Meet Trevor Allen, B-26 Historian
Sometimes WWII seems so far away, but at other times it still seems like yesterday when danger was an ever part of ordinary day life. As a youngster in England the air war became a passion to both myself and many of my friends. We were daily fed on a diet of how great the Air Force was and the valiant fighter pilots who won the “Battle of Britain”. Strangely though the danger to us came later during the night blitz when German bombers roamed all over the British Isles almost at will.
The area where I lived was bombed frequently as the Luftwaffe attempted to bomb the industrial complexes around us. Most homes were provided with an air raid shelter, which was composed of corrugated steel sheets semi buried into the garden with soil piled on top. While we felt safer there we experienced one major problem, the shelters usually flooded to a depth of twelve inches or more. So for comfort and apparent safety we used to sit under the dining room table whilst a raid was in progress. I can still vividly remember the night a stick of bombs whistled over our house and exploded, killing my best friend and his family only a couple of streets away.
Incendiary bombs were a favorite weapon that was dropped and thereby hangs a couple of stories. One night a stick was dropped across our road and one went through the roof of a neighbor, a 76 year old lady who lived alone. Helpless, not on your life she extinguished the bomb by herself.
On another occasion my father discovered an incendiary bomb in our garden after the previous nights raid. So he dug it up, put it under his arm and we carried it to the local police station. On entry we wondered why suddenly all the police inside made a very speedy exit. The shouted instructions from outside left us in no doubt about our parentage and what we should do with the bomb. Father calmly placed the incendiary into a bucket of sand and we went home without a care in the world. Looking back now we were probably the biggest idiots in the neighborhood.
As the war progressed us youngsters discovered some fellows in strange uniforms who spoke very strange English, however, what attracted us was that they had a plentiful supply of chocolate bars and chewing gum. It is surprising how quickly you can befriend a fellow with plenty of these to spare.
Around this time, the sky, which was always full of aeroplanes, began to reveal new ones we had never seen before. It didn’t take long to discover the B17, B24, B26, P37, P38 and P51.Of them all the one that appealed to me was the B26 with that beautiful streamlined shape, in any case it usually flew the lowest and was easier to recognize. Thus began a love affair that last to this day.
The war ended and suddenly for the first time in six years the sky became still and we all got down to building the peace. Off I went to further education and then trained as a design engineer in the steel industry, but the love affair was still there. By 1954 I was in a position to find out more about my B26, but on searching for information very little existed both here in England or in the United States. More to the point no one seemed at all interested. So began my research into the combat history of the Martin B26 Marauder and the men who took it to war.
From press cuttings I began to find the names of B26 men and the towns where they came from. Thus began a marathon correspondence with sheriffs and town mayors which slowly began to bring in replies. When a contact with a B26 man was made I asked if they could pass me on to another B26 man they knew. It was slow, it was hard work and the results low in comparison with the number of letters written. Over the years the contacts increased, the information began to connect and make sense and the picture began to build. In forty eight years I have probably written 25,000 letters to B26 men alone. What kept me going simply my great interest and the marvellous people I came into contact with. Many are no longer with us, but I remember them still for their kindness and warmth. As young men they fought bravely in a bloody environment, many giving their lives others gravely injured, the survivors as they aged remembered and cared deeply.
So what have I achieved, firstly the friendship of a great bunch of guys who we now refer to as the Maraudermen. Secondly, probably one of the biggest well researched historical archives dedicated to one aeroplane, the Martin B26 Marauder. I hold over ten thousand photographs. 300 hundred reels of microfilms, official documents, audio taped interviews with B26 men, a large book collection dedicated to the subject, diary extracts, stories and a record of every B26 manufactured and the units they operated with. My records cover the USAAF B26 units in the Pacific, Mediterranean, European and Alaskan theatres of operations. The US Navy the Royal Air Force, South African Air Force and Free French Air Force.
What do I do with it, well over the past years I have supplied answers to many hundreds of queries and supplied veterans and their families with information they could not get elsewhere. It is there still for reference and help to both Maraudermen and their families. If you are a second or third generation Marauderman and wish to learn more about a family member who was on B26 Marauders then I will always help where possible. I cannot answer all questions, that is beyond the capability of any one person, but those I can answer I will do so gladly.
I ask only one thing from those seeking help, I am an historian and always looking for new information. It is surprising where this sometimes comes from, and sometimes even the smallest piece of information can complete a jigsaw. So if you have photographs, old orders, diaries etc, why not let me have a look at them. Computer scanning of photographs and documents is so easy these days. I am not asking you to give your precious keepsakes away, just that we may see them.
Who we are – Mike Smith created B26.com for his great uncle Bob Brockett and his crew, Trevor Allen joined to manage historical content. Contributors to the website add dedication pages in memory of their loved ones and friends.
What problem do we solve – B26.com provides online community, research, documents and data that enable people to build a deep and lasting understanding of historical events surrounding those who served in the Martin B-26 Marauder. The veterans and their descendants, historians, academia and the general public want a easily accessible, historically correct representation of those who served to be open and available to the general public.
Who wants us – Conservatively there were over 300,000 veterans who served in any capacity on the Martin B-26 Marauder – that number included 20,000 pilots. Of these approximately one quarter would have been aircrew with the balance in supporting roles. Using generally acceptable statistics there are 7,200,000 second, third and fourth generation descendants. The number of descendants seeking information on forebears who served on the Martin B-26 Marauder is increasing rapidly. Based on analysis of B26.com and other WW2 sites, a well organized presentation of a wide range of Martin B-26 Marauder related material presented by authorities in their field is an overwhelming success.
Accomplishments to date – B26.com was created in May 1998 as an online memorial to Martin B-26 Marauder veterans. With no other means of promotion other than Internet search engines B26.com attracts thousands of unique visitors a month (51,286 in June 2007). The guest book was added in 1999 and contains many individual stories written by the veterans themselves. Ol’ Marauder Men have been reunited with friends and connections renewed. Descendants have contacted other descendants and shared personal information. Professional and hobby historians have contributed content. Veterans and their descendants have contributed content.
Contact me and see where the conversation takes us.