USAAF Boeing B-17 crash on North Barrule

On 23 April 1945, a Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress crashed on North Barrule, a hill in the Isle of Man. A total of 31 people were killed. The accident is the deadliest aviation accident to have occurred in the Isle of Man.[1] It was due to controlled flight into terrain (CFIT).

Photograph of a Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress
A Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress, similar to the accident aircraft.
Accident
Date23 April 1945
SummaryControlled flight into terrain
SiteNorth Barrule, Isle of Man (SC 442 907)
54°17′19″N 4°23′39″W / 54.28861°N 4.39417°WCoordinates: 54°17′19″N 4°23′39″W / 54.28861°N 4.39417°W
Aircraft
Aircraft typeBoeing B-17G Flying Fortress
Operator534th Bombardment Squadron, Eighth Air Force, United States Army Air Forces
Registration43-38856
Flight originRAF Ridgewell, Essex, United Kingdom
DestinationRAF Nutts Corner, County Down, United Kingdom
Passengers29
Crew2
Fatalities31
Survivors0

Aircraft

The accident aircraft was United States Army Air Forces Tail Number 43-38856, a Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress bomber of the 534th Bombardment Squadron, Eighth Air Force. The 534th was one of four squadrons that made up the 381st Bombardment Group (381st BG) based at RAF Ridgewell, Essex, United Kingdom.[2]

Accident

The aircraft was performing a passenger flight, taking 29 personnel on a week's leave to Northern Ireland. The passengers were all armourers, fitters, ground crew and mechanics of various squadrons and support units of the 381st BG. Many of them had been at RAF Ridgewell since the 381st BG had arrived in June 1943. Two pilots brought the total on board to 31.[2]

The aircraft took off from RAF Ridgewell for RAF Nutts Corner at 08:00, with an estimated time of arrival of 11:00. At 10:15, the B-17 was off the north east coast of the Isle of Man, flying at an altitude of 500 feet (150 m). At 10:20, the aircraft flew into the east side of the 1,842 feet (561 m) high North Barrule and exploded in a fireball. The accident was heard by a tractor driver working at a nearby farm of Margher-e-Kew, Maughold. All 31 people on board were killed, making this the deadliest aviation accident in the Isle of Man.[2]

Personnel from RAF Andreas recovered the bodies to that base for identification. On 24 April, a Boeing B-17E Flying Fortress from RAF Ridgewell arrived, bringing the base commander Colonel Conway S. Hall. He was told that arrangements for the repatriation of the bodies would take some days as diplomatic channels with the Manx Government had to be gone through. Hall decided that this would take too long and the deceased were flown back to RAF Ridgewell on 25 April. A minor diplomatic incident was caused, but nothing came of it. The victims of the accident were buried at Madingley Cemetery, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom.[2]

Memorial

Memorial Plaque - geograph.org.uk - 1252866
The memorial plaque at the crash site, seen in similar weather to that prevailing at the time of the accident.

A memorial plaque was placed at the crash site in June 1995 by the Maughold Commissioners and the Manx Aviation Preservation Society.[2][3] The American Flag was flown at the memorial on the 69th anniversary of the accident.[4]

References

  1. ^ Isle of Man Examiner – Brialtagh Ellan Vannin page 20 Isle of Man Newspapers Ltd (2015) Johnston Press Publishing – Sheffield Web   28 April 2015 "70th ANNIVERSARY OF BOMBER CRASH. Remembering the tragedy on North Barrule 70 years ago. Beyond the 'Mannanan's Cloak' of low cloud, the crash landing of an American Fortress bomber plane will always remain a mystery."
  2. ^ a b c d e Poole, Stephen. Rough Landing or Fatal Flight. Isle of Man: Amulree Publications. pp. 101–05. ISBN 1 901508 03 X.
  3. ^ Manx Radio (22 April 2014). "Air disaster commemorated". Isle of Man News. Retrieved 7 May 2014.
  4. ^ "ISLAND MARKS NORTH BARRULE AIR DISASTER". Three FM. 22 April 2014. Retrieved 7 May 2014.
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