On This Day…December 20th
Apologies for shamelessly plugging my own model here.
On the return journey home from a bombing raid on Germany in December 1943, 20 year old pilot Charlie Brown nursed his critically injured B-17 toward the North Sea at under 2,000 ft and only just above stalling speed at 135 mph. He had refused to order a bail out, mainly as one of his crew was unconscious and would undoubtedly die in the fall.
Seeing the stricken plane fly over his airfield at Jever (Northern German base for JG 27), Franz Stigler jumped in his Me109 and flew to finish off the fortress. However, on his approach to attack, Stigler saw what a sorry a state the B-17 was in; the rear gunner dead, other crew injured and clearly visible through the shredded and bloodied fuselage of the B-17.
Instead of applying the coup-de-grace, Stigler made a bold and honourable decision; he escorted the American bomber past the Nazi anti aircraft sea defences on the Northern German coast until they were over the English Channel, where he saluted the crew, said to himself, “you’re in God’s hands now”, and turned for home. This mercy, a crime in the eyes of the Nazi party punishable by firing squad, was a great gamble on his own values by the young German pilot.
Unbelievably, both pilots not only survived the war but found each other in 1985, going on to become lifelong friends until they both died within a few months of each other in 2008
A certain Elvis Aaron Presley recieved his draft notice today in 1957.
British Paratroopers practice on December 20th, 1942 in Wales. Lovely photo of the AS-51 Horsa Glider.
The USS Chicago (CA-29) here at her last overhaul. She was sank by Japanese torpedoes just a month after this photo was taken with the loss of 62 crew.
1 additional image. Click to enlarge.