Consolidated B-24D 42-72851 of the USAAF crashed on Li a Tuath near Lochmaddy, North Uist on the 15th September 1943
|Martin E. Salway Jr||2nd Lieutenant||Pilot||Killed|
|Frederick G. Zeigenbusch||2nd Lieutenant||Co-pilot||Killed|
|Walter A. Moore||2nd Lieutenant||Navigator||Killed|
|Ellsworth F. Colburn||2nd Lieutenant||Bomb Aimer||Killed|
|Edwin N. Busch||Technical Sergeant||Engineer||Killed|
|Ralph J. Fischer||Sergeant||Engineer||Killed|
|Price H. Lambert||Sergeant||Radio Operator||Killed|
|Clyde W. Plog||Staff Sergeant||Radio Operator||Killed|
|Clarence L. Balzer||Sergeant||Gunner||Killed|
|Jack E. Wallace||Sergeant||Gunner||Killed|
The aircraft, which had only recently come off the production line at San Diego, was being ferried across the Atlantic, at the time of the crossing it had not been assigned to any particular Group and had been placed into the temporary Bridges Provisional Group. Other crews who were flying aircraft assigned to this temporary group were destined for North Africa via Bangor, Maine – Gander, Newfoundland and then either direct to the UK or via Meeks Field in Iceland.
This crew had flown to Meeks Field near Keflavik in the south west of Iceland and at 08:37 on the 15th September 1943 took off for Nutts Corner in Northern Ireland. It was planned for them to arrive at Nutts Corner at between 13:30 & 13:40.
Weather conditions in the Scotland – Iceland Gap that day were fairly typical for the time of year with low cloud, rain and a strong south to south westerly wind, which on the Western Isles was recorded as around gale force.
At 13:01, when the aircraft should have been just over half an hour away from landing in Northern Ireland the crew contacted Stornoway for guidance, after this radio contact no further communication was received from the aircraft and at about 13:15 while flying on a course of 150 at between 800 & 900 feet the aircraft few into Li a Tuath (North Lee) to the south east of Lochmaddy on the island of North Uist. The cloud base on the island at the time was reported as being 400 feet.
The crash site is some 200 miles away from the intended destination for the aircraft and while there is very little in the accident report it would appear that the strong winds had probably affected the flight time for the aircraft. The flight had been planned for a height of 1,500ft, with a safety height on approaching the British Isles of 5,000ft. It is unknown why the aircraft was flying at below 1,000ft.
Following the crash the task of clearing the wreckage fell to No.63 Maintenance Unit, who were based at Carluke near Motherwell. The unit were busy with other recovery tasks so put off the salvage until late 1943. While the crash site is close to the village of Lochmaddy the two are divided by the inlet which the village sits at the seaward end of. To get the wreckage across to the pier a makeshift raft was constructed from telegraph poles and oil drums which had to be ‘borrowed’. In all it took four months to complete the task, ending in February 1944.
Following the crash the crew were all buried in the UK, with five of them remaining at Cambridge after the end of WW2.