AMERICAN BATTLE MONUMENTS COMMISSION
World War II Honor Roll

Ted R. Bunalski

Private, U.S. Army

32756508

2033rd Engineers Fire Fighting Platoon
44th Bomber Group

Entered the Service from: New Jersey
Died: June 4, 19443
Buried at: Plot F O 1716
                  Beverly National Cemetery
                  Beverly NJ
Awards: Soldiers Medal

 


PRIVATE TED R. BUNALSKI was born on September 5, 1921.  He had lived with his mother at 711 Birch Street in Camden NJ. He graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in Camden NJ, where he was a star football player, and participated other sports and school activities. After graduating from high school he took a job at the New York Shipbuilding Corporation shipyard in Camden.  Ted Bunalski was inducted into the Army on April 6, 1943.

After basic training, Private Bunalski was assigned to the 2033rd Engineers Fire Fighting Platoon, which was attached to the 44th Bomber Group. Crossing the ocean on HMS Queen Mary, his unit served at the aerodrome near Shipdham, England.

The 2033rd Engineers Fire Fighting Platoon was responsible for extinguishing fires that occurred when planes crashed. This was very hazardous work, due to the bombs, ammunition, and fuel on the aircraft. The British government furnished them platoon with what one platoon member described as "an antiquated fire truck that had a large tank of water and foam to fight plane fires. Most fields in England had a small pond... and we were able to suck water out of these ponds to fight planes fires off the airdrome with our available equipment."  The aircraft engines also had magnesium in them which was impossible to put out once ignited. The engines would have to be separated from the burning aircraft and be allowed to burn themselves out. 

On the evening of June 4, 1944, a B-24 Liberator bomber of the 856th Bomber Squadron, 492nd Bomber Group, piloted by Second Lieutenant Raymond J. Sachtleben crashed into an unoccupied house at approximately 5:30 PM local time at Hardingham, near Garveston, Norfolk, England killing all ten men in the crew. 

Private Bunalski and Sergeant Monroe A. Atchley of Anderson IN were eating dinner when they heard men yelling that a plane had crashed. They left their meals, ran out on the road, and jumped on the first truck going to the fire. Joined by other members of the platoon, led by Staff Sergeant Charles Provenzano, upon arrival at the crash site they immediately went to the burning plane and proceeded to extinguish the flames, disregarding the danger of bombs and a gas tank which was burning and full of gasoline. 

The plane was loaded with Model 201b fragmentation bombs, and while the fire was being combated, a bomb exploded. Sergeant Atchley was killed instantly. Private Bunalski received multiple shrapnel wounds, and a severe wound to the left side of his neck, which caused him to bleed to death. With shells firing and bombs exploding, medics attempted to get to the wounded men, but were too late. The other members of the platoon continued to attempt to fight the fire until ordered away from the crash.

Private Bunalski and Sgt Atchley were posthumously awarded the Soldiers medal for heroism. Staff Sergeant Provenzano was awarded the Bronze Star along with four other members of the 2033rd Fire Fighting Platoon, Sergeant Antonio M. Suplrizio, and Privates First Class Anton Bauo, Michael Lazarowicz, and John J. Schrack.

Ted Bunalski was buried on June 5, 1944 at the Cambridge American Military Cemetery in England. In 1948 his body was returned to the United States, and he was buried on July 22nd of that year at the Beverly National Cemetery in Beverly NJ.

Ted Bunalski was survived by his mother, and four sisters. 



 COURIER-POST CAMDEN, NJ., JUNE 14, 1944

GRID STAR KILLED BY BOMB EXPLOSION
‘Ted’ Bunalski Dies in England, 
2 Others from South Jersey Die in Battles

            A former Camden scholastic football star was killed by the explosion of a  fragmentation bomb in England, according to army and navy announcements.
           Dead:
                     Private Theodore R. Bunalski, 22, of 711 Birch Street

 Bunalski, son of Mrs. Catherine Bunalski, was killed June 4 at Hardingham England when a bomb exploded in a burning plane which his platoon was trying to extinguish. He joined the Army in April, 1943, and had been overseas about six months. He formerly was employed at the New York Shipyard.

Woodrow Wilson Star

“Ted” Bunalski was star end on Woodrow Wilson High School’s only undefeated football team, in 1939, and led that team to the only football victory Wilson ever scored over Camden High. He earned publicity through his kicking of field goals, winning two games personally that year by field goals which were the margin of victory. He was voted handsomest in class of ’41. He is survived also by four sisters, Mrs. Pearl Shell, and Rose, Eleanor, and Geraldine Bunalski.
            Bunalski was picked on the Courier Post’s 1939 All-South Jersey football team, the highest honor to be won by South Jersey schoolboy gridders.


Documents and Correspondence 


Thanks to the
44th Bomb Group Veteran Association
for much of the information contained above.

Return to 44th Bomb Group Veterans Association Home Page

Flying Eight Balls


Camden Courier-Post
July 20, 1944


On June 4, 2012 the Village of Garveston, in Norfolkshire, England dedicated a memorial to the 12 American servicemen who were killed when a B-24 bomber crashed there on June 4, 1944.


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