Thirty-eight legal sized pages, approximately 14,000 words, in manuscript form. Exact copy as typed by the author on a vintage manual typewriter, with corrections. Printed in the USA.
T/Sgt Wylie E. Dumm, Jr. was the flight engineer and upper turret gunner on 42-97794, a B-17G Flying Fortress assigned to the 447th Bomb Group, 709th Bomb Squadron, 8th USAAF, stationed at Rattlesden, England. This is a fascinating, detailed account of his experiences flying combat in the European Theater of Operations during WWII.
On their fourth mission, May 12, 1944, fighters attacked them en route to the oil installations at Zwickau, Germany. Their number four engine was knocked out and could not be feathered. On return, more fighter attacks knocked out the radio and two more engines. When about one mile northeast of Dunkirk, France, at an altitude of 2,000 - 3,000 feet, a direct flak burst came through the left side, near the upper turret, and set the upholstery on fire. The pilot gave the order to bale out. One man had, when the fire was extinguished.* Descending towards the Channel at 145 - 150 mph, losing about 250 feet altitude per minute, they were forced to ditch in the English Channel. The crew was warned of the imminent ditching, and the aircraft hit the water in level flight at 1610 hours, just off the coast. Only one life raft could be inflated, as the aircraft was rapidly sinking. Two crewmembers perished. A pair of RAF Air Sea Rescue Walrus aircraft picked up the survivors about one hour later.
Wylie flew one more combat mission with another crew before being grounded due to back injuries sustained in the crash.
*Sgt Gatch was captured at 1545 hours at Wijnendaal near Torhout, Belgium.