Monday, December 10, 2012
Found this photo quite by chance last night. The details written along the bottom tell that it was taken from a plane flying with the 94th Bomb Group (H) based at Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk. Noted also is the date: 25 August 1944; the altitude: 21,500-ft.; and the target: Rechlin.
The date and target caught my eye. This was the same day that Otis and the rest of Bud's crew were shot down over Rechlin. That story was written up by Otis and Bob, the co-pilot on that mission and I have them both. Some years ago, I combined them and found some relevant photos to illustrate the story, then sent the story to what descendents I could find.
However, this picture may be the icing on the cake for this story. The silver specks left of center and a little high is another group of planes that could be 447th B-17s; the two Groups often flew their missions together. Back home in England, their bases were about 5-miles apart. Otis, flying in Bud's crew, may be in one of those planes, plowing their way to the target and to their date with destiny, ditched in the North Sea....68-years ago.
For a crew that had to ditch in WWII, if they survived, the story became the one they told all their lives. It was fairly rare to survive a ditching. Another story and amazing picture can be found here.
To illustrate my earlier story, I used a satellite image to draw the course and note the point of ditching. Matches pretty close to the picture, doesn't it? (Note: Their briefed target that day was the missile base at Peenemünde but, good results reported from the first Groups over that target led to the decision to turn off to Rechlin).