Scots Roots

USAAF Liberator Crash Memorial, Gairloch
November 12, 2015, 12:17 pm
Filed under: Photographs | Tags: , ,

Liberator Bomber 1The Fairy Lochs are a group of small lochs in the hills to the south of Badachro near Gairloch in Wester Ross. Although they make for a fine walk, they are also known for the war memorial to a crashed USAAF Liberator bomber which came down here in 1945 killing all 15 of the men on board.

Liberator Bomber 2It’s a tragic story, not least because the war in Europe had ended and these young men were on their way home to the United States.

Just weeks before, all of them had been assigned to slow surface transport back to the USA, but orders were changed when this B-24 that had just been repaired became available for a faster trip home.

Liberator Bomber 3On 13th June 1945, they left Prestwick Airfield in Scotland heading first for Keflavik in Iceland, a route that should have taken them across Stornoway in the Western Isles. It’s not clear how they ended up inland over Gairloch but something went wrong, perhaps bad weather, perhaps mechanical failure.

The pilot attempted a crash landing but the area is too rocky and the plane crashed into the Fairy Lochs scattering wreckage over a wide area.

Liberator Bomber 4All fifteen of the men perished – nine crewmen and six passengers from Air Transport Command.

The bodies were all recovered for burial so this is not a war grave as such but most of the wreckage still litters the hillside over a large area and some can be seen in the lochs. A memorial plaque has been placed on a cliff-face beside some of the wreckage.

Liberator Bomber 5

Those who perished were:

 Flight Crew

1st/Lt Jack B Ketchum (22), Pilot.

1st/Lt J H Spencer (22), Co-Pilot.

2nd/Lt R J Robak (20), Navigator.

Technical Sgt H L Cheek (21), Flight Engineer.

Technical Sgt J C Stammer (23), Wireless Op.

Staff Sgt E J Gilles (24), Air Gunner.

Staff Sgt A L Natkin (20), Air Gunner.

Staff Sgt R E Davis (26), Air Gunner.

Staff Sgt H Riefen (25), Air Gunner.

Air Transport Command

Staff Sgt J B Ellis Jr. (24), 314th T.C.G.

Staff Sgt J D Harvey (30), 314th T.C.G.

Staff Sgt A W Hastings (23), 314th T.C.G.

Staff Sgt E Einarsen (48), 314th T.C.G

Staff Sgt J H Hallissey (27), 93rd B.G. (H

Staff Sgt R J Francis (20), 323rd B.G. (H).

Liberator Bomber 6


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