Harry J. Connolly (1944/10/28)
A Live Oak kid, with all the right moves, met his master in Munster.
Harry James Connolly was born on January 3, 1920, in Santa Cruz, the son of Mr. and Mrs. William Connolly, who lived in the Live Oak district of Santa Cruz County. He and his three brothers, Roy, George and Walter, shared the family home located on lower Capitola Road. Harry attended Live Oak School and entered Santa Cruz High School in 1932. During high school, he was an all-around student. In addition to majoring in mathematics and playing football and basketball, he participated in the band.
Following his graduation from high school in 1936, Harry Connolly enrolled in the University of California at Berkeley. At UCB he remained active in athletics and was a member of the varsity crew that traveled to the East Coast to compete on the Hudson River.
After graduating from college in 1943, Connelly joined the US Army Air Force and was sent to the Utah State Flight Academy at Logan, Utah. His basic training took place at Polaric Flight Academy in Lancaster, California, and his advanced training at Marfa, Texas. Upon the completion of this training in February 1944, he received his pilot's wings and was commissioned a second lieutenant. B-17 bomber training at Roswell, New Mexico, Alexandria, Louisiana, and Lincoln, Nebraska, rounded out his instruction.
Harry Connelly returned to Santa Cruz for a final visit before joining the 398th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force located at Nuthampstead, Herfordshire, England.
“The 398th Bomb Group (Heavy) was part of the United States Eighth Air Force during World War II. Activated on 1 March 1943, after a period as a Replacement Training Unit in the United States, the 398th Bomb Group moved to England and was stationed at United States Air Force Station 131 at Nuthampstead, Herfordshire from April 1944 until May/June 1945. The Group comprised Group Headquarters and four Squadrons (600th, 601st, 602nd and 603rd). Trained to fly B-17 Bombers (known as Flying Fortresses) the Group completed 195 operations flying from Nuthampstead, mainly attacking strategic targets in Germany such as oil refineries, factories, marshalling yards and aircraft plants.”
While flying a bombing mission over Munster, Germany on October 28, 1944, Second Lieutenant Harry James Connolly was killed in action. His parents later received the Purple Heart and the Air Medal that he had been posthumously awarded. His remains were recovered following the war and were re-interred in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Santa Cruz, California.
(CBR; SCHSC Pg. 8; 398th Bomb Group, History, www.398th. org/Research/398th_Preservation, [Approx. 15 May 2007]; SCSn November 13, 1944 1:3)