"The takeoff was smooth as
silk. The wheels came up, and D-Dog started the long climb. As we came
up through the clouds, I looked right and left and counted fourteen
Lancasters climbing for the place where men must burn oxygen to
live. The sun was going down and its red glow made rivers of lakes of
fire on tops of the clouds. Down to the southward, the clouds piled
up to form castles, battlements, and whole cities, all tinged with red."
relaxed. For a while, the eight of us in our little world in exile
moved over the sea. There was a quarter moon on the starboard beam
and Jock's quiet voice came through the intercom, 'That'll be
ahead.' We were approaching the enemy coast."
"The flak looked like a
cigarette lighter in a dark room -- one that won't light, sparks but no
flame -- the sparks crackling just above the level of the cloud tops. We
flew steady and straight, and soon the flak was directly below us. D-Dog
rocked a little from right to left, but that wasn't caused by the flak.
We were in the slipstream of other Lancasters ahead, and we were over
the enemy coast."
"There were other
aircraft all around us. The whole great aerial armada was hurtling
towards Berlin. We flew so for twenty minutes, when Jock looked up
at a vapor trail curling across above us, remarking in a
conversational tone that, from the look of it, he thought there was
a fighter up there. Occasionally the angry red of ack-ack burst
through the clouds, but it was far away, and we took only an
academic interest. We were flying in the third wave."
"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."