tv Book Discussion on Forgotten Fifteenth CSPAN July 31, 2016 8:00am-9:16am EDT
>> up next on history book shelf, military historian barrett tillman three of his books including "forgotten fifteen." he talk about military aviation during world war ii. this was recorded the poison pen bookstore in 2014. >> good afternoon everybody. i'm barbara peters. this is poison pen. it's sunday, october 12th. i'm delighted to welcome back barrett tillman. who written over 40 book. most of them are nonfiction. i know you have been here -- didn't you cowrite something with steven koonce. were you kind of their expert? >> with steve, i contributed to
two original fiction anthologies at his request. steve just been marvelous friend and colleague. in 1984, our visual publisher sent me a manuscript written by a vietnam war aviator for each other. i said this book is so good, if you don't publish it i will. next year it was published "fight of the intruder." he came up with the concept of a former military contractor that does deniable work for the u.s. government all over the world. that was a trilogy that was a fun change of pace for me because i hadn't done anything
in the trilogy realm. that was an education. >> i'm sure it was. you're a wonderful writer. i think your nonfiction reads with all the fiction and thriller. you grew up flying airplanes? where does all of this aviation background come from >> i'm an eastern oregon ranch kid. grew up literally next to family crop duster strip. in any hometown, population 950. airplanes were always overhead. that combined with my dad who had been trained as a naval ayeator -- aviator in world war ii. i was blessed. i used that word. i was blessed to grow up help restore vintage airplane and refly them. overall, i had between 500 hours and 600 hours flying navy airplanes from the world war ii
era. that's been a tremendous benefit to me. both in history and fiction. >> i'm sure those of you realize he has a en-- encyclopedia. i will talk about the d-day. it's an update. and probably to commemorate the anniversary of the june 6, 1944 d-day landing. >> right. originally the book was publish published by brassy for the 60th anniversary. then it lapsed. i woke up one morning and realized oh my gosh. in 12 to 14 months, we're going to have the 70th anniversary. i eventually wound up doing an
update. all of the deceased dates were filled in. there are none of the historic figures still living. >> i haven't thought about that. i was going to ask you if there was new material that has come out from release records and that kind of thing that would have changed some of the information that you had in the original version. >> i did expand upon a few of the entries. i know one had to do with intelligence from the allied side. couple of other entries were expanded on the bases of additional information. one of them had to do with the british and canadian canadian-navy participation. this has been very well
received. as an author it's good to get feedback from readers. two of them, it's a wonderful book because most of the industries -- entries are right length for bathroom reading. >> i started this yesterday. i won't say where i was sitting. i did dip in and out it. i was born in 1940. i don't have actual memories of the war or received. as an author it's d-day. my parents talked about many of theosophics in the -- figures in the years after the war. reading the books was not a refresher course but the personalities and things that you don't know when -- when you're living through it, it's different when you go back. vietnam was my war. now when i read about vietnam, i think why i didn't know about them. you can't tell.
one of the things i thought was interesting in the encyclopedia was the personality. my question would be, was he there because he was a great general was he there he was great at logistics or politics? >> he was great at politics. the conventional wisdom for many years after the war was that ike was the one who held together the alliance. that's certainly an exaggeration. the -- the other aspect was sense america provided the huge majority of the manpower for the liberation of northwestern europe it was a given that
eisenhower but his family were british. charles was the deputy commander and heads of the navy and the air campaigns also were british. it was pretty much a balance between the angelo americans. >> it was by committee. so many different components. you also talk about -- obviously you have a great fond of jimmy dolittle who's primary theory was the pacific. he did an awful lot in the european war. >> i was very fortunate to get to know general jimmy. he liked to be called somewhat. that will reflect later on, "forgotten fifteen." he came to world prominence with the april 1942 bombing raid of
tokyo and five other cities in that area. during concept launching army twin engine bombers from an aircraft carrier and that aspect of it worked. it turned out they had to launch a few hundred miles earlier than expected so all the planes except one ran out of fuel. that ran an immediate promotion than lieutenant colonel dolittle. he received medal of honor and he was almost immediately sent to north africa where he learned the general biz running the north african allied air forces. by the time he came to italy in november of 1943 to run the 15th air force, he was very much a known quantity. he was only there two months,
before eisenhower called him to return to benefit. >> the weather didn't cooperate for d-day. you had that very low cloud cover. you wrote it. the bombers ended up being too far back to really protect the people. >> the air plan that i found in the air force archives shows the normandy coast running east-west. heavy bombers based in britain just 30 miles away were approaching the german occupied beaches at a perpendicular angle. the navy said we don't want the bombers dropping short because they will endanger the ships offshore. the long story short, most of the bombs fell 1.5 to 3 miles
behind the beaches. had did no benefit. >> any of you traveled england know how terrible the weather is. they had the tides to worry about. there really was no perfect day. >> d-day was originally scheduled june 5th. eisenhower agreed they would have a 24 hour weather hold. after that, it was either all or nothing because the next favorable tides and moon phase were about three weeks down stream. >> isn't that amazing to think this was kept a secret? think about it today with satellites and social media. there was no way it could ever. i find it fascinating and we'll get to desense in -- deception.
john ford, you give him a big entry. why? >> john ford was a navy groupie. even though his prewar fame as a movie director had nothing to do with naval subjects, as i recall, he was born in maine. grew up on the rock bound coast so salt water was in his vains early on. when world war ii started he basically knocked on the navy's door and said, here i am. make use of me. he was given a direct commission, i think as a lieutenant commander with a film crew. he had visiting privileges almost anywhere. does a little known but superb color documentary that his crew made right after the battle of midway in june of 1942. he's well known for that
documentary. less well known is the fact that his film crew was a board navy and coast guard ships. some of the combat footage we see in the tv documentaries were shot business he cameramen. >> when you think about it. i was fascinating to see. you know the person i like the best is a british person simon fraser. lucky him there was actually a war in the 20th century. he was a man born to fight. >> absolutely he was. he was the senior commando in the british armed forces. born and bred in the scottish highlands. if there hadn't been a war, he would have found way to start one. he's one of these natural born warrior who's life would have been wasted.
even though he was severely wounded duringthe normandy campaign, in the anticipation of death, he told a subordinate later, the water is not over. he got back into combat before the war ended. >> he probably wouldn't have survived those wounds. he was fortunate the technology caught up with him. you talk about lots of other figures. there are four politicians that we should briefly mention. charles gold who has been controversial up in france and among the allies. you give him pretty good ratings. >> he was progressive military theorist before world war ii. he had spent most of world war i as prison of the journalist.
consequently his seniority was such that when france fell in june of 1940, the gaal evacuated to britain. he became a significant factor in allied planning. i think the most wonderful statement made about him was from winston churchill who said, the greatest cross i must bare is the cross of the rain. >> somebody had to be running a french government. when the germans were kicked out, they could actually function. it was vacuum at that point. the goal was able to do that. most of us know enough about churchill. although you definitely talk about him. this book is about d-day. i thought you said something about franklin roosevelt. there's a lot of medical
theories about if this person or this illness hadn't gone on it would have been different. if napoleon hadn't suffered from hemorrhoids, he might not have lost. he couldn't sit on his horse. fdr in this book should not have run for a fourth term? >> correct. >> he was done. he was a dying man. >> if you look at the films especially from the conference about six weeks before he died, that's a dying man. he really should have stepped down. it was not in him to vacate the presidency. >> the reason was, there was a paralysis when he was so ill. there wasn't anybody actually able. i read things that say that pat could have made it to berlin before the russians but he was unable to. because there was no american functioning command from january
to march when roosevelt died. truman didn't know about the bomb. i always thought that harry truman, a person who had absolutely training for any of the role that fell upon him. you think about some of the -- he learned from the treaty, he did not have a punishing treaty. he did all that stuff. roosevelt had such contempt for him, he didn't take him into his confidence for anything. >> it would have been fascinating to be the fly on the wall when the day truman was inaugurate. it was general marshall, chief of staff, mr. president there's something you need to know about going out in new mexico. >> hitler, you get great -- he gets greats points being a great politician. the question i wondered, i think the same thing about napoleon. why? why russia?
both of them. why couldn't they stick to europe and be happy with that? maybe that's not part of a personality like that. >> apparently it is not barbara. i think the one thing that napoleon and hitler had in common, they believed their own p.r. and drinking their own cool aid. >> alexander the great was the same? >> the great captains of history typically overreach themselves. they're a victim of their own success. >> i think that's true. we talked about the people. you give a lot of space to the various armed forces, land, sea and air. on the american and british and the german front. you talk about the weaponry of the kinds of planes and the kinds of guns and you give credit to two american gun designers mr. browning, sorry i don't remember the other one.
>> john gerund was born a canadian and became a u.s. citizen. he span about 12 years designing what became the m1 semiautomatic rifle that meant that the u.s. armed forces were the only ones in the second world war entirely equipped with the semiautomatic rifle. that made a big difference. then john m. browning, made it more genius utah, mormon gun smith, designed and held the patenteds on almost every automatic weapons that the united states used in the second world. the light and the heavy machine guns and the fabulous 1911
pistol that was in front line service for 75 years and still is today. he was a true american genius. >> higgins boat. i thought that was fascinating. >> he's another boot strapper success story. established a privately owned boat building company in new orleans and he anticipated before the navy, the need for mass produced landing craft in event of not a war but the next war. the generic called the higgins bullet, it was the landing craft, vehicle and personnel. that made possible amphibious operations in every theater of action. >> i thought that was terrific. you finally cleared up for me various things about the kinds
of airplanes that were used. we know about the b47 >> b17. >> sorry. i have not realized that the douglas aircraft what you called the sky train c47? >> yes. >> it was a passenger plane that they managed to turn into a personnel carrier? >> that's right. it was the revolutionary douglas dc33 airliner dating from mid to late 1930's. the army air core recognized this has tremendous potential not only as a transport but it can deliver paratroops. we could not have conducted the normandy campaign as we did without c47's and gliders. >> otherwise you would have transported everybody by ship. we won the war in the atlantic by overwhelming force by 1943.
>> yes. the turning point in the bat battle of the atlanta became may of 1943. the number of sinkings of merchant vessels that were taken supplies to britain build up to d-day, fell below the number of german submarines that were being sunk. essentially the battle of the atlantic was one 13 months before d-day. >> the theme of the book for germans is better equipped and probably better strategy and better training, everything else there weren't enough of them. once they developed a worldwide theater. several times in the book, you say they were just too thin. they didn't have enough. basically, as long as everything didn't fall to them or attrition will win. >> they did not have the sustain the -- sustainability that the
allies did. >> deception. you have a section about -- attempt to convince the germans the landing will not be in normandy in omaha and other beaches. >> correct. there was lengthy complex plan called body guard of lives. definitive book on the subject. there was a multitiered plan to deceive the germans that the landings would take place. if you look at the map, it's the logical crossing point. it's barely 25 miles from from across the channel. we had turned german intelligence agents. caught them, made them an offer they couldn't refuse.
either you feed false information to your masters in germany or you have a date with 12 gentlemen with 303 rifles. that combined with signals intelligence sending false information that the we knew germans would intercept. george patton was a big part of the deception. he was given command of a nonexistent army an organization of probably eight or ten divisions. that's why he was so visible throughout benefit in the -- britain in the days leading up to it. so that the germans would keep focus on him. his appearances coincided it seemed with the plan landings. >> didn't mention it, any of you watch the ian fleming three part bio on television earlier in
year? fleming was crazy in many ways. one reason he wrote "great james bond" golfs because of that. he was effective agents of british because of his fiction ability. he had a plan to actually take a course. i don't think he killed anybody and dress it in uniform and put information on it about where the landing would be and float it off. you didn't mention it. i never known it that was true or powerful. >> it was called operation -- >> it isn't in your book. >> no, it deceived the germans as to where the sicily landings would be. >> it's sicily and not normandy. >> but a wonderful concept. he was probably a british sailor. royal marine majors uniform with a briefcase handcuffed.
the spanish recovered the wreckage. immediately told the germans hey, look what we have. that deceived them as to where the sicilian landings would occur. >> if any of you interested in following this -- he gets to go do stuff. he shows up in ought of these theaters. in most recent book, he is in england right before operation overlord launches. he writes about one of the screw ups. he said at one point when they were doing training exercise on the beach, the south coast of england merged some beaches and france. they drained them there. the navy got their signals
crossed. >> that was operation tiger which was dress rehearsal for some of the american forces that we're going to land in normandy. the germans had a class of torpedo boats that he called ash boats. we called them e-boats. two the german torpedo boats penetrated. american ships with heavy loss of life. i think about 400 americans were killed. operation tiger therefore became classified until the end of the war. it's interesting to watch the internet revelations about every 10 to 12 years somebody discovers the cover-up and say look what happened. it's been known since the late 1940's.
>> overlord was the name of the overall thing. but then there was operation neptune? was that the naval part? >> correct. the the whole operation was neptune/overlord. of course, you can't have amphibious operation without a naval aspect. neptune involved ships from about five allied nations. not just u.s. and britain but canada, which had the third largest navy in world war ii and then there were individual ships from free france and poland. it really was a multinational endeavor. >> i will say, you achieved a wonderful balance. even though you're clearly an aviation junkie. there's a lot in here about the navy and the army. you give great space to the air force and the planes that it flew as well as the american and the world canadian air force.
it's fascinating. i thought. i particularly like the phonic alphabet. alpha bravo. you have a chart with the u.s. version and german version. i thought the choice of names was really fun. sometimes they were the same like king and king. but the german ones were -- >> the germans were on time, bruno, ceasar, doro. they had a word a alludes me -- >> there's a new thriller out. those are the three code words in the british side of it. there's a lot you can learn from this book that i found completely fascinating.
i marked a couple of things. you got all kinds of extra stuff in here like d-day movies and the d-day museum. the fact that they didn't destroy the tappestry. i think the other thing that i saved was your entry on john ford. which we talked about. he was promoted to admiral and got presidential medal of freedom. i was reading the "new york times," that newsprint does not make a great bookmark. okay, the other operation that i forgot to mention was operation cobra. >> that was the over all allied plan to break out from the normandy bridge head. highly complex evolution because it required the british and the americans to coordinate not only
the ground forces but the air power was intended to blast a path through the german areas inland from normandy. it met with mixed success as i explained in the encyclopedia. well intention, heavy bombers did not have well defined aim point. a lot of their bombs fell short and killed or wounded several hundred americans. including lieutenant general mcnair who was the commander of all american ground forces in europe. he was the senior american general killed in world war ii by friendly fire. >> snafu, there was a session in here about acronyms and snafu. when you finish reading this, how we brought it off considering the possibilities for snafus.
you know the breaks that both work for and jefferson both sides. it does take a certain amount of luck no matter how great everything else is. >> there's a saying in military circle, you'd rather be lucky than good. >> i think d-day is a great combination. you realize how great your plans are, you still have to make it up. we learn that here everyday. we have to embrace chaos. anyway, it's a fascinating book. i wouldn't call it baffle reading. it's sort of thing that you can dip in and dip out of and really enjoy it. encyclopedia sort of stands -- put offish. you done an amazing thing between july of 2013 and july 2014. you brought out three books
especially during complicated nonfiction. >> well, crazy probably. although, i'll plead circumstances. totally beyond my control the two publishers involved in these three books happen to bring them out that is released them on the street between early may and the end of june. back off a few months. you certainly can appreciate this barbara. imagine going cross eyed trying to proofread three gallies simultaneously. i don't know how i made it through. fortunately, i was able to. >> i'm sure it was difficult. i suspect, it was easier. if you weren't in fiction, everything will be made up. it will be different if you trying to do three books at once. you were in the same universe. >> which book is it today.
>> okay. the u.s. marine corps fighter squad world war ii. this is really much more your level of aviation here. one thing we learned in the d-day encyclopedia, that the marines got a huge amount of worry at the battle of bellow woods in world war i. were known as the double dogs. a term i apply to my puppy. anyway, it really created a lot of jealousy and political turmoil with the army right? they weren't too anxious to have the marines involved in the european theater. >> at world war i generation of army officers almost without exception, mcarthur being the notable example. detested the marine corps. i used to know admiral tom
moorer who retired chairman of the joint chief of staff. he had given a briefing in the pentagon in early 1944 suggesting that marine fighter bomber squadrons based on escort carriers in the channel in the north sea, with a brand new precision were idea for destroying german buzz bomb sites in northern france. he barely got started when marshall stood up and said, that's the end of this briefing. there will never be a marine in europe as long as i'm chief of staff and walked out. that's why john wayne made flying leathernecks about the pacific instead of the atlantic. >> you do underline the importance of politics in the encyclopedia. your book recognizes 120 marine corps fighting aces. what makes an ace?
>> by tradition dating from world war i an ace, a fighting ace, snoopy was a flying ace -- >> [laughter]. >> it's a combat aviator usually a fighter pilot who is credited shooting down police by enemy aircraft. one of the reasons i wrote this book aside from the fact it never been done before and there was a gap in the market, in researching and writing so many other books, i got to know so many of these wonderful men and colorful characters personally. the main exhibit was joe foss who was a long time resident here. despite all the hype about greg and the black sheep -- >> [inaudible]. >> despite all the hype in that direction, joe foss was and is the top marine corps fighter pilot of all time.
because all of his victories were scored as a marine whereas some of bowlington were in china and german. i have to tell a story about joe. wonderful human being. one the most gracious genuine people i ever had the pleasure of knowing. a christian gentleman. he was a evangelist. he would go anywhere to speak about his faith. beneath that evangelism, he was also dedicated marine corps combat aviator. that meant highly competitive. joe used to joke and say, he was so competitive, he had a hard time letting his grandchildren win at go fish. >> how many of the marine corps aces lived -- went on to fight in korea. there was one or more in vietnam? >> there were no marine corps
aces in vietnam. the one marine corps ace in the korean war had been one of his black sheep. his name was jack bolt. he flew a regular tour in korea with a marine corps squadron. another one of these dedicated warriors who lived for combat. he was selected to fly an exchange tour with the air force near the end of the what. he shot down six communist m15 jet fighters. he's the marine corps only two war ace. >> we're talking about them flying. headquarters were primarily in quantico and san diego? >> correct. that was before the war. marine core aviation structured at that time was one east coast and one west coast. each of them sent detachments to
british island or hawaii. at the time of pearl harbor, there were only about a dozen marine corps squad drones. as a comparison, the appendix in this book lists all 50 marine corps fighters squadron that served outside of the united states during world war ii. there was tremendous expansion. >> what did they fly? i wrote it down but -- what's the brewster buffalo? >> the brewster f2a buffalo was a prewar fighter. fairly significant in aviation history. went operational in 1939 as aviation first plane. it's only combat in american service was a disastrous situation at the battle of
midway in june of 1942. the wildcat which remained the marine core fighter well into 1943. in the overall study i include about marine core fighter operations in world war ii, the main focus there was canal campaign. that's where you see the big names starting to emerge. joe foss, my late friend mary and carl, john l. smith who were extremely successful with the wildcat. even though it was inferior to the japanese fighter. >> the f7 tiger cats. they were successful. >> which became the iconic marine airplane of world war ii. >> which was made by -- [inaudible]. you mentioned to finish up here.
pearl harbor for anybody to act. the marines propelled the first attempt? then there wasn't enough of them or whatever to receive it the second time. midway was the turning point where the japanese their advance across -- as you say, they moved onon to the philippines. what's your assessment of the decisions to drop the bomb? >> several years ago, i was touring the national air and space museum in washington d.c. out of the silver hill, maryland restoration facility. i became aware there was a group of japanese tourists going through it. one of them was a doctor fluent
in english. i got talking to him about the decisions to drop the bomb. he said, it was terrible. people died for years there after in hiroshima due to radiation poisoning. but the invasion of japan that was planned for november of 1945, would have been horrific. in researching previous book "whirlwind." i found interrogations where japanese civil military and diplomatic officials in the strategy bombing survey. they were almost unanimous in the statement that millions of japanese would have died trying to repulse invasion. >> not to mention millions of allies. "new york times" recently commented on a release of papers
about emperor hudo. he was kind of hidden as a puppet. said that in fact, he was far more active than generally thought to be true. he was discovered once after hiroshima. hiroshima was completely flattened. not only did everybody get radiation poison. hiroshima was destroyed. it was a canyon. it was like you were in los alamos when they dropped the bomb which was ultimate target coming bag to the target of d-day. there was another city that was supposed to be the target and the cloud cover was so terrible, they defaulted.
when they dropped the bomb, the radiation poisoning killed people but it hardly damaged the city. the geography and geometry dispersed the blast. it didn't wipe out all the historic buildings. you can go visit them. they're still there. unless you go there, that's not the sort of thing that you would really know. i found that to be fascinating. having talked to people in japan, they think they can see that the loss of life of japanese and the people would have been so much greater. they are now gradually realizing, okay, that could have spared the second bombing. >> he had an excellent opportunity much earlier in the early march of 1945, the b29's from the mariana islands leveled 1/6 of tokyo overnight.
killed at least 85,000 people. the next morning, he got in his limousine and toured the city. saw what he saw, smelled what he had to smell and decided we're in the going to surrender. imagine if britain or the united states had suffered 85,000 people dead overnight would we still wanted to continue the war? i'm not sure. >> these are questions we can't really answer. just like why did hitler go to russia. the d-day encyclopedia is published by the u.s. marine corps fighter squadron is published by ostpr. does anyone have any questions they like to ask about the books we discussed?
some in amazement here. is there anything you like to ask about anything we talked about so far? >> you mentioned dolittle. he raised airplanes before world war ii, how popular was he then? >> he was a rock star in aviation. he won every major aviation race available, the schneider the bendix. me made a tremendous contribution in developing instrument flying that he worked in concert with the gyro scope company. after he left the air core before world war ii and worked with shell oil, he developed high octane gasoline.
>> how significant would you consider the deception campaign prior to d-day leading to the success of it? >> it was extremely significant. i don't know that it made the difference between winning and losing because of the huge numerical disparity between the allies and the germans. what it did was cause hitler and his general staff to hold back the reinforcements that were well inlaund. they were centrally positions so they can reinforce a bridge head either in normandy. that uncertainty as to where the landings would occur bought the allies extra time once the troops were ashore. >> anybody else? >> got one more. talking about naval aviation,
marine corps, the navy flights were there any pilots that got their start in the biplane and went on to be qualified into super fighter? >> yes absolutely. i've often said, whatever you make of the conventional wisdom of the greatest generation of americans being world war ii, definitely the greatest general oh generation of -- aviator was world war ii period. they started flying in open cockpit doing 80 to 90 knots. those who stayed finished flying mock two jets. that type of flying is not possible anymore. >> i think my next question is for the next book. i'll hold off. >> on that note, we're going to change over to the "forgotten
fifteen." switch to different feeder. there's a little overlap from earlier. i guess one of the things that was really interesting about this book that old saying, amateurs doing strategy and professionals doing logistics. let's start with the beginning of the book. the book begins with absolutely captivating narrative description of the plane. would you like to describe a little bit? >> i wanted to set the stage in that prologue showing the readers a typical bombing mission flown from italy in the mediterranean theater of operations. northward in austria or germany. woning factoryies -- bombing factories and transportation tacts north of thal. the alps.
i've been fascinating with hannibal. his amazing effort to get elephants across the alps and contrast that with the task that must have been -- of mural rocky mountain trail. sometimes breaking trails themselves. where fleets of hundreds of multiengine bombers five miles high are streaming in trails to the chilly upper atmosphere. >> perhaps patton for directions since he was reincarnation of
hannibal. another interesting light it shedded on the war was the aspect of petroleum as one of the central issues of the conflict. you talked about that a little bit in the book. would you like to explore that importance? >> little bit of background. the reason the 15th u.s. army air force was established in november of 1943 was that the allied combine chiefs in london and u.s. chief of staff in d.c., recognized in order to defeat germany, it was going to be essential to turn off the oil taps. about one third of nazi germany's petroleum came from romania. the refineries around, which was about 35 miles north of
bucharest. if you look at a map of europe you'll see from london, southeast is about 1300 statute miles. all of that was over german occupied europe. there's no way for british-based bombers to reach those targets. consequently, the 15th air force was established by jimmy dolittle in november of 1943. job one on its list of things to do was to prevent the romanians and the germans from continuing to produce not only raw oil and other petroleum products but especially refined high octane gasoline. it turned into a four or five month campaign in early 1944. it cost the 15th air force approximately 250 air plants but it turned off almost all of the
oil. later that month, the russians invaded and took over the area anyway. oil was job one and after that was accomplished, the 15th can concentrate on other missions such as synthetic refineries throughout southern europe railroad and other transportation targets. it was a multifaceted strategic air campaign conducted north and south by the eighth air force and the british air force in britain and the 15th air force based in italy. >> there's so many amazing little stories in this book. there's no way that we can capture them all. we're going to hit a few highlights. you can catch them all in the book. let's turn aside quick. i know you talk about him a little bit. general jimmy who i believe you got to know personally.
he seems like an amazing characters. you covered the raid in tokyo. he set up the 15th in a two month period. he did amazing job there. he was actually fly combat during the war. >> yes, he did. of course he began flying combat with his famous carrier launched raid of 16 army bombers along the tokyo urban area in april of 1942. that meant not only a metal of honor but a double promotion from lieutenant colonel to regular general. i was fortunate in getting to know him. because i was tapped by the los angeles area chamber of commerce to write the program for his 80th birthday in 1976. we just hit it off. we established a friendship. kept in touch. general jimmy's attitude if he was going to command an air
force, he damn well was going to learn to fly every airplane in that air force. one of his fighter units had british spit fires in north africa. he was caught red-handed by eisenhower climbing out of the spit fire with regular general star on his shoulder. eisenhower said, general dolittle any second lieutenant can fly a fighter plane, doubt to fly fighter planes or run my air. the implication being, you can do one but not both. dolittle said yes, sirring yes sir i'll run your air. >> let's take this moment to explore what was pretty powerful divide at the time between the airmen's mentality and the army mentality. what started as a pretty rockery relationship between dolittle
and eisenhower. >> they first served together in north africa where eisenhower was a three star. the senior american ground commander in the theater. understand that eisenhower was west pointer. class of 1915. not to put two fine a point on it, he was a west point snob. he didn't have the appreciation of a mere reserve officer who didn't wear the west point wing. it's surprising because eisenhower obviously was intelligent and he was a capable leader and administrator. makes you wonder what was it about his professional military education that led him to denigrate to a certain extent reserve officers. dolittle wrote to his wife in late 1943.
i'm going to command the 15th air force. eisenhower did not necessarily have a veto on that decision. he was in the process of moving up to england to establish the supreme allied headquarters there. he certainly demonstrated his acceptance of dolittle two months after dolittle established the 15th air force and requested him to run the eighth airport for the rest of the war. >> and let's talk just for a minute about dolittle's replacement who was another really interesting guy. another guy with an amazing story. >> nathans from an old american military family. they had unbroken line of service in the u.s. army or navy dating from the revolution. in fact, twining was i believe
named for an uncle who was an admiral. twining's brother, was a marine corps general. the military was in their dna. twining had previous combat experience in the pacific commanding the 13th air force. he was tapped by general arnold, the chief of the army air forces in washington, to transfer from the pacific to italy and take over the 15th air force in january of 1944. >> he was shot down in the pacific and survived six di days at sea? >> he wasn't shot down. he was on b17 bomber that got lost and ran out of fuel. he survived that ordeal and emerged from it stronger than ever. >> wasn't he on the force that was hunting -- >> he was. at that point in 1916, he was i
think still a national guardsman. he went to west point there after. he was general persian in mexico for a few weeks in 1916. >> one of the things that struck me about the book was the very steep learning curve and justed incredibly stiff resistance in high attrition rate that they experienced especially early but throughout the war and talk a little bit about that. >> well, just really short course in prewar army air force doctrine. the air force tactical school generated plans and doctrines that disseminated throughout the army. in aviation units. they came up with the concept of the self-defending bomber. a four engine, high all altitude bomber
that supposed to fend off enemies without the use of friendly fighter escorts. that was a tale -- that was an example of the technical tale with the doctrinal dog. until well into world war ii, we had no long range escort fighters. that concept of the self-defending bomber came up against reality over northern europe in 1942 1943. the attrition was such that in late 1943 it was statistically impossible for a bomber crew to finish a 25 mission tour because the average attrition permission was 4%. you don't need to be a math wiz
to figure 25 times 4. it so the eventual arrival in late 1943, 1944, especially of the mustang, the bombers, this was in contrast to the british, who flew almost entirely at night. >> they showed amazing perseverance. there were some incidents of amazing heroism. maybe you can describe some of those. barrett: both were posthumous, and both involved missions to or near one area in the summer of 1944. a bombardier from my home state, kingsley, attended a badly wounded gunner and had to take off his parachute harness in
order to apply first aid, and that harness disappeared in the confusion, and the airplane was badly shot up, so kingsley made the conscious decision. he had minutes to think about it. he took off his harness, put it on the wounded sergeant, and pushed him off of the bomb bay so he could pull the ripcord, so he did that to death, and if there is not a better definition of being a hero, i do not know what is. and then there was an airplane that was damaged, and there were about three crew members who were either wounded or unwilling to bail out, and he stayed with it, trying to make a crash landing and almost got down safely, but a wing got snagged
and that was donald, who also got a posthumous medal of honor. >> turning to a much lighter note, there is a lot of funny stuff in the book, but one thing i found that was particularly amusing, when the men would get a new bomber, i forget which one, but searching for hidden messages. perhaps you can talk about that. barrett: we have all heard of rosie the riveter, and they were not limited to building airplanes, but they were building ships, everything. they could frequently find penciled messages from rosie the riveter with name and phone
number, "give me a call, soldier," and sometimes, they would list their bra size. whether there were any permanent hookups remains for investigation. >> we are running short on time. talking about the other side of the war, it was an intense conflict on both sides, and it was very interesting, and i like that you did explore that. perhaps you can talk about the more endearing characters. i know there are some, like the italian sort of style. quite fascinating. barrett: real quickly, about the italians, many people do not know that the italians were on both sides, because after
mussolini was overthrown in 1943, he was rescued in a raid and the northern portion of italy remained in the axis's hands. there were one or two squadrons who decided to side with the allies, and they flew their squadrons into a base and reported for duty, and they were wearing what the military calls their class-a uniforms, which would include their white gloves, so what better way to present yourself? two of my favorite characters on the axis side, there was a gold-medal winner for the pentathlon, and by the time the
15th air force was established he was commanding the air defense sector around vienna and they lost something like 300 airplanes either over vienna or in that area, so one was an extremely capable air commander, and the personal connection i have is that i used to know his friendly rival, who retired from the u.s. army, and they became friends in berlin during the 1936 olympics, because charlie got the silver medal, and they sent food and clothing to the family in germany until they
could get back on their feet, so my absolute favorite character in the entire book is a fabulous individual, a prince, constantin cantacuzino. he was romanian royalty, one of these rare people who excelled in everything that he did. movie-idol good looks, rockstar charisma, and there is nothing that interested him in which he did not do extremely well. he was with the hockey team, a national stunt pilot, a champion motorcycle and automobile racer, and to him, aerial combat was a sport. he recognized that the prisoners being held in romania were likely going to be liberated by the soviets, and he did not
trust them. many americans were not released by the soviets. so he stuck an american pow in his fuselage and flew down to the 15th air force headquarters and arranged a massive airlift of bombers up to the bucharest area to take them back to freedom in italy, and he made the mistake of letting an american fighter pilot fly his plane, and he wrapped it in a ball. so he needed an american airplane. the only american airplane
available was a p-51 mustang. he took off and put on a world-class demonstration and landed and said, "i am ready. let's go." so he was a tremendous character. he was married four times. one of his wives divorced him and married a british gentleman, and their daughter is best known as linda gray of the "dallas" tv series. it is a remarkable situation.
>> well, i think that is all we have time for. there are so many more wonderful and fascinating episodes in the book. we have time for a few more questions. we have a few more questions about this? barbara: i know you have one. back to you. >> i have one. you mentioned you had flown over 500 hours in various military craft and that you have remodeled some and that kind of thing. did you have a favorite, and if so, why? barrett: yes, mine was one my dad and i and my family restored in the 1970's. we acquired it from portland oregon, who had been using it as
a modified spray plane for mosquito control, and it became too expensive to operate, and at the time, it was the only example of the scout bomber by douglas in the world, and now i think there are two or three that are airworthy, and i realized that almost nothing had been written about it. it was probably one of the most significant aircraft after pearl harbor, because of midway and guadalcanal. one of my favorite pictures is one that i took of my dad flying that airplane. it is a close-up cockpit shot of him, and it was one of dad's favorites, too, and it was over his bed when he died earlier this year, and it remains my sentimental favorite.
>> i see in your book, you mentioned the "lady be good." it was not a b-25. it was a b-24. do you know what happened to it? did they scrap it? barrett: it went down in the north african desert shortly before the 15th was established, but the crew flew hundreds of miles south on the african coast, ran out of fuel, landed in the desert, and the airplane wrecked, and it was found and eventually brought back to the united states for display at an
airport museum. barbara: thank you. thank you, all, for coming, and i would like to say that james has written some wonderful books, but there is the go-to for various suitors of world war ii, and i cannot remember the name of the book, but he has a brilliant book of romania and the value of the romanian fields. he is in hungary. he is everywhere for anyone who wants a broad-based picture. and you can hardly do any better than barrett tillman. we could listen for hours more.
thank you for coming. and if you would like to have your books signed, come on up. barrett: thank you for hosting me. may 24. -- an a-24. is at the wright-patterson museum. yes, sir? how would you like that inscribed? [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> you are watching american history tv all weekend, every weekend on c-span 3. to join the conversation, like us on facebook at c-span history. this weekend on american artifacts, we take "hard hat" tour of the new smithsonian
museum of african american history and culture with director lonnie bunch. here is a preview. >> there it sits, the first time i've seen this. this is an interactive lunch counter that is going to allow the public to bring their own knowledge, put together their own stories around the civil rights movement. it's capable of being used by individuals but also classes. so teachers can control how this would work. and so, that's not bad. ok. i've seen this as a 12 inch screen. this looks much better. but the point is -- >> i'm glad you like it. >> cost enoguugh. throughout the museum, we are trying to find all the different ways, the different platforms to educate so that this talks about the civil rights movement itself the struggles, the challenges as bill framed it but also wanted to create, have
some artifacts that would be dramatic and help people understand the power of discrimination. >> watch the entire tour on sunday 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. eastern time on american artifacts here on american history tv only c-span 3. each week, american artifacts takes you to museums and historic laces to learn what artifacts tell you about american history. next, we visit the alexandria apothecary museum located in virginia just outside of wishing to and d.c., which was operated by the same family for over a century. we will learn about what an apothecary does and how medicine has changed over many years. gretchen bulova: my name is gretchen bulova, and i am the director of the apothecary museum in alexandria, virginia. the museum is owned and operated by the city of alexandria. today we are going to look at the stabler-leadbe