Earlier this year, I researched and posted information about all of the men of the 384th Bomb Group that are still listed as missing in action. One of the accounts was this:
June 25, 1943
Charles Earl Crawford (ball turret gunner) and John R. Way (pilot). The Way crew was on its very first mission. They were aboard Miss Deal and the target was the industrial area and submarine pens of Hamburg, Germany. Comments on the sortie report states that:
After making two unsuccessful runs on the primary target, the crew headed for Emden as a likely target for their bomb load. The flak guns found them, inflicting serious damage and injuries – then they ran into fighters. A furious running battle ensued, with some crew members bailing out, and finally the aircraft exploded. The main part of the wreckage came down in the dollard (Dutch: dollart), an embayment of the Ems River on the border between Germany and the Netherlands.
Six of the crew became POW. Two bodies were recovered. The bodies of Crawford and Way were never recovered. Crawford and Way are listed on the Tablets of the Missing at Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten, The Netherlands.
Charlie Crawford’s nephew, Tony Crawford, is the author of a book detailing much more about the crash and about the role of the 384th Bomb Group and the 8th Air Force in WWII. Tony’s story is backed by an immense amount of research, sifting through mounds of old documents and letters, and interviews with 384th Bomb Group veterans and family members.
I have a very personal interest in Tony’s book as my dad was also a member of the 384th Bomb Group. I have recently started reading 25 June 1943 MIA The Search for Miss Deal and The Early Raiders on The Reich and find it hard to put down as every page reveals a bit more information about the 384th Bomb Group and what life must have been like in WWII for my dad and the other men of the group. I am finding it a fascinating read.
For those interested in hearing more of the story of Charlie Crawford and the Way crew, 25 June 1943 MIA The Search for Miss Deal and The Early Raiders on The Reich by Tony Crawford is available on Amazon.com here.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2016