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12 O'Clock High - Some of Us Have Got to Die

daftandbarmy

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I've watched the movie a dozen times but never knew the back story until...

Some of Us Have Got to Die

What the 1949 film Twelve O’Clock High still tells us about air combat and the burden of command.


I am not old enough to have seen Twelve O’Clock High in its initial public theatrical release in 1950. The first time I saw this classic end to end was probably in the 1980s, on a scratchy cassette via my tape-eating VHS recorder. It wasn’t what I had expected. I’ve seen it five or six times since—remastered for DVD, through online streaming, and on the old-movie cable channel. It still isn’t what I expect.

It throws me because I grew up in the cinematic backwash of World War II, a period that produced dozens upon dozens of unmemorable war movies. But Twelve O’Clock High is different, even from the others that have endured on artistic merit. It isn’t a rousing patriotic adventure like Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo or a thoughtful examination of the return to civilian life like The Best Years of Our Lives. It isn’t a satire on the absurdity of war like the Vietnam-era release Catch-22. It’s about an Eighth Air Force B-17 bomb group based in England, but the viewer doesn’t go along on a raid until the last 25 minutes of the picture. There’s aerial combat (including actual footage from American and German gun cameras), but Twelve O’Clock High does not focus on tactics or strategy. Its subject is the brutal psychological cost of warfare.



Some of Us Have Got to Die
 

mariomike

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A tue story about a couple of RCAF squadrons ( sharing the same station. )

"Bomber Harris bounded up on the platform and his very first words were, 'Most of you people won't be here in a few months. We are about to begin a series of raids that will demand the best from all of you. We know there will be tremendous losses, but it has to be done.
You have all done a splendid job, but the real test is still before you. We must beat Germany to her knees. '

"The direct honest way Harris had answered brought a roar of approval from the crowd, and he went down in our books as a man you could trust."

RCAF 6 Group Stn Linton-on-Ouse, England. 408 Goose and 426 Thunderbird Squadrons .
The 426 Squadron history confirms the date of the visit as 14 Sept 1943.

"Boys, bombs and Brussel sprouts: Flying for Canada with Bomber Command" 1981 by Doug Harvey, RCAF. pg 71-72.

This "pep talk" was to prepare the Canadians for the Battle of Berlin 18/19 November 1943 to 31 March 1944.

Harvey said something about looking at the man beside him and silently thinking,, "You poor bast..."
 
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