Addison J BartushMilitary
Served 25 Nov 1944 to 25 Apr 1945.
Addison Bartush's father ran a food distribution business and the family were comfortably off. By 1943 one of his brothers was already serving with the Coast Guard and another was to enlist in the Air Corps. Addison - a non-college graduate at this point - applied for the Aviation Cadet programme and took the initial two month course at the University of Pittsburgh. He appears to have gone through endless screening - mental and physical - along the way to becoming a pilot, including a spell at a 'copy-cat' West Point pre-flight school at Maxwell Field Alabama at the height of summer. Discipline was strict - sometimes to the point of ridicule - and many fell by the wayside but Bartush survived and on September 21st 1943 he was promoted Corporal, following which he transferred to Clarksdale Mississippi for flight training.
He got his wings in April '44 and there were several more moves until the men finally crewed up at Gulfport, again in Mississippi. For Bartush it was 'Bishop's Crew', his pilot being Dave Bishop a man he greatly admired who read the Bible daily and neither drank nor swore or even attended the Officer's Club. Bartush was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant 1st October 1944 - one year and nine months from entry - his pay 246 dollars per month. The crew took a very long train ride to Georgia to collect their brand new B-17 which they flew to England; to Bassingbourn, home of the already famous 91st Bomb Group, and where they were assigned to No 324 Squadron.
His very first combat mission, apparently with a different and experienced crew, following the customary training exercises, was on 25th November to the IG Farben works at Merseberg, a target defended by 1700 guns and known as 'Flak Alley'. He was therefore not with his own crew the following day when they were shot down (5 were killed, 4 became POWs). This was to affect him very badly - even when interviewed some sixty years later- and he apparently suffered a temporary breakdown that December, unable to fly some missions and failing to communicate with his family.
As co-pilot Bartush was customarily at the controls after the bomb run when they were on the way home. He was to fly 27 missions in his time with the 91st (the Group flew a total of 88 missions in the period 25th November 1944 to 25th April 1945) and took part in the big raid on Berlin of 3rd February - tactical rather than strategic to aid the advancing Russian forces - and the assault on Dresden for which he was an official observer. There was too much smoke over the city when they arrived so bombed another 'target of opportunity'. He was promoted 1st Lieutenant in April and flew four missions that month; his very last on the 25th being to the Skoda Works at Pilsen in Czechoslovakia. This attack was unusual in that the workers had been forewarned about the raid by a leaflet drop and BBC broadcast. Seven Bomb Groups participated and Bartush commented that 'it was the most disorganised attack I ever recall seeing....a three-ring circus....pilots circling to find holes in the cloud cover so that they could drop visually and not kill civilians'.
The 91st lost a total of 197 B-17s, the highest figure of any Group; during Bartush's time with No 324 Sqdn eight aircraft went down. Casualties were listed as 34 KIA, 4MA and 28POW. Bartush seems to have had little recollection of fellow flyers other than his own crews. He was a religious, family-loving young man thrown into a violent and destructive war for a few months of his life and wanted only to forget it afterwards.
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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 Addison Bartush.