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The Silver Lady

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The Silver Lady

  • by James Facos
    • Merriam Press World War 2 Fiction Series
      • Second Edition 2017
      • 292 6x9-inch pages

After many years out of print, The Silver Lady is available once again. First written in 1972 by 388th Bomb Group veteran James Facos, the novel has been re-released by Merriam Press.
     A fictional account of the Starrett crew and their beloved B-17 during 1944, The Silver Lady was drawn from Facos's personal experience as ball turret gunner with the Arthur Moreland crew in the 560th Bomb Squadron. The crew flew 30 missions between March and June 1944 in their own "Silver Lady."
     In addition to its vivid combat action (including a terrifying crash landing), the novel evokes deep personal memories of life at Knettishall.
     The book also examines how the human spirit is tested when faced with the horrors of war.
     In The Silver Lady, James Facos evokes the tension, the triumph and the tragedy of an American bomber crew in England during the height of the war over Germany in 1944.
     The horrors of an air war fought and flown high above the target are described in realistic detail, but there are other levels to the story: there is a love story involving the youngest of the American crewmen, and the intensely emotional ordeal of an idealistic Quaker who has to come to terms with war and death in the way that only one who kills can know.
     England’s peaceful countryside, the smoky landscape of Germany and an explosive conflict within the crew itself are masterfully realized in a nostalgic, authentic and excitingly told tale of war, its warriors and its victims.
     In writing The Silver Lady, Facos wanted to show what the air war was really like and no less a critic than Howard R. Gotlieb at Boston University's Mugar Memorial Library wrote a letter in 1974 to Facos, affirming what Facos had achieved.
     Wrote Gotlieb: "The historical immediacy of the novel attests to the accuracy of your own eye and memory, and to your ability in creating one of the few outstanding pieces of fiction emanating from World War II."

The Author

James Facos joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1943 at the age of 19, serving as a ball turret gunner on a B-17, the real "Silver Lady," based in England. He received the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters and the Distinguished Flying Cross. A playwright, poet and novelist with several published works, James Facos taught English for 30 years at Norwich University and Vermont College. Sadly James Facos passed away in May 2017.


Perhaps the most worthwhile WW2 aviation fiction ever written
     I do not say that lightly. I have read literally hundreds of volumes about WW2, both actual history and fiction in the past 50 years. This is perhaps the most worthwhile WW2 novel ever written.
     The Silver Lady is a B-17, based in England, and her crew is engaged in the air war against Nazi Germany. Her crew is raw, green, searching desperately for the unity and good fortune that will help them to survive. They are divided, between Sergeant Hagen, a cynic, who thinks that life is one big trap, a horrid joke; Lieutenant Starrett, the aircraft commander, simply trying to do the job and survive, acutely aware that he is responsible for the men he takes into battle, and Sergeant Wyatt, the youngest crew member, in what was perceived as one of the most dangerous jobs on the plane, who holds the crew together by example.
     Wyatt is not after "peace in our time". He is attempting to combat evil to the full extent that he can. He realizes that his part may be small, insignificant...except in the eyes of his God. One is there judged by what one can do, and what one fails to do. He is determined to do what he can. He trusts in God (Providence) that that will be enough. He believes in a life after this, trusts that life continues and that he must answer for what he does during this time. Wyatt knows, more than any other man of the crew, the reason why they fight.
     It was said once that the function of officers in the British Army to show the men how and when to die. Wyatt dies, but he continues to live, having shown why the effort against evil is necessary, and why those killed were not wasted.
     The flying scenes are excellent, they should be; James Facos was there. But the plot is far more than aircraft. He has written what is unabashedly a story of faith, of a time when faith was required. Moreover, it is necessary for us now, in understanding why we live, and how to live. Wyatt understood that. Mr. Facos helps us to understand through his eyes.
—O. Migillicuddy

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