Off We Go...Down in Flame is the story of a WWII bombardier in the air over Europe as a prisoner of war in Romania. Among the many photographs is one of the author's aircraft, SHILAY-LEE, going down in flame over the Danube.
He weaves a gripping story of his capture and imprisonment and the tedium and humor of prison life. One of the humorous episodes chronicles an ill-fated attempt, along with an Australian pilot, to escape from the prison. Almost a full year before the war's end, Altvater and approximately 1200 other Allied prisoners were dramatically rescued and returned to their bases in Italy.
The author tells of his childhood in the Great Depression in New Jersey with immigrant parents: his father, a chemist from Germany, and his mother, a Jew from Hungary. To escape domestica strife, he walked lonely miles to the Newary airport to look at the airplanes. His coming of age years, following his father's death, are also a good read.
This is no flag-waving book. There's no glory here. It tells the story of a badly burned bombardier, parachuting into a field in ememy territory, and finding the morphine styrette missing from his first-aid kit.
Altvater concludes his story with his views, at age 82, on the "insanity of war."