By Frederick D. Worthen
In the course of global warfare II ten younger volunteers from all around the usa got here jointly to shape the "Rosacker" staff within the 93rd Bomb staff of the eighth U.S. Air strength, flying B-24 Liberators dependent in England. They flew 24 missions jointly throughout the last months of the struggle. Their final challenge was once on January 28, 1945. the objective used to be in Germany's Ruhr Valley, often referred to as "Flak Alley". approximately midway during the bomb run, with heavy flak within the zone, we misplaced the number 1 engine. After repeated makes an attempt neither Glenn nor Otis may well get the propeller into the feathered place, that's required to lessen wind resistance at the plane. shall we no longer stay alongside of the formation, so we dropped out of place, nonetheless attempting to feather the propeller. one other B-24 subsequent to them used to be blown up via an immediate hit from the anti-aircraft batteries. A moment engine give up, and a 3rd used to be wasting energy (they simply had 4 engines). the alternative was once to ditch within the North Sea and die of publicity, or attempt to make it to an airfield in Antwerp, Belgium, which was once occupied through Canadian troops. however the airplane was once taking place quick. At 1,000 toes they bailed out: "I jumped and counted to 10 in approximately seconds. i do know my 'chute should have come on the subject of catching on a tail fin. good, the full rip twine, deal with, and cable pulls thoroughly unfastened from the 'chute pack. I pulled so tough my entire arm flew above my head. I knew the 'chute used to be damaged. i used to be attempting to determine the best way to pull the 'chute out of the backpack by means of hand whilst abruptly it opened, with the 'chute and me in a horizontal position." yet that wasn't all. consider the plane, with its lifeless engines developing drag on one aspect, inflicting it to show? "I may well listen the airplane nonetheless flying close by; Joe had placed it on autopilot. It sounded as though it was once coming again at me." Then they heard the bullets. less than them used to be a German military camp in occupied Holland. The enemy bullets and their very own airplane by some means overlooked them, however the males have been captured, and the slim escapes endured, one after one other. Their captors took them "out back," the place the americans idea they might be shot, yet weren't; the German civilians desired to lynch the airmen as they have been led on a pressured march via Bavaria from one POW camp to a different. The prisoners have been shot at by way of their guards, and back via the SS on liberation day. Miraculously, all ten fliers survived the battle. Fifty years later 9 of the 10 airmen complete this booklet, operating jointly to refresh and proper every one other's stories. "This isn't the ordinary hard-core warfare tale. we now have integrated relations ties, the crew's education and formation, our stories and emotions, facing critical hardships, the humor that used to be nonetheless there, and the getting on with our lives." loads of this turns out lovely "hard-core" to us, but in addition usually very humorous, deeply clever, and terribly human. those males have been heroes. thanks all, gents, on your flying, and for buying your tale down on paper.
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Extra resources for Against All Odds: Shot Down Over Occupied Territory in World War II
Five of our fighters were shot down. Flight time: 5:30 hours. As I recall, this was the mission on which a 93rd B-24, flying at about 22,000 feet, piloted by Capt. Ken L. Gilbert, was located right in front of us and slightly to our right (we were both located on the left side of the formation), when all of a sudden his left wing dropped (probably from prop-wash ahead of him) and the plane did a slow roll-over onto its back and continued into a dive straight down – something you never want to do in a B-24, especially with a full bomb load.
We assembled in the briefing room with a large target map, temporarily covered for security reasons. When the day's mission briefing started, the map was uncovered, showing the target and the route to the target with a colored string. Sometimes you could hear a lot of oohs and aahs from the crew members, depending on the length of the colored string – a long string, a rough target. The briefing officer covered in some detail target identification, expected flak, flak-gun locations in route, German fighters, altitude, weather conditions, bomb load, armament, fighter escort, etc.
Lt. Rutherford narrowly missed a mid-air collision with Whitman's disabled plane. Lt. Rutherford then skillfully took over the lead position, got the group back together, and bombed the target successfully. All of Whitman's crew, with the exception of the radio operator and waist gunner, went down with the plane and were killed in the resulting crash. I was able to verify this many years later from German and USAF records. After this rather close encounter and a three-day pass, I was more or less happy to continue as co-pilot with Lt.