Berlin - 1943

Everyone would be brave if they left their stomachs at home.

Everyone would be brave if they left their stomachs at home.
Everyone would be brave if they left their stomachs at home.
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In what has been considered one of the milestones in broadcast journalism, Edward R. Murrow reported his eyewitness account of a bombing raid over Berlin, this day in 1943.

Taking part in what had become a nightly bombing run over Germany, Murrow was aboard a Lancaster Bomber, one of the 425 taking part on this particular night. Murrow was one of 5 journalists who went along, and one of two who came back.  Of the 425 Lancasters taking part in the raid over Berlin, 43 were lost either during the raid or upon return.

Murrow describes in vivid detail the raid and its affect not only on Berlin but on the crew members who did this sort of thing each night. It was one of the most dramatic accounts of military action up to that point in the war and it would set a standard for reporting years and decades to come.

Edward R. Murrow:
“The bomb doors were opened. Buzz called his directions: “Five left, five left.” And then, there was a gentle, confident upward thrust under my feet and Buzz said, “Cookie gone.” A few seconds later, the incendiaries went, and D-Dog seemed lighter and easier to handle. I thought I could make out the outline of streets below, but the bomb-aimer didn’t agree, and he ought to know. By this time, all those patches of white on black had turned yellow and started to flow together. Another searchlight caught us but didn’t hold us. Then, through the intercom came the word, “One can of incendiaries didn’t clear. We’re still carrying it.” And Jock replied, “Is it a big one or a little one?” The word came back: “Little one, I think, but I’m not sure. I’ll check.” More of those yellow flares came down and hung about us. I haven’t seen so much light since the war began.

Finally, the intercom announced that it was only a small container of incendiaries left, and Jock remarked, “Well, it’s hardly worth going back and doing another run up for that.” If there had been a good fat bundle left, he would have gone back through that stuff and done it all over again. I began to breathe, and to reflect again — that all men would be brave if only they could leave their stomachs at home — when there was a tremendous whoomph, an unintelligible shout from the tail gunner, and D-Dog shivered and lost altitude. I looked to the port side and there was a Lancaster that seemed close enough to touch. He had whipped straight under us — missed us by twenty-five, fifty feet, no one knew how much”

Here is that complete newscast from December 3, 1943 as heard over CBS Radio.

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1 thought on “December 3, 1943 – Orchestrated Hell – Raid Over Berlin

  1. Ernie Pyle was invited to join a pending mission by the crew of a Flying Fort in 1944, and declined. He explained to them that other journalists had already flown such missions, and there was little he could add to their reports. More importantly, he admitted he was through sticking his neck out when he could avoid it. To his surprise, the crew congratulated him for his good sense, and admitted they were merely being polite in having made the offer at all.

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