Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Day in the Life of a WWII Night Fighter

In a letter dated Sept. 9, 1943, my great-uncle Ray Christensen gives a description of his work schedule in the 417th Night Fighter Squadron, at the time stationed in Algeria, north Africa.

Bristol Beaufighters in flight

"At present I'm on the alert.  We spend 24 hours all dressed and ready to go play with the boys if they get nosey.  [note: they had German planes attempting to fly over] Then we have 24 hours off and then 24 hours on call for big action.  It's lovely country to fly in, especially at night.  It gets so dark you can't even see the wing tips, even though the stars do shine.  Imagine little "Jerry" up there not being able to see and expecting to get a pantfull of hot lead any minute.  No wonder flyers haven't got any nerves left  after a war.  It's good fun though I wouldn't trade for any other branch of the service.  What's worse than Germans is trying to come back over the mountains and land with clouds and fog clear down to the ground.  That's when I've really got work to do.  [note: Ray was a radar operator in a two-man crew] Between the two of us we usually make it.  It's a nice feeling to feel those wheels bump on the ground and hang there."

     Yes, I'll bet it was!

No comments:

Post a Comment