Going Down Under Attack

Posted: October 6, 2010 in World War 2
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On this day in 1940: Prime Minister Konoye declares that a war between Japan and the United States is inevitable if the United States sees the Axis alliance as “hostile.”

“There’s a kite on fire dead ahead.” December 1943: American war correspondent Edward R. Murrow was on board a British Lancaster bomber, part of a large wave of aircraft mounting a nighttime raid on Berlin. Soon, the “kite” [aircraft] that the Lancaster’s gunner had reported seeing on fire had become “a great golden slow-moving meteor slanting toward the earth.” Now approaching its target, Murrow’s plane was hard-pressed to avoid a similar fate: “The sky ahead was lit up by bright yellow flares. Off to starboard, another kite went down in flames. The flares were sprouting all over the sky… and we were flying straight for the center of the fireworks.” The sky was another battlefield, and aircrews of all the major combatants suffered heavy casualties from antiaircraft and machine-gun fire, midair collisions, and crash landings. Many airmen suffered terrible burns when their damaged aircraft burst into flames. “The plane was like an inferno,” former RAF crewmen Bill Foxley told a Guardian reported in 2006. “I had 29 operations over three and a half years, rebuilding my face and repairing what was left of my hands.” Fortunate enough to be cared for by the British plastic surgeon Archibald McIndoe at his hospital in East Grinstead, Foxley joined more than six hundred other McIndoe patients in forming the Guinea Pig Club, named for the innovative techniques McIndoe used to repair, as much as possible, the terrible damage warfare had done to them.

From World War II: 365 Days, by Margaret E. Wagner

  1. mike says:

    Good site, but the picture captioned Lancaster Bomber is in fact an Avro Shackleton MR3, a later aircraft derived from the Lancaster

  2. Proof that even in war time writing can be lovely. “a great golden slow-moving meteor slanting toward the earth.”

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