Masters of the Air – S01E07 – Part Seven | Transcript

The prisoners of Stalag Luft III attempt to connect with the outside world. Berlin becomes the 100th's primary target. Rosie makes a crucial decision.
Masters of the Air - S01E07 - Part Seven

Original release date: March 1, 2024

On March 6, 1944, the 100th loses 15 B-17s and 150 men during a bombing mission on Berlin. Their next attack proves more successful when the bombers are accompanied by P-51 Mustang fighter squadrons. Lt. Rosenthal completes 25 missions but declines the opportunity to return home. In Stalag Luft III, Major Cleven and other prisoners of war build a crystal radio and are able to track the status of the war. A group of prisoners tries to escape in March 1944.

* * *

[guards speaking German]

[Crosby] Stalag Luft III was run by the German Air Force.

And because we had their downed pilots in our camps, they treated our boys humanely enough.

It was cold and miserable.

Their diet consisted of potatoes and turnips year-round.

But they had access to hygiene, amenities, books, music.

All they really wanted was news from the front to give them hope that one day soon they would be going home.


[Bucky] Need a hand?

I wouldn’t say no.

Any word on the mail?


Another holdup? [sighs]


Red Cross is having trouble getting mail into the camp.

[Hambone] Here, kitty, kitty, kitty.

She’s going your way, Hammy.

Here, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty.

[cat meowing]

Yeah, I see her.

Come here.


Come on.

There you go.

[meowing continues]

Spare some water?

What did you say was in the soup?

He didn’t.

[DeMarco] Rabbit?

[sniffs] Yeah, sure.

There’s been lots of stray rabbits running around under our combine.


Use a bucket.


Keep it down if you can, Benny.

It’s protein.


The only kind we’re gonna get until those Red Cross parcels show up.

Let’s get a move on, boys.

Almost news time.

[radio static]

[newscaster] British, Indian and Gurkha forces

continue to battle the Japanese in Burma,

joining Major General Orde Wingate’s… [signal dips] …Chindit expedition

deep behind the enemy’s front lines.

In Italy, British forces were once again repulsed at Monte Cassino,

while Allied troops remained pinned down on the beaches of Anzio.

What is it?

On the Eastern Front…

It’s nothing good.

[newscaster speaking indistinctly]

Brass is here.

[door opens]

The Brits tried another attack on Monte Cassino.

[inhales deeply] Didn’t go well.

And, uh, Krauts sent nine or ten divisions to Anzio.

Pass it on. [sighs]

We want expectations among the men to be realistic.

[guard speaking German]

[in English] Fellas, let’s go.

Surprise appell.

[guards speaking German]

[Bucky, in English] Hurry up. Let’s go. Wrap it up.

[prisoners muttering]

[guard shouting in German]

[Bucky, in English] Come on, fellas. Quickly.

[prisoners muttering, clamoring]

[prisoner 1] Go!

[German officers shouting in German]

[speaking German]


[in English] That is a Jewish name, yes?

[Graham] Let’s go. Let’s go.

[shouting in German]

[counting in German]

[dogs barking]

[guards speaking German]


[officers speaking German]

[barking continues]

[counting continues]

[grunting, muttering in German]

[counting continues]

[officer speaking German]

[grunts, speaking German]

[guards speaking German]

[in German] We found something!

[repeating in German]

[in English] Goddamn it.

[speaking German]

[in English] But they didn’t get the headphone.

Well, thank God for small miracles.

[Crosby] It was understood in early 1944 the invasion of Europe was imminent.

The 100th Bomb Group would play its part.

[soldier 1] Yes, sir.

[Crosby] More missions into Germany meant more casualties.

More casualties meant more replacements.

[soldier 2] Hey, rook!

[orderly] I wanna see enlisted men to my right and officers to my left.

[soldier 3] Don’t worry, we’ll change that.

[soldier 4] Eyes front.

[orderly] That’s enlisted men to my right

and officers to my left.

Kids, man.

[soldier 2] You gotta be kidding me.

[soldier 1] Hey, newbie.

Delaney. Albert.


[Crosby] Because every one of us had lost at least one close friend,

some guys were reluctant to get to know the new fellas.

Most of them weren’t expected to be around very long.

But someone had to show them the ropes.

Morning, gentlemen.

I’m Captain Robert Rosenthal. I’m a pilot with the 418th.

It’s good to have you guys here.

Chow is at noon.

Why don’t I come back? I’ll take you boys over there.

Welcome to the 100th.

[new officers] Thank you, sir.

[Crosby] Occasionally, something would happen that electrified the entire base.

[soldier 1] Look who it is!

[Crosby] We thought sergeants Quinn and Bailey

were among the many casualties over at Regensburg,

but thanks to the French and Belgian Resistance,

they were back at Thorpe Abbotts.

[soldier 1] Quinn and Bailey!

[Crosby] Nothing gave us more hope than the return of men we thought were lost.

[soldier 1] Looking good, gentlemen.

[Crosby] Lucky for them, there was a rule that if a downed flyer

made it out of occupied Europe, he wasn’t allowed to fly any more missions.

Because if a flyer got shot down again

and was captured and tortured by the Gestapo, they knew too much

about the escape routes

and the French and Belgian men and women who had assisted them.

The lucky bastards got a ticket home.

[Lemmons whistles]

Fly safe, boys.

Get home safe!

Later, boys!


[ragtime music playing]

Nah, not anymore though. ‘Cause it was.

Another Scotch, Gordon?

Put it on my tab.

Yes, sir.

[Crosby] Anyway, what about you?

You gonna request Florida? Texas?

Already been to Texas before my tour.


Training pilots in Florida sounds better.

Also, it’ll, uh… it’ll be good for you to show

the new guys that 25 can really get done.

Yes. It’s been a while around here.

Dave Miner and his boys are at 24 too.

[sighs] What I wouldn’t give to train pilots someplace sunny

after a year in this pea soup.

Well, your time will come, Croz.


That’s the problem with being kicked up to Operations.

You hardly ever get a chance to fly.

[lieutenant] I heard he was the only pilot

to make it back from Bremen out of 18 ships.

Gotta be the luckiest man here, right?


It was Münster.

And it was 13 ships.

And luck had very little to do with it.

It’s Malooly, right?

Yes, sir.

Rosie’s the best pilot I’ve ever seen fly a B-17. Ever.

You pray to God you can fly half as good as him, you might make it to 25 too.

[whispers] Damn.

[soldier 1] Let’s do it.

[soldier 2] Eyes up, boys.

[soldier 1] Night. Bottoms up.

[soldier 3] Hey, good night.

No, no, you’re fine. You’re fine.

Your crew’s on stand-down for this one.


You know, when I was a kid, I built a homemade crystal radio.

I’m thinking of giving it a try in here.

Won’t be as good as our old one but might work good enough.

Copper wire, graphite, safety pin.

You think you can scrounge them up for me?

Oh, my little kriegie Marconi, huh?

I’ll see what I can rustle up.

[air raid siren blaring]

[officer speaking German]

[in English] Daylight raid this far east?

[German guard, in English] Back in the Barracks!


Back in the barracks now!

[shouting in German]

[officers shouting in German]


[shouting continues]

[in English] It’s gotta be Berlin, right?

It’s hard to pinpoint from the AA fire.

Sounds like they’re sending flak up from half of Germany.

[explosions continue]

There we go. That sounds about right.

It’s Berlin or its environs.

[Hambone] You hear that?

[chuckles] It’s Berlin.

[all chuckling]

Hey, happy goddamn Monday, Adolf.

Do you think the 100th’s with them?

Mmm, gotta be.

[Buck] It’s gonna be rough up there.

First daylight raid on the capital of Germany.

[guard shouts in German]


[dogs barking]

[in English] The hell was that?


[Bucky] That’s a lot closer.



[Bucky] Come on.

[prisoner 1] We need a doctor!

[prisoners clamoring]

[Bucky] Get those doors open. Get ’em open.

[guard] Get back inside now!

[Buck] What happened?

[prisoner 1] They shot Harry!

Hey, you hurt one of our men?

[German officer] He was out of the block.

Where’s Glemnitz?

They shot him for no reason.

[Buck] Get Glemnitz!

[guard 1] In!


[prisoner 1] He’s bleeding bad!


[Buck] We need to get him a doctor.

[guard 1] In! In!

Get back inside. Now.

[guard shouts in German]

[in English] Whoa, whoa, whoa!


Hey, hey! Whoa, whoa! Get that dog!

[Bucky] Call the dog off! Get it off him!

[guard whistles]

[guard 1] Get back inside!

[shouting, groaning]

Harry was in the block. Why did they shoot him?

[in German] Bring him to the hospital quickly.


Come with me.

[speaking German]

[guard shouting in German]

[in English] Now! Back inside!

Hey! Get in!

Go back inside. Now.

These goddamn goons are gonna take us out one at a time, Buck.

[guard 1] Get in!

[engineer] Same ones as before…

[Lemmons] Yeah.

…according to Lieutenant.

[grunts] Right.

[engineer] Turn it over.

[Crosby] As our missions piled up and became more perilous,

it seemed that that damn red mission light never blinked off.

We were always on edge.

Then we were told we were targeting Berlin.

Every man on base held his breath as we waited

to see just how dearly it would cost us.

[airplane approaching]

There. There! I got ’em!

One, two, three.

Four, five.

Six, seven.

Eight, nine, ten.


Twelve, 13, 14,

15, 16.

[Jack] Christ.

That’s 15 down.



[alarm ringing]

[people on runway shouting]

[ambulance sirens blaring]

[Crosby] Move!

[all clamoring]

[Crosby] Shit.

[soldier 1] Let’s move!

[soldier 2] Get ’em out!

[medic] Hey! I need someone over here with that morphine.


[medic] Go easy. Get the harness vest.

[clamoring continues]


[medic] Easy. Easy.

[soldier 3] Check the wings! Check the wings!

[medic] Prioritize the most wounded.

Stand by for another one inbound! Let’s get a crew on it!

[medic] We need another stretcher! Move it, move it!

Casualties onboard!

Come on. Let’s go.

Take it easy, take it easy, okay?


You’re gonna be fine. We got you, okay?


You’re gonna be all right.

Tell ’em to bring in at least three more.

[soldier 5] Lemmons, we got eyes on the cockpit?

[soldier 6] I need a medic here, now!

[wounded soldiers screaming]

[soldier 7] Hold his legs!

Take his legs, come on!


You’ll be fine, buddy. We got you.

[medic] Easy. Here we go.


[medic] Just have to calm him.

Let’s get him out of here. One, two, three.

[Crosby] March 6th, 1944 became known as Black Monday

because of how many men were lost that day.

150 of them were from the 100th.

[major] They took a direct hit in the cockpit.

Miner and Kinsella must have been killed instantly.

At least I hope for their sake they were.

Their ship went totally out of control.

Headed straight up, right for the high element.

Harrison had to take evasive maneuvers not to get hit by it.

Then it… it nosedived.

On their 25th.

Motherfuckers went after our guys in parachutes, one after another.

They killed them all…

every last one of them.

[Crosby] As our crews got younger,

our casualties climbed and the morale on base plummeted.

We all needed to distract ourselves from the war.

I decided to call Sandra.

I told myself all I wanted was someone to drink and laugh with,

but then I called her a second time.


And a third.




[country music playing]

[music stops]


There we go.

[Bucky] Is it good?

It’s great.

[mail officer] Mail call!

Okay. Uh, Murphy?

Finally. [grunts]

[mail officer] Murphy.



And Cleven.

Thank you.

[mail officer] That’s it, fellas.

Maybe next time.

Mail call!

[stammers] It’s from my mom.


[DeMarco] Who’s yours from, Buck?



[Buck] Last letter I sent before Bremen, I popped the question.

[prisoners snoring]

You did?

[sighs] She said yes.


That’s great.



[sighs] I was even thinking maybe you’d be my best man.

I will be your best man.


Is he still at it?

He’s got a few more to write, sir.

[Jack] How are you holding up?

Oh, I’m just fine. [sighs]

[Jack] Tomorrow’s mission.

[sighs] Berlin again?

Jack, it’s the same route. It’s exactly like yesterday.

They don’t care if they kill us all, do they?

[Jack clears throat]

[breathes deeply]

All right.

[sighs] All right.

[clears throat, sighs]


Goddamn it.

Yankees trade DiMaggio?

It’s not working. [sniffs]

[prisoner 1 sighing] Let’s get some air.

When this weather gets better,

what do you say if you and I, we made our move?

Haven’t you been paying attention?

The odds of getting out of here alive and in one piece is…

Thirty-to-one, 40-to-1, 50-to-1?


I don’t have a plan yet,

but I’ll find one.

Well, maybe you should come up with one with better odds.

Yeah, and when I do, you coming with me?

My plan is to get home to Marge in one piece.

Well, you’d die here

in one piece

from sickness…

[sniffles] …walking too close to that goddamn fence.

Don’t you wanna eat something more than potatoes?

I mean, we can wait here, doing nothing.

That what you wanna do?

No. I can’t stand this place any more than you.

[adjutant] Ah-ten-hut!

Be seated.

[sighs] Now, for those of you unaware, I’m Lieutenant Colonel Bennett,

the new CO of the 349th squadron.

Due to Colonel Harding’s trip to London this morning,

I’ve been placed in temporary command of the entire 100th bomb group.

Your target for today…

[soldiers groan, murmur]

…is Berlin,

specifically the Erkner ball bearing plant.

Jesus. That’s the exact same route as Monday.

Who said that?

Major Shoens, you’re exactly right.

But I am not a man to order anyone on any mission I won’t fly myself,

so I will be command pilot for the entire wing.

[soldiers murmuring]

Major Bowman?

Your mean point of impact will be here, in the heart of Berlin.

[Crosby] We only had 15 planes left to send up.

The exact same number the Germans shot down two days earlier.

It didn’t take a mathematician to figure out

the odds were pretty bad for Rosie and his crew to make it back

from their 25th mission.

Anything I should know, Ken?

She’s A1, sir.

And I’m sure you’ll bring her back to me the same way.

All right, boys. Huddle up.

You know the drill.

You boys worry about the guns, I’ll worry about the plane.


[crew] Yes, sir.

Let’s go to Berlin.

Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.

Hail Mary, full of grace.

[Crosby] Our chances of defeating the Luftwaffe

were increased by the introduction of the P-51 Mustang.

Hands down the best fighter plane of the war.

Escorted by the Mustangs for the entire mission,

the odds were starting to shift in our favor.

There’s a whole lot of fighters at 2:00 level.

[Rosenthal] Are they friendly?

[Pappy] I can’t tell.

Can anyone ID these fighters? Over.

[Milburn] They’re Krauts. They’re Krauts!

[shouts] I can’t get a shot at them. They’re taking out the 45th!

[Rosenthal] Roger. I see P-51s coming in to help.

Ball turret to pilot.

I have green-green flares from Colonel Bennett’s ship. Over.

[Ronald] Navigator to pilot. We’re over Berlin,

but I think we missed our turn for the IP.

[Rosenthal] Roger, navigator. What’s the heading? Over.

[Ronald] Heading should be 253. Repeat, 253.

[Rosenthal] Roger that. Heading to 253. Over.

Eyes open for Kraut fighters. They know where we’re headed.

Note it in the log that the 45th wing missed the turn for the IP.

We are under Colonel Bennett’s command, turning with him to the target. Over.

[Ronald] Copy.

Bombardier to pilot. We have fighters at 11:00.

Roger that. P-51s coming in fast.

Get ready, boys.


Our fighters are gonna punch us through.

[Ronald] Thirty seconds to target.

Roger that.

Pilot to bombardier. You ready to drop?

Bombardier to pilot. Roger.

[Rosenthal] Okay. Ship’s yours.

Copy. My ship.

Bombs away.

[Jack] There! East by southeast!

Fourteen! One down!

[Crosby] Anyone seen who’s down?

Or seen Rosie?

What do you say, Pappy? Huh?

You did it, Rosie. We did it.

Twenty-five. We’re going home. [laughs]


[laughing, cheering]

[doctor] Son of a bitch!

[Pappy, Rosenthal laugh]

[Rosenthal] Last chance to buzz the tower.


Rosie! Yeah, yeah, yeah!

Come on!

Coming again!

He’s gonna buzz us!


[Jack] Son of bitch!

Hey, how about that!


[soldier 1 whoops]

[soldier 2] Yeah! Rosie!

[cheering, whistling]

[chanting] Rosie! Rosie! Rosie! Rosie! Rosie!

[jazz music playing]

[soldiers clamoring]


Wait. So I said to her, uh…

I said, “Hey, Betty”…

[Rosenthal] Here we go.

“You’re gonna wanna paint those ceilings your favorite color,

’cause you’re gonna be seeing a hell of a lot of them once I get home.”


What did she say?

Well, she said nothing ’cause her mother was on the goddamn phone too.


I’m gonna get another drink.

Jack, why so blue, huh?

What, you gonna miss us that much?

Jack, you all right?

Brass is upping the end-of-tour requirements

from 25 to 30 missions.

Are you serious?

[Shoens] What?

Only for new replacement crews coming after next week.

Any crew in between will have to make 28.

You and your boys are off the hook, Rosie.

[Shoens] Twenty-eight?

Jesus, Jack. That’s, what, ten more missions for us?

Eight more for Helmick instead of five.

[Shoens sighs]

Well, congratulations, Rosie.

[sniffs] At least you’ll make it out of this fucking war alive.

I mean, changing the rules on us mid-game?

That’s bullshit, Jack.

They want us all to fucking die up there, and no one gives a shit.

[music stops]

[Shoens] No one!

[soldier 1] Oh, man. Know anything about this, fellas?

[Crosby] Ah, no, it’s…

[Sandra chuckles]

It’s good to see you again.

You too.

Been busy.

Yes, you have.

I meant you.

Yes. I’ve been fairly busy too.

You know, during these last few weeks I have missed you terribly.

And I just wanna know where you’ve been. [stammers]

Do you want to know where I’ve been?

Or do you want to know where I will be in 20 minutes?

Twenty minutes?

[breathing heavily]

[colonel] Six of diamonds.

Queen of diamonds.

[DeMarco] Ten of diamonds.

Dummy gives us two of diamonds.


Huh? I, uh… Eight of clubs.

Ten of clubs. [grunts]

Uh, Crank?

It’s conduction.

Maybe there’s some glue residue or oil or dirt or something

getting in the way of the current. [blows]

[radio static]

I think…

Yeah, yeah, I got something.

[German radio chatter]

It’s German.

[distorted music playing]

It’s music.

Hold on.

[newscaster on radio, indistinct]

Yeah. Yeah, yeah, the BBC.

Get me some paper.

[newscaster] Soviet forces have driven Field Marshal Manstein to within 50 miles…

Yesterday Berlin took the heaviest bombing of the war.

And listen to this:

Uncle Joe’s Russkies seized a bridgehead at a place called Mogilev Podolsky,

splitting the Kraut army in two.

[newscaster continues, indistinct]

[Crosby] The repeated strikes on Berlin took a tremendous toll on the 100th.

It had become clear

that it was no longer enough just to drop bombs on our target.

We had to completely destroy the German Luftwaffe.

My friend Rosie understood this very well.

But he had completed his 25th mission.

He had done his duty.

And now he could go home.


[officers shouting in German]

[dog barking]

[siren wailing]

[Crank, in English] Jesus.

Where the hell are they going?

[shouting in German]

[German radio chatter]

[lieutenant colonel, in English] Some news, boys.

The Brits in North Compound built three tunnels.

Three? Jesus Christ, how?

They’ve been digging them for over a year.

Thirty feet deep so the goons’ seismographs wouldn’t detect them.

Seventy, maybe 80 men made it out.

[Brady] Eighty?

[lieutenant colonel] Nothing like this has ever happened.

Colonel believes there will be severe reprisals

as more senior officers in the SS and Gestapo become aware

of the magnitude of the escape.

[Buck] I think you were right.

We should’ve made a run for it while they were out chasing those Brits.

[Bucky] Maybe, but I can’t help thinking you were right. Better to play it safe.

The hell am I rushing back home for?

Other guys get letters. You get letters.

To get a letter, you need someone to get it from.

Guess I never set that part up right.

That’s just this place talking.

You’re tired.

I am tired.

Yeah, well, you’ll have plenty of time for that when you get out.

You’ll set it up right next time.

They’re only gonna know this me. Not the old me.

Me before I got here.

That’s if we even get out.

We’ll get out. And this you will be the one worth knowing.

[Crank] Hey, Majors!

Simoleit wants you in his office. Now.

[Bucky] Just us?

[Crank] Yeah. You and the colonel.

[Simoleit] Because of this great escape attempt,

Kommandant von Lindeiner has been relieved of all duties.

Most of the escapees have been recaptured.

But I regret to inform you,

deeply regret to inform you,

that 50 of the recaptured escapees have been executed.


I would caution you not to allow your men to enact any reprisals,

any refusals of orders, or to make any…

any attempt to escape in the future.

There are orders for me to take an inventory

of all Jewish prisoners of war at Stalag Luft III.

There are only Americans in Stalag Luft III, Major Simoleit.

Only Americans.

Yes, well, there are ongoing discussions in Berlin

to transfer all stalags in the Reich

from the Luftwaffe’s jurisdiction to the SS and Gestapo.

This is an outcome I think we would all like to avoid, yes?

Your good behavior would be very much appreciated.

So, what do you think the odds are now?

Of us making it home alive? Long. Very, very long.


[phones ringing]

[sighs] You wanna re-up?

Captain, you know that tours of duty have been extended to 30 missions.

Yes, sir, I do.


Now, I can’t stop you, Captain.

But don’t you wanna go home?

And Jesus, if anyone’s earned a trip to Florida, it’s you.

Well, sir.

I guess I’m…

Shoens and Helmick.

How could I sleep at night knowing I get to go home

while the brass upped their numbers mid-tour?

And then I-I…

I can’t imagine some rookie coming to take my place.

And getting himself and his crew killed on their first mission.

Then he gets replaced by another replacement,

and over and over and over again.

Nah, sir. [exhales sharply]

I can’t go home.

Not yet.

Not until the job is done.

One way or another.

I see.


Well, I feel you should at least make your decision

based on all the information available.

General Doolittle has ordered the air strategy to shift radically.

The invasion will not and cannot occur until the Luftwaffe is destroyed

and we have complete and total air superiority.

And we could do that, now with the new P-51s

which outflies and outperforms every plane the Luftwaffe can throw at us.

But to shoot them down, we need to get them in the air.

With bombers as the bait.

Our bombers.

So, that’s the strategy.

That’s the mission. Bait.

I understand.

Okay then.

You know, we could use a new commanding officer for the 350th.

You up for it?

[chuckles] Yeah, I’m up for it.

Okay then.

Thank you, Colonel.

[prisoners grunting, groaning]

What are we waiting for?

We need to start preparing now.

[intelligence officer] Jean will brief you on your assignment. You leave tomorrow.

I covered the entire building.

[Jefferson] When are we gonna get into some heavier action?

Plans are underway.

We’re a few hours away from the invasion of Europe.

[cheering, shouting]

[Davis] Your mission is what makes it possible.

Are we Tuskegee men or what?

Sir, yes, sir!

Subaltern Wesgate gave me this number to reach her.

[Macon] Do you know any other country that’s better?

And I know it’s trying hard to become what it says it’s supposed to be.

This looks like a work camp, the way you jackasses are grinding away.

You’re the new king of the camp, and I’m just in the way?

[groaning, grunting]

Oh, what, you can’t handle i…

[Rosenthal] Hundreds of ships. Thousands of men.

You’ve never seen anything like it.


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