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Archive Report: US Forces
1941 - 1945

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.

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USAAF Crest
08.01.1945 No. 65th Fighter Squadron, 57th Fighter Group P47D 42-29315 2nd Lt. Bonnici

Operation: Patrol

Date: 8th January 1945 (Monday)

Unit: No. 65th Fighter Squadron, 57th Fighter Group

Type: P47D Thunderbolt

Serial: 42-29315

Code: Not known

Base: Grosseto Italy

Location: Grosseto Airfield, Italy

Pilot: 2nd Lt. Harold P."Skitch" Bonnici 0-778004 USAAF Age 22. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Harold Bonnici was born in San Francisco on the 25th June 1922. He trained as a Pilot with the USAAF at Lemoore Army Air Field, California. Lt. Harold P."Skitch" Bonnici was a new pilot in the 65th Fighter Squadron.

On the morning of 8th January 1945 he was at the controls of a Republic P-47D Thunderbolt (42-29315), part of a mission departing from Grosseto Airfield, Italy. His aircraft had a layer of frost on the wings which had not been removed.

On take-off, with full combat load, his aircraft barely made it off the end of the 5'000 foot runway. Although airborne he was unable to gain sufficient altitude and struck an earth embankment approximately 10 feet high off the departure end of the airfield and the aircraft exploded, killing the Pilot instantly. He is buried in the Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno, San Mateo County, California. 2nd. Lt. Bonnici was awarded a posthumous Air Medal for his participation in an attack on Verona rail yard on the 3rd January 1945 when, despite accurate anti-aircraft fire, he successfully bombed and damaged the railway tracks, destroyed a locomotive and damaged several railroad cars.

Burial details:

2nd Lt. Harold P."Skitch" Bonnici. Golden Gate National Cemetery, California. Plot: K BLK: 162. Next of kin details not available - are you able to assist?

Researcher Michel Beckers for Aircrew Remembered - August 2016. Grave photograph courtesy of Tom Brocher, others the Michel Beckers collection.

MB - 28.08.2016

Acknowledgments: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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Last Modified: 28 August 2016, 18:41