Plane Crashes

31st December 1943 – B24D-42-63967 forced to make crash landing at Birch, Essex because ship ran out of gas returning from mission. Due to ground haze and reduced visibility the pilot did not see obstruction (telephone poles) at the end of runway. Plane was completely demolished. No casualties.

29th March 1944 – Pilot Kenneth M Shaffer, P-38J Lightning number 42-67455 of 364th Fighter Squadron from RAF Honington (Station 375) crash landed at RAF Birch.

12th September 1944 – Pilot John R Allen, P-47D Thunderbolt number 42-75095 of 62nd Fighter Squadron, 56th Fighter Group from RAF Boxted (Station 150) crash landed 1 mile south of RAF Birch around Wick Farm (close to Layer Marney Tower).

16th January 1945 – Pilot John A Arnold, P-47D Thunderbolt number 44-19886 of 63rd Fighter Squadron, 56th Fighter Group from RAF Boxted (Station 150) crash landed at RAF Birch.

4th June 1944 – B17G Crash (Comprehensive details below and links to original documents)


Final Mission – Click the link to read the Original USAAF Accident Report 44-06-04-523

(390th Bomb Group Mission No 119/8th Air Force Mission No 390 to Boulogne)

4th June 1944

B17 Crash Crew
B17 Crash Crew

Andrew J Brown attempted to land his B-17G Flying Fortress 231892 (I’ll Be Around/The Skillet) aircraft at Birch Airfield, Essex due to an oxygen fire whilst assembling for the Boulogne mission but was killed when the aircraft crashed in flames at nearby Easthorpe. The remainder of crew 51 successfully parachuted to safety.

The B-17G Flying Fortress ‘I’ll Be Around/The Skillet ‘was accepted by USAAF on the 28th December 1943, arriving at Cheyenne Mod Centre on 29th December 1943, Paine Field on 1st January 1944. Cheyenne 4th January 1944, Kearney 12th January 1944 and deployed with the 8th Air Force on 6th February  1944.

Fellow Crew 51 of ‘I’ll Be Around/The Skillet’

Pilot – 1st Lt Leroy J Holmberg

Co-Pilot – 2nd Lt Norman T Brown (not on final mission – died 16th May 1944 and buried at Plot E Row 2 Grave 16 Cambridge American Cemetery)

Co-Pilot on 4th June 1944 – 2nd Lt George R Benton

Navigator – 2nd Lt Ellis B McClintick

Bombardier – 2nd Lt Jack Pelton

Radio Operator – T/Sgt Robert Pinkus

Ball Turret Gunner – S/Sgt Richard L Autry

Tail Gunner – S/Sgt Robert M Baldi

Waist Gunner – S/Sgt William J Kick

Waist Gunner – S/Sgt James A Gates