Summary: There is a lot of debate about Faith vs. Works, but when we look at God's word we see Faith and works are combined. We cannot have faith without works, because faith is an action word. This lesson explores this concept through the Lady Be Good.
Opening Story; The Lady Be Good
The year 1942 was a dark day of World War II. Britain under Churchill stood alone against Adolf Hitler. The United States under Roosevelt was in the process of mobilizing. Churchill’s labour deputy Prime Minister said, “Our Prime Minister wins every debate and loses every battle.” Things were not going good.
Germany was moving towards Moscow, Germen subs were clobbering Allied shipping, and German bombs continued to rain down on Britain. In North Africa the British 8th army was in retreat. The effort in North Africa was so bad that Churchill flew to North Africa and purged his generals and installed a new general who was shot down and killed on his flight to Africa. Churchill then installs his last choice for the general to lead the African effort. On August 7th, General Bernard Law Montgomery took the helm of the African effort. Then on Sept 2, 1942 General Montgomery drove back Rommel in the Battle of Alam Halfa. General Montgomery and the Allies wins a victory at El Alamein during Operation Supercharge. Churchill later said “Before Alamein we never had a victory; after Alamein, we never had a defeat.”
1941 and 42 were also challenging days for the US. On December 7th 1941 Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and then on December 8th US enters the war and declares war on Japan. Then on December 11th Germany declares war on the United States. On August 17th, 1942 the first all-American air attack in Europe took place.
Crews were hard to find to fill US war planes so the Air Corps began recruiting from the ranks of teenagers. Wings were given to HS graduates as young as 18! So sever was the shortage of pilots, pilot training courses were cut to just 7.5 months. The US started sending B-24 Liberators into Northern Africa in increasing numbers to be in position for bombing runs into Europe. On a very special day, March 25th, 1943 a B-24 arrives in Soluch, Libya from Topeka Kansas and a few days later was named “The Lady Be Good.” A nine man crew just in from America was assigned to the Lady be Good.
The crew was “older” and was called the pops crew by others at the base. The crew was made of these brave “old” men: Gunner Guy Shelley, 26; Bombardier John Woravka, 26; Copilot Robert Toner, 26; Pilot William Hatton, 25; Gunner Robert LaMotte, 25; Gunner Samuel Adams, 24; Navigator DP Hays, 23; Flight Engineer Harold Ripslinger, 22; and Flight Engineer Vernon Moore, 21.
These young “old” men’s first mission for the new plane and crew was on April 14th, 1943 to bomb Naples harbor on the west coast of Italy. The mission was a 25 plane high altitude daylight raid on Naples Italy without fighter escort. The Lady Be Good took off in a bad sand storm at 3:10pm on an 11 hour flight to Naples and back. The sever winds soon had the Lady Be Good separated from the rest of the bombers. The head winds slowed them down so they arrived at Naples at night long after the rest of the plans had dropped their bombs and headed home. It was 9 pm when she and her crew turned for home. Over six hours to their target, and they assumed around 6 hours back which would leave them coming into their base on an empty tank of fuel. The crew settled in for the long flight back. They should be home about 3 am, so they thought.
Just past midnight people heard the engines of the Lady Be Good as she flew over Benghazi and Soluch. Around midnight a voice message came in from Lt. William Hatton saying “My ADF has malfunctioned. Please give me a QDM.” No report was sent for fear it was a ploy. The ground crews did send up flares, but apparently the crew did not see them with the thick cloud cover. The plane ran out of fuel 442 miles past their base deep in the Sahara Desert. Running out of fuel the crew bailed out with floatation devices attached thinking they were going into the Mediterranean Sea. They had to be surprised when they landed in the sand.
The crew gathered and one was missing; John Woravka, the bombardier died when his shoot did not open. He was the lucky one. The crew walked 78 miles with one canteen of water before 5 of the crew could go no further. Leaving the 5, three men still thinking they had to be close to the base continued on to get help. Sargent Ripslinger made it another 26 miles or 104 miles total before laying down to die. Sargent Shelly made it another 10 miles. Vernon Moore’s body was never found and the plane and crew was never found throughout the war and many years after.