B-24H Liberator 42-95095 of the 66th BS / 44th BG, 8th USAAF, crashed at Sidhean Mor, near Gairloch 13th June 1945

Consolidated B-24 Liberator at the RAF Museum


Jack B. Ketchum 1st Lieutenant Pilot Killed
Jack H. Spencer 1st Lieutenant Co-pilot Killed
Richard J. Robak 2nd Lieutenant Navigator Killed
Hillburn L. Cheek Technical Sergeant Engineer Killed
James C. Stammer Technical Sergeant Radio Operator Killed
Eldon J. Gilles Staff Sergeant Gunner Killed
Albert L. Natkin Staff Sergeant Gunner Killed
Raymond E. Davis Staff Sergeant Gunner Killed
Herman Riefen Staff Sergeant Air gunner Killed
John B. Ellis Jnr Staff Sergeant Passenger Killed
James D. Harvey Staff Sergeant Passenger Killed
Alexander W. Hastings Staff Sergeant Passenger Killed
Emil Einarsen Staff Sergeant Passenger Killed
John H. Hallissey Staff Sergeant Passenger Killed
Robert J. Francis Staff Sergeant Passenger Killed


Throughout the summer of 1945 the USAAF was re-positioning personnel, either for demobilisation in the USA or to the Pacific for the continuing war against Japan. Many aircrew were returned to the US by air, either in aircraft which were destined for the Pacific or ones which were simply being used as a ferry aircraft before being put into storage for eventual disposal.

One of these flights was being made with a B-24H of the 44th Bombardment Group, it had been flown to BAD2 at Warton and then on to Prestwick. It was to fly from Prestwick to Meeks Field at Keflavik in Iceland before its final leg across the North Atlantic to the USA. It took off from Prestwick under instrument flying conditions at about 14:00 on the 13th June and flew northwards, its planned route taking the aircraft via the Isle of Skye to overhead Stornaway before heading out over the Atlantic to Iceland.

As it approached the NW coast near Gairloch the aircraft was in serious difficulties, rapidly descending through the clouds in a gentle turn to port. At 15:25 the B-24 crashed killing all onboard and was completely destroyed by fire. The crash site is at least 25 miles to the East of the intended track from Prestwick to Stornaway but is only a few miles off the direct track.

While the accident investigators were not able to make any firm conclusions they suggested the most likely reason for the crash was an uncontrollable engine fire as parts had come off the aircraft before impact and they showed signs of fire damage. The reported surmised that after being unable to extinguish the fire the crew were trying to crash land before the aircraft broke apart but struck the rocky ground surrounding Sidhean Mor and the ‘Fairy Lochans’ while still in cloud and exploded.

One of the Fairy Lochans below Sidhean Mor, with wreckage from B-24 42-95095 on its shore
The view of the crash site as you approach it. On the left near the water is one of the main undercarriage legs.
Memorial plaque at the crash site of Liberator 42-95095 at the Fairy Lochans, Sidhean Mor, near Gairloch
A fairly bad photo of the memorial to the crew and passengers, on the rock face next to where the plane ended up.
Undercarriage oleo at the crash site of B-24 42-95095 on Sidhean Mor near Gairloch
The main wheel in the first photo, slowly rusting away.
Main crash site of B-24H 42-95095 on Sidhean Mor near Gairloch, overlooking the Fairy Lochans
This picture shows where the aircraft came to rest, as it is the last point where wreckage can be found in the direction of travel.
View from the crash site of B-24 42-95095 towards one of the Fairy Lochans
This photo was taken from the same position as the above photo, but looking down at the lochan.
View towards the crash site of B-24H 42-95095 and the summit of Sidhean Mor
This is the view from the opposite end of the lochan to the crash site, the memorial is below the highest point of the outcrop, there are some people stood there but are hard to see, and the final impact point is the light area about half way up to the right of the centre.
Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp from B-24H 42-95095 on a small island in one of the Fairy Lochans
On a small island in the lochan stands an engine from the aircraft, kept in perfect isolation. That is until someone dons a drysuit and goes swimming, as Tom Buchan (of Aircraft Crash Sites of Scotland) and Dave Gordon did.


Of the crew and passengers Eight were repatriated in the late 1940s while Seven were buried at the Cambridge American Military Cemetery.

Grave of the engineer, Technical Sergeant Hillburn L. Cheek at Cambridge American Military Cemetery
Technical Sergeant Hillburn L. Cheek, Engineer
Grave of Gunner, Staff Sergeant Eldon J. Gilles at Cambridge American Military Cemetery
Staff Sergeant Eldon J. Gilles, Gunner
Grave of Gunner, Staff Sergeant Albert L. Natkin at Cambridge American Military Cemeter
Staff Sergeant Albert L. Natkin, Gunner
Grave of Gunner, Staff Sergeant Herman Riefen at Cambridge American Military Cemetery
Staff Sergeant Herman Riefen, Gunner
Grave of Staff Sergeant Emil Einarsen at Cambridge American Military Cemetery
Staff Sergeant Emil Einarsen, Passenger
Grave of Staff Sergeant John B. Ellis at Cambridge American Military Cemetery
Staff Sergeant John B. Ellis, Passenger
Grave of Staff Sergeant Robert J. Francis at Cambridge American Military Cemetery
Staff Sergeant Robert J. Francis, Passenger