Boeing B-17G 44-8639 of the 351st Bombardment Group, USAAF, crashed on Craig Cwm Llwyd on the 8th June 1945


Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress


Howard R. Hibbard 1st Lieutenant Pilot Killed
Joseph C. Robinson Captain Co-pilot Killed
Joseph A. Glover Captain Navigator Killed
John Q. Montgomery Master Sergeant Engineer / Crew Chief Killed
Max Marksheid Technical Sergeant Radio Operator Killed
Santo A. Caruso Staff Sergeant Gunner Killed
Kenneth W. Craumer Technical Sergeant Gunner Killed
David I. Rapoport Sergeant Gunner Killed
Lester A.F. Rhein Technical Sergeant Gunner Killed
Robert E. Smith Staff Sergeant Gunner Killed
Richard E. Higley 1st Lieutenant Passenger Killed
Teed O. Smith Staff Sergeant Passenger Killed
Morris Lemewski Technical Sergeant Passenger Killed
Paul Lucyk DFC Technical Sergeant Passenger Killed
Edwin R. Birtwell Sergeant Passenger Killed
Sheldon R. Coons Sergeant Passenger Killed
Camille F. Devaney Sergeant Passenger Killed
Boyd P. Dobbs Sergeant Passenger Killed
John D. Leasure Sergeant Passenger Killed
Calvert G. Pool Corporal Passenger Killed


Following the end of conflict in Europe US Forces began to return home, some as their period of service came to an end and others in preparation for the expected attack on Japan. Most returned by sea but some USAAF personnel returned by air. This aircraft was one of many that were being flown back to the USA with those additional passengers. It was being flown from Polebrook in Northamptonshire to RAF Valley on Anglesey before the final leg back to the USA, on board was a crew of ten with another ten passengers. As with a number of other flights engaged in this operation it never left the British Isles.

While approaching Valley in low visibility the crew requested a course to steer and this was transmitted to them by Valley, however the aircraft flew on the reciprocal course which took it inland towards Dolgellau. After a short while the crew realised the error and began a turn to starboard to take them back out to sea. Before this turn was completed it struck high ground close to the summit of Craig Cwm Llwyd on the southern side of the Mawddach Estuary, it travelled approximately 300 feet along the crags before its last impact where the wreck broke up and was destroyed by fire.

Memorial plaque below the crash site of B-17 44-8639 on Craig Cwm Llwyd, Copyright - Peak District Air Accident Research
In 1995 this plaque commemorating the 20 US servicemen was attached to the wall beside the footpath and track below the crash site by Matthew Rimmer of Dolgellau.
View towards Barmouth from the crash site memorial for B-17 44-8639
The plaque with Barmouth Bridge and the town of Barmouth in the background.
The crash site of B-17 44-8639 on Craig Cwm Llwyd
The crash site itself is marked by this scar on the hillside above the memorial.
View from the crash site of B-17G 44-8639 on Craig Cwm Llwyd towards Barmouth
Looking back down from the site.


Eleven of those killed were subsequently buried at Cambridge American Cemetery, below are photographs of nine of their graves.

Grave at Cambridge American Cemetery of Pilot, 1st Lieutenant Howard R. Hibbard
Pilot, 1st Lt Hibbard
Grave of Captain Joseph A. Glover at Cambridge American Cemetery
Navigator, Captain Glover
Grave of Engineer, Master Sergeant John O. Montgomery at Cambridge American Cemetery
Engineer / Crew Chief, Master Sergeant Montgomery
Grave of Staff Sergeant Santo A. Caruso at Cambridge American Cemetery
Gunner Staff Sergeant Caruso
Grave of Staff Sergeant Robert E Smith at Cambridge American Cemetery
Gunner, Staff Sergeant Smith


Grave of Sergeant Edwin R Birtwell at Cambridge American Cemetery
Sergeant Birtwell
Grave of Sheldon R. Coons at Cambridge American Cemetery
Sergeant Coons
Grave of Sergeant Boyd P. Dobbs at Cambridge American Cemetery
Sergeant Dobbs
Grave of 1st Lieutenant Richard E. Higley at Cambridge American Cemetery
1st Lt Higley
Grave of Technical Sergeant Paul Lucyk at Cambridge American Cemetery
Technical Sergeant Lucyk
Grave of Staff Sergeant Teed O. Smith at Cambridge American Cemetery
Staff Sergeant Smith