After the war had ended, the Commander of our base, both in England and later in Belgium, decided that the thing to do would be to show the ground crew some of the damage and things that had been going on over in Germany. He instituted a series of tours by air. We would load up several of the ground crewmen in an airplane, together with box lunches and beverages. Since I was the navigator on many of the tours, I acted as kind of the tour director and guide and would point out points of interest to them.
On the tour, we would leave England and hit the coast in Holland near the Zuider Zee. In this area, we could show our men that these people had blown up their dikes and dams as a defense against the German invasion. The country was flooded and could be seen from the air. You could see housetops and tree tops sticking up out of the water. We would proceed over Aachen to Cologne and let them see the famous Cologne Cathedral (which was badly damaged) and the destruction of Cologne. From Cologne we’d get right down on the Rhine River and fly above it; just a few hundred feet off the water! We’d go all the way to Frankfurt. To finish the trip, our plan was to head back into France, cross the Channel and to England. It would take quite a long time. It was a long trip.
One of the things I always showed them was a non-city between Cologne and Strasbourg, France on the east side of the river. According to my maps there was a city, but when we got there, there was no city! All we could see were broken glass, bricks etc., but city. Not a building standing. The Royal Air Force had gone there, one night and wiped that city off the map. It was no longer there! The ground crewmen got to see, from the air, what had been going on all the time that they were stuck on the ground. It was a wonderful thing to give them that experience and show them what they had helped accomplish.