Stalag Luft III
Part I – The Air War
Statistics published after the war by the Army Air Forces tell a dramatic story about the air war against Germany.
During the course of the war, 1,693,565 sorties were flown — a sortie defined as one aircraft airborne on a mission against the enemy.
Of these missions, 89% were deemed effective. Mission accomplished! Flying these missions were 32,263 combat aircraft. Fifty-five percent of these planes were lost in action.
On the other hand 29,916 enemy aircraft were destroyed.
On the human side, there were 94,565 American air combat casualties. Killed in action accounted for 30,099, with 13,660 wounded and evacuated. The remaining 51,106 were missing in action, POWs, evaders, and internees. Miracles of survival were numerous.
Stalag Luft III held many fliers whose planes exploded in the air — disintegrated — yet one, two or more crew members survived. Some were blasted unconscious into the sky, and came to on the ground, their open parachutes beside them. Others were literally dug out of the wreckage of their crashed airplanes — horribly injured, yet survivors.