As told to Roger A. Freeman
By Steve West
An interesting tidbit, to me, was that the author Roger Freeman, who has authored over 18 books on WWII aviation, actually met Hubert (Hub) Zemke as a twelve year old in England. Mr. Freeman's father cut the grass at the Boxted aerodrome-home of the 56th. He remembers Colonel Zemke as he was so young unlike all the much older British Colonels that lived in his neighborhood.
Hubert Zemke gained the nickname of Hub due to his pugilistic abilities which were a lot like Jimmie Doolittle in my previous book report. Hub was thought to be a better a name that Hubert for a fighter and the nickname stuck. Unlike Jimmie Doolittle Hub was not enamored with flying nor did he want to be a fighter pilot. He went into the military to earn income due to the poor economic times prior to WWII. He qualified for the air force only because two of his buddies had decided to try for advanced placements. But once in flight school he took to flying like a duck takes to water.
Hub almost spent a placement in Charlotte. He was in Russia helping the Soviet Air Force become proficient with the P-40 when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. His request for a transfer was granted and he was assigned to the 56th which at the time was based in Charlotte-Fort Charlotte, South Carolina. He did arrive in Charlotte, NC in order to report to the 56th but they had been transferred to Teaneck, New Jersey. So both South Carolina and North Carolina lost the opportunity to claim Hub as part of their history.
One bit of luck was that Hub was assigned to the RAF and Soviet Air Force before war broke out for the US. There he learned a great deal about combat and the capabilities of the Luftwaffe. This knowledge that appears throughout the book saved him from making rookie mistakes. An interesting part of the book is Hub's comments about his strength and weaknesses as commander of the 56th. He did not pull any punches when it came to reviewing his weaknesses.
This book Zemke's Wolf Pack (27.837) is in the Members Loan Section and is available through the Dolph Overton Aviation Library of Carolinas Aviation Museum.