"The Fireball Outfit

Many of you have searched unsuccessfully for copies of the book "The Fireball Outfit". This book has been out of publication for many years and is somewhat of a collector's item today.

The author, Ken Blakebrough, has graciously offered his book to us and permitted us to post it on the 457th website.
We thank Ken for this thoughtful and generous action.

We hope you will all read the following introduction by Ken Blakebrough and continue on with this remarkably detailed story about the men and aircraft of the 457th. All material in this book is copyrighted.

Willard Reese

by Ken Blakebrough
With the close of Hitler's War in 1945, I returned to civilian life and for the next 20 years my life was given over to the exigencies of education and making a success at my chosen profession. There was little time nor inclination on my part to meditate or reflect upon my wartime experiences, nor did I feel motivated to contact any of my former close Air Corps friends.

Then, in the summer of 1964 I read a book by Bert Stiles, "Serenade to the Big Bird". Stiles, who was killed during the war, was like myself an 8th Air Force copilot. This brilliant book stimulated me to seek out any books or other memoirs written about my own wartime organization, the 457th Bomb Group. I found nothing. It was as if the 457th had never existed.

The years were passing. I had no writing skills, yet I decided to attempt to put something in writing about the men of our Group. Four years later my research, which included a week spent at the Air Force archives at Maxwell Field in Alabama, plus over a hundred personal letters and almost that many phone calls with former comrades, resulted in the publication of "The Fireball Outfit". This was prior to the advent of word processors. The original manuscript was in long hand on yellow pads.

My primary satisfaction arising from the book has been the formation of the 457th Bomb Group Association which was formed in 1970 and has held 17 reunions to date, with more to come.

Ken Blakebrough,
Mission Viejo, California, 2005

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