut paraitre ennuyeux à la longue... sauf pour les passionnés d'aviation WW2 !

PS : ne pas se fier à la couverture illustrée de Thunderbolts de la..... 9th Air Force, alors que, comme l'indique le titre, Fortier était bien un pilote de la 8th !
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25 internautes sur 26 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The Truth about Flying Combat as a WWII Fighter Pilot 12 juillet 2003
Par William Lyons - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Poche
The best single book about being a World War II combat Fighter Pilot. Maj. Fortier flew over 100 missions against Nazi Germany, first in P-47 Thunderbolts, then in the legendary P-51 Mustang, the long-range escort Fighter that enabled American Bombers to attack targets anywhere in Germany, with P-51's protecting them against enemy Fighters all the way to the target and back.(When Goering first saw the P-51's over Berlin he "realized the war was over". Fortier was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star for Gallantry and the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Riveting first-hand accounts of aerial battles make you feel you are flying with the author. Fortier pulls no punches, tells what it's really like to kill or be killed, to grow in skill and confidence with combat experience. One of the few books that demonstrates how seemingly ordinary (but very carefully selected) American 19 yr. olds and young '20's risked their lives on every mission, performed heroic deeds as a matter of course, yet had few psychological or physical problems throughout their combat tours despite the randomness of survival.
Fortier's vivid descriptions of flying the P-51 are unlike what you see in the movies because they are r-e-a-l, not Hollywood-
pretend. This book makes all books about combat flying not written by actual Fighter Pilots pallid by comparison. I recommend it as required reading for anyone wanting trhe truth well told.
22 internautes sur 23 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The fascinating adventures of a WW2 aviator 12 décembre 2005
Par Michael J. Mazza - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Poche
"An Ace of the Eighth: An American Fighter Pilot's Air War in Europe," by Norman "Bud" Fortier, is a memoir by an aviator who served in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II. Specifically, he served as part of the 355th Fighter Group of the Eighth Air Force. This is a well-written narrative. Fortier creates a vivid and engaging portrait of the men and aircraft that helped to defeat the Nazi empire in Europe. The author strikes a particularly effective balance between fascinating technical details of military aviation and human details that bring his cast of characters alive.

The story is frequently punctuated by accounts of crash landings, deaths, and injuries; Fortier also often writes of aviators who became prisoners of war. Such details underscore the extreme danger of the combat aviators' lives. However, Fortier also details the happy milestones and events shared by the aviation community. Fortier enriches his own narrative by incorporating quotes from other veterans' accounts of the air war; especially interesting is an extensive passage from a German airman's encounter report. Fortier cites some of the secondary sources in his acknowledgements section.

The book is full of colorful, and sometimes humorous, details about life in the WW2 Army Air Corps: a "VD" inspection; a personality clash between a tobacco-chewing Texan and a proper English pilot; crossing the Atlantic on the "Queen Elizabeth" ocean liner; a near-disastrous attempt to light a pot-bellied coke stove with napalm; etc. The technical details about aircraft, tactics, and weapon systems are very interesting, as are the accounts of aerial combat. Also worthy of note is Fortier's dramatic portrait of wartime London. The book is further enhanced by a helpful glossary of military aviation terms and by a section of black-and-white photographs of Fortier, his colleagues, their aircraft, and the air base that served as their wartime home. This is a robust, informative narrative told in a likeable voice. Fortier has written a fine addition to the great canon of WW2 literature.
22 internautes sur 24 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A New Classic? 18 juin 2003
Par Dana A. Hess - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Poche Achat vérifié
I've just finished reading "An Ace of the Eighth," and I have to say it ranks up there with books like "Thunderbolt," and "1,000 Destroyed." I've read just about every book on the Eighth Air Force that I could find, and I was starting to think we would never see another first-person account of what it was like to serve in the Mighty Eighth. Mr. Fortier does an excellent job of bringing those days (some 60 years ago) back to life. He spends very little time with his early life, instead plunging right into flight training. He describes what it was like in that different era: the comaraderie, learning to fly (then) state-of-the-art high-performance fighters, going head-to-head with the best the Luftwaffe had to offer, and how it felt to lose a friend in combat. It is also refreshing that he describes his heroic, Top Gun-type expoits with such modesty and humility. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in WWII aviation. I've always looked to the heavens for my heroes, and Norman J. "Bud" Fortier is a welcome addition to the likes of Bob Johnson, Chuck Yeager, "Bud" Anderson, "Hub" Zemke and the rest.
8 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
An Ace of the Eight:An American Fighter Pilot's Air War in Europe 25 juillet 2007
Par Sheldon Green - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Poche
A well written personal account of a WW2 fighter pilot flying two of America's finest fighters of the time, the P-47 Thunderbolt and the P-51 Mustang. As an instrument rated pilot myself, I was chilled by the high rate of fatalities causes by the primitive flight instruments and the sever weather conditions in England at that time. I was shocked to read the Eighth Airforce lost almost as many pilots to weather as to the enemy fighters. Excellent discription of air battles. This book will have a special place in my collection of WW2 flying stories. I recommend this book highly.
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Good book, really brought into focus the actual life of a pilot 17 juin 2011
Par Mark Pendergast - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
Many of the WWII fighter ace books leave the reader with the impression that the pilots have dog fights daily. This book gives the reader a true understanding of the problems the weather created for the pilots. It has had a few technical facts new to me, for example, the fact that the drop tanks were made of paper/cardboard and later ones had an igniter so they could be used as fire bombs and the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine's bad habit of fouling spark plugs. The differences in life style of the P47 pilots doing close air support versus the England based P51 pilots was also striking.
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