THE CONTROL TOWER
EYES, EARS, HEART OF THE FIELD
by Lou Dubnow


The tower building at Bungay, Station 125

Lou Dubnow gave this account of the first mission he handled at Station 125:

After several months studying and training with the Royal Air Force, passing Air Ministry exams and standing watches in control towers under the supervision of veteran Flying Control Senior officers, I was finally certified to stand SOLO control watches and was sent to the 446th BG at Bungay in November of 1943. The Group was just coming in from the States as I was getting my "sea legs" in the tower.

Left: The tower; waiting for the crews to return.

I don't think I'll ever forget the first mission, which was on December 16th. I was on duty as a newly certified flying control officer and this was going to be my first test under "battle conditions." I attended the briefing, was given a copy of the lineup, and when my turn came, I gave marshaling and take-off instructions. At 0825 I could feel my heart pounding as I gave the green light for the first plane to take-off. It was quite a thrill to watch the first B-24 pick up speed and zoom past the tower and finally get off the ground and take the air. The rest of the take-offs were fairly routine and I went into the tower to enter the take-off in the log book and wait for the group to return.

I didn't have long to wait. Four of our aircraft aborted. Three landed at the wrong field at Metfield. One landed at Seething. One blew a tire on landing and two others crash-landed here. Fortunately, none were injured that day and by 1535 hours they were all back at the field.

That was my introduction to flying control in the United Kingdom. After that first mission, the 446th made an enviable record of 273 missions, 7,259 sorties with only 28 aircraft lost and 58 missing in action." The planes took off from slippery runways and returned to base in snowstorms. The control tower sent them off and brought them down safely. Some mornings it was difficult to see the thirty tons of steel and aluminum, loaded with gasoline and bombs, barreling down the runway and reaching for the air. Throttles pushed forward, the planes gathered speed and left the ground. There were a few times - fortunately a very few -when they didn't get off the ground and there was a ball of fire and smoke, bullets exploded and ten friends gone.


Reprinted from The 446th Revisited

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