Monday, April 10, 2017
Everyone has days in the year that are memorable. Sometimes they are Birthdays or Anniversaries, sometimes events of significant achievement or even events of major impact—good or bad. For the family of Bill Cramsie, 10 April 1944 was a date seared with pain in their minds. Bill was one of those boys and young men that everyone loved. After a year at the West Point prep school and then three more years at the Academy, he was a man that was very widely admired and respected. He graduated from a class of heroes and was the first of that remarkable class to be killed in action.
William Edward Cramsie receiving his appointment to U.S. Army Air Corps
from General Henry H. "Hap" Arnold, Commander of the USAAC
At his graduation ceremonies in June of 1943, Bill and his fellow aviators received their wings and their appointments to the Army Air Corps from Hap Arnold, already a legend in military circles and in the post-war years as the "founder" of the U.S. Air Force as a separate branch of the U.S. Military Community. It was a day that Bill had dreamed about for many years and one that did not happen without a great deal of effort and perseverance. His mother Idella and sister Ruth were in the audience at scenic Trophy Point on that crowning day of achievement.
On the 10th of April 1944, less than a year later, Bill became one of those many thousands of heroes we remember and honor from World War II. He and his crew of an A-20 Havoc bomber were to become the first KIA combat casualties of the 416th Bomb Group in its distinguished service. One of many, but to those who knew him well one that touched the soul. The plane and crew were never recovered, though apparently not more that a few miles from land when they went down in Bradwell Bay. The memory of Bill Cramsie will live on for generations to come, thanks to his West Point class ring that appeared as a "message in a bottle". That was just the first of many messages to follow. One day, as technology advances, we may very well witness the discovery of 43-9699 and perhaps the remains of its crew. With the lowest seasonal tides in Bradwell Bay converging with that very date, it is a distinct possibility that the sands will eventually give up their secret. Recovering Bill Cramsie would be a day to remember for sure.