This is the story of a young American boy named James MacGregor who
finds himself hurled into World War Two war torn England in early
1943. Fresh out of high school and basic training, he is assigned as
a tail gunner in the U S 8th Air Force, 303rd Bombardment Group
based in Molesworth, England. During the period 1942-1943, the
United States set up dozens of bases such as the one at Molesworth.
These bomber bases were scattered all over the countryside in
southern England with Major General Ira C. Eaker designated
commander of Detachment, HQ 8th Air Force.
Early in the War, the B-17 Bomber was the work horse of the 8th Air
Force and was aptly named the “Flying Fortress” because of it’s many
gun turrets. A tour of duty for the men who manned these planes was
not a time period measured in months but rather the number of
missions each man had to fly before being sent back to the US. This
number was set at 30 missions and in 1945 upped to 35 missions.
It was also decided that the United States 8th Air Force would do
precision daylight bombing and the British Royal Air Force would do
night bombing raids. This decision to make daylight raids made
the B-17 Bombers much more susceptible to attack from the ground as
well as from the air. The 8th Air Force fighter escorts during
this period had very short range and could not provide support so
the Bombers were very vulnerable to enemy fighter attack. As a
result, many planes were lost during the early stages of the war.
MacGregor leaves home as a kid, a little mixed
up like most 18 year olds, with a love for girls and cars. His
excellent mechanical skills makes him useful not only to his fellow
airmen but also to the farmers in France where he is shot down.
He struggles with the affections of two women, one left behind in
the United States and a new found love in Great Britain, and the
need to "do the right thing."
He returns home from the war a man, with the
scars of battles won and lessons learned, and a new appreciation of
that kid from Ohio he left behind in July of 1942. While the
characters in the novel are fictional, the war was very real and
adheres to a timeline of actual missions flown by the 303rd
Bombardment Group out of Molesworth, England.
MacGregror’s War © 2006
by GK “Scotty” Walker
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Molesworth, England 1943