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Thread: Liberator crash at Fairy Lochs, 1945

  1. #1
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    Liberator crash at Fairy Lochs, 1945

    Hi,

    I've just got back from a fortnight in Scotland and while there we visited the crash site of a Liberator at the Fairy Lochs on the West coast. I'll post some pics (a) if they come out and (b) if anyone is interested.

    I've had a little Google and there is some info, mostly fairly terse and from the same source, on the web. However I'm sure that there was an article in Flypast a few years ago about this very crash. Unfortunately due to reasons of space I've just donated my entire collection to the local ATC, and to Jagan. I'm sure they are enjoying them but it means I cannot look it up!

    Has anyone out there got a copy of this issue that they could copy the article from, please?

    Adrian
    "Snow clearing equipment has been found under snowdrift" - message sent from RNAS Hatston, Orkney, 1944.

  2. #2
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    Hi Adrian,

    I visited the Liberator crash site a year or so ago. It's a really sad story with all onboard having survived the war only to be killed on the flight that was taking them home to America at the end of hostilities.

    There was an article in Night & Day magazine September 28th 1997 written by Jean Rafferty. I haven't seen the Flypast article but would like to if anyone has it.

    B-24H Liberator 42-95095 of the 66th Bomber Squadron, 44 Bomb Group, 9th USAAF, crashed at Sidhean Mor, near Gairloch 13th June 1945 whilst flying home to the USA if I remember correctly the number of airmen killed in this tragedy was 15.

  3. #3
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    Looks like two of us want a copy, then! Would it post on the forum I wonder, or does that create copyright issues?

    Adrian
    "Snow clearing equipment has been found under snowdrift" - message sent from RNAS Hatston, Orkney, 1944.

  4. #4
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    Some piccies - I have more, but not a lot of time to scan 'em in. Will appear in due time, especially if anyone else looks interested... SOMEONE must still have that article?

    EDIT: For some reason on my PC I cannot see the thumbnails. However if i click on them I get the full size picture. Bizarre...

    They are:
    A part number on some kind of control - appears to be attached to the edge of a moveable surface. Can anyone read it, and tell me which one? Sorry about the quality - no zoom!

    Said control in situ

    A piece of wreckage that must be easy for someone in the know

    A general view of part of the wreckage. This part of the debris seems to be approximately in situ (ie where it fell) - it seems to be part of the flying surfaces, perhaps one wing, but I don't know enough about Liberator construction to be sure.

    Adrian
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    Last edited by adrian_gray; 2nd September 2005 at 09:29.
    "Snow clearing equipment has been found under snowdrift" - message sent from RNAS Hatston, Orkney, 1944.

  5. #5
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    please post more ....
    Cheers,Peter
    "Merlins always drip oil, when they don't....worry!"

  6. #6
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    I have been to the site almost every summer since 1989 - it has an erie presence about it and is certainly well worth the trudge up the hill - spectacular views over Gairloch bay as a bonus. I am always pleasantly surprised by how little the site has changed, i.e. how most people have respected the site and not moved or taken any parts which are scattered about.

  7. #7
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    Unexpected free time last night, so here are the rest of my pics. I'll post them in batches so that they are easier to caption.

    These are: Alclad stamps still visible on the inner surface of a panel, the well known propellor, a panel stencilled with "ground line" and "liferaft" and a section of wing(?) embedded in the hillside. Given that there is almost no soil, it gives one a very scary inkling as to the sort of forces involved when something as deformable as this can be rammed into the ground so far.

    Adrian
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    "Snow clearing equipment has been found under snowdrift" - message sent from RNAS Hatston, Orkney, 1944.

  8. #8
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    A few more: The island in the lochan,with engine sat next to it, one undercarriage leg, a panel that looks identifiable, a panel stencilled "wing vent" and another view of the wing(?) wreckage.

    Adrian
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    Last edited by adrian_gray; 7th February 2007 at 17:40.
    "Snow clearing equipment has been found under snowdrift" - message sent from RNAS Hatston, Orkney, 1944.

  9. #9
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    The last three. The second engine on site, the second main undercarriage leg.
    Finall, the memorial to 15/16 men whose job was done and were going home. All the more tragic for it. What surprised me most was the amount of money that people had left in a pile at the site - a strange thing to do to my mind. I did toy with the idea of taking it and donating it to an appropriate charity who could use it for those who lived rather than those we cannot help anymore. However (a) I couldn't think of an appropriate one for American airmen and (b) it seemed as wrong to take it, for whatever purpose, as it did to leave it in the first place. Illogical? Probably, on both sides.

    I agree with you Jim - it is a very strange place, so peaceful and yet with the debris of one terrible moment spread around like confetti.

    Still hoping someone has that Flypast - I had the blessed thing myself until about a month ago!

    Adrian
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    "Snow clearing equipment has been found under snowdrift" - message sent from RNAS Hatston, Orkney, 1944.

  10. #10
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    On the anniversary of the crash last weekend a group of ATC cadets carried out a survey of the site. Richard has just been telling me that in a wooded area they found a section with the aircraft name painted on it " Sleepy Time Gal ".Has anyone else reported this part? It is still on site because the cadets were told not to remove any parts.
    Last edited by scotavia; 19th June 2010 at 15:26.

  11. #11
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    Strange... I don't recall any trees - the area is either rock, lochan or bog, with nothing much in between. According to the OS, the nearest woodland/plantation is a good kilometre away - not outside the grounds of possibility that someone could have moved it there, or perhaps a westerly gale or three over the years, but I'm dubious without further info, I'm afraid.

    Adrian
    "Snow clearing equipment has been found under snowdrift" - message sent from RNAS Hatston, Orkney, 1944.

  12. #12
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    There are certainly no significant areas of trees, just some smaller areas of rowan. I have seen wreckage further away from the crash site presumably spread out from the crash impact but certainly nothing that had any kind of art work. My father recalls coming across a Browning cooling sleeve and a flying boot in the 60's whilst out walking near the site which must have been dropped by the recovery team.

    Was Sleepy Time Gal not a P61?

  13. #13
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    It was a common nose art name, I have found examples on google images on several types.
    The cadets did cover a wide area and the trees were small not what you would think of as a plantation.
    Seems this will remain on site and hopefully the next finder will have a camera handy.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by sam View Post
    There are certainly no significant areas of trees, just some smaller areas of rowan. I have seen wreckage further away from the crash site presumably spread out from the crash impact but certainly nothing that had any kind of art work. My father recalls coming across a Browning cooling sleeve and a flying boot in the 60's whilst out walking near the site which must have been dropped by the recovery team.

    Was Sleepy Time Gal not a P61?
    The name "Sleept Time Gal" was probably one of the most popular aircraft names during the war, there were at least 10 B-24 Liberators that carried the name.

  15. #15
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    Info I've seen said it was a 44th Bomb Group B-24 that crashed there named "Sleepy Time Gal" (s/n 42-95095). Two other sources (B24BestWeb and the 93rd Bomb Group Assn. site) say that this plane was from the 328th Bomb Squadron, 93rd Bomb Group. I think the USAAF used a few Bomb Groups as clearing houses for personnel returning home and transfered planes into those groups before the flight home. I know the 458th Bomb Group was one of those used for this, the 44th must have been too.

    There were 15 men aboard for the flight, the 9 man crew and 6 passengers.

    1st Lt. Jack B. Ketchum - pilot
    1st Lt. Jack H. Spencer - copilot
    2nd Lt. Richard J. Robak - navigator
    T/Sgt. Hollburn L. Cheek - engineer
    T/Sgt. James C. Stammer - radio operator
    S/Sgt. Eldon J. Giles - gunner
    S/Sgt. Albert L. Natkin - gunner
    S/Sgt. Raymond E. Davis - gunner
    S/Sgt. Herman Riefen - gunner

    S/Sgt. John B. Ellis,Jr. - passenger
    S/Sgt. James D. Harvey - passenger
    S/Sgt. Alexander W. Hastings - passenger
    S/Sgt. Emil Einarsen - passenger
    S/Sgt. John H. Hallissey - passenger
    S/Sgt. Robert J. Francis - passenger

  16. #16
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    I visited the site in 1998, about the time of the article, and I penned a letter to FlyPast describing the eerie nature of the place which was published later.
    I will have the article filed and can copy when I return from basking on a French beach! If you can hang on a week I'll post again.
    Roger W

  17. #17
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    Thank you DL Sheley for the comfirmation of the name. Richard said the writing is in yellow and part of the drawing of the character is also on the part. He is only 14 and new to the cadets and this was his first site visit, so it is beginners luck.however he was also a mobile snack on legs for the midges.

  18. #18
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    Sounds like I owe the wee lad an apology - plus a second one for immediately thinking "Lucky bleeder!"!

    It is a very sobering place...

    Adrian
    "Snow clearing equipment has been found under snowdrift" - message sent from RNAS Hatston, Orkney, 1944.

  19. #19
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    http://www.b24bestweb.com/sleepytimegal-v7.htm
    Here is a link to a photo of the nose art, albeit of poor quality.

  20. #20
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    It is posssible that the name was on both sides, Richard says the script was more curly and smaller and included a fragment of the artwork which was a leg.

  21. #21
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    The Jack B. Ketchum Crew

    Thank you for the opportunity to address this forum:

    Although it may appear self-serving, I ask your indulgence as I refer you to the book "Flight of the Forgotten" regarding the events leading to the crash under consideration.
    http://www.authorhouse.com
    http://www.amazon.com

    I can speak with a measure of authority as the author of that book and nephew of one of the airmen lost in the tragic crash near Shieldaig, Scotland.

    I would also dissuade those of you that are interested in the story from placing a great deal of emphasis on the Rafferty article. It has been totally debunked by most of the crewmen's families.

    The interest that all of you have expressed concerning the loss of my uncle's crew and your efforts to honor their sacrifice are greatly appreciated.

    Mark A. Vance

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