B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies Witness-Reports

Stars & Stripes 1943

“Could recognize the first anti-aircraft gun weakly and unclearly at Woensdrecht at 10.07 hours. A couple of minutes two Fw 190 appeared in one o’clock later and shot by the formation in a frontal attack through in front of us and then dived behind us in half a roll away. At her maneuver they had two caught B-17 at the wings. A smoke trail climbed at the two B-17 almost simultaneously but they stayed into position. When the interceptors dropped in near to us, we took her under fire. The sharp smell of burned powder filled the cockpit and the recoil of the machine-guns in the bow and below at the trunk let lift up the B-17. I saw how out of the wing of this fighter pieces broke before I lost her from the eyes.

The gunners reported three minutes later that interceptor the B-17 of our squadron fired – the sky was traversed by shining trace storeys Fw 190 and Me 109. of everybody for gun from all directions high scores, single and in a twosome, in. Both sides suffered losses in this battle: Two Fortresses of our lower echelon and one from the squadron flying in front of us fell out burningly of the formation while the gunner bailed out. Quite a number of interceptors fell away into flames and sailed her pilots behind this with dirty yellow parachutes slowly to the ground. I noticed a Me 110. outside our range to our right hand you followed us the whole way up to our aim apparently to notify opposing echelons which already waited for us of our position.

When twelve Me 109 came toward us in a twosome and in a foursome with her yellow noses in a far sweeping turn between twelve and two o’clocks, the battle already was under way, too..

A silverly shiny object sailed over our wing. I stated a door of the main exit. A dark object passed rolled by the formation, only just the propellers seconds later. It was a man with the head drawn to knees, this one like a tower jumper in a triple somersault moved, before his parachute opened.

Pulled a B-17 out of the formation slowly to the right, however, remained on the same level. She changed into a shining fireball of which only four smaller light balls, fuel tanks, were left which immediately burned when they fell on the ground in the fraction of a second.

I saw how a B-17 changed course slowly to the right, her cockpit was one single sea of flames. The Copilot hangelte held himself with a hand tightly from the window, himself arrived in to fetch his parachute strapped him on, could be fallen, and bumped against the tailplane once again. I hoped that he would survive the impact.

For ten minutes, twenty minutes, thirty minutes passed and the taps went on undiminishedly. The interceptors stood virtually in line to finish us. Every second brought us a storey from a board cannon.

The permanent fire from our 12.7 mm MG shook our B-17 intensely and was the air in the aircraft smoke impregnated. It was cold in the cockpit but when I looked to the pilot, I saw how the sweat of his forehead dripped on the oxygen mask. He left the steering wheel to me for a while. It was an actual relief to concentrate on having left on position instead of the continual attacks of the German interceptors follow with that. This way one was turned away at least. Suddenly, the gunner then didn’t let any half meters off loose, that in the weapon tower on the roof over my head a salvo I had the feeling, a shell exploded in the cockpit. I must have hopped about twenty centimeters of my seat highly!

A B-17 of the front group, the right Tokyo Fuel containers burned, fell about 200 m over ours raked back wing and had left in this position, lasting garrison members sift off, jumped. Four could delayed jump falls, one got out of the bow, opened, however, his parachute too early and missed the tail unit only by hair’s breadth from the bomb bay. One could be fallen from the left middle MG hatch and opened his parachute first when he had won a safe distance. The rear gunner let himself be fallen from his hatch, obviously, however, pulled on the leash still before he was gone far enough of the aircraft. His parachute immediately opened, passed the tail unit just and gave him such a strong jerk that he lost both shoes. He hung motionlessly in the belt while the other moved just after opening her parachutes in the belt and signs of life therefore gave of himself. The B-17 then fell into a flat spiral – I couldn’t see the pilots coming out. I only saw her right wing sank like more thousand feet under us in a yellow sea of flames before I lost her from the eyes.

After we had been permanent under fire for a good hour seemed rather for certain that our squadron didn’t have any chance of survival. Seven of us had already been fired and further interceptors still climbed. It was only 11.20 hours and 35 minutes were still missing to the aim. No-one probably thought in the squadron that we would come much further without being worn out completely. The light strength of our squadron was already reduced by a third and the ammunition ran low slowly. Our tail guns had to be provided by other command posts with ammunition. The exhaustion was the marksmen written all over the face.

A B-17 fell out of the formation and lowered the landing-gear while the crew bailed out. Three Me 109 they orbited from the proximity, kept, however, under fire furthermore – obvious to make sure that nobody could fly the machine home. Shortly before the aim at 11.50 hours, one and a half hours after the first of at least two hundred interceptor attacks, the pressure eased a little although the enemies were still nearby. We turned off B-17 of our unit had left the 14, at 11.54 hours two were damaged heavily which towards the aim. After the two damaged machines had thrown her bombs, they broke loose from the formation and took line on Switzerland.

The weather conditions over the aim were ideal like on the complete flight. There were hardly anti-aircraft gun positions. The squadron would engage the bombs at the same time. When we changed course and took line on the Alps, saw I the rectangular smoke trail, of the aim which climbed and did a type feel furious satisfaction.

The rest of the flight was harmless unlike the approach. Some few interceptors got in our way on the way to the Alps. A lonesome useless salvo climbed from a place at the burner. We circled as long as the damaged machines then had caught up and made to us over Lake Garda, to us on the way to the Mediterranean. The view to have to land on water off the north-African coast because of fuel defect appeared to us virtually after the nightmare over South Germany as harmless.

The red lamps of the fuel display already shone at 8.15 hours – the B-17 seven were had left of our formation circled over a north-African aerodrome and landed. Our crew was intact. The only damage to the aircraft: a couple of air holes at the tail of the anti-aircraft gun and one 20 mm of storeys. We slept under the wing on the hard ground but one the earth felt as silk boxes.”

“I leant against the seat of the co-pilots and watched our formation. These were much less machines than at the start now and most carried fire traces of German fighters or of the anti-aircraft gun. Some machine limped on three engines. Some bombers had casualties on board and injured persons which sought her pains with morphine syringes and tablets to balmier. All crews were worn down by the nine-hour flight in large height. We did our best to close the scattered formations again.

The overfly of the Dutch coast was a psychological turning point and the crew whose machines have remained unhurt could relax a little . Some got her thermos flasks out with coffee and unpacked her sandwiches or smoked the forbidden cigarette. Furthermore it was expected them only by the board gunners to remain watchful.

The navigation auxiliary equipments were no longer disturbed now and one could establish the position reliably to the erstenmal after one hundreds of kilometers. The identification signal was switched on so that the RAF fighters and radar stations could recognize the approaching unit when own.

Some machines had lost through shots into the tanks of fuel. “A B-17 sinks”, cried our gunner. We saw a bomber descending on the sea. A second bomber went down and shortly after this a third few minutes later. The remaining planes of our exhausted and smashed group flew on, throwing all overweight about board. As soon as we crossed the British coast, the usual picture offered us to itself: Those bombers which could hardly last in the air broke like on command from the formation and headed one after the other on the one mile airport lying inland. The control officer in the control tower was certain on the edge of the despair. He fired as wild flares in all possible colors. He could have saved himself this firework as fast as possible to reach the earths, however, since the crews returning home had only a thought. The unit thinned out so flies on to the base of its own. There always was a competition under the echelons which crew would land after the return of an attack first. The winners were usually the experienced “old foxes”. Some crafty pilots got in touch back, still far the airport away with the control tower to this way get hold of a better place in the queue.

The busses already wait to take us to the quarters. After we had handed in parachutes, airman combinations and equipments, we dragged ourselves dead tired for the “interrogation”. The welcoming cigarette in the hand and is called tea with rum, gave a message officer her use report every garrison so. I looked on the disturbed pilot next to myself. Otherwise this one was always high-spirited C., taken care now almost completely. “Somebody lost?” I asked. he answered “I have a dead radioman outside”, “and they shot my bombardier and my engineer. Made my Coco-pilot worn-out, he is really vacation ripe.”

Stars ans Stripes, August 1943


Ms. Michel-Kron

My experience which I will never forget.

As of the middle of the year 1943 the war went with us in the native country in a particularly hard phase which still increased to end of the war. Because as of this time American bomber units attacked primarily the towns in day uses now, too. I experienced the first day attack on Schweinfurt so. On August 17th, 1943, my sister and I were where with our horse and cart at the fieldwork near the road to Mörstadt carries out now the freeway. We suddenly saw that strong bomber units were in the approach. They approached in several waves. The air roared and trembled and deep fear seized us.

Fighter pilots attacked the Flying Fortresses. The aircraft armaments rattled an aircraft already broke loose from the unit as himself, too. Frightened we ran to our waggon. The parachutes were in the sky, the machine exploded in the air. They didn’t trigger clearly fast yet whether the bombs, so you sharpened and would tear us in pieces for us. We were middle in it, there wasn’t any escape. Four engines, fuselage, wailing loudly, wings, bombs were fallen down not sharpened there, what carload of material reconciles aircraft armaments, oil storage etc., together. In an immediate proximity of us an object buzzed on the earth and was dashed to pieces and how proved later it was a pilot whose parachute hadn’t opened itself. We had to calm the intimidated horse on the way home again when a parachute floated just several hundred meters further slowly to the earth there. We stopped, the pilot was injured.

Another comrade had descended this one hurried for the help and solved him from the parachute short cords nearby. The left hand only hung on a skin shred at the arm. Some people came this one from Abenheim just in vacation come Jakob Mueller soon among other things. After short welcoming and well of understanding also the injured pilot asked Mr Mueller he may cut his hand dangling at the wrist off. Since Mr Mueller had nothing for cutting at himself he handed him his own knife divide off to this. One communicated him on our horse and cart to the doctor to the village bring to himself. The horse blanket was spread on the car and the injured took a seat on this. His comrade strode behind the car. So we drove for the village. Sight our nut approached us frightenedly and the grievous the injured there she made dumb. After some time she also had to sacrifice her two sons. A larger group of people had accumulated in front of the doctor’s practice. The wounded pilot wanted to thank us since he was missing the words drove he for me with his hand over arm and shoulder. Conquered her in the air fight but the German fighter pilot suddenly stood in front of them there this one had and pushed them his hand bowing in respect and deep respect. All overleaf were very impressed by this knightly gesture.

Ms. Michel-Kron

Notice: The hurt Pilot was S/Sgt. Shadick, Eugene s/n 363206768 -hand loss-. The crew member, he’s parachute hadn’t opened and was dashed on the ground: This was the pilot 1st LT Koeppen, Howard O. s/n 0 664406

Source: Edwin Hess, The Report “Code Char” Band 3 -Spurensuche/1994-



It is I was allowed almost fifty years to see as a young person now on August 17th 1943 there as a bomber was fired at Abenheim. If I may tell this day briefly, at first I came back the school from Worms and I heard that a bomber was fired in Dittelsheim Hessian hole as one heard at an attack on Regensburg later in the short morning.

Of course a young man wants to consider such a thing, I then have leapt onto a bicycle and have driven in the direction of the Dittelsheim. Afternoon was already the next attack, the next wave came and one heard later, it had been an attack on Schweinfurt in the meantime but. Has of course an accompanying protection was there, it, however, also had to be noticed that German fighters tackled these bomber units flown this one at these bomber units in approx. 7000 – 8000 meters of height. We looked this whole frightens us on actually in the sky and, noticed suddenly that one could see a cloud of smoke at one of the aircraft and that this aircraft tried a little more slowly then to get out of the group, German fighters were then immediately attacking and one heard again and again, one could see before that you have shot there. One had seen the light lightning, the sound came back later.

One was surprises about the raging in the sky. Then one heard a loud bang suddenly and also saw that this bomber broke from each other. One could for it immediately see the pilots with her parachutes in the sky and us so these were, immediately are back then for rogues from Abenheim on the way to Westhofen because this bomber fells we said the thing like me looked in Abenheim to the earth. Before of course we arrived in Abenheim, we have still had another experience, we came just through the vineyards at Westhofen on the way back to Abenheim. We saw there that a Me 109 made a forced landing there. It was these were co-involved for one of these fighters at the attack on this bomber formation. We also could talk pilot with it for his part. We told him that this bomber has come down at Abenheim. He then has gone to Abenheim, too. When I myself came back to Abenheim of course had passed the time already on the whole, that these soldiers had already landed these bomber pilots.

I could they consider her one to the Abenheimer doctor took. So how they have been treated there. It was could count eight like me, heard later that two were dead I. Of course as a young man one then tries to learn as much as possible how sees such an aircraft out from inside. I so have gone even me and have tried to get hold of something on the spot. Of course what was the one. One tries of the aircraft to get a little ammunition, has it was of course also seen as heavy then to think such a large machine actually in the sky. Thank God nothing was passed in Abenheim, there were no damages. These parts of the aircraft a little descended outside. The soldiers jumped down probably were then taken to a store and they were provided after this here were, taken into war captivity.

Of course the time was hard times in the war for the population. Opposite the people the opinion, today, wasn’t perhaps expected like one, it gave to thoughts that it is enemies, gave but these have for also people considered these soldiers a man.

I have never forgotten these events on August 17th, 1943 actually. It a thing is together a young person experiences this one and he keeps this one in his inside if he himself already was together near with war and death.

1993, almost fifty years after an American bomber, B-17 have fallen away in Hessloch in the district. In the morning of August 17th, 1943 and this one was bomber units seen flew this one into the room Nuremberg/Regensburg of German counter-intelligence fighters were fought. I was in school at that time and could see that an aircraft which circled repeatedly over Hessian hole and then crashed in the district was shot down. In the sky these were, all persons were these in the aircraft the parachute was. The aircraft had landed with all bombs which exploded afterward.

After a conversation with Mr Hess from Abenheim 1988 were excavations this one has where a hollow which was removed by the reallocation of land still could be seen arranged in the place of the crash for real funnel and Mr Hess that you looked. It one still was – 5 metric hundredweights of bomb found. The body of these bomb, the coat is there in Abenheim. So he has been guaranteed.

Had you have assembled in the city hall of the municipality this one jumped down at the jump, the Americans. Were only seven pieces available there, though, the others must have jumped down in other places. So there weren’t any casualties and the population still was unlocked actually opposite the Americans impressedly.

Source: Edwin Hess, The Report “Code Char” Band 3 -Spurensuche/1994-


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