Two years later he began his life as a co-pilot of a B-17 Flying Fortress, flying high over Germany and bombing cities far below.
In his moving memoir of that time Stiles takes you right to the heart of life as a young bomber pilot in World War Two; the terror of being under fire from flak and German planes, the disillusionment in their mission, the thoughts of girls back home and those they’d met on their travels, the dreams of the future and the overwhelming tiredness that hung over every member of the crew.
“A book of terrific impact. Perhaps the best to come out of World War II.” The Philadelphia Inquirer
“The serenade is a simple and moving story of the war in the air. The big bird was a Flying Fort. She had a crew of ten men and all but one of them were 20 to 24 years old. … They went out on missions together into Germany from England. They ran into flak and had the daylights scared out of them, and burned out their guns shooting down 109’s and Focke-Wulfs. They dropped bombs on Berlin and other cities, and hated war, and did not like to think what their bombs had done.” The New York Times
Bert Stiles was a student at Colorado College in 1942 when he joined the American Army Air Force. He received his commission in November, 1943, and went overseas to Great Britain in March, 1944. He was awarded the Air Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross and was a veteran of thirty-five bomber missions. Instead of returning to America when leave was due to him, he requested to be transferred to fighters. On November 26, 1944, he was shot down in a P-51 on an escort mission to Hanover. He died at the age of 23.