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   FIFTY MONTHS ON AMAZON NOV 2023 AT 95% APPROVAL.                                                                                                                                                                                                                       WRITTEN FOR THE WORLD WAR II READER WHO THOUGHT THAT EVERYTHING WORTHWHILE ABOUT THE WAR HAD LONG AGO BEEN REVEALED.  NOT SO, ACCORDING TO THOUSANDS OF SATISFIED READERS. Five chapters describe the real life stories of the Eighth Air Force flyers and include never-seen then to now photos of the same bases. 

Now reprinted for 2024 holiday gift-giving with limited amounts available on Amazon. Choose from hardbound, paperback, or Kindle.

                                                                                             ALMOST HERE                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks are ready to release  MASTERS OF THE AIR    Over ten years in the making and with a January 26, 2024 release,  an overlooked teaser trailer promoting Episode One of the originally titled THE MIGHTY EIGHTH, renamed MASTERS OF THE AIR, is a must see.  In episode one, a harrowing three minutes takes viewers on an Eighth Air Force mission over Kessel, Germany.  Awaiting the bombers is a sky black with timed box barrages into which they flew.  The trailer depicts the palpable fear aboard one bomber which escapes the barrage  with major crew casualties, only to encounter scores of ME 109 and 110’s but with no fighter escorts.

As a sign of its future popularity, the obscure trailer had 7.7 million viewers ten years ago!  See it on  U tube –“The Mighty Eighth official teaser.”  Better yet, read it in THE HIDDEN PLACES OF WORLD WAR II by prize-winning author and veteran, Jerome O’Connor.

The famously perfectionist Spielberg as co-producer with Tom Hanks, overcame numerous on-location production issues and villager complaints while shooting the nine part series, requiring the inclusion of surprisingly realistic CGI technology for visual effects.  Cary Fukunaga, director of Daniel Craig as James Bond in, No Time to Die, directs the first three episodes. Austin Butler, an unknown before Elvis,  has a leading role.  But, as with Band of Brothers, most of the cast is unknown.

No reason to wait for the release.  The Hidden Places of World War II has five deeply researched and on – location chapters dedicated to history’s greatest air force, with never-seen author photos of the same British bases as they were and as they are today.  The author took decades to research his first book, with repeated visits to the same sites, participant interviews, and with never-seen photos of the same bases from then to now.  After fifty months on Amazon it continues to be popular, its sales now driven by over 95% reader referral and 100% professional reviewer recommendation..

Finally, a book for the  the avid reader of World War II history who thought that everything worthwhile had long ago been written about the war.





Once America entered the war over 1,400 Chicago-area companies converted almost overnight in a once in history achievement  resulting in re-purposing all of America’s vast manufacturing abilities into producing the weapons, foods, medicines, aircraft, ships, and converting a negligible in size army into an unstoppable force of 16.2 men, including 325,000 non-combatant women.  Except for Detroit, no city produced more armaments and goods than Chicago.  The locales included among hundreds of others, B-24 and B-29 engine manufacturing and assembly plants, torpedo assembly, portable radio factories,  shell-casing manufacturing, even penicillin and other medicines.  The valiant efforts of the men at war would not have succeeded without the support and total war production from millions on the Home Front.  Every man, woman, boy and girl did something.

FACTS OF INTEREST OVER 80-YEARS LATER                                                                          THE ‘WONDER DRUG’   The first widespread use of  Penicillin took place on D-DAY, June 6, 1944, the most important 24 hours of the 20th Century.  Every American, British, and Canadian soldier who landed on the five beaches was also armed with units of Penicillin.

SCRAP DRIVES AND VICTORY GARDENS  In every vacant lot (called ‘prairies’ in Chicago) in every American city, town, and village, so many vegetables were grown – over 40% of what was needed – that the excess was canned and sent to Europe to feed allies and soldiers.  Every city and town had numerous scrap drives, resulting in millions of tons converted into everything from tanks to ships.  Everyone did their share and did it enthusiastically.

WOMEN IN THE WORK FORCE  Before the war women ‘had their place,’ and it wasn’t doing ‘men’s work.’  The war changed that and proved that women not only had the same skills as men but had equivalent muscle power to do the jobs previously given only to men. Unfortunately  they were not paid the same wages, but today’s women in the military do the same jobs as men and all are better  because of equality.


It took forty years of on-site research along with generous amounts of procrastination, dithering, excuses, and even good reasons, until in 2029 the author finally wrote  his first book, one with an entirely different perspective on the war that saved mankind.  It took years of repeated trips, first-person interviews, photography, and deep research, but the book’s 22 chapters indeed enter the overlooked but real, existing, and unchanged places that changed the outcome of the war.   Although some have been forgotten by history, most can be visited

As a journalist with a distinct style, writing the book became an opportunity to thank those of the ‘greatest generation’ who are still with us that their service was not in vain and that what they accomplished saved humanity from entering a new dark age.   

Now in three forms, hardback, Kindle, and paperback, after more than four years the work continues to sell.  There can be only one reason for the continued sales: REFERRAL.  The author humbly thanks those who recommended the book to others, and to the 100% of professional reviewers who recommended it, and to the 96% of Amazon readers who gave it thumbs-up.  Available on Amazon at special prices.




A London Blitz survivor: ” The best book I have ever read about the Second World War.”  An Amazon  book reviewer: “I wanted to put it down but couldn’t.”



(L) TRENT PARK – The posh London mansion where 59 captured German generals had nearly open access with every word spoken secretly recorded.  

WESTERN APPROACHES COMMAND CENTER (R) in Liverpool, the overlooked two-level, concrete-encased, bunker from where convoys entering or departing Liverpool and UK ports were controlled.   With scores of photos, many never before seen, the 88,000 – word book will reveal overlooked places and events that will challenge the knowledge of even the most avid enthusiast. A first look at the chapters:   

INTRODUCTION – The last days of peace.  Germany, once again ready.  Britain, unwilling and unable.  America divided by isolationism.                                              PROLOGUE – THE HOUR OF DESTINY. War declared, Britain alone, nears defeat.  Churchill prepares to fight alone while America remains sidelined – or so it seems.
CHAPTER ONE – THE FALL OF FRANCE- BLOOD, TOIL, TEARS AND SWEAT –  Appeasement fails. Churchill rushes to Paris.  Catastrophic news. Britain will pay a price.
CHAPTER TWOWEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 1940 – A CABINET MEETING IN THE BUNKER. Churchill enters his war headquarters, an easy target for German attack.
CHAPTER THREE LIVERPOOL AND THE WESTERN APPROACHES COMMAND CENTER. The rarely seen underground headquarters that controlled entry and departure of the wartime convoys supplying Britain. (Photo above)
CHAPTER FOURFDR’s UNDECLARED WAR. Overlooked for decades are the facts from declassified files revealing FDR’s secret aid to Britain before America’s entry.
CHAPTER FIVE SECRET MISSION TO SINGAPORE. The least-known US Navy mission discloses how and why FDR approved the pre-war loan of five US transports to take an entire British division to beleaguered Singapore in its last dying days.
CHAPTER SIX FALL OF “THE GIBRALTAR OF THE EAST.” Japanese bombs drop as  American transports disembark British troops in Singapore, with death or imprisonment ahead for the 16th Division.  Britain’s biggest war loss in history.
CHAPTER SEVEN FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA – THE UNKNOWN ODYSSEY OF THE SS AMERICA/USS WEST POINT.  Beginning with a still unknown pre-war secret mission, the pride of America’s merchant fleet becomes a troop-ship and sails to glory.
CHAPTER EIGHT BLETCHLEY PARK: THE SECRET WAR.  First disclosed by the author, a tattered collection of temporary buildings in the British countryside where the Nazi Enigma cypher was broken.  Along with the Atomic Bomb, the war’s major secret.
CHAPTER NINE U-BOAT SANCTUARY.  Intact after seven decades,  the U-boat bases are the largest remains of the European war.  A must-see for any World War II enthusiast.
CHAPTER TEN INSIDE THE LIONS DEN. In a rare exclusive with exclusive photos, view the former headquarters from where Admiral Karl Doenitz commanded the U-boat fleet that almost won the war for Nazi Germany.
CHAPTER ELEVEN LAUNCHING THE INVASION. SOUTHWICK HOUSE AND D-DAY.  That the invasion took place is known everywhere, but not the unchanged place where the decision was made, still in its original appearance.  See the same floor to ceiling map.
CHAPTER TWELVE THE BAND OF BROTHERS. The famed “Easy Company” from D-Day to Hitler’s mountain hideaway.
CHAPTER THIRTEEN AIR FORCE PILOT, HERO, AND MOVIE STUART: JIMMY STEWART AND THE NEED TO FLY.  Too tall, too thin, too old, a famous star – one of America’s unsung heroes – and the same base in England from where he flew B-24s to bomb Germany.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN – THE US ARMY AIR FORCE IN EUROPE. With ten times the casualties of the infantry, they still flew against the odds and into history.
CHAPTER FIFTEEN “LITTLE AMERICA:” PATRIOTISM AND PRODUCTION BUILT THE BASES.  Funded by the US, British contractors built scores of fully-functioning bases in an area the size of New Jersey.  See the surprisingly intact remains decades later.
CHAPTER SIXTEEN ATTACKING THE HEART OF GERMANY.  How the airmen adapted to ever-improving German tactics but still lost 28,000 killed in fierce air combat.
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN LIVING THE HISTORY/THE BASES WHERE IT BEGAN.  Walk the perimeter tracks and runways and view control towers and remaining parts of the bases, including the ghostly footprints and initials left for history.
CHAPTER EIGHTEENA BOY ON THE FENCE.  Decades after the war, the author is told how a ten-year old boy became the mascot for a B-24 and its crew, later to have a tragic ending.  Decades later, learn about it from the same person.
CHAPTER NINETEEN – THE NORDEN BOMBSITE AND THE MYTH OF STRATEGIC BOMBING. Manufactured in great secrecy, the little-known story of how the famous precision bomb-sight became one of the war’s major failures.
CHAPTER TWENTY TRENT PARK TATTLETALES.  How and why 59 captured German generals were maintained in a posh London mansion in near luxury, unaware that every word was being secretly recorded. Enter the mansion on its last day before conversion into apartments.
CHAPTER TWENTY-ONETHE ARSENAL OF DEMOCRACY.   The war could not have been won without American involvement.  A salute to the US Home Front.  Then and now appearance and use of the same factories where the war goods were made.
CHAPTER TWENTY-TWOREMAINS OF THE REICH: INTACT TRACES IN UNEXPECTED PLACES    With photos, descriptions, and present-day views of Nazi remains proving that the “Thousand Year Reich” was no fantasy.                                                                                EPILOGUE What the GI’s saw in Germany validated why they fought and what they saw in New York harbor confirmed their commitment to freedom. 

Includes numerous photos – most never-before seen.  The 340-page hard-cover book or Kindle version  is available on Amazon, and select bookstores.


(Excerpt from the book)
Not long after his 1908 birth in Indiana, Pennsylvania, already nearing the end of its coal-mining prosperity, Jim Stewart knew that he had to fly. Something about the open environment in the sky suited his nature. Inherently reticent and modest as boy and man, a distinct speech pattern of part stutter and part slight pause showed both strength and vulnerability, an unexpected advantage during his years of success in movies.

Soon after the century’s first great war ended in 1918, barnstormers and flying circuses offered rides at a flat farm field in town to anyone with $10 for ten minutes or $15 for fifteen minutes. The pilots flew in the war for the Aviation Section of the U.S. Army Signal Corps, and now demonstrated to an eager public a new way of warfare, and, soon, mass transportation. The shows had wing-walkers, stunt parachutists, mid-air wing to wing plane transfers, performers, and the daring pilots themselves who did barrel rolls, breath-taking spins and dives, even top-speed hurtles through open barns, although not always with a safe landing. The Curtiss JN-3 “Jenny” bi-planes they trained-on during the war cost the government $8,100 each, but were eagerly bought by the same pilots, now civilians, for as low as $1,000 each.

Taking time off from flying model airplanes on the roof of the family home, and building crystal radios with cereal boxes and wires, the reliable Jenny became not only the first aircraft that Jim saw, but the first he flew in as a pre-teen rear seat passenger. He saved for the first of four rides from wages earned at J. M. Stewart & Co, the hardware store owned by his father, Alexander. Alex served in both the Spanish-American and the Great War repairing ordnance equipment. Service to country ran in Alex’s family. His father, uncle, and father-in-law all fought in close combat for the Union in the Civil War.

In his bedroom Jim mapped every rapturous report describing Charles Lindbergh’s historic 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic, never imagining that thirty years later he would be type-cast as the shy and reserved “Slim” Lindbergh in the Spirit of St. Louis. Years later he described the freedom that he found in the air: “It was the ultimate feeling of being in control…and being alone. I’ve always been a loner…I enjoy being on my own.”

After graduating from Princeton in 1932, Jim did summer stock with a Cape Cod theatrical company and became close friends with Henry Fonda, another aspiring actor. Along with Fonda and Joshua Logan – to become a celebrated stage and film director – and with periodic residency by actor Burgess Meredith, he rented a small apartment on Manhattan’s then scruffy West 63rd Street. By January 30, 1933, the day Hitler became Chancellor, Jim made his professional debut on Broadway in “Goodbye Again,” appearing 216 times as a chauffeur, to speak only two forgettable lines. By taking other secondary parts on Broadway he built a solid resume, leading to a 1935 screen test with MGM in New York. Metro signed Jim to a three-month contract at a very respectable $350 per week and he headed for Hollywood, to become established in 1937 in a series of secondary parts in B films.

Also by the end of 1937, a continent and two oceans away from Hollywood, Hitler had fully committed Germany to prepare for all-out war. That year Buchenwald opened, the first concentration camp in Germany. It later became an extermination site for anyone who disagreed with the goals of the Nazi revolution. The captive dissidents included actors, doctors, political prisoners, homosexuals, and, especially, Jews in any profession or occupation. By the end of 1938 Jim had appeared in 18 films, including the breakthrough Frank Capra directed, You Can’t Take It With You, which won 2 Oscars with 5 nominations.

In 1939, now an A list screen star, Jim made another Frank Capra film, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, earning him the New York Film Critics award for Best Actor, with 11 Oscar nominations for the film. Britain’s second month of its six-year war of survival with Nazi Germany had scant notice at the movie’s October 7, 1939 premiere at Constitution Hall in Washington D.C.

(The book’s narrative then describes Jim’s continuing success as a movie star, his flying lessons and certification as a commercial pilot, induction into the U.S. Army on March 21, 1941, re-assignment to the Army Air Force, two years training on B-17s and B-24s, passage to England on the Queen Mary, posting to newly opened Tibenham Army Air Force base near Norwich, England (L), leading to his first combat mission as command pilot on December 13, 1943.)


On November 24, 1943, the day the 445th and its four squadrons arrived in Tibenham, the runways Jim and the crew saw from above resembled a triangular ‘A’ frame, as did most of the scores of Eighth Air Force bases under feverish construction. With three converging concrete runways positioned for the prevailing winds, the main runway, or the bottom of the ‘A’, extended 6,000 feet, with two intersecting 4,200 ft. auxiliary runways. A 50ft. wide concrete perimeter track with 36 open “frying pan”, or at other bases, looping “spectacle” hardstands for two bombers, were dispersed along the perimeter to minimize damage from German attacks.

The 445th settled into their new surroundings for more classroom instruction in tactics and practice missions over East Anglia. They learned how to recognize the difference and locations of the navigational Buncher beacons at each base, and the numbered Splasher beacons along the coast. In a pinch, visual landmarks near Tibenham included an adjacent rail line and the bell tower of the 13th Century All Saints Church near the end of the main runway

Off duty, it didn’t take long to learn the easiest route on foot or bicycle, of which there were hundreds on base, to the Greyhound Pub and its two bars and log fireplaces. Since its opening in 1713, the solid brick building, always with an abundance of empty kegs near the entrance, had seen many young men off to war.

On December 13, 1943, three weeks after landing at Tibenham, Jim’s 703rd and other squadrons in the 445th BG squeezed on to narrow benches in the Ops shack for a pre-dawn briefing. After overnight servicing and arming by ground crews, trucks stood-by to bring crews to their aircraft. One of four simultaneous “maximum effort” missions this day, it would be the first major attack of the European air war and the first time that over 600 bombers would simultaneously hit multiple targets. As another milestone, it would also be the first mission shared by both B-17s and B-24s. For Captain Jimmy Stewart and the 445th, it would also mark the first time they flew in combat, and it wouldn’t be a “milk run.”

When the curtains opened in the blacked-out ops room, the lines extending from Tibenham on the big map showed that both the P-47 and P-51 fighters, the much appreciated “little friends,” would escort the bombers but only as far as the P-47s two internal fuel tanks and the P-51’s 255 gallon capacity would allow. The Mustang had longer range, more agility in climb and maneuver and had a streamlined look the Thunderbolt’s lacked, but the pilots who flew the heavy “Jugs” preferred their durability in a dogfight.

With 30 seconds between takeoff’s and about an hour to form-up, the group flew a twisting S to reach altitude, and then a racetrack pattern to await the others. Then they saw their assigned “Zebra,” a garishly decorated B-24, one of several stripped-down bombers serving as assembly points for different groups. After “joining-up” and now a combat wing, they flew as one formation for about 15 miles to the North Sea and across the tip of occupied Holland to cross the northern top of Germany. Some of the groups would hit the port of Bremen, while others, including Stewart’s 445th, would bomb the Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW) shipyard, and U-boat works and their pen shelters in Kiel. The U-Boat factories, bases, and aircraft assembly plants were the most heavily defended in the Reich and everyone knew it. Early in the war Hitler had correctly concluded that only by severing the convoy lifeline connecting Britain and North America, would he have any chance of winning the war. U-boats were essential to that goal.

With ten 500-pound general-purpose bombs racked on each Liberator for the long-range missions, the crews could only guess why the U-boat bases remained undamaged mission after mission, although from 25,000 feet they could see for themselves the lack of results even from direct hits. They couldn’t know that a kinetic weight of only 500 pounds exploding against the multi-layered reinforced concrete roofs of the U-boat armored shelters, had an effect akin to fragments being chipped from a pottery container. (Author photos present-day former Lorient, France U-boat base)

(The chapter narrative continues with a description of Jim Stewart’s missions, the horrifying losses of up to 88% returning from a mission, and Jim’s post-war resumption of his “wonderful life.” Rising 11 ranks from Private to Brigadier General after the war, James Maitland, “Jimmy” Stewart, movie star and war hero played his greatest role in the defense of his country.)

Return for additional periodic insertions of chapters from THE HIDDEN PLACES OF WORLD WAR II, to be published by Lyons Press, an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group in March 2019, in recognition of the 75th anniversary of the end of the war in 2020.



General Eisenhower and his chiefs in and outside Southwick House and the same 1944 plywood wall map today

Each of 22-chapters examines overlooked aspects of the war. At 87,000 words and 355 pages, the work results from decades of investigation and includes never seen author photos comparing the appearance of the same locales from then to now.


Shortly after a 415am weather briefing on June 4, General Eisenhower stepped-out for another smoke under the portico with the eight Doric columns of the immense 1841 three-story mansion near Portsmouth on England’s southeast coast. Into the first of up to four daily packs of Camels and fifteen cups of coffee, before dawn he and his subordinate commanders had already completed the first of two daily weather briefings with British meteorologist, Group Captain J. M. Stagg. Within the elegant interior, Stagg and his staff had just recommended a delay to the start of Operation Overlord, the liberation of the European continent from Nazi oppression. Ike had immediate major decisions to make.

Throughout the mansion’s spacious gardens were scattered numerous half-cylindered corrugated steel structures named after their inventor, Peter Nissen. Tents of various sizes and temporary housing extended from the surrounding woods almost to the mansion’s entry. For a brief time the ancestral home of the Thistlewaite family, Operation Overlord’s pre-assault naval communication center, would be the most important place on earth.

From where the stately home resided in the low hills above Portsmouth Harbor, Ike could almost see the water and part of the vast armada containing every type of naval vessel afloat. In addition to Portsmouth, eleven other British ports were equally laden with so many ships that it was almost possible to walk with dry feet from one vessel to the other, so closely were they moored. The supreme commander of history’s mightiest invasion force knew that every man from general and admiral to mechanic and rifleman, all 156,000 of them and millions more behind, awaited his command to instantly move from camps to landing vessels, or from the ships to the beaches. But it wouldn’t come that day and it wouldn’t come the next.

The first met report that June 4 – the second weather update would be at 645pm – painted a discouraging picture of high winds, low clouds, and reduced visibility predicted for June 5, the date of the invasion. Any one of the expected weather disturbances would hinder accurate naval gunfire and make certain the swamping of LCVP landing craft – the Higgins Boats – at the moment of dropping their bow ramps on the beach, if they even made it that far. Without fair visibility, erroneously dropping 300 paratroopers from the 101st Airborne Pathfinder teams, could fatally divert the 23,000 jumpers in the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions to follow. Any expectation of air cover over the beaches on June 5, Ike had been bluntly told, would be “impossible.” The ceiling would be under 1,000 feet. Yet, on June 4 major elements of the naval forces were already at sea, and, as Churchill would later write, “the movement was as impossible to stop as an avalanche.”

…As Eisenhower asked around the room for opinions, General Bernard Montgomery told Ike of his keenness to go, but none of the others were as hopeful. Each had a reasoned objection to explain why his part of the invasion force faced operational hurdles if not defeat. On that June 4, 1944 pre-dawn, weather made the decision: the invasion planned for June 5 stood-down as a no go. While a disappointment, it was not yet a setback. At least two, perhaps three days remained within the window of ideal low tide and bright lunar conditions needed to launch the invasion. But if the elements continued sour, the next time the moon and tides aligned wouldn’t come until June 19.

Waiting another two weeks came with the potential of defeat at the water’s edge. Keeping men already at sea or fenced-in at temporary camps another fortnight risked discovery and a loss of the vital edge needed for soldiers approaching sudden combat. Fresh troops rotating into the camps expected to be vacated by the invading soldiers would have nowhere to go. Miles of pre-positioned equipment on roads and at supply depots throughout England would need to be re-situated, presenting a logistical muddle on the narrow roads.

Some of the 6,939 vessels of all types, including 59 convoys stretching over 100 miles, would need re-fueling or re-positioning. By then, German spies or overhead reconnaissance might have concluded from the evidence of masses of troops at scores or camps, and lurking ships in all the harbors, that the invasion wouldn’t happen at the Pas de Calais as expected. Maybe, the German high command could have concluded, maybe the invasion would begin at an obscure location not as well fortified. Maybe it would begin in Normandy.

With the storm lashing the mansion, Ike returns to Southwick House in the pre-dawn hours of June 5 to make the most consequential decision of the 20th century.



Less than a mile from one of the D-Day embarkation ports in Portsmouth, England, unchanged Southwick House where General Eisenhower made the decision of the century – approval to invade the European continent.  It is one of 22 chapters in a book which reveals – often for the first time – the little-known or even fully ignored but essential people, places, and great events of civilization’s greatest war.  Including scores of original, never-seen photos, the book will bring readers into the existing places essential to the conduct of the war and its outcome. It will connect the past with the present by bringing readers to the same places that time forgot. Reserve your copy on or specialized book-sellers.

Return here for periodic insights, including portions of book chapters, with vintage and current photos by the author taken at the same locales where history was made. Regular previews on these pages will include the considerable remains of the Eighth Air Force bases in England, from where thousands of attacks against occupied France and Nazi Germany were conducted. (The Eighth AAF had ten times the losses incurred by the U.S infantry.) The rarely-visited and virtually unknown remains of scores of bases are scattered throughout the East Anglia regions of Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. Each chapter includes deeply researched historical insights and vivid then and now photos of the locales that changed the history of our time.  (Most of the book’s never-seen photos, including at Southwick House, were taken by the author.)