Ross Pearson - Gelsenkirchen
My next one was a place I almost shudder to talk about, September '44, Gelsenkirchen. Oh, it's just this side of hell. We were hit by flak, and a piece came up through the starboard fin into the fuselage. It hit the floor, ricocheted off that, hit the release button on the mid-upper gunner's turret and he fell on the floor, went straight down the rest of the kite, hit the windscreen in front of the pilot and it's red hot this, came across the top of his head, and took all the leather off, a great streak of leather off the top of his helmet, and didn't get through the fur lining. And that was a hell of a target.
I looked out on the way there, and a wireless operator sat underneath the pilot in a Halifax, and you really only could see out a little window. Mind you, I wouldn't have looked. I watched the navigator all the way because he sat on top of the escape hatch, and if he moved, I was going to beat him out of it. So I sat under there, and I looked out, there was flak everywhere. And I said to him, "Derek, look at that. Thank God we're not going in there." He said, "We are. Went down to dog-leg in." What happened on that particular kite, we had bags of flak. We had six holes. One near the mid-upper. Two inside and one near the bomb aimer. And I tell you what, he very expedited the bombing run. He didn't muck about.