This memory came to us recently from Fred Becchetti. Working at the Memorial Library we often get the chance to hear stories of the war from both veterans and local folks, and it is always an enriching experience. As The Forum hosts the Eighth In The East exhibition, Fred’s note helps contextualize the words and pictures that you see as you walk through. – Danielle
FROM: Lt. Fred Becchetti, Bombardier-Navigator, 35 bombing missions over Nazi Europe, May-Sept 1944.
Reflections of a 93-year old American who, at age 20, served as a citizen soldier for two years, 1943-1945. Those years included 35 frightening battles high in the frigid and deadly skies over Nazi-occupied Europe and Nazi Germany itself. They also included an unforgettable summer among the brave and hospitable people of England.
The two aviation disasters, one in Australia in June 1943 and the other in England above Liverpool one year later in October 1944, remind us of the difference between a real world war and the limited wars that have been fought since the end of WWII. From 1939 until 1945, there were thousands of ways to get killed in war — in thousands of places.
The two disasters also remind us that WWII aircraft did get old, battered and undependable with use so that the two disasters were inevitable: The old B-17C in Australia was continually under maintenance, and there was said to be an odor of leaking gas in the old B-24 in England before the explosive crash.
Flying itself is dangerous enough without trying to do it with unreliable equipment.