Now it is our turn to experience those flashing red balls of fire. The flak
explosion knock us about. We are somewhat used to their black mushroom
clouds by day, but their nighttime cloaks are unreal, right out of Dante’s
Inferno. Our bombardier, Buelow, reports that trying to pick up the target in the Norden
sight is like putting his eye against an inkwell. There are no raging fires
set by previous bomber elements that he can see. They had not been
successful. Either that or our navigation is in error.
We pass over the target without dropping our bombs. Our pilot decides to
take our element back through this devil’s gauntlet again to the dismay of
the rest of the crew members in the formation. Is he crazy? The obstinate
bastard is tickling the arm of fate once again and really asking for it.
The Army has given him the authority to commit not only himself, but all
other men in the formation. All we can do is grit our teeth and follow the
mad leader. However, the next pass may be more successful. But so may the
German antiaircraft gunners down below and they are really on us this time.
All around us the flak explosions are terrifying. With pulsating abrupt
changes from eerie moonlight to blinding red explosions of nearby flak
bursts, I doubt any of us were in our right minds nor make creditable
witnesses (One pilot later reports that there are so many bursts he could
have read a newspaper by the light. This statement is included in the
squadron’s war diary).
At least the pilot could concentrate on following the PDI6
bomb run; while the bombardier endeavored to ply his trade via the “Norden”
sight as if that were possible. Meanwhile all I had to do was to try to
shrink within my flak suit by puffing in my neck & hunkering down within my
helmet; grit my teeth; observe the nightmare around us and desperately wish
I were somewhere else. You bet we are all scared.
I don’t know whether our bombardier is really picking up the target on the
bombsight or not, but I am certain he damn sure does not want us to try a
Immediately upon “bombs away” declaration our tail gunner who has the best
view of all the red nightmare around us shouts over the intercom, “Get the
hell out of here”! We go into a wild diving break to race out over the sea
from the devil bursts of flak which damage half of our aircraft.
Fortunately no one is hurt.