Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress 42-37840 “Combined Operations” coded GY-Y of the 367th Bombardment Squadron, 306th Bombardment Group, crashed near the Chasms on the southern tip of the Isle of Man on the 14th April 1945

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress


Robert Arthur Vieille 1st Lieutenant Pilot Killed
Colin Edward Liersch 2nd Lieutenant Co-pilot Killed
Howard Edgar Le-Compte Flight Officer Navigator Killed
Ernest E. Gallion Technical Sergeant Flight Engineer Killed
Chester Frank Smailczewski Staff Sergeant Radio Operator Killed
Wilby Bradley Butterfield Captain Passenger Killed
George E. Cubberly Captain Passenger Killed
Austin J. Parrish 2nd Lieutenant Passenger Killed
William C. Starbuck Technical Sergeant Passenger Killed
Derrell S. Jones Staff Sergeant Passenger Killed
Emilly Harper Rea N/A (American Red Cross) Passenger Killed


The crew of the aircraft were flying the aircraft from Thurleigh in Bedfordshire to Langford Lodge in Co. Antrim where they were dropping off their passengers. The route to Langford Lodge was intended to be a cross country navigation training exercise. The weather on the day dictated that the flight be carried out on instruments rather than visual navigation.

They took off from Thurleigh at 15:00 and headed for Northern Ireland, by 18:15, having failed to arrive at Langford Lodge, they were declared overdue by the USAAF. Within five minutes a report was sent back stating that an aircraft had crashed on the Isle of Man.

The aircraft had been flying on a North Westerly course towards the island, it was thought that the pilots had seen land ahead and that cloud was covering much of it and began turning to port onto a South Westerly course when the aircraft struck the ground just inland from the coast. The aircraft travelled through a stone wall before coming to rest where the wreckage was then destroyed by fire.

2nd Lieutenant Austin Parrish at his flying training graduation
2nd Lieutenant Austin Parrish wife his wife Grace at his graduation from flying training in 1942.
Image via Lois Whitesell & Arlin Hendrix
Crash site of Boeing B-17G 42-37840 near Port St Mary, Isle of Man
A view from the crash site towards Port St Mary.


Of those killed a number were buried at Cambridge American Cemetery, below are photographs of their graves.

Grave of 1st Lieutenant Robert A. Vieille at Cambridge American Cemetery
1st Lieutenant Robert A. Vieille, Pilot.
Grave of 2nd Lieutenant Collins E. Liersch at Cambridge American Cemetery
2nd Lieutenant Collins E. Liersch, Co-pilot.
Grave of Technical Sergeant Earnest E. Gallion at Cambridge American Cemetery
Technical Sergeant Earnest E. Gallion, Flight Engineer.
Grave of Captain Wilber B. Butterfield at Cambridge American Cemetery
Captain Wilber B. Butterfield, Passenger.
Grave of Captain George E. Cubberly at Cambridge American Cemetery
Captain George E. Cubberly, Passenger.
Grave of 2nd Lt Austin Parrish at Cambridge American Cemetery
2nd Lt Austin Parrish, Passenger.
Image via Lois Whitesell & Arlin Hendrix
Grave of Emily Harper Rea at Cambridge American Cemetery
Emily Harper Rea, Passenger.
Grave of William C. Starbuck at Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Francisco, California
Technical Sergeant William C. Starbuck was later buried at the Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Francisco, California.