I feel like Pumpy today... posting about my recent trip to a military-themed museum.
The Mighty 8th Air Force was an amazing military enterprise. Then under the U.S. Army, the Mighty 8th ran bombing missions over occupied Europe from airbases in England from 1942 or 43 until the end of the war. The Royal Air Force bombed at night, the Mighty 8th during the day, mostly military targets like oil refineries, factories, and enemy airbases. The missions were incredibly dangerous, with planes routinely coming back (if they did) riddled with bullet holes from Luftwaffe machine guns or fuselage holes from antiaircraft flak. Pilots were well-trained with the capabilities of their aircraft if it was flying on 4 engines, or 3, or 2, or 1.
As I've mentioned a couple of times before on the board, this is a personal pilgrimage for me. My grandfather flew 21 successful missions with the Mighty 8th, and on his 22nd mission, had to abandon his aircraft over enemy lines. All 10 of the crew parachuted out. He was quickly reconnected with 2 others in his crew, and the three of them found a safehouse with the brave members of the Belgian resistance. From there they eventually reached France, and finally, Switzerland, after a several-month flight from safehouse to safehouse. Miraculously, all 10 of the crew made it to Switzerland. My dad tells me that 34 members of his bomb group, the 379th, made it back home after being shot down over enemy lines, so his crew accounted for a third of those.
Grandpa flew out of Kimbolton field in England, and was always very complimentary of the local Brits. In fact, his crew was so fond of Duffy's Tavern near Kimbolton Field, that they named a new plane after the pub. Unfortunately, that was the plane that got shot down on its first flight.
I'm going to try and post some photos now of the museum.