'Hell's Angels' donating to UF


Published: Wednesday, January 29, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 28, 2003 at 11:07 p.m.
A Hell's Angels presentation to be made today to the University of Florida library isn't the memoirs of a motorcycle gang.
It's a collection of newsletters about aviators who 60 years ago were dedicated to a nobler cause. As members of the England-based 303rd Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force - nicknamed Hell's Angels - they did their part in overthrowing Nazi tyranny.
Through their donation to UF, representatives of the 303rd Bomb Group Association now hope to help today's scholars and hobbyist historians better understand the role of the Hell's Angels in the air war over Europe in World War II.
"All these issues together provide a realistic look at aerial warfare from the perspective of air combat and ground personnel in the European theater," said Eddie Deerfield of Palm Harbor. "We see these books primarily as a reference work for anyone doing research on World War II."
Deerfield edited the 1,246-page, two-volume set of "The Hell's Angels Newsletter Silver Anniversary Collection: A World War II Retrospective." He and other members of the veterans association plan to present a copy of the newsletter collection to UF library officials at 11 a.m. today in the Special Collections Research Room of the Smathers Library.
The newsletters of the 303rd Bomb Group Association are a compilation of 25 years of issues, from the first in 1976 through the November 2001 edition. Deerfield - a retired diplomat who flew 30 missions as a Hell's Angel radio operator - said each issue is devoted to personal accounts of the Hell's Angels' exploits from November 1942 to April 1945.
The association published 500 of the $120 sets and sold most of them to Hell's Angels veterans or their surviving families. But they reserved 40 sets for donation to university, military and other libraries.
John Ingram, director of collections for UF libraries, said the donation will be useful.
"From my point of view, the Second World War was not John Wayne and Dana Andrews," Ingram said. "It was people like my cousins who enlisted and fought, and people like the Hell's Angels. Because this is their account, this is an opportunity for people to see how they dressed, how they lived - the common, everyday soldiers, not the generals."
Bob Arndorfer can be reached at (352) 374-5042 or arndorb@gvillesun.com

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