December 20, 1943- During a bombing mission on the Fw-190 plant in Bremen, Germany, the American B-17 “Ye Olde Pub” took extensive damage from highly accurate flak. With its #2 engine knocked out and its #4 engine struggling, the bomber fell behind the formation and became an easy target for the swarming German fighters. Over a dozen Bf-109’s and Fw-190’s now attacked the bomber for more than 10 minutes, resulting in catastrophic damage to the plane and its crew.
The gunners had stopped shooting back by the time German ace Franz Stigler reached the bomber. There were so many holes in the plane that he could see the incapacitated crew on board struggling to stay alive, and decided that firing on the bomber would be just as immoral as shooting a man in a parachute.
Instead, he pulled in close across the bomber’s wing to keep German anti-aircraft from firing at the plane and remained there until the they were over the English Channel and out of Germany. There, he turned back and hoped the B-17 could make it back to England, not knowing what became of the crippled bomber for decades. Charles Brown, Ye Olde Pub’s pilot, tracked Stigler down 50 years later and arranged for them to meet. The two remained close friends for the rest of their lives.
LIKE, COMMENT, and FOLLOW for more daily content! 🔥🔥