5:55 | During one mission, B-17 pilot George Stamps was startled when another formation of bombers passed through his at the same altitude. That was scary but the Germans had something that was also very frightening, the Messerschmitt Me 262, the first jet fighter.
Keywords : George Stamps pilot Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress Plauen Germany Bandits Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter horses Berlin flak
He had a short flying lesson while in high school and George Stamps decided on the spot that he would be a pilot. World War II was raging and as soon as he was eighteen, he set out to become an aviation cadet.
It was dangerous in pilot training. George Stamps recalls how cadets were killed in each phase of his training. He nearly had a disaster himself when a plane he was flying on a long distance training mission developed a problem. He was too tall for fighters, so he became a B-17 pilot.
It was on his third mission that B-17 pilot George Stamps saw his first flak. He was already apprehensive because he was having a problem with one engine which meant he could barely keep up with the rest of the flight. When he saw those puffs of black smoke, he got a horrible feeling in the pit of his stomach.
They were like knights in armor. B-17 pilot George Stamps describes the multi-layered suits and flak protection used by the crew. He recalls a mission to East Germany which was just about at their maximum range. When they got there, the target was obscured by clouds and a secondary target had to be found. it was a very good one, especially if you were in the Russian infantry.
After the failed assassination plot which narrowly missed killing Adolf Hitler, it was learned that a building in Recklinghausen, Austria was the Gestapo headquarters where the search for the conspirators was being managed. B-17 pilot George Stamps was part of a flight that was dispatched to destroy it.
He was flying spare. George Stamps and his crew were in the extra plane that was along a mission in case one of the squadron had to drop out. None did, so, he was returning to England when something amazing caught his eye, a vapor trail going straight up moving faster than anything he'd ever seen.
The Germans had radar so the gunners on the B-17 would dump bundles of chaff, which drew the AA fire away. Pilot George Stamps describes this tactic and recalls two other memorable missions late in the war, when the Germans were retreating.
When B-17 pilot George Stamps was promoted, the orders were signed by Jimmy Doolittle, the new commander of the 8th Air Force. He was already a legend, not only for the Tokyo Raid but for personally designing many of the components necessary for instrument flying.
The Germans had been chased back into their homeland. B-17 pilot George Stamps was taking his ground crew for a ride over the Ruhr Valley to see the damage their efforts had inflicted on the enemy. Suddenly, there was a call on the radio. It was over. The Germans had surrendered. Forget the Ruhr, we're going to Paris!
After the end of the war, George Stamps had a different kind of mission. His entire bomb group would fly to Austria and pick up newly released French POW's and fly them home. It sounded simple.
The bombers had done their job and George Stamps was flying a war weary B-17 back to the States. It was destined for the scrap heap and he was destined for the research and development field.
During one mission, B-17 pilot George Stamps was startled when another formation of bombers passed through his at the same altitude. That was scary but the Germans had something that was also very frightening, the Messerschmitt Me 262, the first jet fighter.
After a nerve-wracking mission to bomb Tokyo and a typhoon, B.E. Vaughan and the destroyer O'Brien suffered a second kamikaze attack which killed all three of his hometown pals who served with him on board. Then, began the grim task of collecting the personal belongings of the dead and preparing them for burial at sea.
Rufus Dalton was at the Maginot Line bouncing mortar shells off an old citadel. His unit was suddenly pulled and sent to take Patton's place in the line after the general was summoned to the Bulge. Once they got there, a fierce ten day battle ensued due to the last major German offensive, Operation Nordwind. Part 1 of 2.
Near the end of the war, the food supply in Holland had been disrupted and there was widespread hunger. Henk Duinhoven was lucky to be in the countryside, where gardens had been harvested. When he heard the sound of Canadian tanks, he knew that liberation was finally at hand.
Robert James was in the shower aboard ship when the alarm went off. He scrambled to his gun mount to man the 20 mm gun and then the threat became apparent. Kamikazes had broken through the air cover and were headed for the convoy. He heard some firing from another gun and turned around just in time to see a horrifying sight. Part 1 of 2.
It was a fierce week long battle for the city of Heilbronn. Even though they were only delaying the inevitable, the Germans weren't beat, yet. Forward Observer Rufus Dalton went into the demolished city looking for a rifle company he was instructed to find. It was an eerie setting with the city in flames all around him. Part 2 of 2.
Robert James was propped up against a bulkhead, going in and out of consciousness. The kamikaze had destroyed the starboard gun mounts and there were many dead and wounded. He was grateful when someone gave him some morphine to ease the pain from multiple shrapnel wounds. This was the beginning of a painful journey to healing. Part 2 of 2.
The men of the 92nd Infantry Division had to fight on three fronts. They had to fight the Germans. They had to fight the racial animosity of their fellow soldiers and commanders. And they had to fight Congress, which wanted to maintain segregation in the Army. Lyle Gittens made it through all that with an undampened spirit.
On his first raid in North Africa, reconnaissance platoon leader John Souther captured a hundred Germans with no losses to his own unit. His job in the 1st Armored Division was to be out in front with his eyes open, and he was doing just that when a huge amount of enemy was spotted. Rommel's big push had begun.
Wes Ruth was eating breakfast when he saw the planes coming in. He thought they were ours until the bombs started falling. As he drove frantically to his hangar on Ford Island, he saw the USS Arizona hit. The Japanese had made their move. As a photo-recon pilot, he was dispatched as soon as the attacks ended to search for the enemy fleet.
John Souther was on reconnaissance patrol when he nosed his halftrack up over the edge of the gully in the Tunisian desert. A round from a German 88 immediately tore through the engine compartment, but left him unhurt. They paid mightily for that shot. With his radio, he began spotting artillery on their position, under fire the entire time. He was awarded the Silver Star for this action.
The first operation for the 4th Division was the landing on Roi-Namur. Lawrence Snowden remembers that, though it was an easy victory, valuable combat experience and important lessons were imparted on the Marines.
When he had to bail out, Jim Wicker was literally sucked from the cockpit when he released the canopy because of his high rate of speed. He was just a hundred miles inland a few days after D-Day and the Germans caught him almost immediately. As he sat in solitary confinement waiting for interrogation, he was comforted by his faith.
Bill Adair was suffering from the effects of a concussion when the battle for the Philippines came to an end for him. Along with thousands of others, he was forced to surrender and was facing the prospect of joining what would become known as the Bataan Death March. Then fate intervened in the form of an ambulance without a driver. Part 1 of 2.
Two engines were out, a third smoking, and they were were losing airspeed and altitude, but they were flying level and pointed home. Then time ran out for the B-17 and Don Scott had to slip down the hatch into the slipstream. Part 2 of 3.
Bill Garrison was standing in a chow line when a man up the line suddenly dropped, shot dead by a sniper. That was only one hazard at the air fields in China; the others being Japanese air raids and infiltrators. (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)
He bunked with regular B-17 crew members, but Bill Livingstone was a gunnery instructor who was there to keep skills sharp. He was also there to substitute for any crew member who was not able to fly. His very first mission turned out to be a memorable one. Part 1 of 5.
Bill Adair may have been the luckiest man in the Bataan Death march. With a commandeered ambulance full of casualties, he threaded his way through the ordeal thanks to luck and guile. At the end, though, there was a camp waiting for him just like all the rest. Part 2 of 2.
Hannah Deutch was a teenager when the Kindertransport rescue effort became her means of escape from Germany. England was taking in thousands of Jewish children and she got her papers in order and left. Right away, as the oldest one in the large group, she became the leader on the journey.
It was their third mission over Berlin and they were heading home. Four German fighters pounced on the B-24 and it was engulfed in flame and going down. Clyde Burnette fought for consciousness as the other crew in the back of the plane bailed out. He woke in free fall with no idea how he had made it out, and soon he was in German custody. Everyone made it out of the plane except George "Danny" Daneau, the nose turret gunner, who went down with the aircraft.
B-24 flight engineer Bill Toombs was over Germany when bad went to worse. One engine was shot out. Then an 88 round went right through the number four wing tank. It didn't blow up the plane, but they lost all the fuel for that engine, so now they had two engines out. They made a desperate run for Brussels, which had been liberated.
Ed Marriott's role in the Beach Battalion was in hydrographics, which meant he had to assess water and beach conditions and give a green light to boats to come in. Before the D-Day invasion, he was training near Slapton Sands when a training exercise was attacked by German E-boats, resulting in over 700 deaths.
The tree bursts were tremendous. Clayton Byrd was hunkered down in a foxhole with a newly arrived replacement when one exploded close by, seriously injuring the new man. Byrd was carrying him back to the aid station when a green lieutenant told him to stop and return to the line.
Ed Marriott was hunkered down on the beach by a disabled vehicle. Close to him was his buddy, Amin Isbir, also taking cover. The next shell flipped the huge amtrac over and there went Amin, crushed by the wreckage. Eventually, the beach was brought under control, which meant that a floating dock could be assembled and the landing of equipment could accelerate.
Providence is the reason he's here today. Arnold Whittaker had a series of close calls with death, not only during the war, but in childhood and in civilian life. His generation was tough, having come through the Great Depression and the fighting men epitomized this.
He was unable to move. That was the concussion. The bleeding was from shrapnel. Once Fred King came around and got some medical attention, he was right back at the front. In addition to the German artillery, he was nearly done in by an ox. Part 3 of 3.
The lieutenant had gone to bring help but there was no word. Two squads of GI's huddled in the cold and decided together that they would not surrender but rather fight to the end. Behind the lines and with little ammunition or food, they faced the first attack from the Germans, who helped them with poor tactics. Part 2 of 3.