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Brightwood Boys, The History of the Men from the North End of
Springfield, Massachusetts, During World War II
by Christopher P. Montagna



In the skies over Europe the men of the Army Air Force fought the greatest air war in history.  By the summer of 1944, the Allied forces had decimated the German Luftwaffe.  Allied air crews owned the skies and seemingly roamed the skies at will.  On July 13, 1944, Bert Sitek squeezed into the ball turret of his B-17 bomber and flew his first bombing mission.   The plane was among 700 bombers that left England in route to Munich. The target for the day was the Allach aero engine works.


The Boeing B-17, along with the Consolidated B-24, was one of the primary long range bombers of the Eighth Air Force.  The United State Army Air Corps, soon to be named the Army Air Force, had several Heavy Bomb Groups stationed across Great Britain.  The 457th Heavy Bomb Group was composed of four squadrons based at Glatton Airfield in Huntingdonshire.


Crewmen from the 457th Bomb GroupOn the Munich raid, the bombers of the 457th encountered no German fighter planes but did have to maneuver through accurate flak thrown up by the German defenses.  The 457th delivered its bombs on the engine works with good results.   After the bombing, the planes returned to England without difficulty.   During the raid, no planes were lost and only a handful of aircraft received minor damage. Bert Sitek had survived his first mission over hostile enemy territory.  Bert would complete 31 combat missions as a ball turret and tail gunner with the 749th Squadron of the 457th Bomb Group.