Item:
ON7984

Original U.S. WWII B-24 WIA Lt. Marvin Gurwit 578th Bomb Squadron A-2 Flight Jacket

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Item Description

Original Item: One-of-a-kind. Distinguished Flying Cross recipient Second Lieutenant Marvin L. Gurwit (ASN O-685597) was a navigator on the B-24 Knuckle Head which was assigned to the 578th Bomb Squadron, 392nd Bomb Group, 8th Air Force during World War Two. The plane crash landed on April 27th, 1944 in shallow water off the coast of Westgate-Kent England, when 4 members of the crew were killed. The crash injured Lt. Gurwin. The story of the crash is told in detail on the B24 website which can be found at this link and reads:

27 APRIL 1944 - TARGET: CHALON-SUR-MARNE
MISSING AIRCREW REPORT: #05215 AIRCRAFT: #41-29509 "KNUCKLE HEAD" "A-Bar" 9th Mission
AIRCREW: WEINHEIMER    *    SQUADRON: 578th
CREW POSITIONS AND STATUS:

P   2/T  Weinheimer, Jacob (NMI) WIA - U.S. Control
CP  2/LT Marshall, George C.     WIA - U.S. Control
N   2/LT Gurwit, Marvin L.       WIA - U.S. Control
B   2/LT Ross, John A.           KIA
R/O T/S  Kent, Parke V.          POW
EnG S/S  Aughinbaugh, Clayton L. KIA
BT  SGT  Fink, Bernard (NMI)     KIA
WG  SGT  Rich, Nicholas R        KIA
WG  SGT  Munford, Ben (NMI)      KIA
TG  SGT  Duffy, Robert R.        WIA - U.S. Control

MISSION LOSS CIRCUMSTANCES: Returning debriefings gave an account that this aircraft had been hit by flak at 50-55N; 03-20E with one man bailing out over the Continent; the ship finally crashed landed just off-shore near Westgate-on-Sea, Kent, with 5 of the crew killed and 4 injured in the crash. The date of this final 392nd de-briefing account was 1 June 1944.

INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNTS OF CREWMEN FATES: In a report dated 9 March 1946, survivor and POW Sgt Kent gave the following account. "We took off from England about noon after a very quick briefing which only the Pilot and Navigator attended. I was flying as spare Radio Operator at the time and did not know any of crew members until that day. We bombed an airfield in France and were very near the French coast on our return trip when we were struck by flak. The plane started in a slow spin (and) the Co-Pilot left his position and started pulling off (his) flak suit and oxygen mask. The Engineer prepared to leave his position in the upper turret. It was my duty to clear the flight desk, open the flight deck doors and the bomb bays, which I did and stood waiting for orders. The plane was still dropping and the Engineer came out of his position trying to get his feet on the cat-walk where I was standing. In order to make room for him and for the Co-Pilot who had left his position, I was forced to bail out. I delayed opening my parachute for several thousand feet and then looked around expecting to see others about, but saw none nor could I see any plane going down. While a prisoner, I heard in a round-about-manner that the plane had kept on in a rather long coasting dive until it hit in the Channel a little way from the English shore; and that one man at least (had) survived the crash. I give you the above information with an open mind as it came to me from fellows who had been in the same outfit (392nd) as I, but might have been speaking of an entirely different case..." Sgt. Kent had given this account from his home then of Route #1, Charlotte, Vermont.

Pilot 2/Lt Jacob Weinheimer told his children many years later that intense and accurate flak had knocked out three engines. After he regained control from the resulting spin, the plane continued in a slow, descending glide. When he realized he couldn't nurse the plane to the emergency landing field at Manston, Weinheimer set it down 100 yards off the beach at St. Mildred's Bay near Margate, Kent, hoping that sand would make the landing a big smoother. Instead, the area was covered with limestone rock that ripped the bottom of the plane to shreds.

Tail gunner Sgt Robert R. Duffy later told his children that just before the flak hit the plane, an officer (probably the pilot) called him forward. Duffy always said that order saved his life. After the plane was hit, it "spun in," making it difficult to move about during the plane's descent. He thinks the oxygen tanks mounted directly forward of his tail turret exploded.

Some years later, navigator 2/Lt Gurwit wrote that their plane "was hit by German anti-aircraft fire over the French town of Dunquerke" at about 1800 hours. "Several of the crew were injured by the burst of flak in the left wing of the ship, including the writer. We immediately lost 8,000 feet of altitude, from 18,000 feet to 10,000 feet. The pilot regained control somehow.... Approximately 20 minutes later, 1820 hours, the plane hit the water 100 yards off the beach at the city of Ramsgate, England. The plane was completely destroyed from the impact, and four of the crew members were killed instantly due to the violence of the crash. At the moment we hit the water, the writer was behind the pilot on the left side of the flight deck and Sgt Duffy was next to the radio table on the right side of the flight deck.

"When the wreckage had settled in the shallow water, the Co-pilot, 2/Lt George Marshall, was the first to make any attempt to leave the wreck. He assisted the writer out through the escape hatch, and into the water. The pilot was pinned behind the control wheel, and obviously could not be removed without aid. Lt. Marshall then dragged Sgt Duffy onto the wing, where I observed him lying in a twisted attitude, as if dead, and completely unconscious. By the time the English soldiers waded out to aid us, Sgt Duffy had partly regained his senses, but was in great pain, and seemed unable to move his legs, or change the position of his back without crying out in pain. Lt. Marshall was the only uninjured member of the crew, and helped the English aid-men to free the pilot from the wreckage, and to remove Sgt. Duffy to the shore in a litter." English people watching from the Swan Inn pub and soldiers waded out to help rescue the survivors. The Margate lifeboat Lord Southborough was also launched to provide assistance.

Weinheimer's back and pelvis were broken as well as several ribs. Tail gunner Sgt Robert Duffy also suffered a broken back while navigator 2/Lt Marvin L. Gurwit's injuries were less severe. The three men were taken to an English hospital in Ramsgate; as soon as their condition was stabilized, they were transferred to the 77th Evacuation Hospital.

Officers Weinheimer, Marshall and Gurwit were all later awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for their efforts to save the plane and crew.

BURIAL RECORDS: The deceased were initially buried in Brookwood American Military Cemetery, about 30 miles southwest of London. The following members of this aircrew are now interred in the Cambridge American Cemetery: Ross (Grave E-4-85); Aughinbaugh (Grave C-1-3) and Rich (Grave E-4-5). Sgt Munford is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Durham, North Carolina, having been awarded an Air Medal. Sgt. Fink is interred in Wellwood Cemetery, Farmingdale, Long Island, New York. Ross and Aughinbaugh are shown to have been awarded the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Purple Heart.

NEXT OF KIN DATA IN WWII: Aughinbaugh (Mother, Lorena J., 3712 Buckly St., Indianapolis, Indiana); Rich (Mother, Dorothy, 15 South 54th Ave., West Duluth, Minnesota); Munford (Mother, Nellie, 506 Warren St., Durham, North Carolina); Fink (Father, 3908 Saurel Ave., Brooklyn, New York); Ross (Father, John A. Sr., 208 Woodworth Ave., Yonkers, New York).

Lt. Gurwit would later attempt to help his crew mate and friend Sgt Robert R. Duffy qualify for disability determination which the VA repeatedly declined. He wrote a letter describing the events of the mission on April 27th, 1944 a printed copy of which is included in the grouping. The story can be read at this link.

This A-2 flying jacket has fantastic features which include:

- Reverse of jacket features an 8th Air Force motif featuring a B-24 named RODDY superimposed on a cloud and wonderful blue winged 8th Air Force insignia. Multiple yellow bombs fall from the plane, appears to be 9 total which indicate successful missions.

- The left chest bears a rare hand painted leather 392nd Bomb Group insignia patch featuring a knight riding a bomb. Above the patch in hand painted script is the name M.L. GURWIT

- The right chest has an unknown insignia which we think signifies surviving a crash landing in the sea, this insignia can also be found on Sergeant Duffy's A-2 jacket.

- Left shoulder bears an embroidered 8th Air Force patch.

Overall condition of the jacket is excellent. Offered in a large size 40. The leather is still supple and does not have any major cracking or damage. The liner is original and the cuffs and waist band appear to be period correct replacements. The zipper is by TALON and fully functional. There is an original maker data tag which reads:
TYPE A-2
DRAWING No.30-1415
ORDER No.42018777-P
PROPERTY
AIR FORCE U.S. ARMY
AERO LEATHER CLO. CO.
BEACON, N.Y.

Also, written on the inside liner is the name LT. M.L. GURWIT along with laundry number G-5597.

Also included with this jacket:

- Glossy printed copy of a period photograph of the crashed B-17 #41-29509 "KNUCKLE HEAD"

- Glossy printed copy of a period photograph of Second Lieutenant Marvin L. Gurwit in uniform.

- Glossy printed copy of a letter Lt. Gurwin wrote on behalf of Sergeant Duffy to the VA.

- Glossy printed copy of the Missing Air Crew Report for the crash that occurred on April 27th, 1944.

A truly amazing A-2 jacket with wonderful hand painted art which has all been well documented from a recipient of the DFC who crash landed in April 1944.

The 392nd Bomb Group flew B-24 Liberators out of Wendling, Norfolk from August 1943 until April 1945. They were the first Group to be given B-24H Liberators, the first B-24 model that was fitted with a nose turret on the production line, an adaptation that increasing the ability of crews to fight enemy aircraft flying head on with the bomber. The Group was awarded one Distinguished Unit Citation for bombing an aircraft and components factory at Gotha on 24 February 1944, as part of the Big Week of assaults on German aircraft targets. After the invasion of mainland Europe the Group supported the airborne invasion of Holland and assault across the Rhine by Allied paratroops.
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