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Survival, If Only Any One of the Five Events Was Different!

The situation was desperate onboard the severely damaged and badly smoking B17F Lonesome Polecat II as it headed out over the Wadden Sea towards England – losing altitude fast. The Polecat had fought a fierce aerial combat battle over Germany and was saved at the last moment when the American P51 escorts found them and drove off the enemy aircraft. Pilot Fred Delbern had ordered a bailout but only the three upfront crewmen had bailed out over Germany; the five crewmen in the rear of the aircraft did not hear the command due to the loud noises from their 0.5-caliber guns. As the flying fortress flew on for over 30 minutes toward the North Sea, the rear crewmembers remained in their fighting positions and waited for the final enemy attack that never came thanks to the P-51s! My brother Eugene Darter had lost a one-on-one battle with a German ME 109 as he manned his 0.5 caliber machinegun. He was hit in the arm and leg, and he collapsed onto the aircraft floor, lying in a pool of blood. The other crewmembers were also wounded from both flak and enemy fire. Read the full story at

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