Bill Willis joined the Carpetbaggers in 1943. He was thankful he didn’t have to drop bombs anymore on German cities. The Carpetbaggers were night flyers who dropped supplies to the French resistance. Supplies NOT bombs!
He loved aviation and was a B24 pilot. He learned German when he was a boy from his mother, who was a German immigrant. His father was American. He learned to fly when he was 19 years old.
In March of 1941, he came to England from America, before Pearl Harbour, to help fight the Germans. Bill was young and eager for adventure. He wanted to be a hero. He joined the RAF and started going on bombing missions over Germany, devastating cities that had civilians not just Nazis.
On night in April of 1941, while walking in the woods near his base in East Anglia, he had an amazing experience. He saw a parachute come down and land about 200 feet from him. He ran over to the landing spot, pulled his side-arm and grabbed the injured parachutist.
The man spoke German and broken English. Bill talked to him in German. He asked him if he was a spy. He was dressed in civilian clothes. He had a brief case with him and he was unarmed.
The man said he was Rudolf Hess, Deputy Fuhrer in the Third Reich. He told Bill he had a peace proposal that was okayed by the powers that be in the Third Reich. It could end the war between Britain and Germany if it was acted upon immediately!
Bill thought the proposal should be listened to. So he turned the German over to his Commanding Officer. Bill said he thought the man was genuine. But no one in power believed the man’s story and he ended up in a POW camp.
Then in May of 1941, Bill heard of another Rudolf Hess landing in Scotland and proposing the same peace initiative to end the war before anymore bloodshed. But Churchill wouldn’t believe it . The man was definitely a spy.
Bill remembered his encounter, but who was the impostor? His man or the one that landed in Scotland? Or both?
The war went on and Bill flew many missions where probably many more civilians died than Nazis. He became a much decorated hero, but sometimes he felt the image was tarnished in his heart of hearts.
He remembered the stories of Lindbergh being friendly with the Nazis and Bill knew a hero’s reputation could become tarnished.
In 1942, Bill joined the United States Air Force. Then he was transferred to the Carpetbaggers in 1943. No more bombing missions. His guilt subsided slightly. He always wondered if one of the “Rudolf Hess’s” was really the Deputy to the Fuhrer with a peace proposal. Maybe, the war could have ended in 1941!
Now in 1950, whenever Bill tells his story, some people call him a Nazi lover, just because he believed the man from Germany. People even said he was a coward because he objected to the war and wanted it to end asap.
Maybe, just maybe, four years of war could have been avoided!
Bill’s hero image was tarnished and he felt terrible. He never wore his decorations again. Never again to enjoy his hero status!