THE MEMPHIS BELLE OF WW II
The Memphis Belle was the first B-17 to fly 25 missions over Europe. The Memphis Belle was
part of the 8th AirForce.
Captain Charles Leighton was the navigator of the Memphis Belle and after the war he was a teacher
at Fenton High School from 1947 to 1954.
Two out of three fliers did not return from their missions over Europe. There were 26,000 killed
and 28,000 taken prisoner. The 8th AirFore alone lost more servicemen in WWII than the Navy and Marines combined. The 91st
bomber groups had no fighter escort and had a loss rate of over 80%. There were 4,750 planes lost. The temperature at 30,000
feet was 40 degrees below zero.
The Memphis Belle flew 25 missions from Nov 7, 1942 to May 15, l943, dropping over 20,000 tons of
bombs. Gen. Carl "Tooey" Spatz, the commander of the U.S.Army Air Force,stated "without the B-17, we might have lost the war".
Chuck Leighton was a fun loving and respected teacher and I was glad to have had him for a teacher
and a friend. He died from complications from heart surgery.
There is a Hollywood movie and a documentary made about the Memphis Belle.