Skip to main content
Edit entry 

John S Anusewicz

Military

John was 18 when he joined up. He became an armourer with the 48th Fighter Group of the Ninth Air Force. He was responsible for preparing P-47 Thunderbolts before they took off on missions from their temporary airfields in France. ‘I know when you are first in action, we are all gung-ho, we want to be heroes. But you learn a lot when you see actual deaths and all the devastation. You grow up a lot quicker.’ John later retired to Hawaii.

His brother was already in the Army and John was keen to join him so, aged 18, he volunteered letting his mother think he had been drafted. For basic training he was sent to Miami Beach, one of the 10,000 men assembled there, and where he signed up to be a sheet metal worker. He was then posted to a base in Denver Colorado in that role he assumed but, on arrival, was informed that he was now an armourer.

He started his training as a turret specialist on the B-17 and B-24 but, having graduated on bombers, was sent on to a fighter unit. '15000 dollars wasted on training that I wasn't going to use'. The next step was learning how to take machine guns apart blindfolded, working first on P-40's in Tennessee then on to Mississippi. Finally to South Carolina where 'we saw our first P-47' and where they got their training to go overseas. Crossing the Atlantic on the Queen Mary was no picnic '15000 GIs where there should have been 1500', 24 men to a cabin doing turnabout, 12 in bed, 12 on deck then swapping around. Everybody was seasick as the ship sped across unescorted.

From the base he was sent to in England he could see the lights of raids over London but they were never themselves attacked; the only danger coming from their own planes landing with an unexploded bomb. Problems also arose when pilots kept their hands on the machine-gun triggers for too long causing 'burn-outs' which involved a lot of work for the ground crews. Living on K-Rations was bearable but when the kitchens caught up with them half the men went down with dysentery - caused by large numbers of men 'washing' mess tins in the same dirty water...

John seems to have encountered very few English people. They lived in Quonset huts and used bikes to get to the airfield some distance away. He inadvertently bought a stolen bike but managed to avid the 'bobbies' who came looking for it! They were flown to France on D-Day plus 6 as a support unit building air-strips. He went through St Lo and was appalled by the sight and stench of dead bodies, German and civilian. Shortly afterwards while in support of General Hodges he did actually seen Patton once - complaining about lack of air support. Anusewicz's unit was caught up in the Battle of the Bulge, when aircraft were grounded for weeks because of the weather and the Germans subsequently broke through on that front. 'We had to pack up and pull the tents down and the planes were ready for take-off... but it was too late and we were surrounded'. Effectively prisoners but providentially three days later Patton's tanks broke through. He did go on into North Western Germany in the area of Koblenz and remembers Germans spitting on them as they walked by, and in any case there was an official policy of non-collaboration. He also recalls in 1945 encountering very young men - 13 and 14 year olds he says - flying Messerschmitts after only six hours training. The two 14 year-olds they took prisoner after being shot down were very arrogant and spat in their faces.

He remained in Germany for three months following V-E Day, not technically part of the occupation force and under- occupied. Finally they were sent to Marseilles to take ship for Okinawa, at which point the second atomic bomb was dropped and the war effectively at an end. Post war - says Anusewicz- he never wanted to talk about it. When you are 18 and 'gung-ho' life has a different perspective, but in a war you grow up very quickly. He didn't know what to do following discharge and got married to provide some stability in his life.

Service

Units served with

  • 48th Fighter Group

    48th Fighter Group

    Group
    The Group moved to England in March 1944 and were stationed at Ibsley where the pilots trained in P-47s in preparation for the Allied invasion of Normandy. The wartime motto was in Latin 'vulneratus non victus' (Unconquered even though wounded). ...

  • 492nd Fighter Squadron
  • 9th Air Force

Associated Place

Events

Event Location Date

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
08 January 2019 05:51:34 John Anusewicz Changes to media associations
Sources

family collection, John S. Anusewicz

Date Contributor Update
08 January 2019 05:44:23 John Anusewicz Changes to media associations
Sources

family collection, John S. Anusewicz

Date Contributor Update
08 January 2019 05:39:58 John Anusewicz Changes to service number
Sources

WD AGO Form 53/55 - John S. Anusewicz

Date Contributor Update
08 January 2019 05:14:54 John Anusewicz Changes to unit associations
Sources

WD AGO Form 53/55 - John S. Anusewicz

Date Contributor Update
08 January 2019 05:10:21 John Anusewicz Changes to role
Sources

WD AGO Form 53/55 - John S. Anusewicz

Date Contributor Update
08 January 2019 04:36:16 John Anusewicz Changes to service number
Sources

WD AGO Form 53 /55, John S. Anusewicz

Date Contributor Update
08 January 2019 04:28:25 John Anusewicz Changes to media associations
Sources

Family collection, John S. Anusewicz

Date Contributor Update
08 January 2019 04:18:45 John Anusewicz Changes to media associations
Sources

Family collection, John S. Anusewicz

Date Contributor Update
08 January 2019 03:27:47 John Anusewicz Changes to media associations
Sources

family collection, John S. Anusewicz

Date Contributor Update
08 January 2019 02:39:36 John Anusewicz Changes to middlename
Sources

Family

Date Contributor Update
07 January 2019 17:49:58 John Anusewicz Changes to media associations
Sources

family collection, John S. Anusewicz

Date Contributor Update
07 January 2019 17:26:48 John Anusewicz Changes to middlename and nickname
Sources

Family Collection, John S. Anusewicz

Date Contributor Update
07 January 2019 17:25:30 John Anusewicz Changes to highest rank
Sources

Family Collection, John S. Anusewicz

Date Contributor Update
17 August 2018 13:58:29 general ira snapsorter Changes to biography
Sources

Biography completed by historian Helen Millgate. Information sourced from correspondence files and articles held in an IWM research collection related to the acquisition of various items and ephemera belonging to John Anusewicz.

Date Contributor Update
17 August 2018 10:48:13 general ira snapsorter Created entry with surname, firstname, nationality, role, biography, unit associations and place associations
Sources

American Air Museum text from displays.

Share