The Kassel Cassettes
an audiobook on CD
On Sept. 27, 1944, thirty-five B-24 bombers flew off course and were ambushed by more than 100 German fighter planes.
The bombers had lost their fighter protection, and were easy targets for the swarming Fokke-Wulf 190s and Messerschmitt 109s.
Not that they were defenseless. Each B-24 Liberator was heavily armed with .50-caliber machine guns, which were blazing away.
The battle lasted, according to most accounts, no more than six minutes, by which time the cries of "Mayday" over the radio drew the cavalry in the form of the P-51s of the 361st Fighter Squadron.
By the time it was all over, 25 bombers were shot out of the sky. Many of the German fighters were shot down and one American fighter pilot was killed. Of the ten remaining Liberators, three crash-landed in Allied-occupied Europe, two reached an emergency landing base in Manston, England, one overflew the group's base and crash-landed five miles away, and only four made it back to the base at Tibenham, England.
Aaron Elson began interviewing survivors of the battle after visiting a monument in Germany with the names of every American and every German killed in the battle. The monument, built by the Kassel Mission Memorial Association with the help of German historian Walter Hassenpflug, is a rare and powerful testament to closure between former enemies.
"The Kassel Cassettes" on MP3 CDs includes more than 20 hours of interviews with pilots, tail gunners, bombardiers, navigators, prisoners of war, and a widow and two sisters of fliers killed in the battle.
These are MP3 CDs and will not play on most CD players or in older vehicles. Many newer cars have CD players that also play MP3 files, and they will also play on computers and CD players that specifically say they play MP3s. There are four MP3 CDs in the set. The interviews are also available in a set of regular discs that will play on any CD player, but the set contains more than 20 CDs and is considerably more expensive.
The following a sampling of tracks from the set which will provide an overview of the battle.