Matthew Cunningham was born to his parents Matthew A. and Ethel Cecelia Cunningham on January 5, 1918 in Sharon, Mass. He enlisted on April 6, 1942. Cunningham was in training stateside until November 1942. Available records do not show his transfer overseas.
SSGT Cunningham was the ball turret gunner for a B24 based at an airfield known as Berca 2. His plane was shot down by German fighters on the return from a bomb run to Catania, Sicily. Nine of the ten crew members were killed as a result of the action. When the plane was shot down, it was over the Mediterranean Sea. About six of the crew bailed out, but then the plane blew up. At least 3 people were on the plane when it blew up, including the pilot, 1st. Lt. Wayne Field, and co-pilot. The co-pilot 2nd Lt. Lawrence O'Brien was the only survivor who was picked up on July 11, 1943, by a British Torpedo Boat, 3 days after the shoot down. The July 11 date was chosen by the upper echelon as the official date of death of the crew. Missing Air Crew Report #43 describes the circumstances of the loss.
The B24, air craft number 42-40321 was named "Butch". Pictures of crew and the plane are part of this group as well as MACR #43 and National Archives records. SSGT Cunningham's group also includes his officially engraved posthumous Purple Heart, ribbon bar, lapel pin, and presntation box.
This group is part of a group of 3 KIA Purple Heart groups to the crew of Butch. Accompanying groups are for Navigator 1st. Lt. Robert I. McKelvy, Jr., and Bomadier1st. Lt. Robert F. McMullen.
SOLD to a collector 04-2021