“Where is he? I can’t see the bastard!” Wallace craned his head around, looking into the clouds and sun.
“He’s playing with us.” Quinton moaned from the radio position, holding a rag against the hole in his gut.
Wallace looked back at the cockpit’s instruments. He could see daylight through the holes. The artificial horizon was drilled through and what was left of the compass had fallen out and was now behind the rudder pedals. Most of the cockpit was splattered with blood. Some of it was the Hendrick’s, the pilot. Some of it was his own. The pink chunks of brain matter across the canopy was most likely all Hendrick’s as well.
The Lancaster shuddered. This time, not from more hits, but from engine two, which had just failed. He reached out to throttle back the damaged engine. His whole arm burned from fingertips to shoulder. The ragged hole through the forearm was a good indication of why his arm burned, and why that was all he could feel. He saw his hand hit the throttles, but he didn’t feel them. Wallace concentrated and made his hand hook the lever and leaned back to pull it. The lever moved some, but it was slick with blood and his hand slipped off. He couldn’t grasp the lever enough to make it move anymore.
Wallace looked up through the shattered canopy and was about to say a prayer when he caught sight of the BF-109 that had been killing them. It was directly above them.
“Look at that, Quinton.” Wallace said. “I found him.”
Quinton didn’t respond.
Wallace let out a sigh of resignation as the German fighter rolled in the air and dove. He almost didn’t care anymore. He saw the glittering of the muzzle flashes as it began it’s attack, but the firing stopped.
The BF-109 flashed passed the cockpit. Wallace lost sight of it again so he turned his attention back to the flying the stricken aircraft. The Lancaster was down to two engines, leaking all it’s fluids, leaving a trail of smoke, and was losing altitude by the minute with half its crew dead or dying. Wallace tried to at least keep the wings level and the nose from pointing down, but his hand slipped again and fell back into his lap. He felt so tired…
A glint of sunlight caught his attention outside again and he turned to look at the German fighter, just feet away. The German pilot was clearly visible as he waved, and then curiously, peeled off and took a heading away from the British bomber.
“That’s it, bugger off now.” He tried to laugh, but only coughed on the blood in his throat.
Wallace could only guess he had run out of ammunition. Not that it mattered. They were as good as dead anyways. He looked out and saw they were down to about two thousand feet. The only thing he could see below was rolling sand dunes of North Africa. At least they wouldn’t drown.
Wallace tried to grab the yoke with both hands again. Only one reached it. The other hand dangled from the arm that didn’t want to rise. He looked down and saw the gaping hole in the leather jacket at the shoulder. Blood was pouring from it at an alarming rate. Not much he could do about it.
When he looked out again, out to the ground ahead. He saw what looked like a dry lake bed. Maybe he could put the Lancaster down there. With the same effort as pushing a truck, Wallace pushed the left rudder pedal. It moved only so slightly… but it was enough. The lake bed was soon straight in front of him.
His eyes were heavy. He wanted to sleep.
But he had to land the plane.
Don’t worry, he said to himself. The plane would land all on its own… One way. Or another.
He closed his eyes.
9 thoughts on “Kassarine Lost”
That was good. Are you writing a new book?
Yes, this is a WWII fiction, set early in the war taking place in North Africa.
Is this going to fade into zombies in Russia?
No, there will be no Zombies in this story. It will have Nazis though. Which is almost the same thing…
Great prose! Good start. Are you sure these guys aren’t coming back from the dead? Sounds like a forced landing in the desert.
One thing. I don’t think Lancasters flew in the desert.
They were almost exclusively used by Bomber Command for European targets.
In North Africa it would have been most commonly Wellingtons, or Liberators (and maybe Mitchells), with other bombers of various kinds thrown in the mix.
After some research, I found and confirmed that there was some Lancasters that flew out of Egypt.
And unfortunately no, these guys are not coming back from the dead. This isn’t a zombie story… or a Heavy Metal story.
Though that would be cool.
I’ll be posting the next part soon.
And looking forward to the next part!
Lancasters on bombing missions to Italy would sometimes recover in Algeria. A plane could easily get lost and end up over Tunisia. Assuming the reference to Kasserine in the title is about the location of the story.
However, to the best of my knowledge, no Lancasters flew with the RAF’s Desert AF. I would be interested to know what your sources are regarding Lancasters in Egypt.
Caught my attention from the first sentence. Looking forward to reading a bit more as soon as you can manage.