After 19-month search, Italian researcher could have situated misplaced aircraft of lacking WWII airman

, After 19-month search, Italian researcher could have situated misplaced aircraft of lacking WWII airman


Seventy-seven years in the past, on Dec. 17, 1944, U.S. Military Air Pressure 2nd Lt. Elwood “Woody” Lawson of Escondido flew his P-47 Thunderbolt out of Pisa, Italy, on an early-morning bombing run with three of his squadron mates from the 350th Fighter Group. Twenty-five minutes later, the 22-year-old airman disappeared from the sky with out a hint and was finally declared killed in motion over the Ligurian Sea.

Now, an Italian aeronautic researcher who has spent the previous 19 months conducting interviews and gathering historic and household data has accomplished a report on what he believes occurred to Lawson that cloudy December morning, and the place he believes Lawson’s aircraft — together with the flyer’s stays — now rests on the seabed, simply off the coast of La Spezia, Italy.

Claudio Mischi, 60, of Mantua, Italy, mentioned he’s assured within the accuracy of his analysis about Lawson and the flyer’s ultimate mission, however he’s not practically glad.

“Not discovering the wreck of that aircraft was an incredible disappointment for me,” Mischi mentioned in an e-mail interview. “Contained in the cockpit of the aircraft there could also be some human stays belonging to Elwood Lawson, whose physique has by no means been discovered. It was my intention to take house what’s left of the boy, if he actually is down there. However, typically, not every thing works the best way you need it to.”

, After 19-month search, Italian researcher could have situated misplaced aircraft of lacking WWII airman

{A photograph} of World Conflict II pilot Elwood Lawson of Escondido, whose airplane was shot down over Italy on Dec. 17, 1944. His physique was by no means discovered.

(Glenda Lawson)

However even when Mischi was not capable of finding Lawson’s aircraft, getting a replica of Mischi’s 44-page report has been a pleasant chapter-closer for Ben Georgeson, 62, whose late father was Lawson’s cousin.

Rising up within the Fresno-area city of Kermin, Georgeson mentioned he idolized Lawson, who was recognized to his household as “Billy,” however amongst his flying buddies as “Woody.” When Georgeson grew up, he adopted in Lawson’s footsteps and have become a pilot within the California Air Nationwide Guard. After befriending a few of Lawson’s fellow flyers years later, Georgeson was inducted as an honorary member of Lawson’s 345th Squadron, referred to as the Satan Hawks. One among Lawson’s greatest buddies within the squadron was Lloyd Martin, who was shot down over Belgium and brought prisoner. He died in 2011.

“Lloyd mentioned Woody was a enjoyable man who was all the time proper in the course of every thing,” mentioned Georgeson, 62, in a current cellphone interview. “Lloyd wasn’t flying that day however he mentioned ‘the worst day of the battle was the day Woody went lacking. The second worst day was once I received shot down and have become a POW.’ It was a tragic factor however that’s a part of the deal. You by no means know when your quantity goes to be up.”

, After 19-month search, Italian researcher could have situated misplaced aircraft of lacking WWII airman

An announcement on the disappearance of two P-47 planes on Dec. 17, 1944, together with that of U.S. Military Air Corps 2nd Lt. Elwood Lawson of Escondido.

(Claudio Mischi)

For the previous 20 years, Mischi has been researching World Conflict II plane and writing about Allied pilots who died in air battles over Northern Italy throughout World Conflict II. Mischi spent 43 years as a metalworker earlier than retiring in 2018. Since then, he has has devoted himself full time to analysis. His writing has been revealed in a e book, historical articles and on WWII-related web sites. He has researched and written the tales of greater than 100 air crashes. A significant space of his curiosity has been telling the tales of the aviators of about 80 planes shot down in 1944 and 1945 in Northern Italy’s Po Valley, the place he lives.

Mischi mentioned he realized about Lawson’s disappearance in Might 2020 whereas studying an unclassified lacking air crew report concerning the 1944 incident. 4 P-47s left Pisa that morning at 9:30 a.m. with the aim of dropping incendiary bombs on a German anti-aircraft battery dug right into a seaside cliff at Punta Bianca, which is between two small cities within the province of La Spezia, about 50 miles north of Pisa.

In response to the Military report and Mischi’s analysis, the 4 planes touring north in a line encountered heavy hearth from German weapons and broke off their bombing run by turning over the ocean to move again. The lead pilot testified that by the point his aircraft emerged from the clouds, the third and fourth planes of their formation had been lacking and so they by no means returned to base. Within the third aircraft was Lt. Robert G. Johnson, whose physique was later recovered and buried close to Florence, Italy. Lawson is believed to have gone down along with his aircraft within the sea.

Lawson was a junior pilot on solely his thirteenth mission that day. In addition to his inexperience, he was in essentially the most harmful place, flying fourth within the formation.

“The fellows in No. 1 and a pair of had been extra skilled than Billy and Johnson. The lead pilot led the best way in, he might need been there quite a lot of occasions. The additional again within the formation you might be, the extra time they’ve to coach their weapons on you. ‘Tail-end Charlie’ is the worst place to be,” Georgeson mentioned.

, After 19-month search, Italian researcher could have situated misplaced aircraft of lacking WWII airman

Elwood “Billy” Lawson photographed through the Nineteen Thirties in Escondido.

(Glenda Lawson)

In response to Georgeson and one other descendant, Glenda Lawson, Elwood “Billy” Lawson was born in Escondido on Dec. 7, 1922, to oldsters William Lawson and Bertha Mae Cozell, who separated when he was 5 years previous. For a couple of years, Billy and his youthful brother, William, lived with Georgeson’s grandmother, Mae, in Imperial County earlier than returning to Escondido by 1930 to stay with their father and new stepmother. He graduated from Escondido Excessive College in 1941 and in June 1942 joined the Military. After greater than two years of flight coaching within the U.S., he shipped abroad to Italy.

He had solely been stationed at Pisa a couple of month when he took off on that fateful mission. A few 12 months after his aircraft disappeared, the Military lastly declared him lifeless.

Georgeson mentioned that earlier than Billy shipped out in 1944, he assured Mae Georgeson, who he known as “Gran,” that he would return. Even when he was declared lacking, Lawson advised Gran he would use his survival abilities to make his means house finally. Georgeson mentioned it was a promise she clung to till the Nineteen Eighties when she obtained Lawson’s Purple Coronary heart and Air Medals within the mail.

, After 19-month search, Italian researcher could have situated misplaced aircraft of lacking WWII airman

Elwood Lawson photographed throughout his yearbook at Escondido Excessive College in 1941.

(Courtesy of Glenda Lawson)

When she lastly received the bag with the medals she mentioned, ‘Oh Billy, you’re by no means coming house, are you?’ ”

Throughout his analysis final 12 months on the disappearance of the 2 P-47 planes, Mischi made a breakthrough when he tracked down Turiddo Marciasini, 86, who was an eyewitness to the 1944 incident. On that morning, the 10-year-old Turiddo was in a piazza at Castelnuovo Magra along with his aunt, a couple of miles northeast of the shoreline, when he noticed 4 Allied planes fly over the German gun battery and he heard gunfire. He noticed the planes rapidly flip towards the ocean, the final two trailing smoke and flames. Then he noticed these planes descend and drop rapidly beneath the sting of the shoreline, southwest of the native landmark referred to as the Fiat Tower in Marina di Massa.

, After 19-month search, Italian researcher could have situated misplaced aircraft of lacking WWII airman

Primarily based on eyewitness testimony, the P-47s flown by Elwood Lawson and three different pilots on Dec. 17, 1944, descended from the sky close to level 1, had been struck by German weapons at level 2 and two of the planes crashed into the Ligurian sea at level 3, killing Lawson and one other American pilot.

(Claudio Mischi)

Mischi interviewed fishermen within the space who maintain detailed maps of the seabed to keep away from entangling their trawling nets with underwater obstacles corresponding to wrecked planes and boats. Primarily based on accounts from Marciasini and aged native fishermen, a World Conflict II aircraft is believed to be situated at that location, about 7 kilometers off the coast at a depth of 15 to 16 meters. An preliminary search by volunteer divers earlier this 12 months yielded nothing, however Mischi mentioned skilled divers or U.S. Protection Division restoration groups could have higher luck. Anybody who will help within the seek for Lawson’s aircraft can e-mail Mischi at [email protected].

Mischi mentioned there are nonetheless 1000’s of lacking U.S. Military Air Pressure aviators from World Conflict II. Assembly the households of those flyers and telling their tales has been probably the most rewarding experiences of his life.

“It’s all the time an incredible accountability handy over these occasions of a few years in the past to historical past. Tales of life and loss of life, of struggling, unknown or forgotten tales — I feel I couldn’t do higher than that,” he mentioned. “I’m not completed but. I’ll by no means cease discovering new planes and new tales to inform.”

, After 19-month search, Italian researcher could have situated misplaced aircraft of lacking WWII airman

An article revealed Jan. 15, 1945, within the Occasions-Advocate newspaper in Escondido about Elwood Lawson’s aircraft going lacking.



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