THE INVASION OF NORMANDY (6-6-44)
(As told by my older brother, Bob Byers in an article featured in the
Fort Wayne Indiana Newspaper, June 6, 2000
Omygosh!! It's 2:00 A.M. What an hour to wake us up!! They have never called us so early for a bombing mission before.
Those were my first thoughts on June 6th, 1944, then a news man's camera flashed in my face. There were several camera men in the barracks. ( that was unusual) My face may have been in one of the Allied Countries' newspapers. We had already flown 14 missions so far. Could we get back again today? It would be a tough day. Had we really knocked out enough installations to make invasion work?
We were served a great breakfast real eggs, not the powdered kind. As we walked to the briefing room, we saw helmeted security everywhere. My heart raced as I realized that I would be part of the BIG PUSH. Most of the briefing was for the Officers of the crew, but we knew where we were going. This was IT. By 4 A.M., we had our gear and in our flight suits at our appointed places in Miss Lace. (The Plane, A B17)
Bring us home again, girl, I asked.
In the morning it was very overcast and the PFF (radio system) was burned out. Our squadron was the only one that had to return home to Molesworth. (home base in England) We came back with an 800 pound bomb load quite a feat in itself. It is difficult to land a fully loaded Flying Fortress. A pilot has to be very skillful to put a bomber down and not set off the bombs. Several tried at other times and hit wrong it does blow up the plane of course. We breathed a sigh of relief as we walked off the plane.
We had to be flight ready at any time. We took off in formation later with another briefing. Ready to bomb a bridge at Caen, 15 miles off the coast. We thought we were prepared, but no one can prepare us for such a sight. Hundreds of ships at anchor along the coast. We saw 3 of the beach landing sites they seemed about 15 miles apart. We think one was Omaha, and know one was British. A sight burned in my memory. In the waist of the plane, I had the best view. The officers were so busy keeping in formation following briefing procedure they saw none of it. I watched as hundreds of boys waded ashore and wondered how any of them got there alive. I was in the Air Corps, so I would not be a foot soldier. I would come home whole or not at all. Dreaded thinking, I would get back all shot up. What heroes those men were. We did the job we were trained for, but they were the real heroes of the war.
We did bomb Caen France, but we could not see the bridge for all the smoke of hundreds of bombs. War is terrible glad I was there and glad we have not had any since
Note After September 11, 200l
A whole new war. One we have never attempted before. Our hearts go out to the boys and now I realize what a boy I was at 21. (tho we felt as men) I feel so for these boys, fast turning into men, but we have to do this. I feel we have an excellent President at the helm. Our children have lived in peace and folks would say they were too weak to protect our country. I never did believe it. We also grew up without war and when the time came, we were able. So will our young men. So far none of the family has been called up.
October 27th, 2001