The 57th Bomb Wing and the 340th Bomb Group on Corsica
The experience in Corsica was extremely important to the 340th Bomb Group. In all of my father's time overseas, two and a half years, he spent a whole year of that time on Corsica.
Fortunately, that time and place has found its own historian. Dominique Taddei, a native of Corsica, was a young boy in Corsica when the Americans arrived. He has taken it upon himself to chronicle the Allied presence on his island during the war.
Even more fortunate is that he has elected to study the Allied presence not just from the military point of view, but also from the human side of the experience. An American historian would tend to concentrate on the lives of the GI's. Taddei adds the points of view of the inhabitants of the island whose lives were all dramatically affected by the fortunes of this awful war.
The link below will take you to a web site that describes the ceremony that dedicated a monument to the 57th Bomb Wing on Corsica. It was erected by the Corsicans as a demonstration of their gratitude for the sacrifices of the Allied Armies.
It also provides two reviews of Dominique Taddei's book, “U.S.S. Corsica, the Island Aircraft Carrier.”
The site is in French:
Unfortunately, this site has been taken down, however:Following is my translation of the text found there:
1943......1998 Dominique Taddei, U.S.S. CORSICA: The Island Aircraft Carrier
Dedication of the Corsican Monument to the 57th Bomb Wing:
The story begins, I was 6 years old. I still remember the silhouettes, the colors black and silver of the B-25's. My older sister, aged 8, counted the B-25's as they came back from a mission. There were seventeen airfields on the island. Most of them were occupied by the American Army Air Corps. The story ends when, in order to thank the American aviators, friends and local dignitaries gathered to inaugurate a commemorative monument at the Ghisonaccia airfield. A plaque was also mounted at the Folelli College. For the inauguration itself we had the great pleasure of having a contingent of 19 Americans with us. They were former aviators of the 57th Bomb Wing along with their wives and children.
It was a very moving moment when the speaker addressed the American veterans with these words, “You should not be thanking us, it is we, the citizens of Corsica, who must thank you for what you did for us during the Second World War. For us it was the greatest event of our lives.”
An American aviator commented: “Dominique is a saint. He pays homage to what the these courageous men, boys really, did for his country. No one should ever forget!”
But that is not all. For him it was not possible to resist spreading the word about the sights and sounds and feelings that continued to fill his mind. He published, for the benefit of historians and the airmen, his 50 years of notes and research in the book, “U.S.S. Corsica, The Island Aircraft Carrier.”
A reviewer on the Internet said, “Fascinating!. An incredible poetry in this voyage in time and in the skies, a book that defies boundaries...”
No one is more qualified to comment on this book than Ph. Ballarini:
“After the Allied invasion of North Africa and the liberation of Corsica by the island's Resistance, troops of the Army of Africa and a battalion of French shock troops, it became rapidly apparent that the 'Island of Beauty' occupied a strategic position of prime importance in the Western Mediterranean. It was particularly suited to serve as a base for bombers heading for targets in Italy, Austria, France or Germany. Corsica became a sort of gigantic aircraft carrier for the allied air forces. It merited the admirable nickname of the “U.S.S. Corsica,” echoing the manor of naming ships in the U.S. Navy.
During the winter of 1943-1944, Solenzara, Ghisonaccia, Serragia and Alesani saw the arrival of the Mitchell B-25's of the 321th, 310th, 319th and the 340th Bomb Groups of the 12th Air Force that would soon launch their missions toward the continent. For most of the young crews, Corsica would be both welcoming, rugged and their first contact with Europe.
Suspended mid-way between a historical text and a memoir, Dominique Taddei's work does not limit its approach strictly to the military presence and its battle missions. The human element is omni-present in this book, by virtue of the great number memories and eyewitness accounts on the part of the soldiers as well as the Corsican citizens.
It would be an error to consider this book as a regional history, even though it has those elements. Accounts of the battle mission, common memories of two very different communities, everyday life and anecdotes yield a lively image of a past that is rarely evoked.
The presentation is elegant. The illustrations numerous (nearly 500 photos) and many of them are previously unpublished. The result is a very pleasurable read.”
Review found on http://www.alapage.com:
“On the 9th of September 1943, Corsica was liberated from the presence of the Italian and the German Fascists. Once the island was liberated it only took a few weeks for the Allied troops to take over the existing landing strips and to begin construction of more. The strategic location of the island in the heart of the Western Mediterranean made it the keystone of the Allied plans. No less than seventeen airfields were operational right up to the end of the war. These airfields hosted thousands of soldiers from many backgrounds. Among them, the most numerous, were the Americans. These groups of young soldiers discovered here for the first time the Old World, Europe. The youthful enthusiasm for this war of liberation, their engagement in a pitiless war where the technological advances gave little relief to the constant danger, the social life in the camps between missions, the homesickness, the days of joy and of pain; all of those facts and emotions were committed to their letters, their diaries and the memories of the veterans. All of that is captured here. This exceptional harvest of unedited documents from the three bomber encampments in Ghisunaccia, Alisgiani and Sulinzara, illuminate the interior of a war that can not be reduced to a few well known major events. It is a little-known world that reveals itself. It puts the human being back in the center, along with his doubts, his rationale, his good qualities and his faults.
Corsica, truly an immobile aircraft carrier that deserved the affectionate nickname, U.S.S. Corsica, will remain in the memories of these young combatants as an unforgettable, welcoming land. A land that nevertheless preserved its mysteries and its secrets. A land of proud and free inhabitants. This is a history told by those who made it. The author of this collection invites his readers, whether they be airplane enthusiasts, military buffs or simply the curious, to be a part of this surprising encounter of two worlds suddenly thrown together in the fight for Freedom.”
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