REMEMBERING THE MEN OF 448TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP 1943 – 1945
THOSE WHO WENT HOME AND WHO WHO DID NOT
Today, Monday 25th May 2020, we of Station 146 Tower Association should have sent a delegation to the American Cemetery, Madingley, Cambridge, England to take part in the Memorial Commemoration service and to lay our wreath among all the others for members of the 448th Bombardment Group. We were also to have held our own commemoration service at the Old Control Tower at Seething, Norfolk, England. However, due to the present lockdown in the UK to minimise the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic we are unable to do either. Instead we are posting these thoughts on our web-site, we are pausing and remembering all those that served at RAF Seething/Station 146, 1943 to 1945, those that went home and those that did not.
Many of us are of the next generation to the veterans and we did not experience what these men went through, what they had to do or the horror that they witnessed in the line of duty. We can only read and listen to their experiences through their stories via books and films.
We at the Old Control Tower, which is a memorial museum principally to the 448th Bombardment Group, welcome all visitors but it is special when someone from a veteran’s family comes to visit us or contacts us.
We would like to share three events from 2019.
In three separate visits we met the nephew, great nephew and the niece of Sgt James Hammond Jr. James served in 715 Bomb Squadron and was a left waist gunner. Sadly, he lost his life on 3rd March 1945 when his B24 Liberator collided with another. James is buried in the American Cemetery in Limburg, Netherlands.
The next event was a visit by some family members of one of our veterans who had a rather usual story. Some of the Station 146 Tower Association and the Old Control Tower were to be highlighted in part of a film. The grandson of Frank S Thomas who was a Staff Sergeant in 713 Bomb Squadron was telling the story (or rather Station 146s part) of his grandfather’s war. On 13th July 1944 Frank and his fellow crew members took off from Seething airfield to take part in a mission. Their aircraft was hit by flak and damaged. As they were near the border of neutral Switzerland, they headed that way, bailed out of the stricken aircraft which later crashed. The crew were interned. The timing of the filming being carried out on 13th July 2019 was to carry out a symbolic return of the aircraft back to Seething after 75 years. This was achieved when our Chairman was presented with three small pieces of the aircraft which had been excavated by an aviation archaeology dig carried out in Switzerland.
We are very pleased to received emails from the families of our veterans. One recent one contained a story of a man named Tom Abraham. He was born in Iowa on 25 July 1919 and he enlisted to serve his country on 22 November 1940 into the Army Air Corps. He became a pilot with 713 Bomb Squadron. On 31st December 1943 on the 448th Bombardment Group’s fourth mission which was to La Rochelle, France the aircraft in which Tom and his crew were in sustained a direct hit from flak. The aircraft blew up and no parachutes were observed by the surrounding aircraft. Later it was established that eight men had lost their lives including Tom, however, two had escaped and were taken prisoners of war.
Today we pause and focus on men such as James, Frank and Tom. We think of the young men of the 448th Bombardment Group who gave their lives and their families great sadness. We also think of those who were interned or held in prisoner of war camps, of how they went back home and how they managed to put together a new life. Those who flew or those who served on the ground and how they managed to go home and put together their lives after all those horrible experiences. To remember their comrades and the close friendships which were born out of horror. This is the day we pause, remember and say thank you.
FOOTNOTE – At a later stage we will ‘put up’ more details about the men mentioned above.