Apple TV+’s ‘Masters of the Air’ transports the audience to the 1940s into the raging Second World War. The focus is on the members of the 100th Bomb Group, who fight the enemy at a height of around 25,000ft and risk getting shot down or crashing to death. While a lot of the show is focused on the battles that take place in the air, a lot of the men on those planes find themselves on the ground after the missions go awry. Sgt. William Quinn and Sgt. Charles K. Bailey are among the men who find themselves in unfamiliar territory and have to find a way to survive. What happens to them?
William Quinn and Charles Bailey Evaded Capture by the Nazis
The 100th bomb group embarked on a lot of risky missions, one of the deadliest of which was the Schweinfurt/Regensburg mission. The team suffered many casualties in the mission, including the loss of Lt. Curtis Biddick. While some men died in the crash, mostly because they couldn’t make their way out of the plane in time, there were others who safely landed on the ground, but that only posed more problems for them.
In ‘Masters of the Air,’ we witness the journey of Quinn and Bailey, who land somewhere in Belgium separately, and are reunited while being transported by the underground network. When Quinn is found by a family, they give him two options. Either, he can surrender himself and become a prisoner of war and have better chances of survival. Or, he can try to make his way back to England, but if he’s caught, he’ll most probably face death. Quinn chooses the latter.
Quinn’s journey was pretty close to what’s shown in the Apple TV+ series. After hassling with the parachute for a bit, Quinn managed to escape the plane that was about to nosedive. When he landed, he found someone waiting for him (most probably from the underground network who’d seen American pilots parachuting their way down). The man asked Quinn if he was okay and carried him to the woods when he saw the American couldn’t walk. Quinn sustained a minor injury on his neck, which remained sore for several weeks.
Bailey had a similar experience where he ended up at the door of the people who decided to help him instead of giving him up to the authorities. While the show pairs Quinn and Bailey together, things happened differently in real life. Both of them survived the journey and made it back to England, but it happened separately. Bailey returned sometime in early 1944, and after a brief visit home, by March 1944, he was back in England, ready to serve again. On the other hand, Quinn made it back to England in May 1944. Details remain scarce about what happened to Quinn after his return, but he did make it back home to America and had a full life following the war.
Charles “Kenny” Bailey returned home after the war to Wynnewood. He married a woman named Doris Jean and lived to the age of 85. He died on August 15, 2004, and is laid to rest at Hillcrest Memorial Park in Ardmore, Oklahoma. For his exemplary service, he was awarded the Medal of Oak Leaf for outstanding service during aeronautic combat.
‘Masters of the Air’ follows Quinn and Bailey’s journey to show another aspect of the life of the members of the 100th bomb group, many of whom had a similar experience to what Quinn and Bailey go through. Their character arc expands the scope of the story and presents the events closer to the true experience of many men who served during the Second World War.