Monday, October 15, 2018

Remembering the Cost

During World War II, one in three airmen survived the air battle over Europe.

The casualties suffered by the Eighth Air Force were about half of the U.S. Army Air Force's casualties (47,483 out of 115,332), including more than 26,000 dead.


Ritchie said...

It's been said that the 8th Air Force suffered more casualties than the entire Marine Corps. Don't know if that is correct-the 8th Air Force was a very large organization.

Jeff Wood said...

A most powerful, even moving documentary. Thank you for that.

I have a story to add. My Dad - still with us at 96 - was a mid-upper gunner in an RAF Lancaster, 9 Squadron.

The Squadron specialised in Pathfinding. An aircraft would fly out alone at night to scout the intended target, check cloud, winds and weather, and report back to the thundering herd of oncoming squadrons. If all was OK, Dad's plane would mark the target with incendiaries, then get out of the bloody way. If weather was unsuitable, then they would divert the hordes to a secondary target.

Anyway, in the early hours of a summer morning, Dad's aircraft was returning alone across France when he saw, miles away, a fleet of US bombers heading east for Germany, B17s he is fairly sure (he had eyes like a hawk to a great age).

In the two or three minutes Dad, on the top of his Lanc, had the Fortresses in view, he saw one, two, three, four and then a fifth go down.

I asked Dad a couple of years ago if he saw flak bursts (Ack-Ack in RAF parlance). No, he said, it was fighters killed them.

He saw a few nasty sights in his service and after, but all these decades later the deaths of those US fliers still rather haunts him.

Borepatch said...

The statistics are rather dry, but no less horrific:

Reg T said...

The losses due to accidents during training, within the U.S. were incredible.
B-24 746 aircraft wrecked, 1713 accidents, 490 fatal accidents, 2,796 fatalities
B-17. 479 wrecked, 1589 accidents, 284 fatal accidents, 1757 fatalities.

My father and his crew were trained on B-24s, but were transitioned to B-17s upon arriving in England. They trained on their way to Germany. My father and his crew all returned to the U.S. with no serious injuries, after flying their missions during 1944-1945. My father flew several more missions (apart from his crew) at the end of the war in Europe, flying food to Belgium and repatriating French POWs from Yugoslavia, where they were slave labor for the Nazis. He was assigned those missions because he spoke French (our family is French Canadian on both sides). Half the population (back then, long before the recent "refu-jihadi" invasion) were French speaking "Walloons", the other half Flemish from Dutch forebears).