The story of the real Catch-22

How much did Joseph Heller’s combat experiences as a B-25 Mitchell bombardier with the 340th Bomb Group in Italy inform his later writing of a literary classic?


Joseph Heller — second from right, rear row — with other crewmen working as actors on Training In Combat, the documentary film project that got him out of the front line.

The night of 22 May 1944 was pleasant on Corsica, located well north of the bloody combat around Monte Cassino. There, south of Rome, the Allies had tried and failed three times since February to batter their way through the Gustav Line, where German paratroopers and Panzers made them pay in blood for every advance, as Field Marshal Albert Kesselring had assured Adolf Hitler he would do.

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