Sconiers, Ewart Theodore “Ed”.

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Sconiers, Ewart Theodore, “Ed”, born, 29-11-1915 in DeFuniak Springs, Walton County, Florida, the second child, and eldest son, to parents, William Warren Sconiers (1891 – 1964) and Maude Spence (1893 – 1965). Growing up during the great depression, Ewart was not a stranger to hardship and struggle and at the age of 10 years old he was shining shoes and learned the value of education and hard work. In need of more income, Ewart dropped out of High School to learn to be a barber with his Uncle. He would return to complete high school and graduate in 1936. The intuitive and frugal Ewart would ensure he could afford college no matter how hard he had to work to save up the money. Ewarts parents divorced in 1939 while he was thriving at the University of Florida. It was during the summer of 1939 while at the beach that he would meet his future wife, Ina Bobelle “Bobbie” Wright. The couple married on 01-05-1941. Ewart soon felt that he “had” to join the Army and on September the 16th of 1941 Ewart became a new member of the the United States Army leaving college after two and a half successful years at the University of Florida. Ewart wished to be a pilot, but like many young men he washed out of the Pilot program, however, he was qualified to be a bombardier and was sent to Albuquerque, New Mexico for bombardier training. After completing his training, Ewart was back in Florida assigned to the 414th Bombardment Squadron 97th Bombardment Group, 8th Air Force which was stationed at Sarasota Army Air Field. His mother and new bride joined him there until he was shipped overseas. The unit was sent overseas to England on the 15-05-1942 and the squadrons began flying the first B-17s over on the 23rd of June via Goose Bay, Greenland arriving at Polebrook airfield in England on the 1st of July. Ewart was assigned to fly as Bombardier on board B-17E tail number 41-9089 nicknamed “Johnny Reb”. “Johnny Reb” took part in the first mission (daylight) by the 8th Air Force, along with eleven other bombers of the 8th Air Force, over Europe 17-08-1942. Also, on this historic first mission were Major Paul Warfield Tibbets, later to pilot the B-29 “Enola Gay” and Major General Ira Clarence Eaker himself. But on August 21st things went very different and it wasn’t long before Ewarts natural leadership skills would save the day. While lagging behind the main formation “Johnny Reb” was attacked by five German FW-190 fighter aircraft. During one of the head on passes made by the enemy the cockpit sustained several direct hits killing the co-pilot, Donald Walters, and seriously injuring pilot, Richard S. Starks. Starks managed to call for help and soon Sergeant Roy Allen and Lieutenant Ewart Sconiers were at hand to help. Ewart pulled Walters body from the co-pilot seat and slid into the position. The crew kept firing on the enemy fighters unable to catch up to the main group with two of its four engines out of commission. Sconiers managed to limp the bomber back to England, with some instruction from the semiconscious pilot, landing at Horsham St. Faith, near Norwich. No doubt Ewart’s pilot training saved the aircraft and its crew. Co-Pilot Donald Walters was the first 8th Air Force casualty of WWII. Ewart and Starks were both awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for their heroism that day. Lt. Richard S. Starks (Pilot) awarded the DSC Donald Walters (Co-pilot) KIA Harold Spire (Navigator) Ewart Sconiers (Bombardier) awarded the DSC  Roy Allen (Engineer) John Hughes (Waist Gunner) Adam Jenkins (Tail Gunner). The crew also claimed three German fighters killed that day though it proved almost impossible to verify with all the gunners excitement and multiple claims on this first mission. But “Jonny Reb” was out of commission for repairs and would eventually be transferred to another unit once it became ready for action again.In the meantime Ewart was put with a new crew lead by Lieutenant. Milton Marien Stenstrom flying bomber, tail number 41-24443 B-17F, named “Johnny Reb Jr.” in honor of Ewarts previous crew.On 21-10-1942 on a mission to bomb Submarine pins at Lorient, France, Ewerts luck ran out again. Badly shot up the bomber had to salvo it bombs and ended up landing in the Bay of Biscay. All 10 crew members were able to get out of the bomber before it sank.1st Lt. Milton M. Stenstrom (Pilot) 1st Lt. Robert L Carlberg (Co-Pilot Sgt. William E. Schimke (Engineer/Gunner) S/Sgt. William A. Adams (Radio Operator) 1st Lt. Harold Spire (Navigator) S/Sgt. Roy. T. Nally (Ball Gunner) Sgt. Thomas C. Calhun (Left Waist Gunner)Sgt. John M. Hughes (Right Waist Gunner)Sgt. James C. Simmons (Tail Gunner). The crew was picked up and made POW’s of Germany. Harry Spire managed to escape twice, before evading and making it to Switzerland.

Death and burial ground of Sconiers, Ewart Theodore “Ed”.

 On 11-11-1942 Ewart ended up in Stalag Luft 3, made famous by the movie “The Great Escape”. Ewart was made part of the security team during the famous tunnel work by the Americans. During the winter of 1944 Ewart slipped on ice and sustained injuries that went unnoticed until it was too late. He was sent to Reserve Hospital in Poland, where he died on 24-01-1944, age 28, in Dolnośląskie, Poland, one of four men in South Compound who died while held captive. .. On January the 27th Ewart was buried.on the Lubin Municipal cemetery in Poland. Finaly his remains have yet to be returned to the United States to the cemetery of Defuniak, in Florida reburied next to his Mother, making him the only American not recovered from Stalag Luft 3. The Americans were all transferred before the “Great Escape” could be planed. This left the British to do the honors, for which 50 were summarily executed after they were caught.

 

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