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British Soldier: Your attention please gents, we have a few new faces here today. So bear with me while I bring them up to speed. Number ninety squadron has been given the dubious honour of tasking the Yanks' new heavy bomber, the B-17 - we're calling it Fortress I. Over the past few months, we have been conducting high altitude bombing missions over northwest Europe. These missions are much more dangerous than what you're used to. There is no fighter escort past the channel, and you will be flying in broad daylight, so stay alert up there. Our target for today is a heavy industrial complex outside of Rotterdam. It's a short flight, but you will be traversing heavy flak belts, as well as several highly active Luftwaffe airfields. Expect heavy fighter resistance. Probably 109's - fast and deadly. Keep in formation, deliver your bombs and get home safely. I'll buy you all a round in the mess when you return.
A piece of paper with James Doyle's writing.
September 2, 1941
Our target for today is an industrial complex inland from Rotterdam. We're holed up again in this damn yank rattletrap the RAF likes to call Fortress I. Give me the good old Lancaster any day. Although, I must say, these B-17's can take a hell of a beating and are armed with enough .50 caliber machine guns to repel the entire Luftwaffe. I just hope we never have to put that to the test. I still don't see the wisdom in it. Flying so high that we can barely see our targets (much so that we miss half the time) through enemy territory... IN broad daylight! Sheer folly I say. Even the fighters want to escort us much farther than Dover. Jerry always has lots of ME-109s ready to greet us. I am still amazed that after 22 missions, I am still in one piece. A good bit of luck I say. I hope it lasts...
[Somewhere over the English Channel]
[September 2, 1941]
[No 90 Squadron]
James Doyle is with his crew in a B-17 Fortress I bomber, flying over the English Channel.
Skipper: Navigator, what's our position and status?
Navigator: Skipper, we'll soon be over the coast. Simmons ran into some heavy flak here.
Flight engineer: Doyle, you'd better get up to your dorsal turret. You know how the skipper gets.
Skipper: Doyle! Quit mucking about and take your post in the dorsal turret.
Doyle walks up to the dorsal turret of the plane and mans it.
Skipper: Splendid. Now that our dorsal gunner has so graciously decided to join us, we can do the weapons check. Sound off.
Danny: Left waist, all set.
Right waist gunner: Right waist, ready!
Ball turret gunner: Ball turret... bloody uncomfortable!
Right waist gunner: I believe he's sitting cross-legged -- hoping not to get them blown off!
Angus: Tail gunner... right and ready.
Explosive flak is shot up in the air and destroys a plane.
Skipper: Flak! Hang on!
The B-17 flies through the flak covered area.
Skipper: That's it? I was expecting more. It appears we got lucky on this one.
The flak continues hammering the sky.
Co-pilot: You wanted more, skipper? You've got it!
Another plane is hit with flak and begins to lose altitude....
British soldier: "B for Bertie" just took a hit! She's going down!
While the crew struggles inside, the damaged plane continues flying, but explodes shortly after.
Co-pilot: Oh God...
Skipper: Squadron -- "A for Andy". We have one aircraft down. Keep in formation... descending to angels two-niner. Steady as she goes, lads.
The plane passes through the cloudy area.
Navigator: We're approaching the coat now, skipper. There she is... Holland.
Danny: Never been there meself... though I did date a Dutch girl once.
Angus: Aye, how was she?
Skipper: That'll do, boys, steady on. We're coming up on target, keep your channels clea-
Co-pilot: Messerschmitts... eleven o'clock high! Gunners open fire!
The gunners of the plane open fire on the incoming Messerschmitt planes. A British airman will say where the messerschmitts are coming from. The escorting Spitfire fighters move out to engage the enemy.
Co-pilot: Messerschmitts 12 o'clock high!
When they approach from behind.
Angus: There's another lot at six o'clock.; Doyle - Bandits on our 6 o'clock!
When they approach from the right.
Right waist gunner: Fighters at three o'clock.
When Doyle shoots a friendly plane.
Skipper: Doyle! Check your fire, that was one of ours!
After intense fighting.
Angus: They're on our six! They're on our six! Too many...argh!
Right waist gunner: Angus is down! We need a hand on the tail gun! Doyle! Get back and take over the tail gun position!
Doyle leaves the dorsal turret and goes to the back of the plane to man the tail gun.
British soldier: We've picked up some bandits on our six!
After intense fighting.
Skipper: Good on ya, lads. That's the last of that wave for now. Stay alert. We've got a long ways to go.
They continue flying. The escort fighter leader radios in.
Bulldog Leader: "A for Andy", this is Bulldog leader -- do you read me, over?
Skipper: Bulldog Leader, this is "A for Andy". Reading you loud and clear, over.
Bulldog Leader: We are low on fuel and need to head home. Good luck, over.
Skipper: Roger, Bulldog Leader, bloody well done. Out.
The escorting Spitfires fly out of formation and out of view.
Skipper: Well, there goes our fighter escort. Looks like we're on our own now.
Flak is fired around the area.
Co-pilot: Brace yourselves!
They continue moving. A smashing noise is heard.
Skipper: Fire in the number one engine! The controls are shot! I can't shut the fuel off from here! Doyle -- get to the manual control and shut that engine down.
Doyle gets off the tail gun and goes to the valve. On his way, an explosion penetrates the plane and kills a soldier on a radio. Doyle turns the valve and shuts off the engine.
Skipper: Gunners, our spitfires are gone, so shoot any fighters you see! Ball turret, what's your status?
Ball turret gunner: My bloody status?! Blimey -- they're everywhere skipper!
Skipper: Fighters on our six! They've sent the whole bloody Luftwaffe!
Danny: Yeah, well, let's send 'em back!
Doyle gets on the tail gun and fights off the German fighters. Another friendly plane is shot down.
British Soldier: They've hit another one! "F for Freddie," skipper, going down hard!
After intense fighting.
Skipper: Bogey's at 12 o'clock! Doyle, we need you back up on the dorsal turret.
Danny: Come on, you Jerry bastards... just a little closer... argh!
Danny is killed.
Skipper: Left waist, left waist? Are you alright? Answer me!
Right waist gunner: Danny got hit, sir. I think he's gone.
Skipper: Copy, right waist. That boy was nineteen years old.
Doyle mans the dorsal turret. After a while of fighting.
Skipper: Doyle, use whichever guns you need! Just keep those Jerries off us!
Doyle is free to man the dorsal turret, the tail gun or the right turret. After fighting for a while, if Doyle is not on the tail gun.
Skipper: Doyle, get back on that tail gun, now! Move it! Move!
He goes to the tail gun.
Skipper: Dammit to hell! This is bloody madness! Fire in the number three engine! We've lost another engine. Doyle - cut the fuel line.
Doyle goes to a valve and turns it, which shuts off the fuel line to the number three engine. He mans one of the guns and continues fighting them off.
Skipper: Doyle- keep moving! They're coming from everywhere!
They continue flying and fighting the enemy planes off.
Skipper: Navigator, how much farther?
Navigator: One minute to target, skipper.
After one minute, the enemy planes stop coming and the B-17 enters a flak covered area.
Co-pilot: More bloody ACK ACK!
Skipper: Pilot to bombadier, you have the controls.
Skipper: The bomb bay doors are jammed! Doyle, we need you to open them - use the manual crank!
Doyle turns the crank, which slowly opens the bomb bay doors.
Bombadier: Left... left... steady... Bombs gone.
The bombs fall out of the plane.
Bombadier: Direct hit, Skipper! I repeat, direct hit!
Skipper: Well done - good show!
There is a small explosion.
Skipper: Fire in the aft compartment! Doyle - get the extinguisher!
Doyle makes his way to the tail end of the plane, but the plane's body breaks off.
Skipper: We're hit - I can't hold it together! Bail out! Bail out!
Doyle is swept out of the plane. He falls a short distance before deploying his parachute.