The Great Breakaway
by Michel Bessy
I was a seasoned pilot logging more than 8000 flying hours. I was waiting for the order to board my LANCASTER, cross the CHANNEL,then the FRENCH GERMAN border, drop my bombs over SAARBRUCKEN.
I felt a twinge of anxiety creeping over me,though missions like that had been the rule for the last month. At first,the LUFTWAFFE had had a field day but thanks to our new radars and the superiority of our SPITFIRES, we had inflicted heavy losses on their bombers. Lots of them were shot down before reaching LONDON and we were now able to bomb German towns and so give them a taste of their own medicine.
Then it was time to go. I gulped down my cup of tea, put on my flying suit, boarded my plane, checked the controls, taxied to the end of the air strip,and took off without a hitch........We were flying in formation and I had to struggle not to doze off, lulled by the monotonous drone of the engines................................
Suddenly a voice boomed in my earpieces:enemy aircraft at 3 o clock. They hadn't seen us as we were flying low over the French countryside. Then the voice again: Leave them alone, we have a job on, just keep your eye on them............ So,we went on as if nothing had happened but my heart was beating faster.
We crossed the GERMAN border. SAARBRUCKEN was only a few miles away.....At the same time, bullets hit the cockpit. I wanted to pull the stick but nothing happened. My height was about 500 meters so i couldn't possibly bale out!.............. My LANCASTER dipped its nose and dived towards the ground,then all went blurred and I lost consciousness.
I woke up in a large room. I had a splitting headache and a taste of gasoline in my mouth. I slowly put a hand up .. It was very sticky.....
Then i became aware of the presence of a nurse and a German officer both staring at me. "You can thank your Lucky star," the officer said. You should be pushing up daisies! "Where am I?" I inquired.
"SAARBRUCKEN general hospital!" He replied. Room 27......".
Well,no need to beat about the bush," the nurse said. "You re not out of the wood."
"OK tell me outright what's wrong."
"Well, your arms,legs ,several ribs were fractured in the crash......it's a miracle you weren't burnt alive and your left arm will have to be amputated as gangrene has set in."
I slowly digested the information,then turned my attention to the officer. "Sir,can you do me a favour?"
"Go ahead!" "Next time you make a sortie to bomb british towns ..,you ll fly over a big mansion with ten hectares of wooded land,3 miles South of DOVER. That s where I live. So could you wrap up my left arm that is soon to be cut off and drop it over my property so that my family will have a souvenir?"
The German officer scratched his head, then said, "Ok,I ll do that for you. After all,we're comrades in arms both in the air force." Three days later,the officer entered room 27 with a grin on his face.
"I have good news and bad news. First the good news.......mission accomplished!Lieutenant HINTERBERGER dropped the precious parcel right on the money. It landed in a meadow where a few cows were grazing. No sweat, cows are grass eating animals so that by now your family must be admiring this invaluable relic before putting it away in the freezer. Now,the bad news.......On my way to your room I met the surgeon who performed the operation and he intimated that your right arm was infected and would also have to be amputated!"
It was like a stab in the chest, but I wouldn't let things get me down and immediately suggested to do likewise with my right arm......I could sense my benefactor was a bit reluctant to acquiesce to my demand but finally agreed to it..........
Three more days later I had a repeat performance with the same actors.......Yes,the right arm had hit target close to peaceful cattle intrigued by this UFO. But things were taking a turn for the worse............My left leg couldn't be saved!........But when I reiterated my plea ,the officer's face expressed real displeasure and I had to argue persuasively to finally get him to accept my request.
"Let me tell you straight from the shoulder that it s the last time we accomodate you!" .........When he came back a few days later,I feared the worst. I had a gut feeling that my right leg had to go. That's s the way the cookie crumbles!....And when I asked him to drop my last leg over my house, he answered in a thunderous voice I could hardly recognize:
"NEIN NEIN: DON'T DELUDE YOURSELF. DON'T YOU THINK WE'VE NOTICED... YOU'RE TRYING TO ESCAPE!!!!!!!!......"