A memorial service was held to mark the 75th anniversary of the first mission of an RAF bomb group that was based at Glatton airfield.
Members of the 457th Bomb Group Association, Sawtry History Society, the United States Air Force, and the Royal British Legion gathered at All Saints’ Church, in Conington, on February 24 to remember the men and women who served at the airfield during the Second World War.
The service and wreath-laying was followed by a visit to the home of the 457th Bomb Group, Station 130 Glatton Airfield.
The event was organised by Marilyn Gautreaux, of the Sawtry History Society and about 60 people attended. Vehicles from the Second World War were also on display.
A spokesman said the event was “well received” and well attended too.
The 457th Bomb Group entered combat just in time for ‘Big Week’.
In that operation, the 8th Air Force bombers were ordered to knock out German facilities, and were to be escorted by fighter planes.
On February 21, 1944, the 457th dispatched two forces under the command of Lt Col Henry B. Wilson. The ‘A’ group, made up of 19 aircraft, was sent to attack Gutersloh and the ‘B’ group of 17 aircraft were to hit Lippstadt.
The bombing results were said to have been poor, and the groups sustained their first aircraft and crew losses, their first two fatalities, and their first Distinguished Flying Cross. The Gutersloh group found only light resistance, but the Lippstadt group came under fighter attack.
Lt Lewellyn Bredeson was shot down on the bomb run, with most of the crew surviving to become prisoners.
Their tail gunner, William H. Schenkel, was killed in action, and became the group’s first fatality. The aircraft of Lt. Edward Dozier was extensively damaged in vicious fighter attacks, and remained under attack on the return.
Despite these attacks and increasing damage, Lt Dozier brought his aircraft home to a safe landing. Sgts Anderson and Kalb received credit for downing an enemy fighter, and Lt Dozier received the Distinguished Flying Cross. Lt Dozier’s radio operator, Sgt Seymour Pliss died that night of his wounds. He became the group’s second fatality.
To find out more about the bomb group, log on to www.457thbombgroupassoc.org. To find out more about Sawtry History Society, log on to www.sawtryhistorysociety.btck.co.uk.