Good WW II Story

Good WW II Story

This story is confirmed in Elmer Bendiner’s book, The Fall of Fortresses.

*Sometimes, it’s not really just luck.*

Elmer Bendiner was a navigator in a B-17 during WW II. He tells this story of a World War II bombing run over Kassel, Germany, and the unexpected result of a direct hit on their gas tanks. “Our B-17, the Tondelayo, was barraged by flak from Nazi antiaircraft guns. That was not unusual, but on this particular occasion our gas tanks were hit. 

Good WW II Story

Bendiner Bomber Crew

Good WW II Story

Cover art from the book ” The Fall of the Fortresses”

Later, as I reflected on the miracle of a 20 millimeter shell piercing the fuel tank without touching off an explosion, our pilot, Bohn Fawkes, told me it was not quite that simple. “On the morning following the raid, Bohn had gone down to ask our crew chief for that shell as a souvenir of unbelievable luck.

The crew chief told Bohn that not just one shell but 11 had been found in the gas tanks. 11 unexploded shells where only one was sufficient to blast us out of the sky. It was as if the sea had been parted for us. A near-miracle, I thought.

Even after 35 years, so awesome an event leaves me shaken, especially after I heard the rest of the story from Bohn.
“He was told that the shells had been sent to our armorers to be defused. The armorers told him that our Intelligence Unit had picked them up. They could not say why at the time, but Bohn eventually sought out the answer. “Apparently when the armorers opened each of those shells, they found no explosive charge. They were as clean as a whistle and just as harmless.

Empty? Not all of them! One contained a carefully rolled piece of paper. On it was a scrawl in Czech. The Intelligence people scoured our base for a man who could read Czech. Eventually they found one to decipher the note. It set us marveling.g.

Translated, the note read:

“This is all we can do for you nom”

Using Jewish slave labor is never a good idea


Good WW II Story

The fall of Fortresses by Elmer Bendiner, and a Note Found in a Dud Shell

Editor Monday 20 October 2014

Good WW II Story

Newspaper article of original story

By… Summary of the eRumor:  This is a miraculous account of a World War II bombing mission where the crew of a B-17 survived unharmed after their bomber was hit by a barrage of anti-aircraft fire. Enemy shells hit the gas tank of the aircraft, yet there was no explosion. When the crew landed safely, an inspection revealed all the shells that pierced the fuselage lacked explosive charges. In one shell, crew members discovered a note that said, “This is all we can do for you now… Using Jewish slave labor is never a good idea.” The account was allegedly written in a book by Elmer Bendiner called “The Fall of Fortresses.”

The story, as written in the circulating eRumor below, is a paraphrasing of an actual account given by World War 2 war veteran Elmer Bendiner in his book “The Fall of Fortresses“. The book is now out of print but the team was able to acquire a used copy at

The eRumor accurately summaries the same story that Bendiner tells in his book. However, there is a detail in the eRumor that does not appear in Bendiner’s book. The closing line “Using Jewish slave labor is never a good idea” does not appear in Bendiner’s account of the story. Bendiner wrote that the note found in the artillery shell was written as “This is all we can do for you now“.



Share This: