Saturday, February 5, 2011



Douglas D. Walker

As the spring of 1945 drew near, the weather began to warm-up and the days grew sunnier, our 8th Air Force Base became a brighter and cheerier place to live. We had been flying clandestine night missions throughout the severe winter of 1944-45 from Harrington, England. I was on a Carpetbagger Crew, flying black Liberator bombers with the 856th Bomb Squadron of the 492nd Bomb Group. We dropped OSS agents into France, Belgium, and Germany--as well as munitions and supplies to the underground Resistance forces in Nazi occupied Europe.

During the winter months, I had learned that one of my Hempstead High School (Long Island, N.Y.) chums--Joe Uzmann, was a bombardier on a B-17, flying out of an 8th Air Force Base near Bury St. Edmunds. I wrote him a letter and established contact. In April 1945, I traveled to his air base and we had a happy reunion—relieved that, so far, we had survived the vicious air war. (After the war, Joe served as my best man when I married my high school sweetheart, Jacqueline Cannon.)

Joe and I decided to get away from the 8th Air Force for the weekend and traveled north by train to a prewar beach resort on the North Sea called Skegness-On-The-Wash. A friend of mine, the Radio Operator on Lt. Donald F. Reran's aircrew-Sgt. Donald J. McHale-was the "wit" of our 850th Bomb Squadron. Noting the abundance of descriptive British place names which were "on" something such as "Richmond-On-The-Thames",-- It-Stow-On-The-World"--"Stoke-On-The-Trent"--etc.--, McHale would bedevil and confuse the British railway ticket sellers, when we were traveling to London on a pass, by asking for a ticket to “No-Mustard-On-The-Frankfurter -or-“No-Onion-On-The-Hamburger."

When Joe and I arrived at Skegness-On-The-Wash, on a Saturday afternoon, we quickly settled into a Bed and Breakfast home and prepared to go out on the town.
As we left the B&B, the proprietor warned us rather stuffily that he locked his door at precisely twelve midnight--and, if we "weren't in by that time, we would be out of luck for a place to sleep.

We roamed the beaches of Skegness that afternoon, most of which were covered with barbed wire, steel tank traps, and other anti-invasion paraphernalia. After a restaurant supper , we found the local Palais-de-Dance and danced with some of the damsels. Because we weren't alert to the time, we suddenly noticed it was about 12:10 A.M.--just past the Cinderella hour given us by the proprietor. We ran back to the house--a mile away--and arrived about 12:30. Sure enough--the place was dark.

Bound and determined to sleep in the beds we'd rented, Joe and I leaned on the doorbell for several minutes , with no results. The proprietor was obviously in no mood to co-operate. We then searched the front of the house and decided to try and enter through a window. I cupped my hands and gave Joe a lift up so that he could try and open a window. Just then, while Joe was teetering on the sill, a flashlight beam spotlighted us, a commanding English voice said, "What are you lads doing up there?"

To our embarrassment, an English "Bobby" was standing there, glowering at us. We explained our predicament and with a smile he reckoned us to follow him and began banging on the front door with his nightstick--loudly calling for the proprietor. The door soon opened and, to our amusement, there stood the proprietor dressed in a tasseled nightcap and a flannel nightgown--peering at us from behind a candle, like a character out of Dickens. The "Bobby" asked if we were staying at his B&B. When he said, "Yes"--the policeman said, "Alright then, sorry to waken you, but the lads are ready to sleep now-so why not be a good chap and let them in?" As we walked by the policeman, he gave us a sly wink and said, "Good night Yanks-sleep well."


1) “They Flew by Night”, author – Col. Robert W. Fish (Ret.) – Pages 77 thru 78

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Danes Return Home



On 5 May 1945 the 492nd Group received a request from OSS Headquarters in London to fly some members of the Danish government in exile back to Copenhagen, Denmark on 7 May 1945. This Danish party consisted of among other officials, a couple of members of the Danish royal family. The flight was scheduled for 7 May 1945 because that was the date on which the German military forces had agreed to surrender.

I was requested to personally pilot the C-47 used on this mission. I chose George Windburn to accompany me as my co-pilot. I don't know why I picked George because he had never flown in a C-47 before. I probably thought that I was such a hot pilot that I didn't need a fully qualified co-pilot. I chose M/Sgt. Templeton as my engineer. Templeton was a highly qualified engineer. He had been with us since before we became Carpetbaggers. For our radio operator I selected Major Silkebaken, our group communications officer.

Because some members of the Danish party had never traveled on aircraft before this flight we took Captain Loren H. Martin, a medical doctor, with us in case the first time air passengers became airsick in route. If my memory doesn't trick me I think we also took Major Bruce Akers, our group engineering officer with us.

On the afternoon of 6 May 1945 I was informed that there was some kind of an obstacle to having the armistice signed on 7 May. I don't remember for sure what the impediment was but I do' seem to recall it was based on who had the proper authority to sign for the Russians and for the Germans. This meant that there was a possibility that we would be in route before the armistice actually became effective. In view of the status of my passengers I was concerned that perhaps some part of the German military might not get the word. I could imagine some brainwashed Nazi fanatic fighter pilot deciding to make a name for himself by shooting down this lone C-47 when it entered German controlled territory in Denmark. There were several German fighter units stationed in Denmark. I knew that their communications system had been badly damaged. Some outfit might not get the word that the war was over.

I therefore called a friend who commanded a P-51 fighter group at a recently captured airfield in Belgium and asked him for a fighter escort until I got on, the ground in Copenhagen. He asked me how many planes I wanted. I stalled by telling him that he was the fighter authority and that he had a better idea than I of how many P-51’s it would take to do the job. He countered me by replying,“Tell me how many you need." I figured that if he wanted to play games I would call his hand. I said, "Give me a squadron of eighteen planes." There was a long pause at his end of the telephone line before he came back at me with. "My pilots are damn good. I'll provide you with two P-51's. They will escort you to wherever you want to land." I thanked him and. hung up.

The next morning my passengers arrived at Harrington and we got airborne by 10:00 am, We flew first to a field in Belgium and refueled. Then we took off for Copenhagen. By the time we reached 8000 feet altitude we had our two
P-51's join us, one flying on each side and above my airplane. When we arrived at Copenhagen the Germans were still in control of the airfield. When I radioed the control tower 1 they answered in English and cleared me to land. After landing we taxied to the airport terminal and stopped. Several automobiles drove up along side our C-47. There were three old touring cars with their tops folded down. There were also a couple of vintage sedans. I assumed that the big touring cars were for the VIP's we had on board. I was wrong.

When we descended from the airplane to the pavement there were several people in civilian garb waiting to greet us., The Germans were there also but they remained a couple hundred feet away.

Our VIP's got into the little sedans and drove away. We were told that the
big touring cars were for the air crew.

I explained that I wanted to move our airplane to an area where it wouldn’t block the entrance to the terminal. They guided me to a spot about 250 yards from the terminal and asked me to park there. While we were putting "the external control locks on our aircraft and tying it down a German Focke-Wulf 190 landed and taxied along side of our C-47. While we watched him, the pilot opened his canopy and held his hands above his head in a gesture of surrender. He obviously was trying to defect. I told the Danish people who were assisting me that he was their prisoner; I did not want him.

We were seated in the touring cars sitting on the backs of the seats and driven along the streets of Copenhagen. Large crowds along the streets cheered and waved at us as though we were conquering heroes. There was much waving of hats and arms as we passed by on our way to a mid-town hotel where we were assigned rooms. Fortunately for us the desk clerk at the hotel was a Canadian so we had an easy solution to our 'language problem. After refreshing ourselves, from our journey, we assembled in the bar of the hotel.

On my way downstairs to the bar I was accosted by a man well adorned with
two pistols and several hand grenades hanging on his belt. He had an abundant growth of beard and appeared to me to be a pretty rough looking character.
When we stopped on the steps he told me that they were planning a dinner party for our crew at a place about ten -blocks away from the hotel. He said the cars would pick us up at six in the evening at the hotel and take us to the party.
I thanked him and walked over to the desk clerk to have him identify this rough looking character for me. "He is the president of the Copenhagen Chamber of Commerce. He is also a leader in the Danish underground forces." I remarked that I thought he had a remarkably heavy beard. The clerk then informed me that he ware the beard as a disguise. If the Germans ever connected him with the resistance movement he would shave off his facial hair and continue to exist as a different person than the one the Germans would be looking for.

We attended their dinner which was for the purpose of honoring our air crew. They brought out their cute movie actresses to have dinner with us and dance with us. They made it a real gala occasion with lots of flowers and speeches. The food was a real treat after months of army chow.

The party ended about 11:30 pm and we returned to our hotel. The journey back to the hotel was interesting. The limited transportation they had was not readily available for our use at that hour. Rather than wait for transportation we elected to walk the several blocks back to the hotel. The street was wide with sidewalks on each side. The Danes were heavily armed and were gathered on one side of the street. The German soldiers who were still armed were gathered on the opposite side. There being no traffic we elected to walk down the center of the street. It gave me a somewhat eerie feeling.

We departed for England the next morning, the 8th of May 1945. When we arrived in Copenhagen we had found the Germans in control of the airport. The next morning we found a British airborne battalion had moved in during the night and they had taken over the control from the Germans. Whereas the Germans had ignored us when we came in, the British interrogated me for about an hour before they cleared me for take off. They had difficulty understanding that we had landed while the Germans were still in control. They finally decided to let me take off for Harrington. We had an uneventful flight back to England.

We arrived at Harrington just at dusk. As we approached the airfield it took on all the appearance of a major Fourth of July fireworks display. Flares were being fired into the air from allover .the base. I. was astonished and puzzled as to where the airmen had obtained the great number of flares we saw being fired skyward.

Before I had left the base on the .day before I had arranged for our military police to pick up ail of the arms on the base and lock them in the arms storage vault. All our air crew members had been- issued 45 caliber pistols. That meant that there were dozens of them scattered throughout the base. I could foresee the possible carnage that could ensue if our people started firing these arms in celebration of the end of the war. I expected them to celebrate. They had the occasion and they had earned the right. But I surely didn't want them accidently wounding each other. I wanted to do everything I could to assure they got home to the USA in good health. I certainly wanted to avoid having to write somebody's mother and tell her that her son had died of gun shot wounds while celebrating the end of the war.

I thought I had every type of firearm under control. But it wasn't so. I had misjudged the ingenuity of the American airman. We had overlooked one source of firearms. That source was the flare pistols in the life rafts of the B-24 aircraft. Each B-24 carried two life rafts. Each life raft contained a vary pistol and many rounds of flare ammunition. It was this source that was providing the fireworks we saw as we approached the air base. "Se le guerre:"


1) “They Flew by Night”, author – Col. Robert W. Fish (Ret.) – Pages 269 thru 272

A Flight to Denmark



May 7th has come and gone. Its passing wasn't even noted by any newspaper, story that I could find. Not that I looked very hard, but I was aware there was not a ripple of remembrance. In its day, it created the epitome of answered prayer as indeed it did. It was, and is, the date of VE Day.

For me, May 6th, with orders to fly in Class A Uniform that day with the commanding officer of the 492nd Bomb Group in a C-47, set the stage to have me miss VE Day with my crew and friends at Harrington Air Field. For on May 6th, I would fly the Danish ambassador and passengers, including one jeep, back to his country, landing at the civilian airfield in the capital city, Copenhagen.

There were a couple of things about the flight itself which were different for me. In the first place I had never flown a C47 before. And I had never crossed the Channel into enemy territory in daylight before. And I could, say in passing that a captain was our flight engineer, a. major was our navigator, not one enlisted man on board. The colonel was airplane commander.

One of the passengers, a wax correspondent for Readers Digest, gathered the material for his rather long story of the 492nd. This was published at a date after our secrecy classification was dropped.

The in flight memories I have are of passing Holland and seeing the fields
of broken gliders left behind after an airborne Allied attack of many months passed. Next would be the little, and I mean little, stubby German attack planes left behind on a German airfield. These little planes had no wheels, took off from a dropable wheeled skid. They were powered by an experimental exotic fuel jet-type engine. They probably were intended to make just one flight.

The airfield at Copenhagen was covered with British planes and soldiers.
We were met by people of the Danish underground for whom we had flown many supply and. agent-drop missions. These missions are called Carpetbagger missions in the Readers Digest story.

The brief ride into town was memorable in that we could see just about every civilian was carrying a wire-stock machine gun which looked very much like a water pistol in construction. I have no idea how many of these things we had probably dropped.

When we were on foot we could hear gunfire every once in a while as there were little pockets of resistance still being overcome. These were the only gunshots I heard for my entire combat exposure in WW2. And by the way, it is pure bunkum that from the flight deck you could hear the waist guns firing. .And you do not hear any sounds when bombs are on their way down, nor do you hear their ground impacting explosion. Pure Hollywood.

We were registered into a hotel and then proceeded to have our evening meal. That was another special memory. It was like culture shock to sit down in a totally civilian setting, with an unheard of menu offering, music, from a small ensemble, flowers around the room. From the lifestyle at Harrington to this fine Copenhagen hotel in one short day was too much to forget.

What a difference. I certainly never ate with the colonel before. Each of us were• at the same time called upon to elevate ourselves to be and to be seen as cultured gentlemen who were incidentally combat airmen of the United States Army Air Force. We were the only uniforms in the room as I recall.

We were far from being taken lightly. The small orchestra stopped at an appropriate time so that their leader could address the dining room in English (for our benefit) telling all present that we were Americans who had participated with their resistance fighters in liberating Denmark. There was polite applause.
Next the music was American for some minutes.

The main thing I remember of the meal itself was the Schnapps and the strawberries for dessert. But besides the food the other event was the young lady who came up to us during the meal. She was in her twenties, wore a striking (or should I say, noticeable) red, white, and blue dress.

Most likely she was there to say something nice about us, but what I do definitely remember was the Colonel telling her I was the ranking officer of the group. Tongue in cheek, of course.

This same lady in the same dress was to later appear as a front page photo and side-bar story in a British daily a day or two after VE Day.

One of the underground people invited me to have lunch in the famous Touilery Gardens the next day, May 7th. Because of the war the gardens as I saw them had none of the features which are world renowned. Merely a pleasant grass and trees park.

Looking back today I aJ1l struck by several things. 'First, I really would have preferred to have stayed at Harrington and celebrated with my friends and crew. The people on the Copenhagen trip were really strangers to me and we had had no previous social contacts.

Another thing I see as strange is the total lack of sophistication of those times and of myself. I actually had no idea on May 6th that the next day was going to be the end of the war. While that may make me sound dense, I can only attribute that to the level of access to real news.

Transistor radios will probably go down in the history books as one of the prime change agents of our days. The depth of news, opinions, and pure trash compete vigorously for the minds of all people. It wasn't like that, on that scale or with readily available equipment in those days.

For me the real end of the European War was going to come just after my 25th combat mission. This was the magic number which rotated you back to the States. May 6th was my twentieth mission. Only five to go.

May 8th and the days following should not be left out of the telling. After all, if there hadn’t been VE Day on the 7th, what was to follow wouldn’t be what it was.

It was just plain strange. You knew, but it just didn't seem right, you weren't going to be posted for another mission. You wouldn't fly another bomb load at night. You wouldn't be doing evasive maneuvers to look for fighter planes. There would be no more Carpetbagger flights, just skimming over the tops of the waters of the North Sea on your way to Norway or Denmark. No more friendly moon or stars to keep you company and to give you aid and comfort for hour after hour as the engines droned on.

How many times on those long flights did I find myself the only person awake or alert in my crew at some point on our return leg? We considered the North Sea as friendly territory only on our return flight. Tensions would be reduced, safety seemed assured, and shut eye was too much to resist. After all, they knew we might be posted to go again in less than eight hours. Then the whole scenario of tension would set in again.

Where would my crew go? Where would other friends go? We had been together since phase training in Walla Walla. I wasn't ready to say good-bye. It wasn't right for this abrupt cut off. I didn't want any more of war, but I did want something.

"I was unplugged. It was unsettling. But most of all we got our VE Day.


1) “They Flew by Night”, author – Col. Robert W. Fish (Ret.) – Pages 266 thru 268

Thursday, August 6, 2009


By Al Sharpe

My wife and I were shopping in Rico Calarese’s Supermarket and as we went through the check-out line, a voice said: “You look mighty like a tail gunner to me.” Startled, I looked up and saw a black gentleman, about my age, in the adjoining line.

“You can be only one of two men sir,” I answered. Kindly turn around so I can see if your tail is red.” “You got me,” he said. “I was a pilot in the 332nd, and I believe you were glad to see me that day over Yugoslavia.”

This was a strange coincidence after all these years. We were pleased to see each other again. There was only one squadron of African-American pilots in the Air Force during WW II. They were the “Red Tails” of the 332nd based in Italy. They were the only squadron of P-51’s we ever got help from when we were on daily resupply drop missions in the area around Zagreb. They were always a welcome sight.

On this one particular mission, he had helped remove the pollution (enemy fighters) coming in on us. After rescuing us he pulled in directly behind us and took a good look at me in the tail gun turret. He claimed that at six feet one inches tall, I was the most packed-in gunner he had ever seen and that he could never forget the look on my face when I realized we were still alive.

He told me that he had crashed his aircraft while landing at his home base after that mission and had to spend some time in the hospital. He had returned to active duty in 1952. We discovered that we now live only eight miles from each other.

Footnotes: “They Flew By Night” by Col. Robert W. Fish, page 280 (A letter from Al Sharpe)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Gaston Vandermeerssche, Belgian Allied Intelligence agent and underground resistance worker, was the guest speaker at The Carpetbaggers' 1988 Reunion in Milwaukee, WI.

The following article appeared in the Milwaukee Journal on December 11, 1988, written by Bea Mitz:

The young Belgian's wrists are confined in self-locking handcuffs behind his back. Repeatedly, guards fling him against the wall. They punch, kick and maul him without mercy. Finally, the young man pretends to faint. A guard re-enters with a frenzied German shepherd that leaps toward his throat. He senses the attack and flinches, showing his captors that he is still conscious. Confident they can break him to reveal secrets, the torture continues.....

A scene from a WW II movie? No, it actually happened 45 years ago to Belgian-born Gaston Vandermeerssche, then 22 and head of the Dutch network of almost 2,000 underground agents.
Today (1988), Vandermeerssche is 66 and an inventor, businessman, and recipient of four "Croix de Guerres" for bravery---two from France and the others from Luxembourg and Belgium. Among his other medals is the "Bronzen Leeuw" (the bronze lion, the highest military honor a foreigner can receive while still alive) pinned on him by Holland's Queen Wilhelmina.

War broke out in 1940, while Gaston was studying mathematics and physics in his first year at Belgium's Ghent University. Upon Germany's attack on Belgium, Gaston immediately left school to join the official Belgian Army headquarters in southern France.

Two months later, the Germans occupied Belgium and Gaston joined the Belgian underground. At great risk, he distributed the underground newspaper, La Libre Belgique. Seven months later, a fellow resistance worker was arrested with a list of the members---and Gaston's name on it.

Moving under cover of night he arrived at as yet unoccupied Toulousse, France. He remained in France as an undercover agent. His mission was to establish a courier line over the Pyrenees Mountains, delivering microfilmed intelligence information to the Belgian consulate in Barcelona, Spain which was then forwarded to London. Gaston, whose code name was "Raymond", had three weeks to learn the Spanish language and customs to prepare for his mission. These missions went on for seven months.

Gaston, now 21, was chosen to head up WIM, named in honor of the Queen. Taking another code name, "Raymond" became "Rinus".

Recalling those days, Gaston adds: "My whole Rinus operation was built on trust. Without it, there would have been no underground. I recruited six and they recruited more until, eventually, there was a network of close to 2,000---but only six knew who I was. We also had safe houses where we kept all microfilm." The Perpignan safe house was a haven for agents carrying microfilm, packaged exactly like sticks of butter, a stringently rationed war item. It aroused the suspicion of neighbors who thought these "butter carriers" were black marketeers. Eventually they notified police who, seeking butter, found a cache of microfilm instead.

Gaston innocently wandered on the scene. Immediately, he and others were arrested, shoved into a van and rushed to the Gestapo headquarters. "Raymond/Rinus" was captured, but the Germans didn't know it.

Zealously, they set on a relentless course to identify him. For months Gaston's torture continued. Returning from another session with the Gestapo, Gaston met Adolph Manet, a double agent, who shouted, "That's Raymond!"

The Nazis transferred him to a prison in Haaren, The Netherlands, and he was condemned to death. However, he was kept alive as a bargaining tool for eventual prisoner exchange.

Two years later, on a day in May in 1945, the Americans swung open the prison doors. Gaston was a free man. Free, yes, but a well man, no. Emotionally, too, he bore the scars of torture and 17,520 hours of sloitary confinement.

If he could turn back the clock to those war years, would he make the same choices?

"Oh yes." he answers quickly, "Absolutely. And I didn't, and still don't consider myself a hero."


"They Flew by Night" - Author: Col. Robert W. Fish (Ret.) pages 253 & 254

Thursday, May 14, 2009


My outfit in the 8th Air Force during World War II was the 856th Squadron of the 492nd Bomb Group. We flew out of Harrington Air Force Base near Kettering in Northamptonshire, England. We bore the code name “Carpetbaggers” because we flew clandestine missions at night, dropping agents in France and Germany and munitions and supplies to the French, Danish, and Norwegian underground resistance forces.

The agents we parachuted into France and Germany were working with the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) the forerunner of the CIA.

One night, while preparing the waist of the B-24 Liberator for the arrival of the “Joe” (the agent we were to drop into Germany that night), I was beckoned out of the aircraft by an OSS Captain.

He warned me to be careful that night, and to keep my distance from the “Joe.” Seems that the agent we were to drop was a former POW German Army Sergeant who had volunteered to join the American OSS and return to Germany as a spy for the U.S.

“Of course.” The Captain said, “we have no way of knowing if he is going to spy for us or if he is just looking for a one way free ticket back to the Fatherland. Watch out that he doesn’t try to pull you out of the aircraft when he jumps. You’d be a good prize for him to deliver to Hitler.”

My concern at this bit of news was further heightened by the actions of the “Joe” after we had leveled off and headed for Germany. I felt him move over to my side of the plane in the darkness. I had deliberately sat on the floor opposite him on take off.

He put his lips close to my ear and shouted over the roar of the engines in broken English, “Das is Liberator airplane?”

I yelled back, “Yes, why do you ask?”

He responded, “My gunnery crew shoot down many Liberators in North Africa.” I could hear the smile in his voice. This was enough to fuel my already suspicious concerns.

I pulled away from him, dug out my flashlight and jerked my 45 cal. Pistol from its holster. I pointed the weapon at him in the glare of my flashlight and yelled, “Move to the other side of the plane – Mach Schnell.” He stopped smiling and moved with alacrity to the other side of the waist.

For the next few hours, I flashed my light on him every five to ten minutes, still clutching my pistol in my hand. He didn’t move.

When he parachuted out of the plane, I stood five feet away from him when I yelled the signal for him to jump.

I have often wondered if he was just looking for a way back to Germany. He certainly said the wrong thing to an American Air Force man. I must admit, I had to fight down a passing thought to mistakenly not hook up the static line to his ripcord as a little revenge for the American flyers he and his gunnery crew killed in North Africa. He probably wondered the same thing, until his chute opened.


1) “They Flew by Night”, author – Col. Robert W. Fish (Ret.) – Pages 229 & 230

Monday, May 4, 2009


The time was late summer of 1944. I was on a resupply “Carpetbagger” mission to an area southeast of Paris, France. I can no longer remember whose B-24 and whose crew I was using for that flight. When I flew combat I made it a practice to act as the aircraft commander and to fly from the left side pilot’s seat.

We were only a few miles from our initial point when our flight engineer stepped onto the flight deck and informed me that we had a fire in the bomb bay. I gave that bit of intelligence a split second’s worth of thought and then said to him, “Don’t tell me your troubles, go back and put it out.” He did. An electrical short adjacent to a hydraulic fluid leak had ignited the fire.

With the situation back under control we elected to continue our flight to the target drop zone. The moon was very bright, the night was clear, we could see for miles. It was an ideal situation in which to be “zapped” by a night fighter.

Upon arriving at the target area we were disappointed by no reception party. That left us no choice but to return to England.

A few minutes into our return flight, the tail gunner came on the interphone and said, “Hard right!! Hard right!!” That got my attention and I did a diving hard right turn of about 90 degrees followed by a few violent cork screws right on the deck. My immediate reaction was that we had a night fighter on our tail. I next asked him why the alert.

He told me that we had had another B-24, one of our own aircraft, overtaking us and about to ram us from the rear. He estimated that it was less than one hundred feet behind us and exactly on our altitude when he saw it in the moonlight.

About halfway between Paris and London we lost power on our number three engine and had to feather the propeller. We climbed to about 2,000 feet of altitude to give us some room for maneuver in case we had to bail out.

As we approached the French coast I radioed the British Air Defense Controller to request a change in my flight plan to allow us to take the most direct route home to Harrington.

Our approved flight plan called for us to skirt around London to the south-west before we turned north to our base at Alconbury. That route would add about twenty minutes more flight time than a direct route.

I received an immediate response to my request. A female voice came on the radio and requested that we make a ninety turn to my left. This was an identification maneuver to allow the radar operator to positively identify my aircraft. As we completed the turn that same voice came back on the radio. “I have you identified. Follow my instructions and I will take you home. Fly a heading of 353 degrees.” That heading would fly me right over the heart of London. The heart of London was not normally a friendly area for any aircraft, especially at night. The anti-aircraft gunners in defense of London became very nervous whenever an aircraft entered their defense territory. I did not relish the idea of exposing my aircraft to them, so I began to bear a little more to the right so as to pass east of London.

In about three minutes she requested my heading and altitude. I reported 2,000 feet and 10 degrees. Her response was immediate. In very firm tones she came back with, “Listen to me, Yank! I gave you a heading of 353 degrees. Now get your ass back on that heading and hold it until I tell you otherwise! Please acknowledge!” I did, “Yes Mam!” She guided us directly to our landing field where we landed without further incident.


1) “They Flew by Night”, author – Col. Robert W. Fish (Ret.) – Pages 219 & 220