Against All Odds: Shot Down Over Occupied Territory in World War II

Against All Odds: Shot Down Over Occupied Territory in World War II

Frederick D. Worthen

Language: English

Pages: 196

ISBN: 2:00171008

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

During World War II ten young volunteers from all over the United States came together to form the "Rosacker" crew in the 93rd Bomb Group of the 8th U.S. Air Force, flying B-24 Liberators based in England. They flew 24 missions together during the closing months of the war. Their last mission was on January 28, 1945. The target was in Germany's Ruhr Valley, also known as "Flak Alley". About halfway through the bomb run, with heavy flak in the area, we lost the #1 engine. After repeated attempts neither Glenn nor Otis could get the propeller into the feathered position, which is required to minimize wind resistance on the airplane. We could not keep up with the formation, so we dropped out of position, still trying to feather the propeller. Another B-24 next to them was blown up by a direct hit from the anti-aircraft batteries. A second engine quit, and a third was losing power (they only had four engines). The choice was to ditch in the North Sea and die of exposure, or try to make it to an airfield in Antwerp, Belgium, which was occupied by Canadian troops. But the plane was going down fast. At 1,000 feet they bailed out: "I jumped and counted to ten in about two seconds. I know my 'chute must have come close to catching on a tail fin. Well, the whole rip cord, handle, and cable pulls completely loose from the 'chute pack. I pulled so hard my whole arm flew above my head. I knew the 'chute was broken. I was trying to figure out how to pull the 'chute out of the backpack by hand when all of a sudden it opened, with the 'chute and me in a horizontal position." But that wasn't all. Remember the airplane, with its dead engines creating drag on one side, causing it to turn? "I could hear the plane still flying nearby; Joe had put it on autopilot. It sounded as if it was coming back at me." Then they heard the bullets. Below them was a German army camp in occupied Holland. The enemy bullets and their own plane somehow missed them, but the men were captured, and the narrow escapes continued, one after another. Their captors took them "out back," where the Americans thought they would be shot, but were not; the German civilians wanted to lynch the airmen as they were led on a forced march through Bavaria from one POW camp to another. The prisoners were shot at by their guards, and again by the SS on liberation day. Miraculously, all ten fliers survived the war. Fifty years later nine of the ten airmen finished this book, working together to refresh and correct each other's memories. "This is not the usual hard-core war story. We have included family ties, the crew's training and formation, our experiences and feelings, going through severe hardships, the humor that was still there, and the getting on with our lives." A lot of this seems pretty "hard-core" to us, but also often very funny, deeply intelligent, and extraordinarily human. These men were heroes. Thank you all, gentlemen, for your flying, and for getting your story down on paper.

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the 466th Bomb Group, also flying B-24s, located at Attlebridge, just a short distance from Norwich, England. So we set up a date to meet on January 28, 1945, at 7:00 P.M. on the front steps of the Samson & Hercules Dance Hall in Norwich. This was a favorite hangout for John and me on the nights we were free to go into town. It was a chance to dance to that great 1940s music with the local girls. I was anxious to make this meeting. It has been said over the years that many gunners felt that in

individual talents might create. Some used them merely for food storage, or they cut the sides down to make a cooking or frying pan, and so on. The prize objects I saw, and there were many different versions, were cooking ovens, known as “Klim can stoves,” complete with hand-cranked blower wheels that were used to blow air over a flame while using a minimum amount of fuel. On April 4, the Germans figured it was time for the prisoners to leave. The Gestapo commander of Nurnberg wanted to use the

and headed for a field evacuation hospital. General Patton was sitting nearby in his jeep and saluted as we went by. This field hospital must have been at Landshut or Regensburg. We stayed there overnight amid many terribly injured Americans, some with plaster casts covering their entire bodies. The next day we were flown to Paris in a C-47. We landed at Le Bourgais Airport. At the same time they were unloading ex-political prisoners of the Germans. They were in their striped suits and were just

address is for the camp that all letters of the Air Force men went to for censoring. They were then distributed to various camps throughout Germany. U.S. Headquarters in France in 1945 estimated that 138,000 American and British POWs had been liberated by the Russians and were still in their custody. Less than 30,000 of these POWs were ever released. It has been said that over 78,000 U.S. servicemen who were missing in WWII were left behind and never accounted for. An interesting item mentioned

turn sent to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for radio training. While in Sioux Falls, my buddies and I worked in a slaughterhouse in our spare time to earn extra money ($5.00 per day) so TRAINING we could have a big time in town on Sundays. But usually we slept late because we were so tired from working. This was a lost cause. When I completed radio school, I went to gunnery school in Yuma, Arizona, and then to Lincoln, Nebraska, where I was assigned to an air crew. How fortunate I was to be with

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