This chapter tells the story of the August 24, 1944 air raid on Buchenwald. Although it is an event that only took a few hours, for Joe it is one of the most powerful memories of his experiences and the one time in all these adventures when he was certain he would not survive. The absolute terror of being caught in the middle of a huge bombing attack is almost unimaginable and I tried to capture what Joe, in his own quiet voice, conveyed to me. I also wanted to tell this story from two perspectives. One being the American bomber crews flying high above Germany and the other, of course, the experiences below as the bombs were dropped. The remarkable accuracy of the daylight bombing attacks in the stage of the war is a key part of this story and if that had not happened, I wouldn’t be telling this story because Joe wouldn’t be here to tell it. Joe and his fellows were within about a quarter mile of the factory buildings that were attacked and experienced the awesome destructive power of over 600,000 pounds of high explosives and incendiaries.
I am fortunate in trying to write a little history at this time in having the internet as such as resource. It was through the websites of the bombing groups of the Eighth Air Force that I was able to uncover many of the specific and telling details of the bombing raid from the perspective of those young men who dropped the bombs. Again, a sad reminder that these were dangerous days, and not just for the unintended victims hunkering down on the ground in Buchenwald.