I’m watching a wonderfully produced program on YouTube on the Memphis Belle. Beautifully made because it goes from the restoration crew at Wright-Patterson doing the restoration, telling you how they refabricated parts, to voices of the now-gone crew talking about certain missions, to general information on her missions first to France, then Germany.
The Belle was famous – became an iconic piece of American history, for finishing 25 missions and boosting the morale of a war-weary American public.
Among the things I learned during her 6 month combat tour was that 10 engines were replaced, major wing parts, and the vertical stabilizer.
That a flight crew had only a 28% chance of surviving though the magic 25 combat missions and the ticket home.
How A-List Hollywood Director William Wyler, in Europe as an Army Major, picked the Belle as the B-17 he would use to document the war.
How every day in the War, the Pentagon sent 297 telegrams to the families of the 8th AAF crewmen giving them the worst news.
When I reviewed the book by Erik Larson on Churchill’s first year as PM, I came to the realization to get those fantastic recollections of family members, they had to have kept diaries.
Apparently many people in the 40s kept diaries, including the co-pilot of the Belle and a waist gunner.
We are the richer for it.
“After 13 years in the restoration hanger, the Memphis Belle was ready for her final mission. She would tell a story of valor and sacrifice for those whose voices are now silent”
It is well worth the hour it takes to view it.