One of the more well traveled airmen of the Second World War was Lewis H. Brereton. A graduate of the Naval Academy, he had served on Billy Mitchell's staff during and after World War I and rose steadily through the ranks in the years thereafter. At the time of Pearl Harbor he was commander of the Far East Air Forces-such as they were-under MacArthur. When that command collapsed a few months later, he was sent to India to command the Tenth Air Force, and thence to Egypt to head the Ninth Air Force. In 1943 he took the Ninth to England in preparation for the Overlord invasion, and in August 1944 he was selected to lead the First Allied Airborne Army for Operation Market Garden. After the war, Lieutenant General Brereton was a senior military advisor to the Atomic Energy Commission until his retirement in 1948. He was a key figure in several important events of the war including the destruction of his air force at Clark Field, the fall of Burma, the British success at El Alamein, the lowlevel strike on Ploesti in August 1943, D day, and "a bridge too far" at Arnhem. He recounts his experiences in The Brereton Diaries (New York: W. Morrow and Co., 1946).
Unfortunately, this is not an enlightening account. Brereton tells us in the preface that he began thinking of publishing his diaries in 1942. As a result, one is left with the strong suspicion that he is reading an account written not only after the event, but with an eye to how they would look in print sometime in the future. Frankly, there is much unimportant detail in this memoir but little real insight into air strategy or command problems. For example, the severe personality conflicts between Allied leaders at the time of D day are barely hinted at, and the enormous struggle over targeting priorities at the same time that nearly caused both Eisenhower and Spaatz to resign in protest are not even mentioned. Overall, this is an unsatisfactory account of little value.
The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the US Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University.
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