For History Buffs…

KingDavidMaking good on my promise to make the Hope Blog more interesting, here are a couple of stories, completely unrelated, that I found this week. History lovers should enjoy both. The first is the internationally reported find this week of what archaeologists believe is King David’s palace. Of course, no such find is without dispute, but the dig is an interesting one. Here is the story, and here is the statement from the Israeli Antiquities Authority.

The second story is of much more recent history. Stories of unusual, compassionate behavior during the nightmarish years of World War II are always heartening to read. A book came out here in the U.S. last December, titled, A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of WWII. (The paperback edition is reportedly going to be released in November this year, in time for Christmas.) The author is Adam Makos with Larry Alexander.

Four days before Christmas 1943, a badly damaged American bomber struggled to fly over wartime Germany. At its controls was a 21-year-old pilot. Half his crew lay wounded or dead. It was their first mission. Suddenly, a sleek, dark shape pulled up on the bomber’s tail—a German Messerschmitt fighter. Worse, the German pilot was an ace, a man able to destroy the American bomber in the squeeze of a trigger. What happened next would defy imagination and later be called the most incredible encounter between enemies in World War II.

 

This is the true story of the two pilots whose lives collided in the skies that day—the American—2nd Lieutenant Charlie Brown, a former farm boy from West Virginia who came to captain a B-17—and the German—2nd Lieutenant Franz Stigler, a former airline pilot from Bavaria who sought to avoid fighting in World War II.

 

A Higher Call follows both Charlie and Franz’s harrowing missions. Charlie would face takeoffs in English fog over the flaming wreckage of his buddies’ planes, flak bursts so close they would light his cockpit, and packs of enemy fighters that would circle his plane like sharks. Franz would face sandstorms in the desert, a crash alone at sea, and the spectacle of 1,000 bombers each with eleven guns, waiting for his attack.

 

Ultimately, Charlie and Franz would stare across the frozen skies at one another. What happened between them, the American 8th Air Force would later classify as “top secret.” It was an act that Franz could never mention or else face a firing squad. It was the encounter that would haunt both Charlie and Franz for forty years until, as old men, they would search for one another, a last mission that could change their lives forever.

 

3 thoughts on “For History Buffs…

  1. Thank you for the links Ingrid. I am going to try and get that book from our library. I like the new layout of your blog. And, as always, I also enjoy reading what you have to say. Keep up the good work!

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