Molesworth, England, 1943
MacGregor's War is the story of a young American boy named James MacGregor who finds himself taken away from his small Ohio town and hurled into World War 11 Combat. Fresh out of high school and basic training, he is assigned to the US 8th Air Force, 303rd Bombardment Group based in Molesworth, England, as a tail gunner on a B-17 Bomber. 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 ability 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 overseas in Scotland 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. I wrote this book lest we forget the struggle and the valor of those who served. Many of the events depicted in this book are a matter of public record relating to World War Two. Many of the scenes were created around historical incidents of the 8th Air Force, Molesworth, England during the time period of 1943 to 1945. There may be persons still alive who took part in events similar to those in this book, however, all the characters in this book are fictional with the exception of public figures such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Churchill, Hitler, Eisenhower and the like who are all a part of history during this time period.
Much of the research for this book was gathered from the 8th Air Force Chronological records found on the internet as well as from discussion groups such as the 303rd Bomb Group Association. Most of the men who served during this period are now in their 80’s with many of their experiences a matter of record on their web page.
The conditions in France during this period were as depicted in a novel “Marianne in Chains” by Robert Gildea. This novel covered all aspects of daily life in France during the German Occupation.
The 8th AF was activated as part of the U.S. Army Air Forces January, 28, 1942, at Hunter Field in Savannah, Georgia. Brig. Gen. Ira C Eaker took the headquarters to England the next month to prepare for its mission to conduct aerial bombardment mission against Nazi-occupied Europe during World War 2, under the leadership of such generals as Eaker and Jimmy Doolittle.The 8th AF became the greatest air armada in history. By mid-1944, the 8th Air Force had reached a total strength of more than 200,000 people (it is estimated that more than 350,000 Americans served in 8th AF during the war in Europe).
At its peak, the 8th Air Force could dispatch more than 2,000 four-engine bombers and 1,000 fighters on a single mission. For these reasons, the 8th Air Force became known as the "Mighty Eighth".
The Mighty Eighth compiled an impressive record in the war. This achievement, however, carried a high price. The Eighth Air Force suffered half of the U.S Army Air Forces' casualties in World War 2 (47,000-plus casualties with more than 26,000 dead). The Eighth's personnel also earned 17 Medals of Honor, 220 Distinguished Service Crosses, 850 Silver Stars, 7,000 Purple Hearts and 46,000 Air Medals. Many more uncounted awards were presented to the 8th Air Force veterans after the war. There were 261 fighter aces and 305 gunner aces in the Eighth in World War 2, and 31 fighter aces had more than 15 or more aircraft kills.