Writing ONE STICK AND A WACO was an amazing adventure. After reading many books and watching movies and television books about OPERATION MARKET GARDEN, researching the setting for the novel led me to facets of the military operation and the people that I never suspected existed.
I and others were intrigued with and wondered how the Screaming Eagles fictionally portrayed in MISSING STICKS would fare when they deployed on Operation Market Garden, the operation in Holland in 1944 made popular, even beyond military historians' interest, by the book "A Bridge to Far" by Cornelius Ryan and the movie adapted by William Goldman from the book. I felt the MISSING STICKS characters were too "alive" in my mind to let go. So began ONE STICK AND A WACO.
The characters would find their own way. What I needed was basic set of interesting facts around which to structure the story. I found plenty.
In my own mind I had firmly established the basic plot premise that featured a handful of 101st Airborne Screaming Eagles, some old friends from MISSING STICKS, some new; joined with downed airmen in Holland outside the areas controlled by the Allies. Then I discovered Peter van der Linden’s web site and his book, Kampina Airborne, which describe a large group of Allied soldiers and airmen supported by the Dutch Resistance, hiding in the very area I had planned to set the fictional story - in the vicinity of the German 1st Parachute Army headquarters west of Eindhoven. I also discovered the tragic story of the infamous Kamp Vught, a German concentration camp a few miles west of the corridor the Allies attempted to open from Belgium to Arnhem.
Next I learned of Lieutenant Reba Whittle from an Army War College Paper by LTC Mary E.V. Frank, Army Nurse Corps. Lt. Whittle was the only American woman military officer held as a prisoner of war in the European Theater during WWII. A fascinating story on its own, the account led me to include a character who, although fictional, shared some of Lieutenant Whittle's real experiences. (A footnote: One female OSS senior staffer who strayed from her Paris assignment dressed as a WAC officer. She was captured and held prisoner by the Gestapo - read more about "big game hunter, legendary French Riviera partier, and a quintessential WASP—Gertrude Sanford")
Researching Waco glider operations, I came across the ClarkAir CA-1, a dozer small enough to deliver by a Waco, in what would be a real adventure for the Waco crew, landing with a bulldozer strapped down immediately behind the cockpit and straining to get out.
Then came the research into OSS operations across Europe, the discovery of the V-2 mobile launchers operating in Holland and the amazing missions of the 15th Air Force from Italy into the heart of Germany, including the 99th Fighter Squadron, the Tuskegee Airmen Redtails, in their support of the bomber missions.
I assembled all this information as a backdrop for a fictional story that paralleled the actual combat actions and timelines, but tried not to intrude upon the real men and women and their accomplishments. As I discovered while writing MISSING STICKS, truth often overshadows fiction.
One Stick and a Waco was awarded a SILVER Medal in the 2016 Military Writers Society of America awards historical fiction category.
Order through your local book store using the title and ISBN: ONE STICK: 987-1-879043-30-5
or from the many eBook outlets with the ISBN: 978-1-879043-28-2
Check the detailed links on the attached pages for the real incidents that inspired the fictional events in One Waco and a Stick, listed in order as they appear in the novel, followed in each case by the Internet source(s):
Gilze-Rijen Airfield: The airfield in September 1944 was as described in the novel. Built around 1909 as Molenheide, a civilian airfield, the Germans captured and expanded it, building twelve hangers and support buildings camouflaged to appear as farm buildings, runways and fuel and munition depots. The base was first an important bomber, and later an interceptor base for the Germans, and was used to launch Heinkels carrying V-1 missiles targeting England. The airfield was protected by several flak towers, but the installation, along with several German aircraft, was almost obliterated by bombing and strafing by Allied fighters and bombers (B-17s to B-24s to B-26 to P-47s) in 1944. The Germans evacuated it, destroying the facilities, in advance of the Allied approach in September, 1944.
V-2 MOBILE LAUNCHERS:
Seeing the potential of the V-2 rocket against strategic targets, Hitler ordered the construction of several massive, hardened launch sites in France. These sites, in addition to the development site at Peenmünde, were targeted by Allied bombers and destroyed, leaving the Germans with the option of mobile rocket launch systems. Most of these mobile launch systems, eight batteries with 24 launch tables, were based in Germany, Belgium or the Netherlands, targeting England. After the Allies landed in Normandy and began their drive to the east, the Germans reduced their V-2 operations along the Belgium coast around Antwerp and withdrew back into Germany or along the Dutch coast around The Hague. Each mobile launch unit moved in massive convoys to camouflaged and concealed sites, launched, and quickly moved back into hiding. Some batteries fired as many as ten missiles a day. As the Allies moved inland from the beachheads, the targeting gradually moved from a focus on England to include Paris and other Allied logistical support areas in Europe. Antwerp was especially hard hit, suffering more attacks than any other area other than London. Although the Dutch Underground attacked one mobile launch column, none of the many mobile launch sites or mobile launch convoys were detected by Allied air or ground forces. A greater tragedy, thousands of forced slave laborers of all nationalities died in the V-2 manufacturing facilities, far more in number than the victims of actual launches.
More Historical References:
USAF HISTORICAL STUDIES: NO. 97, Airborne Operations In World War II, European Theater: https://archive.org/stream/AirborneOperationsInWorldWarIIEuropeanTheater/AirborneOperationsInWorldWarIIEuropeanTheater_djvu.txt
British XXXCorps: http://marketgarden.secondworldwar.nl/xxxcorps.php#.VMlpU2jF_8l
B-17 Flight Manual: http://www.khamsin.org/b17/manual_V1.1/checklist_en.html
B-17 Training Films:
P-51 Training Film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=caJtGXMdxGM
Survival and Resistance: The Netherlands Under Nazi Occupation: http://www2.webster.edu/~woolflm/netherlands.html
Legends of the Flight Nurses of World War II: http://www.legendsofflightnurses.org/Index.asp
C&CSC Digital Archives: Airborne Operations in WWII: http://cgsc.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p4013coll8/id/222/rec/6
C&GSC Digital Archives: Narrative of Operation Market Garden: http://cgsc.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p4013coll8/id/3381/rec/17
Peter van der Linden, The Brabant village Oisterwijk and Operation Market Garden: http://www.oisterwijk-marketgarden.com/the_brabant_village_oisterwijk_and_operation_market-garden.html
BOOKS (A sample of the many):
Black Knights: The Story of the Tuskegee Airmen, Rendezvous with Destiny, A History of the Tuskegee Airmen, by Lynn Homan and Thomas Reilly, 2001
Fighting with the Screaming Eagles, With the 101st Airborne from Normandy to Bastogne, Robert M. Bowen, 2001
Hell’s Highway, A Chronical of the 101st Airborne in the Holland Campaign September-November 1944, George E. Koskimaki, 1989
Kampina Airborne, by Peter van der Linden, 2012, also available as an eBook under the title Escape and Evasion, available from Amazon.com
Rendezvous with Destiny, A History of the 101st Airborne Division, by Rapport and Northwood, 1948
The Road to Arnhem, A Screaming Eagle in Holland, Donald A. Burgett, 2001
V-2, A Combat History of the First Ballistic Missile, T. D. Dunchan, 2005