Stories of Denmark
Going Home – Part 1
A short story by Finn Sander
The steady drone of his fighter plane engine and the seemingly empty sky ahead lulled Carl into conjuring up images from the past. The first were from his boyhood days in the Montreal working class suburb of Verdun, where he spent the lazy days of summer on the neighbourhood sand lots vicariously living the feats of his favourite baseball players from the Brooklyn Dodgers, and the frigid winter evenings and weekends on the outdoor hockey rinks emulating the heroics of Montreal Canadiens’ famed Howie Morenz. There were also pleasant images of adventurous swims in the St. Lawrence River above the Lachine Rapids and tobogganing on the slopes of Mount Royal. Even his school days afforded him agreeable windows to past events. Then came the awful day when his father announced that they all – his German, immigrant parents and he, their Canadian-born, 16-year-old son – would return to the Father-land to help the Fuehrer establish a new world order. Next came his initial struggle in Gymnasium (~high school); the mindless, anti-Semitic drivel to which he was exposed as a Hitler Youth; his induction into the Wehrmacht; his frightening experiences as a foot soldier in Poland in 1939 and France in 1940; and his transfer to the Luftwaffe, where he trained as a fighter pilot and learned to engage the enemy in the air. He remembered it all. Finally, he visualized the telegram he recently received informing him of his parents’ death in an allied bombing raid over Hamburg.
“Just as reminiscing in his mind’s eye returned to Verdun and the cute, little, red-headed girl next door on Wellington Street, he was rudely interrupted by harsh, guttural commands on the radio from the wing commander: “Achtung! Achtung! American bombers below at three o’clock. Assume attack formations and engage the enemy.”
Carl hurled his Messerschmitt downwards and, with the sun be- hind him, managed to get one of the B-17 bombers in his cross-hairs. He pumped a stream of bullets from his 7.9 mm nose machine-gun into its fuselage – to no effect. The sturdy aircraft lived up to its reputation for absorbing catastrophic battle damage and carried on. In a fleet- ing thought, Carl cursed American technology and the efficient California sunshine girls who had assembled the aircraft. And the American tail gunner was no slouch either, but his 12.7 mm rounds all missed their target as Carl’s Messerschmitt shot by at 350 mph and accelerated in an upward loop to make a full circle, again to press his advantage in speed and agility and attack the B-17’s rear.
This time, though, Carl had lost his initial element of surprise, and the gunners in the defensive blisters in the bomber’s chin, belly, roof, and tail were all on high alert and raring to put their Browning machine-guns to work. The gunners in the latter two turrets welcomed the Messerschmitt with a steady stream of bullets and were firing point blank at the intruder, as Carl closed the distance to 50 yards before peeling off to the side – just as the two Americans both found the mark and pumped volleys of bullets into Carl’s tail rudder.
Part 2 to come!