Masters of the Air – S01E09 – Part Nine | Transcript

Nearing the end of the war, POW's endure a harrowing journey across German territory while Rosie uncovers a shocking discovery.

Original release date: March 15, 2024

Nearing the end of the war, POW’s endure a harrowing journey across German territory while Rosie uncovers a shocking discovery.

* * *

[airplanes pass overhead]

[bombs exploding]

[Crosby] By the first few weeks of 1945, we were closing in on the Third Reich from all sides. In the west, the Allies were storming into Germany. In the east, the Russians were approaching the Oder River. And in the sky, the Eighth Air Force flew uncontested. We were the true masters of the air.

[Rosenthal] Command pilot to tail, we’re about to reach the target.

How are we looking back there?

[gunner] Looking good, Major. All lined up.

[captain] Roger. Let’s drop.

She’s all yours, Gene.

Roger that, Major.

Bomb bay doors opening. One minute to drop.

[both grunting]

[captain] Are we hit?

Starboard engines are okay.

But Doug, come down here and take a look at this.

A couple tanks got hit.

[Doug] Yes, sir. On my way.

Major, we have damage here.

More oxygen bottles are ruptured. We only have six in reserve.

[Rosenthal] Roger. Keep an eye on it, Doug.

[Gene] Rockets incoming.

[both grunting]

Engine one’s on fire. Shutting her down.

[Rosenthal] Cutting fuel and oil to number one.

How’s she looking?

That’s it. She’s out. She’s out.

[Rosenthal] Good.

[Gene] Approaching target. Five seconds to bomb release.

Bombs away.

Looked good, Luke. Looks like we m–

[both shouting, grunt]

Pilot to crew, what’s our damage? Report.

[grunts] Gene, Luke, report.

[Rosenthal] Oil pressure is dropping on two and four.

Engine three is on fire.

We’re gonna lose her. We’re gonna lose her.

[captain] Shit.

Lead command to deputy command, you boys are taking over.

Repeat, you boys are taking over.

[deputy command] Roger that. We’re taking the lead.

I’m gonna take the ship, okay?


I’m gonna try to get us across the Russian lines where we’ll be safe.

Yes, sir. Your ship, Rosie.

[Rosenthal] Come on. Come on. Hold together a little longer.

We’re losing speed. Should we bail?

Not yet. We’re not going down in Berlin.

[Rosenthal] Come on, come on, come on. A little longer.


Major, left wing is shredded.

We’re almost there.

[Rosenthal grunts]

That’s it. She’s gonna stall. She’s gonna stall.

Bail. Hit the alarm and then go.

We can make it across the river from here.

I’m gonna try to keep her level as long as I can.

[alarm blaring]

Go. We got smoke coming in.

Yes, sir.


[alarm continues]

[crew member] Move.

Come on. Come on, come on. Go, go.

You get it?



[grunting continues]

[coughing, gasping]

Come on.

[breathing heavily]


[grunting, breathing heavily]





[grunting, panting]

[grunting, shouting, groaning]

[German, Russian soldiers shouting]

[grunting, groaning continues]

[shouts, grunts]

[German, Russian soldiers shouting]

[breathing heavily]

[heavy breathing continues]




[Russian soldiers clamoring]

No, no! No, no, I’m-I’m-I’m American.

Amerikanski. Roosevelt. Stalin. Coca-Cola.


[grunting, groaning]

[Russian soldiers clamoring]

Goddamn it. 2300 hours. That’s, what, 30 minutes? Less.

Go! Hustle!

We got half an hour. We need to be at the front gate. We’re marching.

Go tell the guys. Go, go, go!

Yes, sir. You got it.


Everyone out. Let’s go. Thirty minutes.

Goons gave us 30 minutes to be at the front gate.

2300 hours, then we march. They won’t say how far or for how long.

Thirty minutes. Jesus.

[prisoners chattering]

[Buck] All right. Pack it up. Let’s go. Wear the warmest clothes you got.

Where do you think we’re going?

I don’t know. Allies must be close.

[shouting in German]

[dogs barking]

[Buck] Get your warmest gear.

[prisoners clamoring]

[Bucky] Only essentials.

Just break it.

Let’s go.

Bring matches.

[prisoner 1] Only take food that will keep.

The Krauts have already punched holes in the cans.

They won’t keep.

[in German] Burn everything! Everything!

[shouting in German continues]


[in English] Get your hands off it!

[grunting] That’s mine!

Get off me!

[Buck] How you doing?

Would have preferred it if the Russians made it here first.


[sighs] You’re not thinking of running, are you?

You’re not thinking of running, are you?


Not in this icebox.


Hambone. I wouldn’t do that if I were you.


[guard speaking German]

Who knows when we’re gonna get this kind of food again, you know?

[guard speaking German]

[Hambone] Fuck off.

Anyone who tries to escape will be shot. Please do not try.

[guards shouting in German]

[prisoner 2] That’s the Russians. They’re close.

[prisoner 3] That’s gotta be the Russians.

[cheering, laughing]

[in German] Shut your mouth, Black scum! March! Faster! Faster!

[in English] Okay, we’re going. We’re going. We’re going.

[in German] That’s how you handle terror flyers and murderers.

With force!

[in English] You okay, Solomon?

As okay as a Jew taking a midnight stroll in Germany can be.

[guards shouting in German]

[retches, coughs]

Bucky warned you not to–

Don’t fucking say it. [dry heaving, coughing]

Mm-hmm. Okay.

[indistinct radio chatter]


Well, look, as soon as you have anything at all, you let me know. Okay?

Thanks, Bill.

Nothing. Still no news on any of ’em, Rosie or the crew.

So what’s the story?

They went down over no-man’s-land east of Berlin.

Jesus Christ.

Major, sir.

The hell are you doing here, son?

[lieutenant] We got wheels up in five, and the equipment room’s locked.

[Crosby] Let’s move, people. Look alive. Let’s go.

[soldiers laughing, chattering]

You fucking–

[Crosby] Hey, Clouter.

[Clouter] What are you laughing at? You had a big, fat wren last week.


[breathing heavily]

I guess you’ve never flown over Germany without a parachute, huh?


[Crosby] Huh?

Well, I don’t know, Crosby. Have you? [laughs, grunts]

Now, from here on out, you’re gonna keep that equipment hut opened and manned until wheels up

plus 30 minutes. Yes, Major?

[Clouter] Yes. Major.

Yes, Major?

Yes, Major.

[Crosby grunts, breathes heavily]

All right. You heard the man. Clean up. Let’s go.



[grunts, breathing shakily]


Danke. Thank you.


[speaking German]

[guard 1] Get off the road!

To the side.

[guard 2] Get off the road.

[guards] Move!

[guard 1] You hear me?

[guard 3] Off the road. Now.

[guard 2] Move it.

[guards shouting in German]


[in German] For blood and soil!

Stand up and show respect for our heroic fighters!

Heil Hitler.

[officer] Children and old men.

All is lost.


[in English] Don’t run, don’t run, don’t run.

Hey, there’s enough room for everyone.

[guard shouting in German]


[prisoner 1] Come on. Get in close. Get in close.


[grunting, shivering]

[prisoner coughing]

Scuttlebutt is we’re heading to a train station at first light. [sniffs]

Scuttlebutt know where we’re going?

No. Just to be ready at dawn.

[Solomon] This isn’t good.

They’re gonna take us somewhere and kill us, aren’t they?

Why move us?

They’ve had plenty of chances if they really wanted to kill us.

[Solomon] I don’t know. They’re Nazis.

It’ll be okay, Solly.

Hasn’t, uh, gone exactly how we thought, has it?

Not exactly. You wish you’d done it differently?

Can’t say I would have. You?

I wasn’t planning on getting shot down.

You know, I really did believe that if there was only two B-17s left, be you and me flying ’em.


Last few years would have been a lot rougher without you, John.

Mmm. Same.

We’re slowing down, aren’t we?

Any idea where we are?

[guards chattering in German]


Nuremberg. Shit!


It’s Nuremberg. It’s fucking Nuremberg.

I me–

[Buck] Settle down, Solly.

[Bucky] Calm down.

[Solomon grunts]

I’m a dead man.

[Bucky] It’s all right, Solly.

[speaking German]

We’re in the heart of their fatherland now, boys.

[guards speaking German]

[prisoners speaking German]

Gale? Gale!

Gale Cleven.

[Buck] Jesus, I’ll be.

George. How the hell are you?

Long way from home.

Oh, my God. Hey, this is George Neithammer.


Only guy I’ve ever met knows more about baseball than you do.

Is that right?

Who’s your team?

[Bucky] Yankees. You?


There’s always next year.

So I’ll see if we can find you boys some tents with some fires going.

I’m warning you, most of them don’t.

[Buck] That’s okay. Happy enough to just get out of the snow.

[babies crying]

[soldiers speaking Russian]

The general says that he can take at airport…

[speaking Russian]

…at Baranavichy, uh, for a flight to Moscow.

From there to England.

[speaking Russian continues]

He warns you that the road is going to be very dangerous.

[speaking Russian continues]

[lieutenant] Possibly via Tehran.

[speaking Russian]

[general] Mmm.

[speaking Russian]

[sniffs] For the smell.

[coughs, clears throat]

[soldiers speaking Russian]

There is a wagon ahead that had lost its wheel.

They have to fix it.

Do you mind if I, um-if I stretch my legs?

[speaking Russian]

[speaking Russian]



[breathing heavily]

[breathing heavily]


[heavy breathing continues]

We found many of these camps.

Everyone’s already dead and burned before we arrived.

There’s-There’s more of them?

Yes. Our comrades found even bigger camps than this.

They were built for killing people, many people at a time.

Poles, Russians. Mostly Jews.

[speaking Russian]

The wagon, it is clear. We can resume.

[speaking Russian]

Stay here, Major, and I will find out when the next plane for Moscow leaves.

Thank you, Lieutenant. [sniffs]

Where are you headed? Are you, uh-you headed home?

Home? Family?

[speaking Yiddish]

[speaking Yiddish]

He says his family are all dead, uh, buried in his village.

[speaking Yiddish]

He said he buried them himself with the other villagers the Germans killed.

The Germans, uh, they ordered him to fill in the ditch.

Somewhere in there, his wife, his daughter, his grandchildren.

[speaking Yiddish continues]

So, he takes the shovel.

[speaking Yiddish continues]

To live… one must make choices.

Where will, uh-Where will he go now?

[refugee 1 speaking Yiddish]

[speaking Yiddish]

[lieutenant] Major, the plane to Moscow is boarding.

[in Yiddish] Go with God.

[speaking Yiddish]

[in English] He says if God exists, He has forgotten him.

[speaking Yiddish continues]

Not even the earth that covers our bones will remember us.

Major! Major, we must go. Come, hurry.

[speaking Russian]

Let’s go.

What did he say?

[colonel] The Germans want to stay ahead of the Allies.

They’re worried they’re getting too close again, so another march.

We leave at 1900 hours.

Another night march?

Yeah, but I told them we won’t go more than 20 kilometers a night, and they agreed.

Spread the word.

[prisoners gasping, coughing]

[Bucky] Popeye’s saying they’re taking us across the Danube tomorrow.

We move tonight or we don’t move at all.



We won’t be able to make a run for it after that, Gale.

The river’s too damn big to get back to this side.

Listen, guys are starting to break out into groups.

Buck, if we keep it tight-me, you, George, Aring– you know, it’s a better chance to move unseen.

[airplane approaches]


Cigarettes and torches, put ’em all out!

[clamoring, shouting]

[prisoner 1] Put those out!


[airplane passes]

[guards shouting in German]

Glemnitz! We told you we had to stop marching at night.

We’re being attacked by our own goddamn planes.

It’s not safe. We told you it’s not safe.

Bucky, calm down!

It’s not goddamn safe. We told you.

John, look at me. Look at me.

Look at me. I’m in.

We make a run for it tonight.

Calm down before they put a bullet in your head.

[guards speaking German]

[guard 1] Move it! March, march, march!

Bob, go tell Simoleit we’ve done our 20 kilometers.

We’re stopping here and now.

Yes, sir.

Korlesky, Tiller, I want you to scout for billets.

Abandoned buildings-Uh, church, school. Whatever you can find.


[lieutenant colonel] According to Jefferson’s map, there’s a forest a few miles northwest.

If we make it that far, we should be pretty well covered.

Oh, we’ll make it that far.

[clamoring continues]

I say we head down that way, take advantage of the confusion while we still can.

Over that wall.

All right. Who wants to go first?

[shouting in German]

I’ll go.

All right, Bill. Go.

All right.

Get going. I’m right behind you.

All right.

[guards shouting in German]

[German colonel] Halt! Halt!

Hey, hey, don’t shoot. Don’t shoot.

[German colonel shouting]


[guards shouting]

Go, Buck. Get out of here.

[German colonel] Halt!


[guards shouting in German]

[rifle cocks]


Release that man. Now. [speaking German]

Let him go.

Goddamn it. You touch one hair on his head, and you’ll have a riot.

[shouting in German]


This is one of my senior officers, and he is essential to–

Sergeant, order your man to release Major Egan.


[speaking German]



[German colonel shouting in German]

[chattering in German]

The hell was that all about?

[breathes deeply]

George, Bill and Buck… [grunting] …they went over that wall.

[breathing heavily]

[faint rumbling]

You hear that?

Sounds like GMCs.

[rumbling continues]

[Buck] Looks like they’re retreating.

[breathes heavily]


[both grunting]

[grunting continues]


[soldier screams]

[grunting, groaning]

[in German] Pig!



[panting] Please.

[grunting, straining]


[breathes heavily] Go!



[straining continues]

[Buck, in English] Fucking kids.


[Bill] We gotta go, Buck.


They didn’t even have any goddamn bullets.

Let’s go.


[soldier 1] There he is. He made it!

[soldier 2] Welcome back, Major!


How’s it going, boys?

[soldier 3] You made it back, Rosie!

He’s back. Major Rosenthal made it.

[soldiers laughing]

[soldier 4] Come on!

Hey, boys.


Aggie, how are you, my friend?

Whoo! You made it.

Hey, don’t get run over.

[driver] You want me to stop?

Ah, no, no, no.

[soldier 5] Welcome back, Rosie!

All right, Rosie! [laughing]

Rosie! Yeah!

[soldiers cheering]

And then from Poltava, we flew in a C-46 to Iran, and then…

[Crosby chuckles]

…same C-46 to a place called El-Aden– which is a Brit base–


…and then up through Athens and then Rome and Naples.

And then, get this, we got transferred to Winston Churchill’s personal converted B-24 Liberator–


I kid you not– for the flight back to St. Mawgan’s.


[Crosby chuckles]

How are you?


How’s Jean?

She’s pregnant.

I’m gonna be a father.

You kidding me?



Croz, congratulations!


God, I’m so happy for you two.

Yeah. [inhales heavily] Yeah.

That’s-That’s a good thing. Right?

Yes. [chuckles]

All right.

Are you sure?

Yes. You know, it’s…

I don’t know, it’s-[sighs]

You know, all this killing we do, you know, day in, day out… does something to a guy.

Makes him… different… not in a good way. [chuckles]


You know, Rosie, sometimes I wake up… I don’t even recognize myself in the mirror.

It reminds me of this-this quote I read at college, from Nietzsche.

He said…

“Whoever fights monsters… should take care not to become a monster himself. Because if you gaze into the abyss… the abyss gazes right back into you.”


We’re here to fight the monsters, Croz.

[sniffles] Yeah.

And, yeah–

Yeah, that’s made us do some tough things… but-but we had to.

There’s no other way.

The things these people are capable of…

No, they got it coming.

Trust me.

They got it coming.


[American GI 1] Stop right there!

Hey, hey! Americans!

Whoa, whoa, we’re Americans!

Americans! We’re American airmen!

Keep your hands up!

[American GI 2] We got two here. They say they’re ours.

They look like POWs.

[GI 3 through radio] All right. Bring ’em in.

[American GI 2] All right. At ease.

[breathes deeply]

[guards shouting in German]

Bob, find a place to get ’em out of the weather.

Yes, sir.

Well, I guess they’re not gonna process us.

Doesn’t look like it.

Let’s go.

[Buck] Thanks for the lift, guys.

[Crosby chuckles] Major. Welcome back.

Crosby, they still got you at this dump?

Sure do.


[Buck] Rosie.

Good to have you back, sir!

Major, welcome back!

[Buck] Lemmons.



[mechanic] Good to have you back.

You got a musette bag, Major?

Uh, no, I left that in the suite at the stalag.


What you see is what I’ve got.

I, uh-I gotta thank the CO for letting Hank pick me up in Paris.

We’ve been running a few shuttle missions the past couple weeks.

[Crosby] Mm-hmm.

[Buck] What’s this for?

[Rosenthal] The Dutch are starving to death, so the Allies are dropping tons of food west and southwest of the Zuider Zee.

Supposed to be a flak truce with the Germans, so no flak or AA guns.

So far, they have refused, but, hell, we’re flying anyway.

Egan wouldn’t let us ship it to your folks.

Kept saying, “I expect him back,” and “My”-[chuckles]

“My buddy’s just MIA.” [chuckles]

[Rosenthal] So, Major, operations was kind of hoping you wouldn’t mind flying on this mercy mission I was just telling you about.

Should be a milk run, but you can’t be sure what the Germans are gonna do.


Be nice to get behind the yoke again.

[clicks tongue, stammers]

So Bucky didn’t make the breakout with you, huh?

Uh, no. No, Bucky had to-He had to stay behind with the men.

He’s okay though, right?

Yeah, when do you ever know him not to be okay… [sniffs] …hmm?


[guard speaking German through speaker]

[Bucky] I’m guessing when this is all over, Alex,

they’ll probably send us home out of Marseille or Le Havre.

I can’t see ’em shipping us out of Merry Old England.

[prisoner 1] Hey, hey!

Macon, that’s a P-51.

[guards shouting in German]

[prisoner 2] It’s the Yanks!

[Alex] That’s a P-51.

[gunmen shouting in German]

[prisoner 3] Here they come!

[gunmen shouting in German]

[prisoners cheering]


He’s coming back.

He’s coming back!

[prisoners clamoring] Down! Get down!

[prisoners cheering]

Yeah! [laughs] Come on!

[cheering continues]

All right, we’re going home!

Come on!


[gunmen shouting in German]

[prisoners clamoring]

[prisoner 4] Everybody down!

[gunmen shouting in German]

[prisoner 4] Move! Get out of the way!

[clamoring, shouting]

Fellas! Take out the tower!


[speaks German, grunts]

[prisoner 5] Buckle, Kraut!

Hey, guys, you got a flag? Who’s got the flag?

[prisoner 6] No flag, sir.

You got a flag in here?

No flag, sir!

Flag! No flags at all, huh?

No flag.

No flag at all?

Get our flag!

[Alex] Hey, hey, you got a flag?

I’ve got it! Here.


Here it is.


Help me up! Help me up!

Don’t shoot.

Give me one reason.

Stay reasonable.

[prisoners cheering]

[prisoner 7] We’re going home!


[prisoner 8] How does it feel, huh?

[cheering continues]


Yeah! Take that thing down!

[prisoner 9] Go, Bucky!

Bucky! Come on. Yeah!

[cheering continues]

[prisoner 10] Yeah! Tear it up!

[prisoner 11] Yeah! Do it! Tear it up!

[cheering, laughing]

All right, Bucky!

[cheering, laughing continues]


[prisoner 12] USA!


[cheering stops]

Colonel, the camp and the village are yours.

I will hand over my men, disarmed, in 30 minutes.


[prisoners cheering]

Colonel Clark, let’s get ’em back.


[cheering continues]



[sighs] Some gum, D-bars, and, hey, look at this.

First fresh oranges we’ve seen in months. Probably years for the Dutch.


Oh, Major.



Let’s go feed some people.

Yes, sir. Sounds good.


I hope you don’t mind, but I usually take the left seat.

Well, always actually. [chuckles]

I’ll get the general on the phone.


No, I’m just kidding you. [sighs]

It’s an honor.

Ready preflight checks?

Never readier.

[inhales sharply] Form 1A?


Controls and the seats?


[Crosby] Ken?

[Crosby, Douglass grunt]

The hell you doing here?

A hundred bucks says you can’t think of a better flight engineer.

Plus, well, I thought he’d get a kick out of actually flying in one of these things.

You’ve never flown in a plane before?

No, sir.



[Lemmons] Never.

I took a boat over here in ’43 and then, well, I never had a reason to fly.


Start one.

[engine starting]

[Buck] How’s the view, Kenny?


[Buck] It’s something, ain’t it?

Navigator to pilot, coming around to 090, over.

Pilot to navigator, roger.

Here we go.

Get ready, everybody.

Approaching Valkenburg.

[grunts, breathes heavily]

Feel free to say a little prayer that they don’t open fire on us, if you’re so inclined.

Looks like we’re good, boys.

Germans decided to honor the truce.


Smart Krauts.

[Douglass] Hey, look at this.

[citizens shouting, cheering in Dutch]

You can see ’em.

[cheering continues]

Drop on your best guess, Doug.

Roger that, Major.

Bomb bay doors opening.

Crates away.

[citizens clamoring]

There you go. We did it.

[speaking Dutch, gasps]

Hey, look, look.

“Thanks, Yanks.”

Look at that.

Clearup Tower, this is Chowhound One requesting landing instructions. Over.

[tower] Chowhound One, you are clear for overhead approach.

Runway 281 at 1,200 indicated.

Winds are 300 at 12.

Altimeter, 29.96. Over.

Clearup Tower, please repeat. Over.

Oh, you heard me the first goddamn time, Gale.

Well, I’ll be damned.

[Bucky shouts]

[horn honks]

Look who it is.

Stone in my shoe.

[laughs] Oh, I’m back.

[Buck chuckles]

How’s it feel being back up there?

Felt good.

[Crosby] Look who’s back.


John Egan.

How are ya?

Very good, sir.

Pleasure to see you.

You too.

Not still throwing up, are ya?

[chuckles] No.

Good to have you back.

Kenny, how are ya?

Rosie, what a pleasure. Nice to see you. How are ya?

[Crosby] We made a few of those supply drops in the last days of the war.

And then, one day…

[Winston Churchill] Yesterday morning at 2:41 a.m. at General Eisenhower’s headquarters…

[Crosby] …It was over.

[Winston Churchill] …General Jodl, the representative of the German High Command, and of Grand Admiral Dönitz, the designated head of the German State, signed the act of unconditional surrender of all German land, sea and air forces in Europe to the Allied Expeditionary Force and simultaneously to the Soviet High Command.

Hostilities will end officially at one minute after midnight tonight, Tuesday, the 8th of May.

But in the interest of saving lives, the cease-fire began yesterday to be sounded all along the front and our dear Channel Islands.

[upbeat jazz music playing]

[cheering, laughing, clamoring]

[exclaims, chuckles]

Right. Hey, hey, come here! Get her–

One more, please!

[soldiers cheering, laughing]

Drink up, fellas. We’re heading home.

[soldiers cheering]

[soldier 1] Light it up!

[soldier 2 cheering] Yeah! We’re going home, baby!

[soldier 3] We did it, fellas!





Close it up, boys.

Let’s go.

[Crosby] At first, it felt unreal, impossible, unimaginable.

And then, inevitable.

We were going home.

Your ride awaits, Major.

[Crosby] All of us.

I had a wife to see.

Thanks, buddy.

[Crosby] A son.

A life to start.

I better see you at Minton’s when I get back.

Oh, I’ll be there.

You can bring the little guy.


You want me to bring my infant son to a jazz club?

Hey, it’s never too early. [chuckles]

You’re gonna be a hell of a father, Croz.

You think?

I know.

[grunts, sighs]


[kid] They won!

[laughing, cheering continues]


[groans] This is it.

[Bucky] This is it.

You ready to go home?

You ready to see Marge?


[both chuckle]

I bet.

Form 1A?


Controls and seats?


[Bucky] Fuel transfer valves and switch?


Leaving a lot of good men behind.

A lot of brave men.


Intercoolers cold.

[ground crew cheering]

Gear up.

[cheering continues]

[Crosby] On occasion, the world must confront itself, answer what we are with who we are.

I was going home.

I just wished more of us were.


[kid] We’ll miss you. Bye-bye!

Bye for now! Bye-bye!


[ground crew cheering]

[cheering continues]

All right.

[Buck] All right. This is it.




Here we come.

Landing gear up.


[chuckles] Climb power.

[cowbells chime]


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