Friday, August 24, 2012

Bombs Gone!

     Radio traffic recordings are an excellent primary source for the study history. Through the static and the feedback, you can hear the voices of the past tell you what war is really like. At times, radio chatter can be hard to decipher as both radios and recording equipment are subject to multiple means interference. Even with today's military radios, you have to listen with intent as transmission oftentimes come through "weak and unreadable". There are two types of recordings, those between external stations and those internal to a crew. Bomber crew, internal communications can be especially interesting as you hear official crew procedures mixed with informal conversations.

     This below recording can be quite difficult to understand. At the bottom of the post, I have written the dialogue as best I can. You will still want to listen to the recording multiple times. The background is filled with the constant roaring of engines, FLAK explosions, and what is likely the bomber stream's own ordnance detonating below them. I recommend using headphones on a medium volume as it will allow for the best clarity. With the use of headphones, the full intensity of the dialogue can be appreciated. One last listening tip, by stopping all other personal distractions, surfing, painting, or even reading the dialogue, you are sure to get goosebumps whether it is your first time listening or your twentieth.

     The first exchanges are of a near miss with a Halifax as the Bomb Aimer (Curly) calls out "Look out Red, dive port, dive!" This is followed by more evasive actions and another near miss. The Pilot (called both Red and Skipper) expresses his apprehensions as he says, "I sure don't like this orbiting." The need for orbiting of the target becomes evident as Curly informs Red "O.K., the bomb sight is working now." After these exchanges, the navigator (Mac) provides flight azimuth corrections to Red. There is more conversation both procedural and informal.

     During the bomb run, Curly expresses his amazement as he says, "Look at the fires." The bomb run is completed as "Bomb doors closed" is announced. This is when the tension increases still higher. German FLAK becomes deadly close and Curly calls out frantic directional changes. The engines roar louder and louder; the pilot takes strong evasive actions. The danger is then compounded by the probing of enemy searchlights. Searchlights are legendary for the fear they induced and Curly can be heard saying, "Just keep us clear of those searchlights Red. Anything but that!" The aircraft is nearly caught in a cone coming from port, and the immediacy in Curly's voice is overwhelming.

     The closing of the recording becomes highly inaudible which is unfortunate after such a harrowing moment with the FLAK and searchlights. The recording then ends leaving the listener to ponder just how the return to home could have gone. Was the plane flyable after landing? were there any onboard casualties? Just how many more missions did these young men have to experience before they could stand down? Since it is a recording taken from within the aircraft, the mission must have ended with a return to England and a somewhat successful landing.

Unknown Crew Member:  Halifax...garbled...port.
Bomb Aimer:  Look out, Red. Dive port, dive!
Pilot:  What was it?
Bomb Aimer:  Halifax, I think. Boy that's the closest I ever want to come to a collision. Look out, Red! Another aircraft is closing fast!
Pilot:  Okay, I see it. I sure don't like this orbiting. It could be a nice quiet target area anytime.
Bomb Aimer:  Okay Red, the bomb sight's working now.
Pilot:  Good.
Navigator:  Red, turn onto zero three five degrees in two minutes.
Pilot:  Okay, Mac.
Bomb Aimer:  Bombs fused. Bombs selected.
Pilot:  Boy, it's good to be back in the bomber stream again with all of us going the same way.
Bomb Aimer:  Boy, you can say that again.
Pilot:  Bomb sight working okay, Curly?
Bomb Aimer:  Yeah, like a million, Red. Target sighted. And how the boys making a mess of it! Look at the fires!
Pilot:  Okay, Curly. Take over.
Bomb Aimer:  Okay, Skipper. Left, left.Steady. Bomb doors open.
Pilot:  Bomb doors open.
Bomb Aimer:  Steady. Left, left. Steady. Bombs gone.
Navigator:, three zero three, three zero three, magnetic.
Pilot:  Okay, Mac. Three zero three magnetic.
Bomb Aimer:  Bomb racks check, Red. No hang-ups. bomb doors closed.
Pilot:  Bomb doors closed.
Bomb Aimer:  Don't you know the FLAK's getting bad.
Unknown Crew Member: starboard!
Pilot:  Okay, I see it.
Bomb Aimer:  Come to port, Red! Come to Starboard, Red! Garbled!
Unknown Crew Member:  Garbled...they've got us! Garbled...are right on!
Bomb Aimer:  Just keep us clear of those searchlights, Red! Anything but that! Searchlight coming this way from port, Red! Look out, Red! They're starting to scare me! It's getting close!
Pilot:  Garbled!
Bomb Aimer:  Garbled!
Pilot:  Garbled...find out!
Bomb Aimer:  Garbled!
Unknown Crew Member:

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