Series 1 - Episode 3: Wingwalker

Wingwalker

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Like all the Allied bombers of World War II, the crew of the Lancaster ME669 had an extremely dangerous job: avoiding deadly enemy fire while dropping high-powered explosives over Nazi Germany. Without them, Hitler may have emerged victorious.

But the tactic called 'total war', a controversial strategy that turned cities into legitimate targets, overshadowed their legacy. Yet for the more than 100,000 volunteers, half of whom would not return, there was no other option.

The rookie crew of Lancaster ME669 began their careers with a near-death crash landing. But the band of brothers bounced back with vigour, determined to defy the grim statistics of their profession. Ordered to fly 30 missions, no one expected them to make it past 14.

Somehow luck was on their side and despite another crash landing and blood curdling missions over Berlin, Germany's most defended city, their heroic feats piled up. That is until their final mission, when they were forced to go deep into the heart of industrial Germany. This time, the men would not be so lucky.

In April 1944, in one of the most heroic acts of the World War II, as the Lancaster tore through the night at 200 miles an hour, Sergeant Norman Jackson climbed onto the wing to try to fight a fire in a fuel tank while under attack from a German fighter at 22,000 feet.

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Comments (23)

  • SHirl

    over 1 year ago

    SHirl

    Steve R What do you mean The Americans concentrated on this aspect of Service? They did not make a 'thing' about it being the last trip, it was emphasised because that was exactly what it as for one of the guys not all of them,

  • John H

    over 1 year ago

    John H

    Great series. It would be great to see the series continue with an emphasis on RAF exploits. One note: all the records I have seen indicate that ME669 took from RAF Metheringham, Lincs (where 106 sqn were based from Nov 43 to Feb 46) and not RAF Syerston. Poor research.

  • Julia

    over 1 year ago

    Julia

    \Please Please channel 5 produce a DVD have you done so? where can I buy

  • B. Taylor

    over 1 year ago

    B. Taylor

    While I have enjoyed the series so far, and am pleased that Channel 5 have put together a series celebrating our national heros, please please please more attention to detail!! Bomber Command in WW2 did not wear Cold War Period Battle Dress, USAAF flying helmets or American MAE Wests. If you are going to portray heros then the research into the clothing and the equipment should be more thorough, its disrespectful not to.

  • Steven

    over 1 year ago

    Steven

    Well done channel 5. Its about time that more respect was given to the aircrews of Bomber Command during the second world war. In this age of CNN footage of precision bombing it is all too easy to criticise the actions of WWII with a smug moral superiority of hindsight. This view completely ignores the fact that the technology was not there to hit specific buildings (although in the latter part of the war 617 squadron and the pathfinders pioneered this) and this mass bombing was the only way to hit back and hurt an aggressor who started a war we did not want. I thought the programme highlighted the bravery of ALL aircrews who got into their aircraft time after time knowing there was only a 50% chance of coming back alive, as well as exceptional bravery of Sergeant Norman Jackson. I would like to thank all in Bomber Command who have given me the freedom to write this message

  • Mark Dana-Brandt

    over 1 year ago

    Mark Dana-Brandt

    Truely humbling. Real sacrifice and raw courage. Can only imagine what their lives must have been like. Just wish that more was done teaching children what life was like then and what a huge debt we owe every single one of them. In a society full of X Factor, Eastenders etc etc thank god for real life stories like these. Well done Chanel 5.

  • Steve R

    over 1 year ago

    Steve R

    Amazing story, well presented...up to a point. I worried about the way they banged on about 'the tour'. Yes, this amazing act of bravery happened on their last trip, but I think the programme over-egged this. As far as I am aware it was the Americans who concentrated on this aspect of service, much more than our boys

  • Paul Cryan

    over 1 year ago

    Paul Cryan

    to think we are still ignoring their sacrifice, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-19815835 isn't it time we all recognise the sacrifice these boys, and yes they were boys, made? how can we treat their memory with such contempt? People being treated with contempt 70 year on. Let's stand together and say No! to this travesty!

  • Dave Humphries.

    over 1 year ago

    Dave Humphries.

    I first read of this amazing act of bravery as a 13 year old in the 'Victor' comic.Fifty years on I still feel humbled by the forgotten and unrecognised bravery of all the aircrews of Bomber Command.The monument to Bomber Command aircrews is too little,too late!

  • George

    over 1 year ago

    George

    Out of sync and lags ... some service.

  • Ross

    over 1 year ago

    Ross

    Hi Shirl My grandmother Joan is Norman's half sister. Ross

  • Barry J.Raymond

    over 1 year ago

    Barry J.Raymond

    Fantastic re-construction, knew this story first hand as a child as the navigator Frank Higgins was my uncle, married to my father's sister.

  • Barry J.Raymond

    over 1 year ago

    Barry J.Raymond

    Fantastic re-construction, knew this story first hand as a child as the navigator Frank Higgins was my uncle, married to my father's sister.

  • Richard Dellow

    over 1 year ago

    Richard Dellow

    very emotional what a bunch of guys, what a bunch of well made beautiful machinery where have we gone wrong over the years and finally something good on TV keep it up. All my respect to these great men and women that protected us to give us the great things we have today just wish young people would have more respect for this generation what they went through none of us will ever understand

  • Josh

    over 1 year ago

    Josh

    Wow. What a moving and humbling story. Incredible bravery and sacrifice. This is a great series, very informative and well presented.

  • shirl

    over 1 year ago

    shirl

    Hi to Ross Douglas, could u tell me how u are related to Norman Jackson. I would be interested thank you. Regards

  • Dave Townsend

    over 1 year ago

    Dave Townsend

    George Beurling was incredible. I was truly amazed at his exploits, he seemed to live a charmed life. I wonder if his death was sabotage?

  • Ross Douglas

    over 1 year ago

    Ross Douglas

    Am proud to say that Norman Jackson was my great-uncle, and will be watching this tonight with humility and great respect for the sacrifices these men made for us.

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  • James Roberts

    over 1 year ago

    James Roberts

    Yesterday I mentioned, I was particularly worried regarding the fact that youngsters are oblivious to the sacrifices of these brave men. I searched on Google and found this interesting website: http://www.blueprinttshirtdesigns.co.uk/. It sells t-shirts with aircraft from the Battle of Britain displayed and much more. I particular like the 'Hawker Hurricane' in red.

  • This comment was removed by a moderator

  • taxi9651

    over 1 year ago

    taxi9651

    Agree with you Mark, but we owe them more than one! We owe them our lives & our freedom.

  • Mark Denison

    over 1 year ago

    Mark Denison

    Thank's feller's we owe you one. We will remember them. 11/11/2012 at 11-00 hr.

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