One of the many roles we play here at the 2AD library is of researcher. Today were were given a particularly challenging but ultimately very interesting enquiry. A gentlemen picked up a copy of ‘Offical Guide to Army Air Forces’ published in 1944 and belonging to a Lt M.N. Panosian. There were several other notations in book which indicated the man was likely stationed at Tibenham and was part of the 702nd squadron with the 445th bomb group. There were also two other gentlemen listed: Lt Marvin Gasster and Lt Frawigs Farmer.
Unfortunately there was no other information regarding Panosian’s enlistment, and a lot of extra information which had us running in circles for a while. We started our search by looking at the roll of honor available on our website. None of the three men were listed there so we then turned to other resources. The first was ancestry.com (which is available to anyone at the library), we found several promising leads but without a date of birth or hometown we were not able to clearly locate any of the individuals. Next we tried the National Archives and Records Administration which has some searchable military records and at last success! We were able to identity all three of the individuals and found they all enlisted within 2 months of each other in 1942.
After this we turned back to the unit histories for the 445th. Scanning through the periodicals we found that Panosian (the owner of the book) was a navigator for a B-24. Gasster was a pilot and Farmer a co-pilot. It seems likely they were sent to Tibenham in late 1944 and one of the dates in the book indicates that Panosian at least was still in England when the war ended in May 1945.
While this was a much more successful hunt than normal there are still a few loose ends. Panosian notes in his book that they flew 23 successful missions – however we cannot verify this from the unit histories we have on record here. Also there are several other Bomb Groups listed: 100th (Thorpe Abbots), 392nd (Wendling), 448th (Hethel), and 447th (Rackheath). Whether this means they were stationed at these other bases or that he was just recording nearby stations is unknown.
Overall though a very interesting and satisfying enquiry though!