Fickle Finger of Fate: A Bombardier with the 96th Bomb Group

by Raymond Ives

Merriam Press World War II Memoir

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Paperback - ISBN 9781716540400 - $12.99

Hardcover not available

Like the participants in all great battles of the past, the men of the Eighth Air Force flying out of England gradually slip into history, the sound of their living voices, like the tumult of their deadly missions, becoming only echoes in the minds of those surviving them.

A treasure of individual stories will die with most of them.

Many want or wanted to quietly forget or withhold the details of those times.

Some few leave us with more specific remembrances in poignant oral histories or the written word.

This account is one of those precious records.

As a farm boy in central Pennsylvania, Ray Ives never imagined the course the world or his life would take as Europe fermented and eventually exploded into World War II.

In this fairly brief and crisp telling of how he came to his fate in a German prisoner of war camp next to the North Sea, Ives, a commissioned 2nd Lieutenant, relives “Black Thursday”, the 14 October 1943 mission over Schweinfurt, Germany, through the eyes of a bombardier in the Plexiglas nosecone of a B-17 Flying Fortress.

From wake up call to the order to bail out of his flak- and bullet-shattered plane at 25,000 feet above the French countryside, to his subsequent evasion, eventual capture and experiences in Stalag Luft I, Ray revisits the emotions and strange coincidences of the time.

In doing so, he causes us to think of what must have been the thousands of other unique and fascinating stories of brave airmen shot from the skies and forced to wait out the war at the mercy of the Nazis.

Devoid of soppy, fabricated emotions to develop interest, the ‘real’ story is worthy in itself of substantial publication as part of the archives of World War II history.

Underlying it’s telling is a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor that Ray has maintained to this day and which invigorates the text.

184 6x9-inch pages, 106 photos, illustrations, documents

Fickle Finger of Fate: A Bombardier with the 96th Bomb Group

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