For the first time, the full and complete story of the B-17 Flying Fortress Susan Ruth is shared in unbelievable detail.Shot Down was created from the vast number of letters and journals of Howard Snyder; diaries of men and women on the ground who rescued, sheltered and hid the crew; and interviews conducted by historians. Centered around the 306th Bomb Group in Thurleigh, England, it is informative, insightful and captivating.For most, 70 years is a long time ago. World War II fades in importance as each year goes by. Shot Down moves history out of the footnotes into reality, keeping the stories of real people alive as they experience being shot down. You are there, almost holding your breath as Lt. Snyder gets his crew out of his B-17 when bailing out over Nazi occupied Europe.
Steve Snyder’s book, Shot Down is about pilot Howard Snyder and his crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth, in particular about the dramatic experiences of each crew member after their plane was knocked out of the sky by German fighters over the French/Belgium border on February 8, 1944. Some men died. Some were captured and became prisoners of war. Some evaded the Germans for awhile but were betrayed, captured, and shot. Some men evaded capture and were missing in action for seven months. The stories are all different and are all remarkable.Through personal letters, oral and written accounts, military records, and interviews – all from people who took part of the events that happened 70 years ago, the stories of the crewmen comes alive. Further enhancing the story are more than 200 time period photographs of the people and places described in the book.
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However even before the dramatic battle in the air and the subsequent harrowing events on the ground, the story is informative, insightful, and captivating. Prior to the fateful event, the book outlines the men’s training, their journey to England, their life while stationed there, and their combat missions. Everything is centered around the 306th Bomb Group stationed at Thurleigh, England of which the crew of the Susan Ruth was a part.To add background and context, many historical facts about the war are entwined throughout the story so that the reader has a feel for and understanding of what was occurring on a broader scale. Thus, the book is a fascinating story about brave individuals, featuring pilot Howard Snyder, set within the compelling events of the war in Europe. You will be given an insider’s seat to the hopes, dreams and fears of a remarkable group of young airmen and the brave Belgian people that loved, cared and risked their lives for them.In 1989, a memorial to the crew of the Susan Ruth was dedicated at Macquenoise, Belgium and every year celebrations are held to honor and remember the men who are now all gone but not forgotten.