The Long Return

Bob Porter's Story of the War Years...

Book Excerpt

The following is an exerpt from Chapter 3 of The Long Return:

The most important night of the war, for me, began on June 16, 1944. This was our ninth bombing trip over Germany and we were all feeling confident! All our trips so far had been a piece of cake. We had returned to base safely each time despite running into fighters and flak. Quite a few of my friends, however, had been shot down or were missing. We didn¹t know if they had been killed, made prisoner of war (POW) or were running on the loose. We were all so sure it would never happen to us. It was always going to be the other crew that got shot down, or as we would say, "get the chop".

Ten days had passed since D-Day. June 16 was rainy and very overcast. Our name was up on the squadron reports. We didn¹t know where we were going, but we figured we would just nip over and back. I was writing a letter to Ginger but never got it finished, thinking that I would finish it when I got back. Bill Gardiner wrote a letter to his wife (he always wrote her before we took off) and gave it to me to mail on my way up to headquarters, but I forgot to mail it. I never told him before we took off.

As usual we didn¹t know where we were going. We wouldn¹t know until the briefing as the mission was always kept very secret. As they always said, "One never knew when the enemy was listening." We went to briefing and were told that, despite a poor weather forecast, we were going to Sterkrade, a synthetic oil refinery in the Ruhr. The Germans had this site very well protected and we were told to expect heavy flak. As there was a fighter squadron base very close by, we could also expect a lot of German interceptors. The oil refinery was a very important target. The oil was badly needed for their war effort and their main steel mills and manufacturing plants were all around this area.

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