In summing up the impossible sacrifices, here is one final story:
97 Squadron were dispatched on an exceptionally difficult low-level operation over Stettin. Experienced pilot Ed Porter, approaching the end of his second tour, was Master Bomber.
He successfully made the outward journey and marked the target, but the furious flak caught his aircraft as he hung over the canal, coned by a dense knot of searchlights. With an unshakeable calm that every crew listening remembered for the rest of their lives, he said on the R/T: “I’m afraid we have had it. I shall have to leave you now. Bailing out. Good luck everybody.” But they were too low for parachutes.
The aircrew of Bomber Command went out to do what they had been told had to be done for the survival of Britain.
In writing his book, Hastings says:
“As for those who flew, it was deeply moving to sit through long evenings in suburban bungalows, listening to very ordinary middle-aged men describing the quite extraordinary things they did as young aircrew over Germany. I am grateful that my generation has been spared the need to discover whether we could match the impossible sacrifices that they made.” (xiv)