08.01.1945 No. 65th Fighter Squadron, 57th Fighter Group P47D 42-29315 2nd Lt. Bonnici
Date: 8th January 1945 (Monday)
Unit: No. 65th Fighter Squadron, 57th Fighter Group
Type: P47D Thunderbolt
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.
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.
Readers may find Gerald Schwartz's account of life in Italy with the 57th Group completely enthralling. The Editors certainly did!