Hell's Belle: From a B-17 to Stalag 17B; Based on the Memoirs of William E. Rasmussenby Randall L. Rasmussen
It was December 3, 1943, and American warplanes were on assignment over Nazi Germany. Sergeant William Rasmussen was the ball turret gunner on the Hell’s Belle, a B-17 heavy bomber. During one of its missions, the Belle was shot down and the captured American flyers were sent to the notorious German prison camp Stalag 17B. In Stalag the American prisoners of war had to deal with the harsh rules imposed by the German Commandant as well as deplorable living conditions: filth, bitter cold, starvation and disease. Told through the eyes of one young flyer, the book has non-stop action, emotion and humor, and captures the upbeat and undefeatable spirit of America’s finest young men who served the United States during WWII. RANDALL L. RASMUSSEN, M.D. used his father’s memoirs, “From a B-17 to Stalag 17B,” as the basis for this book. Dr. Rasmussen also explored William Rasmussen’s notes, the verbal history that he recorded at the local library, research material, and recollections of the narratives he heard his father tell so many times over the years. William Rasmussen was a popular guest speaker at press clubs, library clubs and service organizations in Michigan’s lower peninsula near his home. His narratives were enjoyed immensely since he had a special gift of being able to captivate audiences as they shared his experiences flying over Nazi Germany and being a prisoner of war.
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Hell¿s Belle is an informative, well written and intriguing book recounting the experiences of Sergeant William E. Rasmussen, a World War II, B-17 turret gunner whose aircraft, Hell¿s Belle, was shot down over Germany during a bombing mission in 1943. Rasmussen and other members of the aircraft crew were subsequently captured by the Germans and became POW¿s for 16 months in the infamous German prison camp, Stalag 17B. Much of the book vividly describes many of the everyday experiences and tribulations of the POW¿s in the camp. Of special interest is the description of the POW¿s 22-day forced march, under German guard command as the camps were evacuated in anticipation of Allied occupation of Germany during the last days of the war. The book was written by Dr. Randall Rasmussen, son of William Rasmussen and is based on memoirs and personal accounts of the father handed down to the family. This personal, first hand account of events is of prime significance and contributes to the value and importance of the book for its historical significance and its overall interest and readability. The book is supplemented with photographs, many which were smuggled out of the POW camp. I highly recommend this book to both the general reader and to World War II buffs who particularly enjoy first hand accounts of World War II, Allied bombing missions and life in Nazi Germany POW camps.
A book with great personal insight to the every day life of the WWII flight crews. A wonderful discription of the day to day life in a POW camp and what the troops had to do to survive under such hardships.
I really enjoyed this book! It is a very compelling story about two aspects of life in World War II -- flying B-17s for the Allies, and then of the horrors of life in a Nazi prison camp. The things that these US soldiers did in Stalag 17 to survive are a remarkable story in themselves. It is lively and realistic; I feel like the person who lived these experiences is just like people I know who experienced World War II
Reviewer: ajdonner from California I really enjoyed this book! It is a very compelling story about two aspects of life in World War II -- flying B-17s for the Allies, and then of the horrors of life in a Nazi prison camp. The things that these US soldiers did in Stalag 17 to survive are a remarkable story in themselves. It is lively and realistic; I feel like the person who lived these experiences is just like people I know who experienced World War II.