“Men,” Addison said, addressing eight of his fellow crew-mates, “I’ve learned that one of the cadets that I got to know at the University of Pittsburgh, Dave Bishop, is now a first pilot and under orders to report to Gulfport. He is expected to arrive in a day or two. Dave hails from South Carolina, and I have put in a request that he be asked to consider commanding our aircrew.”
When Addison announced this no one in the room raised questions. In the very short time the “team” had been together, Addison had come across as a seemingly reasonable, even likable second-in-command and all sensed it was preferable to have him request someone that he knew and had confidence in to command them rather than risk what might be had if the USAAF made the selection. Almost immediately after Dave Bishop arrived in Gulfport he accepted the position. The “Bishop Crew,” as it would be known, had a full complement.
Members of the Bishop Crew came from all over the United States, and like other crews consisting of only 18-to-21-year-olds, some members were more mature, capable and gregarious than others. Not everyone was without an Achilles heel, and disagreements could and did erupt. However, part of the purpose of the time at Gulfport was to iron all of this out. Each man had been trained in a specialty and at Gulfport they were supposed to learn how to mesh their skills together in order to operate as a team.
Flight officer/navigator Robert J. “RJ” Miller grew up in Nevada, Missouri, a small town that had been almost completely burned down by Union militiamen during the Civil War. He was painfully thin, a chain-smoker and easygoing. “We had confidence he could do the job,” Paul said, and Addison echoed that sentiment. Miller let it be known from day one that he wished to be addressed by his nickname, “RJ.”
Flight officer/bombardier Raymond Peacock, from Utah, was the only member of the crew to sport a mustache. Pleasant to work with and seemingly competent, a personal situation came up for him towards the end of his stay at Gulfport that precluded him from deploying overseas with the Bishop Crew. The most the USAAF would do for Peacock, however, was to defer deployment for a short period. This action left the Bishop Crew without a bombardier.
Sergeant John S. Kendall, the radio operator from Vermont, had droopy eyelids growing up that earned him the nickname “Sleepy.” According to Paul Lynch, Kendall had anything but a sleepy temperament. Soon after they met the two men got into an altercation in the shower room that had to be broken up by crewmates. According to Lynch, a verbal disagreement over Kendall’s stated treatment of a woman he had gone out with precipitated the fight. Neither man was put on report for this incident. Their feelings diffused over time; not because of friendship, but rather the need to work together.
Sergeant Charles F. Cumings, the top turret gunner and flight engineer, was the least likely person one might expect to find on a combat aircrew. Small in stature and shy in nature, Cumings was often seen by Addison, Paul and the others clutching the Holy Bible. “He read it when he felt threatened,” Paul opined. “I think he was told it would protect him.” Paul added: “I never thought the Bible served this purpose.” This became a cause of concern for his crewmates as Cumings manned the key defensive position on the B-17. In many situations, it would be up to Cumings to sound the alarm, that is, to alert the crew via the intercom, “Five O’clock high!” Paul and the others wondered: when the time came would he shout this or would he freeze up? And when attacked, would he reach for his Bible or the trigger?
Being fearful was not something one could control, and no one, including the plane’s commander, Dave Bishop, could really know how Cumings might react until an actual situation happened. Cumings was a decent person, not yet 20, and he was given the benefit of the doubt in crew training at Gulfport. He came from Neenah, Wisconsin, and had worked for a short period at the Gilbert Paper Company following graduation from high school.
Ball and waist gunner Sergeant William “Billy” Robertson had a sweetheart waiting for him in Philmont, New York, and he became a good friend of both Addison and Paul. Paul regarded him as one of the two enlisted men on the crew that he had most confidence in. Addison and Billy took a few days leave at war’s end and visited Scotland together. They also kept in touch after the war.
The other ball and waist gunner was Sergeant Earl Sheen. “He wasn’t easy to get to know,” Paul said about him. “He did his job and stuck to himself.” Later in the war, flying combat with a different crew, Sheen saved a man’s life. He was a native of Idaho. A thin man like Robertson, Sheen was small enough to curl into a Sperry ball turret.
Then there was Owen Monkman, 20, the lanky sergeant from Choteau, Montana, population 2,000, who everyone on the Bishop Crew, without exception, trusted to do his job properly and really liked. “Owen never complained about being assigned the most dangerous position of tail gunner,” Paul Lynch noted. “He just crawled back like he belonged there.”
Monkman grew up on a cattle ranch near the town that had a view of the magnificent Teton mountain range to the east. The land was arid, however, and the winters severe. Temperatures sometimes dipped to 40 below zero. The younger of two sons, Owen worked long hours on the ranch. A friend, Andrew Jensen, working a nearby spread, wrote: “. . . after school we had chores to do such as milking cows, feeding the animals, haying, harvesting, fencing and lots of other jobs; when we were old enough, of course, we drove tractors and other heavy equipment.” Owen played the trumpet and enjoyed jitterbugging.
In 1942 Monkman graduated from Teton County High School and the next year enrolled in Montana State University in Bozeman. A year later he volunteered for the U.S. Army Air Forces hoping to become a pilot. His selection as pilot did not happen, however, and Owen ended-up at the same gunnery school in Las Vegas as Paul Lynch. It was there that the USAAF made him a bugler and tail-gunner. Invariably positive about life, Owen wrote to his parents who were trying their hand at sheep farming: “I’d sure like to be home for shearing . . .”
Last but not least, there was first pilot Flight Officer David Bishop, who had also grown up on a farm. “He was reserved,” Paul Lynch said about him. “He was friendly, yes, but not like Addison. Addison was more like one of the boys, and Bishop a senior member.” Paul added: “Addison liked to joke. Dave, no.” The fact that Bishop chose to remain aloof in Paul’s mind was an attribute. “Dave seemed to fit the job of what a plane commander should be,” he noted.
Addison Bartush, who grew to respect Bishop over the two months they spent together at the University of Pittsburgh, and who later enthusiastically asked Bishop to assume the first pilot job, obviously agreed. “One wouldn’t swear in front of him,” Addison related about his boss, a twinkle in his eye. “I doubt he knew what the inside of an Officers Club looked like,” he added, mischievously. “He read the Bible daily.” In saying this, Addison did not need to clarify that Bishop read the Bible for a different reason than Cumings.
Addison explained why he focused in on Bishop: “I sensed he would make sound decisions as a pilot,” he said. “I felt I could work with him on the flight deck.” The fact that Bishop would not become a drinking buddy and was in daily communication with God did not trouble Addison Bartush one iota.
As mature and reserved as he was, Dave Bishop was not beyond having some good fun, however, even if it meant violating a USAAF flight plan. The South Carolina farm that he grew up on was within the flight range of a B-17 departing out of Gulfport, and Bishop would make a once-in-a-lifetime memory for himself, his parents and crewmates.
The Bishop Crew soon got into a routine at Gulfport. “There was PT in the morning followed by classes in such things as the newest changes to radar, survival training, and other topics,” Paul detailed. “We also took a lot of training flights together, practice bombing Dallas and other assigned locations.” Paul added that the crews flew in whatever B-17s that might be made available by the Army Air Forces; that a specific bomber was not reserved for the exclusive use of any individual crew. This practice also applied in the European Theatre.
Owen Monkman wrote home: “This is the wettest, swampiest country I have ever seen.” He also told of how enthusiastic he was to fly, even if it meant flying every day. Not everyone on the Bishop Crew felt the same, however. As time progressed it became apparent to crewmembers that Charles Cumings did not like to fly. For Addison’s part, he wondered why Cumings even joined the U.S. Army Air Forces. Being pasty-faced while taking off or landing, however, was not the same thing as complaining, which Cumings never did; nor did he ever ask to be relieved from flying duty. Cumings was a hard worker. “He did extra things for Dave Bishop,” Paul Lynch recollected.
Shortly after arriving in Gulfport Addison read of a new USAAF policy that permitted flight officers to apply for a commissioned status with the rank of second lieutenant. “I did it and got Dave Bishop to do the same,” Addison related. Up the chain-of-command their applications went. “I never understood coming out of flight school why some men got flight officer and others, second lieutenant,” Addison said. “Dave was selected for first pilot but not given the higher rank.”
On August 19, 1944, a concerned father wrote a letter to his son:
Do you like to fly the B-17? Will you be able to fly home or near here . . . Selfridge [?] Why don’t you try and make it before you go across. Will you fly them [the B-17’s] over or will you go on a ferry? If you cannot come home let me know and I will try to come there . . . Do you want anything— if you do let me know. I hope this war will be over before you get there . . . Addison, let me know all about your next move if you can—how and where you are going.
As hard as the Bishop Crew worked, there were a few days off now and then for rest and relaxation. Addison told of one such occasion when he ran into Paul Lynch in New Orleans and the two of them spent time together sightseeing and drinking beer. Addison had been surprised to encounter Paul in the city. Always resourceful, Paul Lynch explained how: “New Orleans was off limits to enlisted personnel because of the high VD rate,” he chuckled. “But I found a way around that. I knew that Army MPs routinely checked second-class passenger rail cars bound for this city and removed the enlisted men. So I traveled first class.”
It was mid-September on a routine training flight over Georgia that Dave Bishop made his decision to pay an unscheduled visit to his family. “I want to go to Spartanburg, South Carolina,” he announced over the intercom, “and fly over my parents’ farm.”
As the crow flies, Spartanburg is only 50 miles or so from the Georgia border, but Addison recollected: “It was a long, long ways away from where we were supposed to be!” The distance from Gulfport to Spartanburg is 572 miles.
Of course the crew, including its second-in-command, immediately thought this was a grand idea, and endorsed the diversion wholeheartedly. Not only would the prescribed flight route be abandoned, the Bishop Crew would fly in at low altitude! And at full throttle! What could be more fun? This was to be barnstorming at its best, and in a 36,000-lb., four-engine “heavy” bomber no less!
To avoid alerting the USAAF, the trick would be to return to Gulfport within a reasonable period of time. This required increased speed and it was discerned the fuel supply was adequate. Bishop ordered Flight Engineer Cumings to juice up the carburation and do other things to make the bomber go faster. Nervous as always, but happy enough to be part of this joy ride, Cumings complied. As the South Carolina border approached Bishop did not need the services of navigator RJ Miller; he knew what country roads to follow.
The first pass over the farm terrified the animals. Owen Monkman wrote home about chicken feathers flying and cows “running all over the place.”
Addison Bartush remarked, coyly, “We were too low.” Paul Lynch, standing at a waist port, enjoyed a wondrous view, as did the other crewmembers standing at similar positions or, even better, crouching in the confined plexiglas nose. Circling, Bishop was confident that on his second pass he would see his loved ones on the lawn waving up. Surely his mom and dad realized that this had to be him! It had not occurred to Dave, however, that the buzz produced by propellers driven at 4,800 horsepower from a low-flying warplane might cause someone in a house below to reasonably flee to their cellar.
On the second pass, Bishop took it even lower, “nearly shaking the roof off,” Monkman wrote.
Addison lamented: “I held onto the wheel for dear life.” Disappointed at not seeing anyone, Bishop was not to be deterred. Peeling off, he “radioed the Spartanburg airport control tower,” Addison explained, “and asked them to telephone his folks and tell them to step into their backyard.”
On the third and final pass Monkman reported seeing Mrs. Bishop, “waving up at us like crazy.” He even described her as, “wearing a flowered dress and apron.” Addison recalled seeing both parents.
After returning to Gulfport Army Airfield it was discovered that one of the co-conspirators had screwed-up. Flight Engineer Charles Cumings had been trained to keep a log of his in-flight activities. On this occasion as with all earlier occasions he dutifully entered into his log what he had done to increase airspeed, and also the time or times that he implemented changes. “The poor guy,” Addison chortled, referring to Cumings, “he caught hell for something he’d been ordered to do!” Addison explained that, “Bishop went in with him” to see the training command officer-in-charge and fessed-up that the blame was his, not Cumings. “Both were disciplined,” Addison stated, richly smiling at the memory.
“Bishop and Cumings never shared with the crew the punishment meted out,” Addison said. He also recounted that no one verbally branded Cumings a Mr. Dumbsquat, but more than one crewmember thought of him that way on account of his log entries. “They rode the beam!” Addison rejoiced, thinking of Bishop and Cumings nervously bracing to face the music. From this episode Addison learned something—sometimes being a second pilot could be a positive thing.
“Buzzing” friends and loved ones was a phenomenon that often happened in the United States during World War II. Would the person manning the control tower at the Spartanburg Airport report this incident? Would neighboring farmers? No, they would not, for they knew that a hometown hero was up in the sky. And that these young men were honing their flight skills to defend the nation; they were to be cheered, not jeered. “300 feet,” Addison said, then modified his recollection slightly. “Maybe lower.”
Addison’s only real regret over this incident was the fact that the distance between Gulfport and Detroit and back was farther than a B-17 could fly. He was both proud and jealous of Dave Bishop.
Around this time Addison had a surprise visitor. His father, Stephen Bartush, had arranged for a business meeting in New Orleans through Mr. Schaefer, and he made a side trip to Gulfport. “It was wonderful to see him,” Addison recounted. This was a difficult period for the Bartush family. Middle son Jack was already in the Coast Guard and destined to perform convoy duty in the North Atlantic. It was only a matter of time before the youngest son, Chuck, would be drafted or would volunteer to take the oath. Recounting this visit decades later, Addison wept. “My parents were so good to me,” he said. “They were so good to all of us.” Addison then related a story about his father’s brother, Frank, who had a falling out with his father and later fell on hard times. Addison’s father reconciled with Frank and took him into the family business.
On October 1, 1944, Captain Sam A. Tomaino, adjutant, administered the oath of office commissioning Addison as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Forces. A base newspaper article reported this was the first ceremony of its kind at the Gulfport Army Airfield. The ceremony was witnessed by the commanding officer of the field, Lt. Col. George L. Holcomb.
“For a short period Addison outranked his plane commander,” Paul Lynch recounted. “We [the enlisted crew] started calling him ‘Big Wheel.’”
Addison and Dave would fly to the war zone wearing new gold bars and be paid a higher salary. More important, perhaps, the two would now wear the exact same crush hat worn by such notables, as say, General Jimmy Doolittle. They were now fully accepted members of the club. They could slouch on the tarmac, as General Carl Spaatz often did with his shoulders conspicuously slumped, and in front of cameras no less, and, if discretion permitted, with hands comfortably placed in pockets. They wore the Great Seal of the United States of America. They were full-fledged U.S. Army Air Forces officers.
As October approached, when the Bishop Crew expected that orders to deploy would soon be issued, bombardier Ray Peacock informed crew-members that his request to remain in the United States for a short period had been approved. Peacock offered to train one of the enlisted men on the use of the Norden bombsight, and Dave Bishop, with the concurrence of Addison and RJ, agreed that Paul Lynch should be the one to receive the training. At this juncture in the war, many heavy bomb squadrons (typically a squadron would consist of 12 or more aircraft) operated with only two or maybe three bombardiers. The lead plane bombardier would do the targeting using his Norden and the other bombers would drop their bombs at the sight of the lead dropping its bombs. If the lead were to be shot down before “bombs away,” the bombardier on the deputy lead would take over using his Norden. The loss of Peacock, although a setback for the Bishop Crew, was not critical. Unless flying lead or deputy lead, all the Bishop Crew would need would be someone to toggle the bomb rack and RJ or one of the gunners could do that.
All bombers were equipped with the Norden bombsight, however, and Paul explained why he received this training: “If our plane got separated,” he said, “with the bombsight we could still press an attack on a target of opportunity.” He added: “That is, if we had someone on board who knew how to work the thing.”
Training was done in a hanger with the bombsight mounted on a tall, electrically driven rolling gurney-like platform simulating an airplane in flight. The operator tried to guide this platform with the bombsight to hit a target painted on the floor. “It seemed easy inside,” Paul laughed, then added humbly: “There was little unexpected movement and no flak to deal with.”
In a real situation a Norden bombsight would act as an autopilot of the lead plane during the bomb run. “It took over the airplane,” Paul explained. “Bombing accurately from four to five miles high in the sky while traveling at hundreds of miles per hour is a difficult assignment,” he amplified. Indeed, an analysis of the results of a major raid conducted in late 1943 with the Norden revealed that only one of every ten bombs dropped “landed within 500 feet of the target.”1
Still, the Norden was a great improvement over visual dead reckoning. The mechanical computer took into account altitude, air speed and winds. Paul finished his training in only three or four two-hour sessions with Peacock, and felt he could handle the job.
On October 3, 1944, the aircrew received “shipping orders” that they would be moving out. “Everyone thinks our final destination will be Europe,” one crewmember wrote. The enlisted men would be going over as sergeants, or if not, promoted to that rank before flying combat missions. This was an important distinction, as the Geneva Convention, which the Nazis had ratified, provided that prisoners of war holding that rank could not be made to do manual labor. At war’s end the Nazis held some 30,000 U.S. airmen as POWs and approximately half of them were sergeants and the rest officers; none went to labor camps.
The Bishop Crew was given a few days off before departure and Paul and a few other airmen took a train to Tampa, Florida, in the hope of going on to see Miami and possibly even the Keys. Money was tight, however, and the travelers took a temporary dock job unloading a banana boat. It was here that Paul learned firsthand about racial attitudes in the South. Upon entering the boat’s hold, the airmen saw that their co-workers were African-American. “They looked at us strangely,” Paul recounted. Not knowing quite what to make of this situation, the airmen started working alongside these men while on the dock a group of white “Southern boys” (Paul’s description) assembled. “They had a fit,” he related.
One Southerner confronted Paul as he carried out a stack of bananas. “You went down in the ship’s hold with those [expletive deleted]?” he barked.
The tense situation diffused when Paul explained that this was a one or two day opportunity to raise a little travel cash. When he said this, however, Paul could not resist pushing back a little. One of the African-Americans had been kind and warned Paul and his companions to look out for tarantulas. Paul told the Southern boy of this and also blurted: “The white boss who hired us didn’t mention those poisonous things.”
Paul and his friends returned to Gulfport having never made it to Miami or the Keys, but the trip did make an impression on Paul. “Tampa was a dirty port city,” he recalled.
An Officer’s Pay Data Card for Addison was completed on the date that he departed Gulfport, on October 9, 1944. At the time he received a monthly base pay of $150, additional pay for flying of $75, and subsistence of $21, for a total of $246 a month, or $2,952 a year.
Addison and Paul had trained in Miami, Pittsburgh, Nashville, Montgomery, Clarksdale, Greenville, Lawrenceville, Fort Myers, Biloxi, Denver, Las Vegas and Gulfport, for a total of 29 months training between the two of them. They thought they were as ready as they could possibly be.
The Bishop Crew, sans Peacock, took a 20-hour, stop-and-go train ride to Savannah, Georgia, had physicals and a records check there, and picked up a shiny, spanking new B-17 for delivery to the Eighth Air Force. They flew it first to Bangor, Maine and en route came within 20 miles of Paul’s hometown of Leominster, Massachusetts. Looking down, Paul spotted a church spire he recognized. “We were so close I could have bailed out and walked home,” he recalled.
The flight over the Atlantic Ocean, given the technology at the time, was not without risk. A number of U.S. aircrews perished on the long journey over, though most died on a route different from the one the Bishop Crew would take. Still, any overseas airplane route could be dangerous.
They left the United States from Bangor, Maine, on Sunday, October 15, 1944.2 Most aircrews flew what was known as the “North Ferry Route” that started at Gander, Newfoundland, and after stops at Greenland or Iceland, ended in Prestwick, Scotland. For their flight however, the Bishop Crew had been directed to fly to Goose Bay, Labrador, and then on to Iceland and finally to Valley, Wales, a city on the northwest corner of the Welsh coast, in latitude across from Dublin, Ireland. Only crewmembers flew; no passengers were taken.
The only mechanical glitch on the crossing occurred on the approach to Goose Bay. “We had a several day layover there due to low oil pressure in one of the engines, and by the time that got fixed the weather turned bad,” said Addison. Paul Lynch recalled how remote and lonely Labrador seemed. At 53 degrees N latitude and being mid-October, snow was present.
The flight to Iceland proved to be an adventure of sorts. The distance, practically 100% over water, was approximately 1,500 miles—almost as far as a B-17 could fly. Without a bomb load to carry, this was doable. Still, the flight would be mostly in darkness attributable to the lateness of the season and the need to start at a time so they could land in daylight. The weather over the North Atlantic could be fickle, to say the least, and a magnetic compass that far north was useless.
It was on this ferry crossing that Addison received a true appreciation of the concept Ride the Beam. “It was cold,” he related, referring to what it had been like sitting in an unpressurized cabin and staring into nothing outside for seemingly an eternity. “The flight deck had a heater and this helped some.”
“We flew at less than 10,000 feet and this eliminated the need for us to use our oxygen masks. We were told to maintain radio silence and not to turn on our running lights as there might be German subs on the surface with their deck guns manned. We flew alone; that is, not as part of a formation.”
The flight had been an eerie, no doubt out-of-world experience for Addison and Dave, who at least had a lighted instrument panel to focus on. The other crewmembers could do nothing more than sit in total darkness and absorb the monotonous drone of four powerful engines and the vibration of large propellers.
“The only hope to get to Iceland was to ride the radio beam. It made an audible ‘beep, bop or beep, beep, bop, bop’ sound or something like that. After a while the noise drives one crazy.” Addison added: “You’re following the beam when it makes a straight, solid continuous beep.”
“Dave and I took turns flying,” Addison continued, and he explained why: for the sake of sanity, the earphones needed to be removed now and then. An impish grin came over Addison’s face. “One time while I was flying to Iceland, trying to follow the radio beam, I got a little mixed up. I got off course.” The grin widened at the memory. “I poked Bishop and said to him, ‘I think we’re in trouble and he said, ‘Yes, we’re off course, what the heck did you do?’ “ Addison laughed. “Dave got us back on course.”
Dave Bishop did not get upset with Addison but rather simply did what needed to be done to correct the situation. The term “Ride the beam, Cadet!” or, “Ride the beam, Lieutenant!” was a phrase of art in the USAAF in World War II, denoting the need to stay sharply focused, that is, to think about what one needs to do in order to get to where one has to go.
The landing in Iceland was not without stress. “It was cloudy and hazy on the approach,” Addison related and he remembered it being gloomy-darkish.
Paul Lynch also remembered it: “We kept looking for a hole in the clouds and were still in them when the descent began. The clouds seemed to hang on forever and all I could think about was running out of gas. Finally a hole appeared . . . up ahead was land.” Crouched in the nosecone alongside the nervous navigator RJ Miller, upon first sighting the tarmac Paul broke the tension: “Look,” he said to Miller pointing at parked aircraft, “aren’t those Japanese?”
“I was extremely uncomfortable during our stopover in Iceland,” Addison indicated. “It was so cold there. It was penetrating cold even with the heavy jackets we had been issued. I couldn’t wait to get back on the plane as it had some heat.”
The final leg of the ferry trip proved to be an easy, even enjoyable flight. This was because it was made in daylight and with 100% visibility. The flight could have encountered peril, however, due to the notoriously unpredictable British weather. The aforementioned more dangerous “North Ferry Route” with its terminus at Prestwick witnessed 17 bombers crash during the war on a mountainous island off the Scottish coast named Arran.3 The cause of each crash was abrupt weather deterioration. Addison and cohorts would stay as far away as possible from Scotland, but nevertheless, the weather could have turned on them, too. Blessedly, it did not.
The Bishop Crew came in by way of the North Channel and passed over the Irish Sea. “At that time Ireland was independent,” Addison said, meaning neutral in the war. “We could not fly over Ireland so Northern Ireland had huge arrows on the ground showing us where their boundary was. It was OK to fly over Northern Ireland.”
“We left our ship at Valley, Wales. And it was a brand new B-17,” he added, speaking softly and looking pitiful at the memory. Every rookie crew that ferried a newly made bomber overseas invariably desired to possess it, paint individualized nose art on it and protect it from all others who might bring it harm. The problem for these crews was the aircraft distribution system did not work that way. Once assigned to a bomb group, rookies would start at the bottom and suffer their fair share of “hanger queens.” In the USAAF, a patched-up bomber with plenty of flight hours on it went by that derogatory name.
Addison and his crewmates were sent by rail to Stone, an old market town in Straffordshire, England. There, they awaited orders to join a bomb group.
At this stage ofWorld War II, that is, late October 1944, the U.S. and British Armies were stalemated before the Nazi Gothic Line in Northern Italy, not far south from the city of Bologna. In Western Europe however, the situation was looking more favorable. On October 21 Aachen fell to the U.S. First Army—the first major German city to do so. In the east and south all of Romania had been liberated a few days later by the Soviets, and in the north the Red Army was deep into Poland and only some 300 plus miles from Berlin. Troubling to the U.S. and British leadership, however, was the pattern and manner of the Soviet advance. Rather than thrust directly at the heart of Nazi Germany, the Soviets were advancing steadily along a front extending all the way from the Adriatic Sea to the Baltic Sea. What was the Soviet intention? Equally troubling was way that the Soviets recently captured Warsaw. On August 1, 1944 the Red Army advanced to the outskirts of the city and the Polish resistance started an uprising against their Nazi occupiers in anticipation of Soviet assistance. The dictator Joseph Stalin then halted the advance of his army for 63 days—giving the Nazis enough time to regroup and destroy the Polish resistance. What Machiavellian perfidy was this?
On October 26, 1944, shortly after the Bishop Crew was assigned to a bomb group, the U.S. Eighth Air Force operating from Great Britain attacked military targets in western Germany with 1,225 heavy bombers accompanied by 674 fighters, with the loss of only one fighter. The U.S. 15th Air Force operating out of Italy would have launched a large mission against the southern part of Germany that day but for inclement weather.4
The Nazis were being viciously assaulted on the ground and pummeled from the air. Some thought the war might be over by Christmas.