Getting to Gotland
Back to our “Liberty Lady Tour” in May … my son Johnny and I traveled to England and Sweden following the footsteps of my parents, his grandparents during World War II.
After visiting Thurleigh, my Dad’s airfield where he flew B-17s for the 306th Bomber Group, we headed for the Swedish island of Gotland. At the end of the day on March 6, 1944, this is where the crew of the Liberty Lady made their final landing, wheels up on a boggy farmer’s field. Miraculously all ten crew members climbed out of the plane unharmed.
We flew from Heathrow with just a bit of drama. We knew we our connections didn’t give us a minute to spare. Our destination was Arlanda Airport north of Stockholm with a quick connection to Visby on the island of Gotland.
We barely made it, literally running through Arlanda to find the gate for Skyways, the little commuter airline that, by the way, just a week after our trip declared bankruptcy and ceased its service!
As we walked toward our propeller plane we couldn’t help but compare it to the Liberty Lady B-17. Two propellers instead of four. A little longer (88+ vs. 74+) and faster (329 mph vs. @ 200 mph.)
We tried to imagine what it was like for the Liberty Lady crew, having just flown from a savage battle over Berlin, fleeing both German fighters and flak. Their plane was too damaged to get back to base. They were leaking oil, and the fuel was about gone. They had no idea where they were but they knew they had to land soon.
As they flew over the island they settled on a suitable landing site, doubled back to dump their top secret Norden bombsight into the Baltic Sea, and returned to the field known as Mastermyr.
This was it.
This map is a good visual of the approximate flight path of the Liberty Lady from Berlin to Gotland. The Swedish Air Force picked up that she flew over the mainland before getting to the island of Gotland. The crew had no maps. They were lost!