Mystery of war-time lovers solved thanks to local community

The mystery wedding photo from 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum's archive. The couple have now been

The mystery wedding photo from 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum's archive. The couple have now been identified as Edward Kotwica and Antonia Massarano. Photo supplied by 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum - Credit: 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum

On Valentine's Day an appeal was launched to help uncover information about a wedding photograph discovered among more than 500 others at the 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum in Thorpe Abbotts.

Museum trustee, Sophie Towne, became keen to identify the bride and groom so that their story could be shared with visitors.

Miss Towne went on the hunt for information, asking for help from the local Facebook community and EDP readers.

She said: 'The campaign was a tremendous success and amazingly after seeing the EDP article, local woman, Dawn Smith, came forward to tell us she had been a bridesmaid at the wedding on September 30 1944 and remembered the couple's names were Eddie and Toni.'

With this as a starting point, the museum turned their focus to the location of the wedding, which Facebook users suggested was Bungay Catholic Church.

MORE: Can you help identify these war-time lovers?Miss Towne contacted the church and found a wedding entry for the couple. It read: 'In the year 1944 on the 30th day of September, Rev Fr Francis T. Morris joined in matrimony Edward Joseph Kotwica and Antonia Massarano witnessed by Frederic Muschell of 375 Elizabeth Lake Rd, Pontiac Mich: U.S.A. and Rosetta Mary Roberts of 31 Cloudesley Sq, Islington London N.1.'

Lucy May Maxwell of the Imperial War Museum Duxford then helped to fill in the gaps, digging up information about Kotwica's life.

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The serviceman was revealed to be part of the original cadre of the 350th Bomb Squadron, 100th Bomb Group. Records indicated that he had risen to Tech Sergeant by the time the squadron departed for England in May 1943.

A reference to the wedding was found in the book They Never Had It So Good: The Personal, Unofficial Story of the 350th Bombardment Squadron by Jack W. Sheridan. The passage says: 'Eddie Kotwica got married to a London girl along about the same time as Frank Stifter had married. In fact, the Squadron went down to the party in the recreation hall down in Brockdish. Everyone has a whale of a time.'

Kotwica is thought to have died on June 12 1992 aged 72, leaving behind his wife and a son called Mike.

Miss Towne commented: 'It's magnificent what reaching out to the online world can achieve. By following the trail we've been able to add vital information to recording Kotwica's life and time with the 100th Bomb Group.

'The only thing left to do now is make contact with Eddie and Toni's son Mike, which we hope to achieve soon.'

• To discover more stories of the Bloody Hundredth visit the 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum on weekends and bank holidays until October 31, 10am-5pm.

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