B-17G 42-97286 of the 560th Bombardment Sqn, 388th Bombardment Group flew into Beinn Nuis on the Isle of Arran on the 10th December 1944
|John N. Littlejohn||Captain||Pilot||Killed|
|Robert N. Stoaks||2nd Lieutenant||Co-pilot||Killed|
|William J. Frey||2nd Lieutenant||Navigator||Killed|
|Richard W. Rosebasky||1st Lieutenant||Navigator||Killed|
|Leonard W. Bond||2nd Lieutenant||Bomb Aimer||Killed|
|Joseph A. Payne||Corporal||Engineer||Killed|
|Albert E. Thomas||Corporal||Radio Operator||Killed|
|James R. Bell||Major||Passenger||Killed|
|Jack D. Merkley||2nd Lieutenant||Passenger||Killed|
|Charles S. Brown||Master Sergeant||Passenger||Killed|
|Wade D. Kriner||Staff Sergeant||Passenger||Killed|
In the crash report there are three versions of the crew list which contradict each other so the above may not be entirely correct.
The crew of the aircraft were on a cross country navigation from Knettishall in Suffolk to Prestwick on the Ayrshire coast. At the time the weather in that area of Scotland was low cloud, between 1,500 and 2,000 feet, with light rains & snow with a moderate easterly breeze.
Ninety minutes after the ETA at Prestwick, and with no radio contact having been had with the crew, enquiries were made with other airfields in the region to see if the aircraft had landed elsewhere, when it was established that it had not overdue action was taken with the RAF and Royal Observer Corps being informed. The ROC reported that an unidentified aircraft had been plotted flying west off Arran at around the time of the expected ETA of the aircraft at Prestwick.
It was felt likely that the aircraft had crashed on one of the mountains on Arran and so the Police on the island were asked to begin a search of the island, however they did not locate any wreckage from the aircraft. A few days later when the weather improved an air search was started which continued for a week without result before it was called off.
It wasn’t until the 3rd March 1945 that the fate of the crew and their aircraft was established when the wreckage was discovered high on the eastern face of Beinn Nuis. The aircraft had flown into the granite cliffs below the summit while travelling west and then fallen back down a narrow gully into the rocks below the cliffs.
The crash was attributed to the crew attempting to descend through the poor weather towards Prestwick without using any of the radio navigation aids which were available at the air station.
Six of those onboard were buried at Cambridge American Cemetery, below are photographs of their graves.