History Read-Along: Gunner’s Run, Chapters 29-31

It’s the final installment of our weekly read-along through the historical fiction novel Gunner’s Run by Rick Barry. Give us a vote in the comments if you prefer nonfiction or historical fiction read-alongs, and we’ll take your opinions into consideration as we plan for 2019!

We’re aware this post is one week overdue and send our apologies. Let’s just say, we hope your Thanksgiving was as wonderful as ours and when a loved one is home on military leave – that’s simply the most important. We’re aiming to get back on schedule and stay on schedule through the rest of the holiday season.

Even though this is the ending of the book, there are no major spoilers – just some historical details and facts from World War II.

Chapter 29 – Extra History

A photograph plays a really important role in this chapter, and I started thinking about the role of photography during World War II. All the famous photographs. Images of famous people. Images of people who still haven’t been identified but who accomplished remarkable acts on the battlefield or homefront.

From YouTube, here is a slideshow of some powerful photos from the conflict set to John Williams’s Hymn to the Fallen. Grab a tissue if you get emotional easily…

Chapter 30 – Extra History

I’m afraid some of us have a misconception that big airplanes are bullet proof and just go down in flames when hit really badly. I know I thought that for a long while. But it’s simply not try.

Bullets and other projectiles could pierce into World War II era planes and do damage without necessarily making the aircraft go down. Bomber pilots and crewmen were at risk of woundings or death like the soldiers on the ground. Other problems could be caused with the oxygen lines or masks.

For airmen injured during missions, their immediate medical care would come from their comrades or be self-administered if none could leave their posts in the air fight. If they survived and returned to their home base, medics would be waiting to give treatment and ambulances would take the injured to the hospital for operations and, hopefully, recovery. Only about 24% of the crews on allied bombers survived the war without some sort of combat related injury.

Chapter 31 – Extra History

It’s true that Allied bomber commands issued orders (and enforced them) that any officer or airman who had been shot down in enemy territory and escaped was not allowed to fly combat missions again. They were worried about the airmen’s safety and treatment from the enemy if they got shot down again.

For many in that situation, this offered a ticket back to the states or at least to a post that didn’t involve combat flights. Perhaps ferrying planes, working on aircraft, or other tasks. It did not release a service member from his military commitments, but it guaranteed him a better chance of survival.

How It’s Written

Don’t you just love to see how authors end books? I do. It’s the little finishing touches that either tie the whole story together and hopefully leave the reader satisfied or set the stage for a sequel. Gunner’s Run is a stand-along story, no known sequels. Nor does it need one.

I like how the author kept the pacing and ends the story quickly and with what’s relevant at the end of Chapter 31, but then tied all the “loose ends” of the story with the Epilogue. Sometimes, writers fall into the trap of using a conclusion or epilogue to give un-needed information, but I think the tool is used effectively in this book and it’s a good example!

Were you satisfied with the ending or did you need to know more? Let’s chat in the comments.

Your Historian,

Miss Sarah

P.S. Stay tuned – we’ll announce the book for our holiday read-along on Thursday!

About Sarah Kay Bierle

I’m Sarah Kay Bierle, historian, editor, and historical fiction writer. When sharing history, I try to keep the facts interesting and understandable. History is about real people, real actions, real effects and it should inspire us today.
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