WW2 aircrew memorial
A LONG WAY FROM HOME. On Monday 19th June 1944, a formation of about 30 American B17 "Flying Fortress" bombers from the 379th Bombardment Group, was returning from a mission against a V1 launching site in Northern France. Most of them had taken hits, and quite a few of them were flying home with smoking engines, but one of them in particular had been very badly damaged by the German Flak. For the pilot of that aircraft, 2nd Lt. Armand John Ramacitti, this was his first combat mission. Flying close to his section leader, he was having a great deal of trouble flying his stricken bomber but they were now only about 15 minutes away from their base and he was determined they would make it. He had already lost one of his four engines; now, as the formation neared Allhallows in North Kent, another engine was giving up. Already desperately wrestling with the bomber's flak-blasted controls, that was the last thing he needed. Jockeying the throttles on his remaing engines, he was trying to somehow compensate for the dropping power when without warning, his B17 side-slipped sickeningly to Starboard, literally dropping out of his hands, and collided with the aircraft of his section leader. As the two planes separated, Ramacitti's aircraft turned upside down, lost its Port wing and went straight down into the muddy waters of the Thames Estuary. Only one of the nine crew members survived; the Bombardier 2nd Lt Theo Chronopolos. The plane crashed about 500 yards off the seafront at Allhallows. All but one of the crew's bodies were recovered. Only that of the Flight Engineer/Top Turret Gunner, Cecil Tognazzini, remains "missing"; more than likely still trapped in the wreckage of the bomber in the soft Thames mud. The section leader's plane came down at Canvey Point in Essex and six of the crew survived. There is a memorial to them at Canvey but Ramacitti and his crew have no such memorial where their plane crashed. This year is the 75th anniversary of the crash and it seems a fitting time to redress that situation in memory of those young airmen who gave their lives on their first mission. They never even had time to name their aircraft or to have their official crew photo taken. I think they deserve and are long overdue for, a lasting monument. I am a local Driving Instructor by trade, but I have written many newspaper and magazine articles. I have also written a total of four books since 2001, all modern history, all published. I started this campaign having recently researched the crash. I think it is high time those brave young airmen were recognised and properly remembered, not left forgotten. Haven Holidays own the ground that overlooks the crash site and have generously agreed to provide the site for a memorial and some help toward getting this project started. I am hoping that the public will also get behind it. Ramacitti and the crew of B17G serial 44-6133, are a long way from home. We cannot remedy that, but we can acknowledge their effort and remember their sacrifice.+ Read More
Haven Holiday Park just sent me a cheque for £250. A VERY big "Thank You" to them!!!
So what this is all leading up to is this: On Saturday June 22nd this year, at the Allhallows Holiday Park, we are having a day of comemmoration and celebration in honour of Ramacitti and the crew of B 17 44-6133. The memorial is due to be unveiled at 12 noon hopefully by a representative of the US Air Force. This will be attended by a Guard of Honour from a local air cadet squadron. The memorial will be dedicated by Rev. S Gwilt. TAPS will be played solo on a trumpet whilst this is performed and we hold a minute's silence. Then Medway Big Band will start playing in the Glenn Miller style and hopefully there will be some swing dancers too. There will be lots more going on and I will post further updates but ITV have promised coverage as have the local press. We are expecting around 3 to 4 THOUSAND people!!