Thursday, June 2, 2011

They Said It... - Premature Reports of the Demise of the Four Freedoms

On March 23, 1944, pilot Capt. John Pesch and the crew of Four Freedoms had just released their payload of bombs on their German target when they were swarmed and severely damaged by a hoard of Messerschmitts and Focke-Wulfs. In the following extract from Mission to Berlin, Pesch describes a tense moment that followed as described to him by navigator 2nd Lt. Orrin F. Webb some years later. 

“Years later, Webb told me that when the aircraft passed through 11,000 feet almost upside down and at an airspeed of 325 miles per hour, he knew in his heart that we [the two pilots] were dead and that, in less than ninety seconds, he and the rest of the crew would be dead too. He did what he felt was reasonable at the time. I believe that when the German fighter pilots saw eight parachutes filling the sky and an airplane apparently heading for certain destruction, they assumed that they had shot down Four Freedoms.”

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