Under Attack Over the North Sea
The guns were blazing at us. We were 12,000 feet over the North Sea on 18 Nov. 1943 when they came at our tail turret position where I was. The FW190s came so close I could see the heads of the pilots in the cockpits. They sent out a steady deadly barrage of firepower at our tail. We had just bombed a major German base outside Oslo, Norway and were returning to our base 800 miles away across the North Sea. The enemy fighters kept up a constant zone of fire with rockets and 20 mm shells, The shells tore a huge hole in one of our wings and knocked out an engine. There were more than 100 bullet holes in our fuselage. The FWs were firing 20 mm shells at us as they came in on all sides. The gunners were firing and we were heading for the cold waters of the North Sea. I thought they were going to ram us; that’s how close they came. I was running low on ammo as I filled the sky behind us with fire, but the fighters kept coming closer and closer. I thought we were lost and prepared to abandon the plane. We were going down fast. We dived into a cloud bank and finally the enemy fighters broke off their attacks. We struggled on with two good engines only to crash and parachute at the coast of England. But the Germans had credited our bomber as lost down in the North Sea. We cheated death that time. We were lucky but six other bombers were not and crashed into the sea, shot up by the enemy fighters. All were lost and never found. One 20 mm shell unexploded was imbedded in our engines.
The courage of the pilot and the sturdiness of the B-24 got us home to survive when by all the odds we should have been lost. It was the answer to many who assert the B-24 was not an airworthy bomber. It saved our lives.The Liberators carried the payloads to Germany but the aircrews had to have the courage to do it. It was the aircrews that were the real heroes. In March of 1944 they went to Berlin long before the ground troops hit the beaches of Normandy. In that sense we were the first to invade the homeland.
By Forrest S. Clark 44th BG 8th Air Force. 1944-45