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Anthony Witzkowski

1943 - 1957

Air Force

Rank

Tony's Tour of Duty
by Nephew Ben Witt,

Based upon information provided by Tony's crew pilot and mission descriptions, we have a fairly good idea of his WWII experiences.

Tony was the co-pilot of a B-24 Liberator, Wolf Pack, and part of a crew designated as Crew 27. Crew 27 was a member of the first thirty-two plane convoy to leave Sioux City, Iowa on November 11, 1943 - destination: Seething, England. After an eight-hop trip, Wolf Pack was among the first six planes to arrive in Seething on November 24th. Wolf Pack was then assigned to another crew. Crew 27 got a new B-24 Liberator that was named Tondelayo.

The airfield at Seething had three runways arranged in a crisscross triangle. Two were 1,400 yards long and the third was 2,000 yards. Men were housed in huts built outside of the airfield. The huts were barely heated by coal burning stoves. Transportation to and from the airfield was by bicycle or foot power.

In a document written by Patricia Everson, Crew 27 Pilot, Jack Barak, implied that the same crew members were together for all thirty-one missions with only one minor injury to the navigator. Although the mission list documents only named the pilots, I believe it is likely that Tony flew on the same missions as Jack Barak.
Crew 27 flew its first mission on December 30, 1943 and its second on January 4, 1944. The first challenge to the crews was to assemble a plane formation to transverse to the bombing site. The second challenge was to locate the bombing site which was difficult given the technology of the time. The early missions of the 448th were very difficult because of weather conditions and inexperience in all aspects of conducting wartime operations. In addition, there was very strong German resistance in the air as well as antiaircraft capability on the ground during this period of the war. Barak states, "We lost about a third of the first group (crews that arrived in Seething) in the first ten missions. The group stood down for several days for new crews, planes and training."

Mission targets for the 448th were located in both France and Germany. Seven missions targeted German v-1 missile sites under construction. V-1 missiles were intended for London blitz bombing. Of the recorded thirty-one missions, three were scrubbed because of mechanical difficulties or recall. Bombs were not dropped on four missions because of bad weather. On the other hand, there were times when crews were assembled and sent off, only to be immediately recalled. These flights were not counted as missions flown.

On April 22, 1944, Tondelayo and Crew 27 crashed on the Seething airstrip. The American formation was returning to England and several German fighter planes infiltrated the group and followed them back to home base. The German planes strafed the airfield making landing difficult. Because of fuel limitations, it became imperative to land and the American planes began to use one of the shorter runways. Two planes were unable to stop and the Tondelayo was third in line. The collision of the three planes resulted in severe damage to all three but no serious injuries to the crews. The Tondelayo was repaired and subsequently used for target practice. Crew 27 never flew her again.

Crew 27 flew thirty-one missions. Tondelayo was theirs for twelve and ten different planes for the remaining nineteen. Their last three sorties were on consecutive days six days before D-Day, June 6, 1944. Their span of service at Seething was a bit over six months.

Patricia Everson remembers the social and community events of the time. The 448th had parties for the children during the holidays. Americans shared their rations with English families who had no access to many delicacies, such as chocolate. She also compiled a register of marriages that took place between 448th men and local women. It was certainly a time when everyone was seeking and providing comfort in wartime.

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