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Robert Morgan Flies the Memphis Belle

Robert Morgan Flies the Memphis Belle


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This in NOT the orginial Memphis Belle documentary! This is a British remake/rehash of the original with altered narration and altered editing.

It appears most of the original footage is included (I _wish_ I had the orginal to compare--it's the one I thought I was getting), but the original narration has been replaced, eliminating some of the most affecting parts (the WWII blood-donor pitch, for one--about how blood donations from the folks at home might have saved some of the returning wounded fliers), as well as the first-hand, on-the-scene sense of tension that the original had.

This version isn't terrible, and does continue the Memphis Belle story past their successful final bombing mission, and includes some extra b&w footage. But is--I repeat--NOT the original.

This documentary film is powerful in a way no Hollywood movie about the Memphis Belle can ever be--this film is real. Real people, drawn out of their ordinary lives, do extraordinary service in deadly conditions. Being a film done at the time gives an immediacy to the events. This isn't a 'look back', it's a 'look _now_' in the film's perspective and that strengthens the effect. Even the 'propaganda' aspects serve to enhance the moving effect (like the blood donor pitch--propanda? yes. intense and powerful? definitely.)

But a bad copy of the film on this DVD. The video level is overblown, wiping out much detail. The film transfer--actually it looks like a telecine/video transfer with scan lines painfully visible--is ghastly. If a new, better copy of Memphis Belle comes out, I'll be replacing this one.


Robert Morgan Flies the Memphis Belle - HISTORY

As a young man growing up in Asheville, North Carolina, Robert Morgan was a fast-driving party boy—a hell-raiser. But when his mother committed suicide upon learning she had inoperable brain cancer, Morgan's life changed dramatically. He was no longer a carefree playboy he was a man searching for meaning.

He found that meaning at the controls of an airplane, and in the flak-and fighter-filled skies over Occupied France and Nazi Germany. The plane was a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. Morgan named her the Memphis Belle in honor of his fiancée, a Memphis beauty named Margaret Polk. He and his crew flew 25 successful daylight missions over Europe in the Belle, and were immortalized by Hollywood director William Wyler in a 1944 documentary called The Memphis Belle. In those 25 harrowing missions, Morgan never lost a crew member. The only casualty associated with the Belle was Morgan's engagement to the plane's namesake it simply couldn't survive the War Department's publicity demands.


A MARRIAGE MADE IN THE HEAVENS

Some marriages are made in the wild blue yonder, and this looks like one of them:

The groom-to-be is Col. Robert Morgan, 72, the World War II pilot of the Memphis Belle.

The bride-to-be is Linda Dickerson, 47, a general aviation buff who flies small planes and does air show promotions.

They`ll take their vows Aug. 29 here under the wing of the famous B-17 bomber that Morgan flew during the war and named for his Memphis sweetheart, Margaret Polk.

Although Morgan never married Polk, who is now deceased, he said Tuesday he believes the woman with whom he carried on a wartime romance would approve of the wedding, which will take place under her own glamour-girl image on the bomber`s nose.

''I think Margaret would appreciate this gesture,'' said Morgan, who was interviewed by phone at his office in Asheville, N.C. ''We remained friends over the years, and, knowing her, I think she would have liked the idea.''

Dickerson, who is from Algonquin, Ill., is not so sure it will be all smooth sailing.

''I feel like I`m walking in the shadow of Margaret Polk,'' she said.

''On the other hand, that`s a relationship that never was. As the truth comes out, that relationship was promoted by the Air Force.''

Dickerson became interested in the legend after she saw the movie

''Memphis Belle'' in October 1990. ''I thought it was fabulous. I told my roommate, `That airplane is going to be part of my life.` It was a real strong premonition. That`s when I started studying up on the Memphis Belle history.'' Dickerson met Morgan in April 1991, when she booked him and his co-pilot, Jim Verinis, as speakers at the Sun `n Fun Experimental Aircraft Association`s fly-in at Lakeland, Fla. She continued to work with members of the Memphis Belle crew as a free-lance agent and often talked with Morgan by phone. After Morgan`s wife, Elizabeth, died in January, the couple grew closer. Morgan proposed April 4.

As Morgan remembers it: ''We were at an air show, and they put on this Glenn Miller-type dance band. I was the host, and there was Linda, wearing one of those Southern belle dresses.''

Morgan and Dickerson both see the wedding as an event with historic overtones.

''The history and legend of this wonderful airplane has come full circle for me,'' said Morgan, whose co-pilot will serve as best man.

''I think of it as an aircraft commander showing me off to his airplane,'' said Dickerson, who has been married once before. Because her parents are dead, she plans to ask Gen. Paul Tibbets, pilot of the plane that dropped the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, to walk with her down the aisle.

Morgan has also invited the Memphis Belle`s seven surviving crew members, but he doesn`t know how many will attend. There`s a major reunion scheduled here the following week, and it appeared doubtful that the crew will make both events.

Morgan and Dickerson are planning a trip to Memphis in mid-July to figure out how to stage their wedding around the bomber, which sits under a huge open-sided dome.

''I`ve seen the Memphis Belle that was used in the movie,'' Dickerson said, ''but I`ve never seen the real Memphis Belle. I plan to look at it in terms of putting on an event there.''

Dickerson, who has been doing aviation promotions for 15 years, will turn more of her attention to spreading the word about the Memphis Belle.

''I`m going to do everything I can to keep the legend of this airplane alive,'' said Dickerson, who in August will become a part of the story herself.


Most Memphians, I presume, recognize the name Margaret Polk. The young woman was engaged to Robert Morgan, the pilot of the famed Memphis Belle, the B-17 Flying Fortress that he had named after his longtime sweetheart.

Newspapers, eager for a good story, told readers about their romance, and one day The Commercial Appeal even announced their wedding. No details were provided, only that “the wedding will be solemnized in the early Spring.”

And what a perfect ending it would’ve been to one of the war’s best-known love stories. The Memphis Belle — the plane, I mean — would complete its 25 missions and return home for a war-bond tour, and after all these long years overseas, the pilot would finally marry his longtime sweetheart.

Some things just don’t work out. The wedding never took place. It’s never been clear — not to me, anyway — who decided to call it off, but I recall reading somewhere that all the publicity finally just wore the couple down, and Margaret herself even admitted that she was “in love with being in love” — or something to that effect, suggesting that her affections towards Morgan had cooled.

Margaret remained in Memphis. After the war, Morgan returned to his home of Asheville, North Carolina, where he married someone else, and eventually opened a Volkswagen dealership. I always thought that was an odd choice of cars for him to be selling, after spending so much time dropping bombs over German-held Europe, but heck they were good cars.


The Two Memphis Belles

Margaret Polk sits at a table in her sunroom leafing through a scrapbook. It is a dreary winter day in Memphis. The backyard swimming pool is covered and the bird feeders are bare. “Those little bastards,” she says, looking out the window. “I feed them all winter long and as soon as they start turning pretty, they fly away.”

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There is a hint of stubbornness in the set of her jaw, but her eyes have a mischievous gleam. As she leafs through the scrapbook it is difficult to recognize her as the 20-year-old girl in the yellowed newspaper clippings. But Margaret Polk, 47 years older and a lifetime wiser now, is the original Memphis Belle.

Margaret was catapulted into the public eye when her fiancé, Captain Robert Morgan, returned to Memphis from the war in England flying “her” B-17, the Memphis Belle. Morgan had named it after Margaret, and the city dutifully adopted both the couple and the bomber. Local bigwigs were on hand when it touched down at Memphis Municipal Airport on June 19, 1943, but Margaret was oblivious to the reporters assigned to cover her. When the Memphis Belle finally landed on that summer day and Bob Morgan jumped out to sweep Margaret into his arms, the photo of their embrace made the front page of the afternoon paper.

Margaret says that was the happiest day of her life. “All I could think about was that he was coming home and we were going to get married,” she says. “But anytime the government gets involved they’ll screw things up. And they wanted a romance, not a marriage.” The wedding was postponed.

Margaret had met Bob the previous summer while visiting her sister in Walla Walla, Washington. To Margaret, he was just another pilot stationed at the airbase. But Bob was not to be ignored. Every morning he buzzed her sisters’s house with his B-17. Weeks later, flattered but not swayed, Margaret drove back to Memphis to finish her senior year at Southwestern University. At home, a letter from Bob was waiting.

“My dearest ‘Polky,’ ” it read. “I miss you ‘little one.’ I miss you more than you’ll ever know or understand…. I know now that I have never loved before…. If we can’t have OUR LIFE before the war is over I know I shall come to you afterwards, providing you still want me…. Write soon, ‘little one.’ I send you all the love in my heart. Forever yours, Bob.”

That got her attention. When Bob sent a telegram a few weeks later to say he’d be in Jackson, Mississippi, that evening, Margaret drove all night to spend a few hours with him. They were engaged on September 12. Bob named his new B-17 the Memphis Belle, had one of Esquire’s Petty Girls painted on its nose, and flew off to England. If he had named the bomber Little One, as he had originally intended, Margaret’s life—and his—might have turned out quite different.

In the last months of 1942 the Allies sustained heavy losses in Europe, and American morale needed a boost. Every little victory made headlines. When the editor of the Memphis Press-Scimitar learned that one of the airplanes doing battle in Europe was named for a local woman, he immediately put a reporter on it. The next day pictures of Margaret and Bob were on the front page. “I about fainted,” says Margaret, who came home from school and discovered she was famous.

From then on news about the Memphis Belle’s victories appeared regularly. Margaret lost some 15 pounds waiting for cables, letters, and news from England. Then, on May 31, she received the cable she’d been waiting for. “SAFE TOUR OF DUTY COMPLETED FINGERS CROSSED ADORE YOU BOB.” She started eating again.

As one of the first airplanes to complete its overseas missions and the star of a War Department documentary, the Memphis Belle and its crew were selected for a stateside tour. The second stop, after Washington, D.C., was Memphis, where the young couple would be reunited. When the airplane landed, Margaret was escorted to it by an Army Air Forces public relations officer. Quite unwittingly, and without compensation, Margaret had been drafted.

The Belle flew on to Nashville and the northeast states. Margaret was flown to Cleveland by Bob’s pre-war employer to surprise him. Surprise indeed: he already had a date for the evening. Still, he swept Margaret into his arms for the cameras and insisted they get married on the spot. A store was opened so Margaret could buy a wedding dress, but she declined, envisioning a less frantic ceremony.

Margaret went home to Memphis and the Belle flew west. Her scrapbooks are full of newspaper clippings that show women clambering over one another to get an autograph from the handsome pilot of the Memphis Belle. She recalled that when Bob was in town, women called her house looking for him. “Some wanted to ask about their brothers who were still overseas,” she says. “But some of them just wanted to flirt.” She also learned that Bob had already been married.

On August 1, Margaret phoned him at the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver. “I don’t remember what made me so mad,” she says. “Some woman must have answered the telephone, or she must have come and talked to him while he was talking to me. But something happened.” Margaret broke the engagement.

“I was just devastated,” she says. “He may have tried to call the next day, but I went over to my friend’s house. I remember sitting out on her front porch just crying my heart out.”

Margaret also called her Army Air Forces contact. “He said, ‘You can’t break that engagement.’ I said, ‘Well, the hell I can’t. I’ve already done it.’ He said, ‘You hold fire now, I’ll get back to you.’ Then he called me back and said, ‘Well, don’t you get it to the newspapers. Let’s keep this under cover.’ But it was too late.”

A small item ran in the August 3 Memphis Commercial Appeal: “Wedding Bells Won’t Ring Out for Memphis Belle and Flier.” Within a week Bob was engaged to a woman in San Antonio. That too made the news, but the romance didn’t last. Soon Bob was again begging Margaret to reconsider.

She needed more time, but the war wouldn’t wait. By December Bob had a new assignment and a new airplane to fly in the Pacific. He wrote to Margaret and thanked her, on behalf of the whole crew, for allowing them to name the Memphis Belle after her. Then he married Dorothy Johnson of Asheville, North Carolina, his hometown. A year later he led the first B-29 raid on Tokyo in a bomber named Dauntless Dotty.

Margaret Polk still lives in Memphis, where the Memphis Belle is on permanent display. She occasionally shows up at the Memphis Belle Pavilion to sign autographs. Often she’s asked if she’s the girl in the bathing suit perched up there on the nose of the airplane. She’s not, but she tells them she is—just to see their “little ol’ mouths fall open.”

“I’m still crazy about Bob,” she says. In the 1950s Margaret married a traveling tractor parts salesman, but the five-year marriage never approached the intensity of the romance she had with Bob, who eventually divorced Johnson and remarried.

Still, Margaret says she and Bob are friends. A recent Christmas card from him reads, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” It is signed, “Past, present, future—love, Bob.” “That Bob,” Margaret says, shaking her head. “He could charm a snake.”

Margaret Polk died of cancer at her home on April 5, 1990, just after this story was published. She was 67. Robert Morgan died on May 15, 2004, in Asheville, North Carolina, of complications from a fall. He was 85. His wife Elizabeth Morgan had died in January 1992, and he remarried that August, under the wing of the Memphis Belle. Morgan’s letters to Polk are now at Memphis State University.


Bob Morgan – Pilot

Born on July 31st 1918 in Asheville, North Carolina, the third child of David Bradley Morgan and Mabel K Morgan, from the very beginning Robert Knight Morgan had a lot of things going for him. ‘I grew up in a sort of protective society, you know, we had nurses to take care of me and all that sort of thing.’ That did not stop him from doing all the things that boys everywhere like to do. Hunting. Fishing.‘One of the Vanderbilt estates is located at Asheville. Through my family I got to know one of the wardens on the estate. He took me fishing and hunting, taught me to shoot.’

His sister, named Peggy after her mother, was to break off her engagement to Simon Baring, a member of the London banking family to marry Alexander Abel-Smith, also of London. His brother, David Jnr was destined to marry Princess Dolly Obolinsky, a White Russian emegré and socialite from New York.

Like all boys, Bob was also prone to playing pranks – like the time his mother was having a cocktail party on the lawn and he took the water hose, breaking up the party by squirting water on the maids. ‘That was one time when Dad got out his razor strap and whipped me pretty good. I got by with a lot but Dad was no softie. He knew how to use that strap. Sure I was wild as a kid. I had the world’s speed record from Asheville, North Carolina, to Greenville, South Carolina. I used to see a girl down there, went almost every day. It was 60 miles and a mountain road but I drove it in 55 minutes in Dad’s Buick. Everybody in town knew about and talked about it.’

It seems that young Bob got the taste of marrying early. Journalist Ruth Reynolds alleged in the Sunday News for August 22nd 1943 that before Bob was 15 he had eloped and married 13 year old Doris Newman, another pupil of Asheville Public School. They were wed on June 6 1931 – and divorced on June 15 their parents took care of that!

Things changed with the coming of the Great Depression. Bob’s father was a successful businessman, being the president of the Dimension Manufacturing Company, a successful furniture-making concern. When the Depression hit he became the watchman who guarded the locked-up plant, for $50 a month. It was an experience Bob never forgot: ‘…my Dad was completely broke. I mean busted – completely. We even had to sell our house’.

It was Mrs Sir John Francis Amherst Cecil, the former Cornelia Vanderbilt, a close friend of Bob’s mother, who came to the rescue after that. Cornelia had inherited Biltmore House in 1914 following the death of her father George Washington Vanderbilt. “When we lost our house, she let us live in a house on her estate, rent free. Dad and I lived there by ourselves. Dad did the cooking and I had to do the house cleaning. Dad still had some friends in Massachusetts, and when the depression eased up a bit, he borrowed some money from one of his friends, bought the factory back, opened it up and got it started again’. Before it was over, Bob’s father owned three furniture factories.

In January 1936 came the devastating news that his mother had contracted thyroid cancer. There was no hope of a cure, no hope of recovery. She took a shotgun, pointed the gun at herself, and committed suicide. ‘I believe my mother dying was the biggest blow in my life. My mother was a beautiful and lovely woman. I looked up to her as if she were an angel. She and I had big plans for us. We were going to go on trips together and then, bang, all of it was blown out.”

Bob continued with his education, first at Episcopal High in Alexandria Viginia, then studying business administration at the Wharton School of Finance, part of the University of Pennsylvania. In the summer of 1938 Bob met, and then married wife #2, Alice Rutherford Lane, daughter of Mr & Mrs W R Lane of Hendersonville, N.C. Her folks had a summer residence in Asheville. Accounts from Bob Morgan suggest that the marriage lasted until the fall, when her parents took her to Florida and another divorce. However, Florida divorce records reveal that they were not divorced until 1940 in Manatee County.

Bob’s first job, after graduation, was working for the Addressograph-Multigraph Corporation of Cleveland, Ohio, makers of office equipment. ‘They put me through their school in Cleveland where I learned about their machines, and then I went on the road as a travelling service person.’

War clouds were looming and with Europe already at war, in 1940 Bob decided to take action. “I could see the war coming so I decided to get into the Air Force. I called Dad and told him what I wanted to do and he told me that if this was what I wanted, go ahead.”

Morgan enlisted as an Aviation Cadet at Richmond, Virginia. It seems he almost got washed out of the Air Force before he started, for he had problems with his eyes. ‘The flight surgeon told me that one of my eyes didn’t quite come up to 20/20 and, in that time, it had to be 20/20 to get into pilot training. But for some reason he took a liking to me and told me he was going to help me. He took me in a dark room and gave me some ice to hold on my eye. After five minutes, he came in and got me, gave me the test again and my eye passed, 20/20’.

In February 1941 Morgan received his orders to report for basic flight training in Camden, South Carolina. Here under blue skies sat the bright yellow primary trainers – PT-17s, the famous Stearman biplanes. The man who would one day acquire a reputation of being a wild pilot, almost washed himself outright at the beginning…“When we started flying in primary training, I was scared to death. The first time my instructor took me out and did a loop with a slow roll, I said to myself, I’m not sure this is for me.’ I sort of lost interest and wasn’t really applying myself.

“We had civilian instructors in those days and I had a guy named Earl Friedel. I guess he sensed that something was wrong, so one day he said he wanted me to meet him down at the hangar in the evening. When I got there he pulled up a couple of chairs. We sat down and he told me I was about to wash out.

“But, like the flight surgeon, he took an interest in me and wanted to help me. He said, ‘You’ve got the greatest opportunity in the world. The Government is spending $60,000 to make a pilot out of you and you just aren’t taking it seriously. You’ve got this haphazard attitude.’

“He had a broom with him and he took the broomstick between his legs and said, ‘When I was a kid I wanted to fly so bad that I’d hang around the airfield and watch everything the pilots did. I’d look inside the planes and see that stick. Then I’d go home, sit on the front porch with a broomstick between my legs and go through all the maneuvers for hours. That was 90 percent of my flight training because I wanted to do it so badly. If you don’t appreciate what I’ve done for you, just say so and I’ll wash you out tomorrow.’

“Well, I guess that talk did me a lot of good because after that I got with it and passed my tests.”

Then came the next episode of another near-washout with Morgan himself again doing the washing. “They were sending me down to Bush Field, Augusta [then called Barnes Farm airfield] for basic training but then, at the last minute, somebody was checking the records and found out I lacked 40 minutes of having enough flying time to go to advanced training. They told me to take a plane and just fly around for 40 minutes. I got up there and had been flying about 35 minutes and was about to get ready to land when I got this crazy idea to buzz the field. Well, I buzzed it good and that was a no-no.

“When I got back on the ground I got called on the carpet by the commanding officer. He chewed me out good and he said: ‘Morgan, if we hadn’t already sent your papers to Augusta, you wouldn’t be going. I’d wash you out right now. I’m letting you go but if you ever do that again you’re through.’ Morgan eventually arrived at Barnes Farm Airfield on July 7th 1941.

Why did he decide to be a bomber pilot?. “Most people would have guessed that I would want to be a fighter pilot from the way I drove a car. I was a maniac for speed. So, people would think I was crazy enough to be a fighter pilot. But I liked company. I didn’t like the idea of being up there in the air by myself. If I went up in a B-17 I would have nine other guys up there with me and I liked that fine. That was the reason I picked bombers.”

But this did not stop him from flying the big airplanes as if they were fighters!

It was then on to Barksdale Field, Shreveport, Louisiana on September 26th. Here it was AT-7s, AT-8s, B-18s and A-29s. He graduated as a Second Lieutenant on December 12th, six days after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. His pilot’s wings were pinned on by Martha Lillian Stone, an old flame from the University of Pennsylvania days. Martha, daughter of Mrs Charles E Stone and the late Lt Stone of Mount Lebannon PA, became wife #3 two weeks later in Tampa, Florida, where Morgan had been ordered to report to the 29th Bomb Group, 52nd Bomb Squadron.

Morgan then was introduced to the four-engined Consolidated B-24C – the famous Liberator. By the end of January 1942, he was qualified as ‘first pilot’ with over sixty hours on the type and was expecting to be heading for Africa soon. But that was not to be – the Army Air Force had other plans for their MacDill first pilots.

He was re-trained and re-qualified – this time on the Boeing B-17E and posted again. By May 1942 he was part of the 29th Bombardment Group but, effective May 16th 1942 he was reassigned to the newly-formed 91st Bombardment Group and the 324th Bomb Squadron. These were not the only changes however. The marriage to Martha was soon over – they were divorced in Hillsborough County, Florida in 1942.

At MacDill Field in Tampa, Florida Morgan was again in trouble for buzz-jobs… “While we were stationed at McDill, they sometimes sent us out on submarine patrols in the Gulf. I don’t remember ever seeing a submarine but one Sunday, when we were coming in, I spotted a big house with a beautiful lawn and somebody was having a lawn party. I decided to buzz that party. Man I almost set that plane down in the punch bowl. What I didn’t know was that it was our Commanding General who was having the lawn party. The next morning, I was called in by my commanding officer who chewed me out plenty and I was told that as long as I stayed under that general’s command, I would never get a promotion.”

Some time while he was at McDill, Bob Morgan got tasked with Lt David Alford to fly as co-pilot, taking a B-17 up to Lunken Airport, Cincinnati to put it on display for their Army Air Day.

It looked as if Morgan’s life was going to be a series of reprimands and chew-outs. The next one arrived after pilots were told that, as part of their training, they could make a few discretionary flights, like landing at places near their home towns where they could see their parents. On May 31 1942 Morgan decided to land at Asheville. The only problem being that Asheville, at that time, only had 4,000 feet of runway, not really enough concrete to land a B-17 on. He decided to do it anyway.

‘I burned out the brakes on the plane, getting it stopped on that tiny airfield. They had to send a crew of mechanics from McDill to put on new brakes.’

This may have allowed Morgan some more time to visit his father, but it also earned him another of those chew-outs that now seemed to be a routine part of his training. As punishment for that landing at Asheville, Morgan’s name does not appear on Special Order 22 dated June 18th 1942 from the office of the Group Commander for the Group to be transferred from MacDill to Walla Walla, Washington, for final advanced training before being sent overseas. It seems that other pilots made the transfer by air but Morgan was ordered to make the trip by a slow, hot train ride!

“I became known as Floorboard Freddie because I wore out more brakes than any pilot in our group. I landed them hot. I always said I’d rather run out of runway at the other end than not make the runway on the touch-down. So, I always came in hotter than anyone else.”

At Walla Walla, Morgan was in hot water again because of his insistence on going around bareheaded, refusing to wear the cap required by military regulations. Captain Harold C Smelser, the commander of the 324th Squadron, took over the job of chewing him out day after day, for showing up minus his cap. Since Morgan had been appointed a flight leader, he was due a promotion to first lieutenant, but since he insisted on defying cap regulations, there would be no promotion.“Major Smelser was a West Pointer and he had been in the Pacific where he flew B-17s. He was one of those spit-and-polish officers who carried a swagger stick and tried to enforce every regulation in the book. I never did get along with him. He resented all of us young pilots who had never been to West Point but got to fly on an equal basis with the regular Army men. He assigned me to every dirty job on the base. When one of the planes went on a training mission and crashed in the mountains, killing every man on board, he assigned me to the job of going out to recover the bodies…”

After the Tour…

The triumphant tour eventually turned sour because, as Morgan put it, ‘It was too much of a good thing. There was too much wine, women and song. And not necessarily in that order’.

It was in Wichita during the Bond Tour that Bob Morgan received an invitation to the Boeing Assembly Plant there. It was there he found out the USAAF has a new aircraft – a bomber bigger, more powerful and capable of flying much higher and faster than the Memphis Belle. This was the Boeing B-29 Superfortress. They were slated for duty in the Pacific. ‘They let me climb into one of those planes and sit in the pilot’s seat’ said Morgan. ‘That did it. Here I was, surrounded by all that luxury in a pressurized cabin’.

Morgan volunteered for a second tour of duty in the Pacific and began pulling strings to get into the seat of one of those B-29s. The only member of the Memphis Belle’s crew who would go with him was Vince Evans, the bombardier.

Major Robert Morgan would also make another bit of history when he became the pilot to lead the first B-29 bombing attack on Tokyo. His B-29 would be called Dauntless Dotty,in honor of another girl this one called Dorothy Johnson. Bob Morgan turned her into wife #4.

After the war, Morgan left the Armed Forces on September 9th 1945 with some two thousand and thirty-five flying hours under his belt and returned to his native Asheville. He did, however remain in the Air Force Reserve, gaining the rank of Colonel.

For a time, along with his elder brother David, he operated the Morgan Manufacturing furniture factories that had belonged to his father. Bob Morgan stayed in contact with Vince Evans, who was now making his mark in Hollywood. It was though Vince’s contacts that Bob Morgan is supposed to have oh-so-nearly gone to work for entrepreneur film-maker, pioneer aviator and famed billionaire Howard Hughes, for Vince offered to get Bob a job as a commercial pilot working for Hughes’ Trans World Airlines – the famed TWA. But it was not to be.

For a time Bob Morgan was an automobile dealer, selling the Volkswagen Beetles so beloved by a generation of Americans. In the beloved hills of his native state, Bob Morgan and Dorothy would rear their four children Sandra Lea, Robert Jnr, Harry and Peggy.

Dorothy was a home-maker and happy-stay-at-home. Bob Morgan had ‘itchy feet’, travelling around the US for Morgan Manufacturing. He talked the company into buying an aircraft – an Army-surplus BT-15, which he flew along with a number of other machines.

Throughout the 1950s he and Dorothy had their ups and downs, as did many other couples. They would break up, then make up, only to separate again. Business trips took Bob down to Memphis to visit a plant affiliated to the Morgan Manufacturing Company. While there, Bob called Margaret. And visited. ‘…for a brief sad time, our romance was rekindled again. We saw each other a few times. Arranged meetings in various places. Wrote letters, loved, argued. It was soon over’.

Eventually, with the kids grown up, he and Dorothy came to a parting of the ways. They were divorced on May 24th 1979. Bob had already met and romanced another – Asheville realtor broker and widow with four children, Elizabeth Thrash. He was married to wife #5 in June 1979. He took Elizabeth to England three times, the first as a belated honeymoon that took in the signing of a batch of prints produced from a painting of the Memphis Belle by aviation artist Robert Taylor.

The second was in 1989 to watch the filming and participate in the publicity for Catherine Wyler and David Puttnam’s film. Eight surviving crewmembers and their wives flew over. However, despite the crewmembers offering suggestions regarding authentic dialogue and detail, film director Michael Caton-Jones declined their assistance. The result, as Bob Morgan said in masterly understatement was something that was ‘…historically innacurate’. Morgan liked to quote one reviewer: ‘The clichés dropped like bombs!’Their third trip to London was to attend the film premiere.

Sadly, Elizabeth contracted lung cancer, and passed away in January 1991.

On the aviation lecture circuit Bob Morgan – now 72 – met Linda Dickerson, who had been doing Public Relations work for David Tallichet, the owner of the B-17 that had stood in for the Memphis Belle in the movie. Dickerson was also acting as a freelance publicity agent for members of the crew. They met in April 1991 at the Sun ’n Fun Fly In at Lakeland Florida. Bob romanced and won her, then 47 year old Linda became wife #6 at a ceremony performed under the nose of the Memphis Belle at Mud Island on August 29th 1992. The bride was given away by Brigadier General Paul W. Tibbets Jnr, the man who piloted the B-29 Enola Gay over Hiroshima with Jim Verninis acting as best man..

Not everyone was happy that the ceremony was about to take place. As Joy G Wilson of Memphis said at the time ‘I feel strongly that this coming wedding to be held under the wing of the famed bomber is an affront to the memory of Margaret Polk. – a cheap ploy for publicity for Col. Morgan and in extremely poor taste. I do not agree that ‘Margaret would appreciate the idea’. Having known Margaret and having said this, I feel much better!’

Bob Morgan and his wife continued on the lecture circuit, often attending twenty or thirty a year. They went to England in 1993, and again in 1997 to attend the opening of the American Air Museum at Duxford. That was not the only event. They visited Bassingbourn, lectured in the local area and visited Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother at Sandringham.

In April 1999 he was invited to fly a Boeing B-52 at Barksdale Air Force Base, Shreveport, LA and in October 1999, Morgan was invited to fly a B-1B Bomber at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. Robins subsequently named one of its B-1’s ‘Memphis Belle’ and painted the new nose-art on in February, 2000.

On April 22nd 2004 Bob Morgan attended the airshow at Asheville Regional Airport. Whilst there, he fell and was rushed to the Mission Memorial Hospital where he was diagnosed to have suffered a fractured neck. His condition deteriorated and was eventually taken off life support systems. He passed away on May 15th.

Bob Morgan’s ashes are buried in the Western North Carolina Veterans Cemetery, Black Mountain, about 18 miles east of his hometown of Asheville where, following the ashes internment, a B-52, B-17 and a P-51 did flypasts in tribute.


Robert Morgan Flies the Memphis Belle - HISTORY

BIOGRAPHY (Excerpt from USAF Public Affairs Office)

Col. Robert K. Morgan, USAFR/Ret

“He’s a damn good pilot. He always brought us home” These words from a crew member of the B-17 “Memphis Belle” probably best sum up Bob Morgan’s military career. Commanded by Morgan, the B-17 Memphis Belle was the first of the heavy bombers to achieve 25 missions over Europe. The plane and her crew were immortalized in a 1943 combat documentary directed and filmed by William Wyler and again in 1990 by a Warner Bros. Hollywood movie (produced by Wyler’s daughter, Catherine) - both were titled “Memphis Belle”.

“There were no easy missions”, says Morgan, who never lost a crew member. “But, the secret to the B-17 was the capability of flying in tight formations - so tight that the wings were often almost touching. We were able to put out an amazing amount of firepower. That, and the Norden Bomb Sight, which made us extremely accurate at high altitudes. I also positively feel that was a bit of divine intervention for our crew.

Morgan, born July 31, 1918 in Asheville, NC (he has lived his entire life there) in the Western North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains, was a student of history and realized early on that America would get into the war. After attending the University of PA Wharton School of Finance, he joined the Army Air Corps in 1940. His basic flight training took place in Camden, S.C. Primary Training at Bush Field, Augusta, GA and Barksdale Field, LA B-17 training at McDill Field, Tampa, FL and Advanced B-17 Training in Walla Walla, WA. On December 12, 1941 (five days after Pearl Harbor), he pinned on his Pilot Wings and received his Second Lieutenant bars.

In October 1942, Morgan flew the Memphis Belle to Bassingbourn, England, home of the 91st Bomb Group, 324th Bombardment Squadron. “Back then,” Morgan recalls, “there was no book on high altitude strategic bombing. The Generals didn’t know anymore than we did. They had to figure bombing strategy as we went along.. Initially, the Memphis Belle flew missions into France and the Low Countries, but in early 1943, Germany became the target.

In the first three months of the Belle’s sorties from Bassingbourn, 80% of their Bomb Group were shot down. Moral was low, so the Generals set the completion of 25 missions as an incentive for a man to go home. Morgan frequently speaks to school kids and explains, 㦼% losses means you had breakfast with 10 men dinner with only 2 of those 10. On 17 May 43, the Memphis Belle crew became the first to complete 25 missions then return to the United States on their 26th Mission..

In June 1943, the crew departed England for the United States and began a 30-city Public Relations/Warbond Tour. First stop - Washington Natl. Airport, D.C., where Morgan was ordered to buzz the field. All the dignitaries ducked when he made a low pass over the reviewing stand. All through the tour the crew thanked the American public for their war efforts. They told them what was really going on in the war. The boys (Morgan was 23) were treated as heroes everywhere they went. Wined and dined from June through August of 㣏. The red carpet was rolled out in every city. They even took their mascot, Stuka (a black Scottie dog), with them. The tour was an emotional, but exhausting event for the crew, but an incredible moral boost for them and the public. Then it was over. The Generals told the crew they could have any job they wanted in the Air Corp. (except theirs).

Morgan had seen the still secret B-29 during the tour in Wichita and volunteered to train in this new bomber. He wanted to command his own B-29 Squadron and he trained hard and earned it. In Oct 1944 he deployed to Saipan in his brand new B-29 named Dauntless Dotty. They were assigned to the 20th AF, 73rd Bombardment Wing, 497th Group, 869th Squadron. On 24 Nov 44, Morgan made history with another “first”. With Gen. Rosie O’Donnell on board Dotty as command pilot, Morgan led the first B-29 bombing raid on Tokyo (this was the first time the U.S. had bombed Tokyo since the 㣎 Doolittle raid in B-25s). The mission was successful. After completing another 24 B-29 missions, Morgan was sent home in April 1945. He continued to serve his country in the USAF Reserve and retired in 1965 as a full Colonel.

At age 81, he still holds an active pilot’s license and works full-time in the real estate business and makes personal appearances around the world. In April 1999 he was invited to fly the Boeing B-52 at Barksdale AFB, Shreveport, LA and in October 1999, he was invited to fly the subsonic B-1B Bomber at Robins AFB, Georgia. Robins subsequently named one of its B-1’s “Memphis Belle” and painted the new noseart on in February, 2000.

He and his wife, Linda (also a pilot), have five children between them, and eight grandchildren. They own two Olde English Sheepdogs and a mutt and are active in animal welfare.


Memphis Belle: The Legendary B-17 Flying Fortress

The “Memphis Belle” a B-17F Flying Fortress of the Eighth Air Force would become the most famous of the 12,750 B-17s produced by Boeing during World War II. The plane and her crew would become immortalized, first by the Army who filmed her crew for a documentary prior to a War Bond tour and later by Hollywood who made a fictionalized feature film on the exploits of her crew.

The casualty rates were so high, that the United States put a 25-mission limit on crews. If a crew flew 25 combat missions and survived, they were rotated back to the states. But none of the crews were surviving that long. The Memphis Belle was one of the first to do so.

Background

The air war for the United States in 1942 and early 1943 was a bloody affair. The United States had entered the war just months before, and Britain decided to pressure the German war machine by bombing it around the clock. The British would bomb at night, the Americans by day.

The Allies didn’t yet have fighters that had the range to escort the bombers to their targets and back. The German Luftwaffe was a formidable adversary with very experienced fighter crews. The German anti-aircraft artillery which they called “Flak” was accurate and plentiful.

In the early days of daylight bombing, the Germans exacted a terrible toll on the new American formations. Casualty rates were appalling. It was here that Captain Robert Morgan and his crew would step into the war.

B-17F 10-BO, manufacturer’s serial number 3470, USAAC Serial No. 41-24485, was added to the USAAF inventory on July 15, 1942, and delivered in September 1942 to the 91st Bombardment Group at Dow Field, Bangor, Maine. The aircraft was deployed to Prestwick, Scotland, on September 30, 1942, and stationed at a temporary base at RAF Kimbolton on October 1, and then finally to her permanent base at RAF Bassingbourn, England, on the 14th of October.

The marking on the sides of the fuselage bore the unit and aircraft identification markings of a B-17 of the 324th Bomb Squadron (Heavy) the squadron code “DF” and individual aircraft letter “A.”

Read Next: The Eighth Air Force, “The Mighty Eighth” Was Born on This Day 1942

Morgan decided to name the plane after his sweetheart back home, a woman named Margaret Polk from Memphis, TN. Originally the plane would be named after Morgan’s nickname for Polk, which was “Little One” but after he and co-pilot Jim Vennis saw a film where the main character had a riverboat named the “Memphis Belle”, the name stuck. Morgan brought it up to the crew and they voted for it.

The drawing on the fuselage was from a pinup by artist George Petty that was in Esquire magazine in April of 1941 issue. Corporal Tony Starcer, copied the Petty girl pinup on both sides of the forward fuselage, depicting her bathing suit in blue on the aircraft’s port side and in red on the starboard. The Memphis Belle was born.

Air War Over Europe

Morgan and his crew flew their first mission over Europe on November 7, 1942, at Brest, France. The command of the American Air Forces and the Pentagon set the incentive of 25 missions for crews to reach to be rotated back to the United States. But no one was reaching that threshold. Casualties among the bomber crews in those early dark days were at 80 percent.

In interviews much later, Morgan summed up the horror of the early days of the airwar in describing the awful casualties suffered by American aircrews in the first days of the bombing campaign.

“Eighty-percent losses means you have breakfast with 10 men and dinner with only two of them.”

Memphis Belle had her share of difficult scrapes with German fighter planes and flak and on five different occasions had an engine shot out. Another time, a diving German Focke Wulf Fw-190 came straight at the plane and riddled the tail with holes setting it on fire. After the fire was out, Morgan climbed back into the tail to survey the damage.

His comments, captured by History.net tell of the difficulty he had in bringing the ship back safely. “It looked like we had no tail at all,” Morgan said. “I got back in the cockpit and flew back to the base in two hours. It was tough flying, and tougher than that to set her down. The elevators were damaged so badly that the controls jammed. Somehow we managed to get down safely.”

The American bomb groups were taking on tough, well-defended targets including the Focke Wulf plant at Bremen, locks and submarine pens at St. Nazaire and Brest, docks, and shipbuilding installations at Wilhelmshaven, railroad yards at Rouen, submarine pens and powerhouses at Lorient and aircraft factories at Antwerp.

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During her 25 missions, Memphis Belle gunners were credited with shooting down eight German fighters with another five probable kills. They damaged 12 more fighters and dropped over 60 tons of bombs on the German war machine.

After their 25th mission, the crew which had been the subject of a war documentary by Hollywood director William Wyler, the crew was rotated home on a 31-city war bond tour. The men were treated as heroes wherever they stopped. Only one female was ever allowed to fly with the Belle. Stuka, a Scottish terrier bought by co-pilot Jim Vennis in England accompanied the crew and was spoiled with the rest of the crew.

One of the stops was in Memphis where Polk was in attendance, although interestingly enough the two never did marry but did remain life-long friends. Morgan put on a stunt at his own hometown of Asheville, NC where he flew the Fortress down the main drag in town and turned it between two large buildings on its side.

General Henry “Hap” Arnold, gave Morgan the choice of any assignment he wanted. He chose to transition to B-29 bombers and bomb the Japanese. He took part in the first raid on Tokyo in November of 1944. After flying 50 missions he was sent home for good. He remained in the Air Force and retired as a Colonel.

Memphis Belle Not the First to Complete 25 Missions

Unlike the feature film that came out in 1990, the Belle was not the first plane to fly 25 missions in Europe. That distinction belonged to Captain Irl Baldwin of the 303rd Bomb Group and the plane “Hell’s Angels” named after a Howard Hughes, Jean Harlow film from back in the day. Baldwin completed his 25 missions a week before Morgan did. Memphis Belle was the first to complete 25 missions and return to the United States. Baldwin and his crew would go on to fly 48 missions before returning to the U.S. for their own bond tour in 1944.

I met Baldwin at the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum in Savannah, GA a few years before he passed away. And in talking to him, you got a great sense of how difficult life was for those bomber crews over Europe.

Asked which was worse, the fighters or flak he smiled and answered…”Yes!” He said, “it didn’t matter how large the group was when those German fighters were coming head-on into the group, you’d swear to God every one of them was firing at you.”

He added, “Once they’d open up it looked like they were winking at you and the next thing was those cannon shells ripping past.”

I asked how he managed to survive 48 missions where so many didn’t last long at all.

“Some of it is pure luck,” he said. “There is nothing you can do about flak and those German gunners were good. They’d get your range and it looked like you could walk from burst to burst with touching thin air.”

“But the other thing we learned right away was that we had to be better pilots. The only way we could survive the fighters was fly wingtip to wingtip. That way all of our guns could be trained as one. If the Germans could get in between the bombers of the group, and they were some great pilots, they’d cut you to pieces.”

Baldwin too transitioned to B-29s after his War Bond tour. But he never got the chance to fly in combat over Japan. “Right after I got there, we dropped the bomb,” he said with a shrug. “I got there a few days too late.”

Asked why he’d volunteer after already flying so many combat missions, he shrugged again. “We were at war and I felt I was better suited for it than other guys.”

“Besides,” he added, “ I figured the Germans were the best we’d go against. If they couldn’t get me I didn’t think the Japs could.”


The Man Who Flew the Memphis Belle: Memoir of a WWII Bomber Pilot

I&aposm not going to rate this book since, technically, I didn&apost read it. (I literally skimmed the whole thing in about thirty minutes.) I did make a couple notes though, stuff about B-17s and USAAF life during the war. But as for the book it&aposs self? Nope.

First off, there&aposs loads of language. Augh, it just really irks me. Must you cuss every other sentence?! >_<

Also, I know it&aposs a biography, but I really don&apost care what the author did in college. Or the bucketful of g Well, that was disappointing.

I'm not going to rate this book since, technically, I didn't read it. (I literally skimmed the whole thing in about thirty minutes.) I did make a couple notes though, stuff about B-17s and USAAF life during the war. But as for the book it's self? Nope.

First off, there's loads of language. Augh, it just really irks me. Must you cuss every other sentence?! >_<

Also, I know it's a biography, but I really don't care what the author did in college. Or the bucketful of girlfriends he had. which turned to three wives and multiple affairs. I understand that all that was part of his life, but it inferred with my appreciation for the parts that I DID enjoy (mainly, telling about the plane, the crew, and their missions).

That said, I am glad I got it and skimmed it, and I would like to learn more about the Memphis Belle. :) . more

This was a good book. I listened to the audio book. The narrator made it feel like you were actually listening to the author. It reads very informally. Like you’re in an auditorium listening to a candid speaker.

I’ve always enjoyed the movie “Memphis Belle.” To have the author mention it, and even point out flaws was okay with me. I still love the movie and this book.

It was a quick read. I must have listened to the abridged version. I wouldn’t have tired of a longer version.

I still have the ut This was a good book. I listened to the audio book. The narrator made it feel like you were actually listening to the author. It reads very informally. Like you’re in an auditorium listening to a candid speaker.

I’ve always enjoyed the movie “Memphis Belle.” To have the author mention it, and even point out flaws was okay with me. I still love the movie and this book.

It was a quick read. I must have listened to the abridged version. I wouldn’t have tired of a longer version.

I still have the utmost respect for our military. Especially the men from the WWII era. . more

Got to know some things I did not know before. The book got into a bit of his life that didn&apost have all that much to do with the Belle and how youth got the better of both of them and they didn&apost wind up together as they thought they would during the war.

It is interesting that he flew another 26 missions to Japan in B 29&aposs and how it almost took him to the end of his rope. I give the book a 2 to a 3. Robert died a few months after the book came out. Part of the last great generation. Got to know some things I did not know before. The book got into a bit of his life that didn't have all that much to do with the Belle and how youth got the better of both of them and they didn't wind up together as they thought they would during the war.

It is interesting that he flew another 26 missions to Japan in B 29's and how it almost took him to the end of his rope. I give the book a 2 to a 3. Robert died a few months after the book came out. Part of the last great generation. . more

Leaving aside the question of historical accuracy except for one comment - I was a little unconvinced by Morgan&aposs soliloquy&aposs on WW II grand strategy, such as his explanations of how the war in Russia was fought, and other things that he as a 23-25 year old bomber pilot would have known little about and perhaps cared even less. These parts of the book come across as forced.

Having said that, however, I have no doubt Morgan felt them necessary to put the overall story into context, and they do tha Leaving aside the question of historical accuracy except for one comment - I was a little unconvinced by Morgan's soliloquy's on WW II grand strategy, such as his explanations of how the war in Russia was fought, and other things that he as a 23-25 year old bomber pilot would have known little about and perhaps cared even less. These parts of the book come across as forced.

Having said that, however, I have no doubt Morgan felt them necessary to put the overall story into context, and they do that well. This makes the book perfect for youngsters or those with no understanding of the larger picture of WW II history, and thus provide this with a broader appeal.

But the meat of the story is Morgan himself. This is not "just" a story of a bomber pilot, this is a wonderfully told story of Bob Morgan, the man, and a blushingly honest discussion of his many demons - his relationship with his departed mother, his father and siblings, his girlfriends, fiancees and wives, his crew (many of whom were fast friends), his superiors, and a terrific look at how he grew up, trained for war, matured as a commander, lived as a returning veteran, and overcame the evils of a pampered upbringing, and learned the value of hard work.

The details about his tour with the 8th Bomber Command were especially interesting, and his revelations about the WW II documentary about his aircraft will answer many questions for ardent Memphis Belle fans who always wondered how much of the 1943 documentary was real (apparently, not much), and also records what Morgan thought of the 1990 film with Matthew Modine (apparently, not much).

His tour in B-29s is also well discussed. This is very much a terrific human interest story which just happens to take place in flak-filled skies. It's certainly more Twelve O'Clock High, with its introspection, than it is Monte Merrick's Memphis Belle, with its cartoon heroics.

Colonel Morgan is to be commended for his bravery in baring his soul to the rest of us, for trying to make sense of his life in a way that we can all learn, for admitting to the hurt he has caused others, and allowing us to relate to his own hurts. He was a courageous man at 23 - he had to be - but then, of his own accord, I think he was even braver in his 80s for writing this thoroughly inspirational book. . more

Robert K. Morgan, American hero and flyboy, tells his life story through WWII in The Man Who Flew the Memphis Belle: Memoir of a WWII Bomber Pilot.

Before my review I must be honest about my connections to the story of Robert Morgan. I first fell in love with the movie, Memphis Belle and when picking a research project in college, chose the Memphis Belle, the plane and crew. I&aposve also helped to restore the Belle when it was in Millington, TN with the Memphis Belle Association and when it came to Robert K. Morgan, American hero and flyboy, tells his life story through WWII in The Man Who Flew the Memphis Belle: Memoir of a WWII Bomber Pilot.

Before my review I must be honest about my connections to the story of Robert Morgan. I first fell in love with the movie, Memphis Belle and when picking a research project in college, chose the Memphis Belle, the plane and crew. I've also helped to restore the Belle when it was in Millington, TN with the Memphis Belle Association and when it came to naming my daughter, I could think of nothing else than the Belle and named her Morgan after the pilot.

Robert Morgan begins his story all the way back to childhood in Asheville, NC on the Vanderbilt estate. He fills the book with engaging stories of his childhood and eccentric upbringing. My favorite parts were hearing about his mother's and Gloria Vanderbilt's friendship. He also indulges the readers interest by telling of his whirlwind romance with the Memphis Belle, Miss Margret Polk and his heroics in serving both in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters of war.

I greatly appreciate Col. Morgan's perspective looking back at his life. He does so without glorifying his accomplishes or exaggerating his mistakes but instead comes across as a grandfather telling his story as straightforward as possible. I appreciated the truth of his escapades rather than the conformed story the magazines and newspapers shared. He makes the WWII generation seem closer to the present generation by showcasing the true feelings of a young man going off to war.

This is a must read of those wanting an honest look at a war hero. Because of language and some adult content, I would suggest for older high school and adult. I appreciate the story more as I get older and am able to look back on my life with a new understanding. . more

This is an incredible book, providing both a detailed look at what it was like to fly bombers during World War II (in both the European and Pacific theaters), as well as an incredibly intimate look at the impact it had on the life of the author. Robert Morgan enjoyed a rather privileged childhood, growing up on and around the Vanderbilt’s Biltmore estate in North Carolina. He was a reckless young man who joined the army because he knew his services were likely to be needed and because he wanted This is an incredible book, providing both a detailed look at what it was like to fly bombers during World War II (in both the European and Pacific theaters), as well as an incredibly intimate look at the impact it had on the life of the author. Robert Morgan enjoyed a rather privileged childhood, growing up on and around the Vanderbilt’s Biltmore estate in North Carolina. He was a reckless young man who joined the army because he knew his services were likely to be needed and because he wanted to fly. He ended up doing more than his share of both before the war was over. He is famous for his 25 successful missions flying the Memphis Belle, but after returning to the US for the publicity tour in 1943, he learned to pilot the B-29 and found himself on Saipan, flying 26 additional bombing missions over Japan.

While Morgan’s military career was a distinguished success, he was less successful in his personal life. It is in discussing his failures in his relationships that Morgan’s honesty and integrity shine. He is candid about his failings and thoughtful in reflecting on his motives and behavior. He is equally reflective about the impact of his war experiences on his life after the war, and does an interesting job of charting the response of the nation to the war in tracing both his personal story, as well as that of the Memphis Belle herself. It is fitting that both Morgan and the Belle find some peace at the end of the book.

This is an excellent book for anyone who is interested in learning what it was like to be part of the unprecedented bombing campaigns of the Second World War, or anyone who wants to better understand the impact of that war on those who fought it.
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Col. Morgan does a great job telling his story. From his early life, living at the Builtmore estates in NC to basic to being the first B-17 pilot to bring his crew home after 25 missions.

He talks about his missions in the Europen theater of the war and even going on to fly in the Doolittle raids over Japan. This man flew a total of 51 missions (25 over Europe and 26 over in the Pacific theater) when the average crew flew about 8 or 10 (i dont recall the exact number it may be higher or lower)
It Col. Morgan does a great job telling his story. From his early life, living at the Builtmore estates in NC to basic to being the first B-17 pilot to bring his crew home after 25 missions.

He talks about his missions in the Europen theater of the war and even going on to fly in the Doolittle raids over Japan. This man flew a total of 51 missions (25 over Europe and 26 over in the Pacific theater) when the average crew flew about 8 or 10 (i dont recall the exact number it may be higher or lower)
It's easier to keep up with his missions than it is to keep up with how many times he married. It's funny to read about all his antics and wildness then its humbling to read about his losses and courage.
The book goes through his life after the war also.
All in all an amazing read. I had a hard time putting it down to go to bed.
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Watch the video: HobbyKing B-17 1875 mm Memphis Belle Maiden Flight (January 2022).