Misfortune


03:00 | 06:15 | 10:45 | 11:17 | 11:30


10:45 - JG 26 - Woensdrecht

Gefechtsalarm! The German pilots hurry to their fighters. Soon they're patrolling at 8000 meter. Jörg Kiefner:

"Suddenly, there they are, the 'Dicke Autos', the heavy bombers. Flak grenades explode between them. We join in, flying parallel with the bombers to the front of the formation. Then our first fighters turn to start their frontal attack. We follow and attack slant on the opposite, just slightly above the height of the bombers. At first the giant Flying Fortresses look like small stripes, but then appear enormous as we are closing in. Now we go straight, make a salvo of two seconds and get through the whole enemy formation. What an experience, how incredibly huge these bombers are, and some are already straggling and leaving the formation."




11:15 - 'The Jolly Roger' - North of Antwerp

Navigator McClatchey informs their latest position to his commander. According to his accurate computing, they have just crossed the Netherlands-Belgian border. Tail gunner Schreppel is vigilant; it's his second mission and therefore his second time to enter a hostile territory. On his right, he glances at trimmed fields and pastures; to his left, he's watching a winding river, flowing to the sea. A city encircled by a belt of fortresses is located at one of these windings. This must be Antwerp, as he remembers from the briefing. An airfield whose runway is leading to one of these fortresses is clearly visible.

Unaware, Sgt. Joe Schreppel is watching the spot where he would be buried three days later...

Then suddenly: "BANDITS! BANDITS! TEN O'CLOCK HIGH!!!" The rattle of machineguns, a terrible impact, a distracting pain in the abdomen, blood pouring out of his leg. Joe is bewildered, what is happening? He's trying to make contact via the intercom ... no reaction at all. His strength begins to fail him. The ship starts shaking all over, slipping away to the left. A dense smoke fills the area. "We are gone, the plane is mortally hit, I'm the only survivor', he thinks. He drags himself to the escape hatch, sees no one to give a helping hand, only a screaming ice-cold wind coming out of the open hatch. He sits on the edge, pushes himself off, and falls down. He waits for a few seconds as the giant rudder of the aircraft is whisking along over him, then almost out of conscious, he opens the parachute. He feels a terrible shock that seems to split his wounded body.

Then there is peace, silence and unawareness.

impression by Scott Nelson

The parachute and its battered airman start their long descent to earth.


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