crews that crashed in occupied Europe, or were shot down would
eventually find themselves in prisoner
of war camps,
the infamous Stalags. It is estimated that 10,000 allied aircrew
were incarcerated in P.O.W’s camps during the second war.
years in a POW Camp was the result
if shot down. (right)
crews in the R.A.F. and the U.S. 8th Air Force knew the very
high risks involved in their bombing
Germany. It was estimated by Bomber Command that 3 crews in every
10, would on average not survive to their tours end. Whether
bombing by day or night the risks became incredible, hundreds
of planes and crews were lost never to return home. With ever
increasing risks and facing death at every moment, the brave
and courageous crews of the bombers were never deterred… they
would never shrink from their duty or to the loyalty that bound
them in their Fight for Freedom!!!
massive 1000 bomber raid to Schweinfurt and Regensburg, on 17
August 1943, 60 bombers were shot down and most of the
600 crewmen were killed.
week alone in October 1943, 148 bombers were shot down over Germany,
and most of the 1480 aircrew were killed.
The Photograph left is Courtesy of:
Aircraft: B-17F #42-30015 (VP-O) "Flying Hobo" 533rd
Target: Schweinfurt, Germany
drastic losses of allied bombers and crews, the R.A.F and the
U.S. 8th Air Force decided that it was imperative to
cut these phenomenal losses by using escort fighters to accompany
the bombers to all targets in Europe. Thus, the P51-D Mustang
became a legend to it's heroic pilot's and
to the bomber
crews they protected, with it's high performance, superb handling,
long-range, and devastating firepower..6x30 calibre machine
guns firing 1880 rounds per minute, it delivered a knock-out
punch to the Luftwaffe, and became champion of the skies over
For every 1000 bomber raid
10,700 air crew were used on any one day, and every day as long
as the bomber offensive lasted, hence the importance of fighter
protection was paramount for the safety of the bomber crews,
Europe March 1944
1944, the air war took Captain Ian Ross and his Lancaster crew
missions over occupied Europe, the orders from
Bomber Command were as always…. "Destroy all and every
target given". So it was that the crew were ordered to attack
Stuttgart on the 1st, Clermont Ferrand, France on the 10th, again
to Stuttgart on the 15th, Frankfurt on the 18th and 22nd, Berlin
on the 24th, Essen on the 26th.
Photo of bomb damage.
It was necessary
for Bomber Command to constantly switch targets for the bomber
crews in an attempt to divert the enemy night fighters, which
caused many losses.
Ian Ross and his crew were briefed for a new bombing mission
attack Nuremburg, 800 miles from England, and deep in Southern
Germany, which was to take place on March 30th, 1944. The crew
were to join with a total of 795 heavy bombers and obliterate
the target given. The massive bombers took off from their bases
at 22.22 p.m. to rendezvous high in the skies over England.
cover was predicted, but it turned out that bright moonlight
was to confront the bombers during their long trip to
target, conditions at altitude were that the vapour trails
could be seen from the ground, and wrongly forecast winds
would eventually cause the bombers to stray from their “safe
path”. Even before they crossed the Rhine the bombers
stream was to run exactly between two night-fighter beacons,
thus disclosing their approach to enemy radar.
informed the night-fighter bases, whose pilot's attacked the
bombers en force inflicting massive losses,
enemy fighters also brought a new terror to the already strained
crews, code named
Luftwaffe as “Schrage Musik” slanting music or Jazz,
their twin engined night fighters had a pair of 30mm cannons
angled at 60 degrees installed just behind the pilots seat, the
pilot would fly up and under the bomber using it’s blind
spot then unleash it’s devastating cannon fire along the
length of the aircraft which tore through the fuselage and destroyed
all inside, this ferocious attack crippled the bombers causing
many to crash.
raid proved disastrous for the R.A.F bombers and crews… 95
heavy-bombers were shot down with the tragic loss of 665 brave
men, 59 bombers were seriously damaged, those who fortunately
bale out were soon to become prisoners of war. The dozen or
so bombers that managed to limp back to their bases crashed
on their return, in England.
BF 109- Fighter's
Ross and his crew were fortunate they carried out their mission
and returned safely to their base landing at 06.16 a.m. They
were safe and they were…Home!!!