My small tribute to all those that have fallen in conflicts around the world.For many years I’ve been meaning to visit the crash site of U.S.A.A.F. B-24-H Liberator Bomber, SN:42-95095 which crashed by the banks of Lochan Sgeireach near Gairloch, Scotland on 13th June 1945 with the loss of all onboard – 9 crew and 6 US Service passengers. The crash happened about 5 weeks after the war in Europe ended and the Service Personnel were returning home to the USA. Pictured below is the plaque affixed to the rock face at the crash site showing their names, rank and ages of all those onboard.
“IN MEMORY OF THE CREW AND PASSENGERS OF A B-24-H LIBERATOR BOMBER, SERIAL NO. 42-95095, WHICH BECAME LOST WHILE RETURNING TO THE U.S.A. ON JUNE 13th, 1945, AND CRASHED AT THIS PLACE WITH THE LOSS OF ALL ON BOARD.”
The B-24-H had taken off from (RAF?) Prestwick enroute to the USA, Its route via Keflavík (Meeks Field) in Iceland should have taken it over Stornoway in the Western Isles, it appears that the aircraft was 25 miles off course to the East, reports indicate that there was an engine fire, Over Wester Ross the aircraft began to lose height, and struck the summit of Slioch, in the process of striking the top of Slioch, the B-24 may have lost some parts of its bomb bay doors. However, the aircraft continued in flight for some considerable distance to Gairloch.
At this point, it seems, the pilot was attempting to make a crash-landing. Unfortunately, however, his aircraft appears to have struck the rocky outcrops around the Fairy Lochs. Almost immediately, the B-24 crashed, scattering wreckage over a wide area. Other reports suggest that the pilot may have tried to ditch into the loch but “skimmed” off of it and into mountainside.
Above, image showing some of the aircraft remains including 1 of the engines against the side of the loch, the memorial plaque is affixed to the darkened rockface top right of the image.
A closer view of the engine in the previous image. Note the propeller blade sticking out of the water in the distance.
Whilst walking amongst the wreckage I was aware of how much the pieces appear to have been disturbed, the piece in the image above is a prime example – the debris has been on the hillside for nearly 70 years but is sitting on top of the vegetation.
The remainder of a wheel and a piece of what looks like the tyre.
Above and below, a couple of monochrome images showing different views of the part submerged propeller, the processing hopefully conveys a feeling of the sombre atmosphere.
The Poppy – a symbol of remembrance for many people around the world.
The crash site is an offical War Grave and no wreckage should be disturbed or removed from the site and to respect and remember those whose remains still lie buried at this location.
The walk to the memorial is pretty straightforward, quite well marked but over a very boggy patch, when I was there Sept’ 2013 it looked like at about the halfway mark they were planting a lot of trees. The lower section, just after it forks off of the main path is very slippery, on the way back the rain started and the midges appeared, so I increased my pace which resulted in myself slipping over and landing on my ribs on top of the camera. Very painfull.
For further reading
12y old Ian Shuttleworths mission to identify the victims of the crash.