Stalag Luft VI and IV – Notebook – “Birds of a Feather”

(Posted: June 29, 2011)

This drawing was my father’s memory of the squadrons flying in formation as you can see the other “birds” in the distance. This was his recollection of the “flock” that he once flew with as one of the “birds”. In his mind he recalled the saying “birds of a feather flock together”. I’m sure that as the picture materialized he longed to be flying freely once again. He had to think of the missions that he flew and all that he was missing out on. All he could do now is draw the bombers and wish for their success in returning home. He would dream of some day somehow returning to the flock. It is obvious to me by sketches in his notebooks that he could draw the B-17 perfectly. He knew that ship inside and out and had acquired a passion for it.

It amazes me to hear how these machines would take off one by one, each knowing their designated time of departure and where they fit into the pattern in the sky. What a sight that would have been to behold. To think of the thrill that I get from watching the B-17 engines starting up one by one and listening to the roar and watching the billowing smoke. And then I try to imagine it multiplied by dozens readying to taxi for takeoff. What a great responsibility it was to fly these bombers and what skill it took to be able to fly in formation without incident with wings practically touching. I know there have been many unfortunate occasions where accidents had occurred. It is understandable how something could happen when flying at another’s wingtips.

What an incredible and stirring sight it must have been to see hundreds of these “flying fortresses” at the same time. It would give one confidence in our strength and potential to win the War and it would serve to frighten anyone watching from enemy territory. And then there were the escorts who would come along and meet these bombers at a certain distance to offer added protection. Yes indeed my father hit the nail on the head when he named this sketch “Birds of a Feather”.

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