On this day in history, January 27, 1943, US Eighth Air Force launches bombing offensive over Nazi Germany

 On this day in history, January 27, 1943, the U.S. Eighth Air Force began its bombing campaign against Nazi Germany, one of the largest, most significant, and most devastating strategic initiatives in the history of warfare.

Eighth Air Force B-17 bomber pilot and future Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry said, "I knew what it meant to brave my own fear to do my duty because the lives of my crew and the fate of my country depended on it." Was." Wrote in his autobiography in 1990.

"The war tested me. But I survived. And that experience gave me not only a broader outlook on life, but also a confidence in myself that I had never seen before."

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On 27 January a total of 55 bombers dropped 137 tons of bombs on warehouses, industrial plants and U-boat docks at the port of Wilhelmshaven on the North Sea.

By the end of the war in Europe in May 1945, the Eighth Air Force had flown an incredible 440,000 bombing sorties over Germany, dropping 697,000 tons of explosives.

World War II correspondent Andy Rooney – later an author – said, "I remember thinking how cool, how American, the young aviators dressed in leather jackets, open shirt collars, and leather-peaked caps on their heads. Were visible." The "60 Minutes" commentator – romanticized the heroes in his 1995 autobiography, "My War."

Rooney and his fellow veteran American journalist Walter Cronkite were among the young war journalists who defied death on bombing missions over Germany in 1943.

They helped document the terrible loss.

Placeholder on this day in history, January 18, 1943 Government bans sliced bread amid World War II rationing
The Eighth Air Force suffered almost half of all U.S. Army Air Forces casualties of World War II (47,483 out of 115,332). According to Air Force reports, more than 26,000 of these men were killed in action.

The U.S. Eighth Air Force was part of the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II.

The Air Force became a separate branch of the military in 1947, two years after the war.

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The National World War II Museum writes, "The United States Eighth Air Force was deployed to England with a difficult mission: to destroy Germany's ability to wage war, and to pave the way for an invasion of Allied soil." To gain control of European skies."

"To accomplish this, thousands of American airmen faced the constant threat of death every day."

The Eighth Air Force writes in its official online history, "The Eighth planned and precisely executed America's daylight strategic bombing campaign against Nazi-occupied Europe, and in doing so the organization amassed an impressive war record. Compiled."

"The brave men of the Eighth earned 17 Medals of Honor, 220 Distinguished Service Crosses and 442,000 Air Medals. The war records of the Eighth show 566 aces (261 fighter pilots, 31 of whom scored 15 or more victories and 305 enlisted gunners) Are."

The bombing campaign came at a tragic human cost.

"The long, slow death cycle of a bomber along with its crew is a terrible thing to watch." -Andy Rooney, "My War"

German citizens entered what became known as "total war" in World War II, three years after Hitler began a bombing campaign against Great Britain.

Approximately 800,000 German civilians died during British and American bombing in World War II.

Germany at the same time rained daily death upon Britain and had recently liberated Belgium, France, and the Netherlands through its V2 rocket program. As technology erased traditional battlefield lines, thousands of rockets attacked Allied civilian targets.

Those who survived the bombing campaigns in Europe suffered incredible mental stress, as they were often forced to confront the possibility of death.

American bomber Joseph Heller expressed his mental anguish in the brilliant, hallucinatory, tragicomic-comic 1961 anti-war novel "Catch-22."

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It tells the story of bombardier Captain Yossarian, caught in a Catch-22 military logic trying to avoid flying more missions at all costs.

It decreed that any crewman afraid of dying on a mission must be of sound mind and therefore must fly; Anyone wanting to fly more missions was crazy and never said anything. Either way, sane or insane, the crew were flying in the face of death.

"That's some catch, that's Catch-22," Yossarian says to a military doctor at a crucial juncture in the novel.

The placeholder "Catch-22" proved so popular that the phrase entered the English language as a synonym for a no-win situation.
The New York Times wrote in 2011 that the bombing experience left Heller a "tortured, funny, deeply strange human being".

Rooney, later known for his work on "60 Minutes", experienced an intense fear of flying bombing missions while attacking Germany with the Eighth Air Force on February 26, 1943.

"Several B-17s were hit around us. Three of them were shot down," he wrote in "My War", noting that German aircraft would fly over Allied bombers and aim to maximize casualties. To drop parachute explosives among them.

"It's a terrible thing to watch the long, slow death of a bomber along with its crew. It was even worse for the crew because they knew all 30 people on board."

Rooney's plane was hit by German fire but survived on the way back to England.

The reporter, who was only 24 at the time, said, "February 26 was the first time I seriously thought about my death."

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