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UK_Widowmaker

Brought a lump to my throat

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Just up the road from me...and I never knew. My Favourite breed of Dog...getting the highest award for Valour!....it's the stuff of legend

 

 

 

 

On 16 December 1944, Thirty-nine 303rd BG aircraft flew as the 41 CBW-A Group to attack Ulm. The formation was recalled due to adverse weather conditions and turned back at 1005 hours over England. Bombs were jettisoned in the North Sea before the aircraft returned. Some of the aircraft landed at an RAF airfield at Kirmington, England.

 

One of the 303rd BG(H) B-17s became lost and crashed into a mountain southeast of Edinburgh, Scotland. The B-17, #44-6504 (No Name), 360BS, was on its third mission. After the mission was recalled, the Fortresses broke formation on the return route and were ordered to land separately at various Bases to avoid mid-air collisions. The Pilot, 2Lt George A. Kyle, executed a 180 degree turn back toward England and, at the same time, began his descent. On several occasions he requested headings, only to discover that they were coming from German transmitters. Twice he found himself heading toward France. He descended to 3,000 ft., attempted to find a hole in the clouds, and retained his bombs, not knowing where they might drop. At 1315 hours, the west hill of the Cheviot at 2,600 ft. one of the highest points in England, suddenly loomed out of the snow. His B-17 struck the mountainside and skidded across a bog, with the peat absorbing some of the impact.

 

F/O Fred Holcombe, Navigator, and Sgt Frank R. Turner, Togglier, were instantly killed. Fires erupted from the ruptured hydraulic and fuel lines, but the RDX bombs did not explode. Lt Kyle was pulled from the aircraft by his copilot, F/O James H. Hardy. The cockpit crewmen, Kyle, with a broken jaw, Hardy, and Sgt E. C. Schieferstein, the engineer, wandered down the hill, found a farm house, and were taken to an RAF first aid station near Berwick.

 

The four men in the back of the aircraft all suffered minor injuries. Sgt J. A. Berly, radio operator, tried to put out the bomb bay fire, but his foot became entangled in the plywood floor and a mass of peat. Waist Gunner, Sgt William R Kaufmann, who had been knocked unconscious during the crash, regained consciousness in time to pull Sgt Berly free and to assist Sgt George P. Smith, ball turret gunner, from the plane. The three men found tail gunner Sgt Howard F. Delany wandering around in deep snow, bleeding from a severe head wound. They left the aircraft and found shelter in a ditch 100 yards away. After several hours, Sgt Smith felt a dog licking his face. The dog's barking brought two shepherds, John Dagg and Frank Moscrop, to the ditch. They had been searching in the storm with Dagg's collie Sheila for survivors. Sheila led the group through the blizzard to Dagg's cottage. The B-17 blew up with a window-shattering explosion just as they reached the cottage. Dagg's daughter ran two miles through the storm to summon help by telephone. Later that night the four sergeants were taken to the same RAF hospital that treated the other crewmen.

 

Sequel:

2Lt George A. Kyle, Jr., pilot - was invalided back to the US in April, 1945.

F/O James H. Hardy, copilot - returned to flying and completed 30 missions. He was awarded the Soldier's Medal for rescuing Lt Kyle.

F/O Fred Holcombe, navigator, and Sgt Frank R. Turner, togglier, were buried at the American Cemetery at Cambridge, England. In 1946 Sgt Turner's mother wrote to the shepherd, John Dagg, and thanked him for his efforts. She asked that if the collie Sheila had puppies, she would like to buy one. A few months later the RAF flew Sheila's first puppy, named Tibbie, to South Carolina. Tibbie lived for 11 years as the adopted town pet of Columbia, SC.

Sgts Schieferstein, Berly, Kaufmann, and Delany returned to flying status and flew another 10 or 11 missions. Sgt Kaufmann was awarded the Soldier's Medal for his rescue of Sgt Berly.

Sgt George P. Smith, ball turret gunner, collapsed on a train platform in London with spinal meningitis while on a rest leave. At the 150th Station Hospital, he was pronounced dead and was taken to the morgue. While awaiting autopsy, Maj. Hill, a doctor, noticed that Smith's dog tags indicated that he was from Louisville, Kentucky, Maj. Hill's hometown. The doctor decided to listen for Smith's heart beat once more, detected a faint heart beat, and revived him.

John Dagg and Frank Moscrop, the shepherds, were awarded the British Empire Medal in June, 1945, in ceremonies on the Cheviot. This was Dagg's second medal for rescue efforts during the war.

Sheila, the collie, was awarded the Dickin Medal for animal heroism, the first civilian dog to be awarded this medal.

Summer, 1967 - Members of the St. Michael's Church Choir Club, Alnwick, England, unearthed portions of aircraft #44-6504 on the Cheviots's mountainside where it crashed, and found two bombardier microswitches. The switches were sent to the Honeywell Microswitch Division, Freeport, Illinois, where tests revealed that one of the switches was still in working order. The boys in Alnwick, called "The Reivers," an ancient term for border raiders, embarked on the arduous task of building a memorial. One propeller freed from the wreckage was planted in concrete pointing toward the grave of the buried bomber. A memorial plaque was installed that reads: "Erected by the St. Michael's Church Choir Club, The Reivers, to the men of the U.S.A.A.F. who fought for our freedom,1941-1945."

June, 1968 - Sgt Turner's son, Roderick Turner Merritt, 23, of South Carolina, the seven crew survivors, high ranking military guests - including the retired Generals Spaatz and Eaker, and Air Vice Marshall David Crowley-Milking, RAF Air Attache in Washington, DC - and a Honeywell vice president made a 3,500-mile impulse journey to England to participate in the dedication of the memorial. They took part in the ceremony by slipping a blue and yellow drape from the memorial. The vicar of St Michael's Church, the choir boys, and others, also participated in the memorial ceremony high atop the mountain. It was climaxed by a flyover of four US F100 fighters and the sounding of "The Last Post" by a bare-headed Reiver bugler.

 

The mountainside plaque was vandalized and no longer exists. Large aircraft parts remain at the crash site. On 26 December 1994, on the fiftieth anniversary of the crash, two F-15 Jets from the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath made a 1315 hours flyover at the crash site - the exact hour of the crash. The flyover was viewed by a group of citizens from Wooler, who hiked to the crash site. Pupils from the Glendale Middle School in Wooler lined up on a former airfield to form the figure "50" that was seen by the flyover pilots. A new monument, dedicated to all airmen who lost their lives on the Cheviot Hills, was dedicated on 19 May 1995 at the Sutherland Hall entrance to College Valley. A display of the crashes was placed in the Wooler Library. The ceremony was attended by crash survivors George Kyle and Joe Berly and Frank Moscrop, one of the rescue shepherds.

 

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That sure is a touching report, Widow.

Isn't it amazing, that they always seem to know where they are?

Have we humans only lost this ability? Maybe only us "most civilised" humans?

 

Here's a nice video for you - the Border Collie's beauty in slow motion:

 

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Thanks Olham..nice video.

 

I suppose she was just 'Looking after her flock'....... they just happened to be Two Legged members :drinks:

 

Here's a drawing of the aircraft

post-22245-0-62240100-1343649920.jpg

 

And her crew

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GEORGE A. KYLE CREW - 360th BS

(crew assigned 360BS: 25 Nov 1944 - photo: 28 Nov 1944)

 

(Back L-R) F/O Fred Holcombe (N),

F/O James H. Hardy (CP), 2Lt George A. Kyle (P),

Sgt Ernest G. Schieferstein (E)

(Front L-R) Sgt Howard F. Delaney (TG),

Sgt Frank R. Turner (Tog), Sgt William R. Kaufmann (WG),

Sgt George P. Smith (BT), Sgt Joel A. Berly, Jr. ®

 

 

So sad, to think of those two young lads...dying like that, on a cold, snow covered hill...thousands of miles from their families. I know it happened many, many times...but, when you see their faces...hear their stories... it sure brings it home :(

Edited by UK_Widowmaker

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I can understand your feelings, UK. I myself was quite surprised when I learnt the place of a relatively famous wartime crash. Since a child, I have been fascinated about several feats that happened during the air battle over France, May-June 1940. One of them that especially impressed me was the story of the 3-men crew of a Potez 63-11 observation crate, shot down and killed by 7 attacking BF-109, but not before having expended all of their ammo and shot down 3 of their aggressors! It is said that the 3 wreckages were found close to each other in the Potez' path, but I could never find out the Germans' unit, and don't know if they were posthumous overclaims. Anyway, the story is sometimes mentioned to specify that the Potez scouts were not always sacrificed clay pigeons.

 

I knew the crew's names, the date, but not where they fell. It's only when I browsed the net a couple of years ago that I discovered it was a place I knew very well. The stone below stands in a clearing in the woods overlooking the village of Moussy (Marne). It happens that one decade and half ago, I often wandered in these woods for they were next to my then girlfriend's place! Yet, we had never drifted to that clearing... So surprising life can be...

 

On the stone one can read: "François Berveiller, Captain pilot - Fernand Gonzalez, Lieutenant observer - Louis Delorme, Lance Corporal gunner - G.A.O. 543 - Fell gloriously aboard their Potez 63.11 70 meters behind this stone, on 9 June 1940, returning from a mission above the Aisne, after having shot down 3 of their opponents." :salute:

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Great stories, Widow and Cap'n V.

 

There was a famous crash where I live, too. When the space shuttle blew up on re-entry some years ago, my area received a shower of the smaller, lighter pieces of debris. With the rest of my fire department and the sheriff's deputies, I spent the next couple weeks hiking the hills looking for pieces and even found one.

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Another touching story, Capitaine - thanks for sharing!

 

Bullet, what part did you guys find?

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Bullet, what part did you guys find?

 

I found one of those little thin pieces of rubber that went between the heat shield tiles. Other folks found a couple more of those. We also found some small tufts of what looked like insulation and tinfoil. Given they were found way out in the woods with no obvious terrestrial source nearby, we thought they might have come from the sky so we picked them up, too. Never did hear if they were part of the shuttle or not. But that was the sort of thing that made it this far east--just light stuff that could float on the wind. All the solid, heavy parts fell in Texas.

 

We also investigated dozens of reports where people called in saying they'd found part of the shuttle. All of these turned out to be common, everyday objects, pieces broken off normal things, which had been lying there for a long time. The people hadn't noticed them before but when they saw on the news that debris was in our area, they naturally started looking around their yards and their imagination got the better of them. I especially recall one old lady who handed me a small blue, plastic button sewn to a small scrap of blue vinyl sheet. She thought it was part of an astronaut's uniform but it was obviously part of an old piece of pool-side furniture. She still even had part of that furniture set, with identical fabric and buttons, out beside her swimming pool.

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From Louisiana well into Texas - damn, I still remember both Shuttle accidents - they were like stings into the heart,

when I saw the pictures. Especially the first one's explosion soon after their start really hit me.

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Actually Olham, it was was heading east. It blew up over central Texas and the bigger, heavier chunks were strewn across south-east Texas up to near the Lousy Anna line. The smaller, lighter pieces came down as far east as southern Alabama.

 

That was the usual landing pattern. It would come across Texas a little south of Waco, then over Lousy Anna's armpit towards the Florida panhandle, by which time it was low enough to actually fly and it would turn SE towards Cape Canaveral. I watched it re-enter several times over the years and heard the sonic boom countless times when I wasn't looking.

 

One time when I lived in Waco, Texas, it landed on a beautiful clear, full-moon night. I drove out to a local city park to have a good view of it. When I first saw it, it looked like a flagpole on the western horizon, a silver pole with a golden ball on top. But this flagpole was growing. At that time, the radio was saying it was just coming in over California. In just a minute or so, it was passing nearly overhead and the silver pole was revealed as a contrail illuminated by the moonlight. It went by with the same bearing rate as a jet doing a low pass at an airshow (IOW, it looked like it was doing 400 knots right in front of you, although it was still like 30 miles high). Just as quickly, it was nearly to the eastern horizon but just before it went out of sight, I watched it make its turn to the SE. The contrail stretched across the entire bowl of the sky, glowing in the moonlight. By the time I'd gotten back in my car, the radio said the thing was on the ground safely, and the sonic boom didn't reach me until I'd driven a little ways home.

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Hey, you can write and describe things very well, Bullet. I never saw these landings on TV, but you made me "see" them.

Didn't they also have a landing spot in the west somewhere? Utah?

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They could have landed at Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California, but that, of course, has to be a decision made well before the de-orbit burn. And Bullethead, I'll second Olham's assesment of your writing skills, I'd have loved to have been there with you for that one.

 

I was in engineering school for the Challenger disaster, the whole place was as silent as a library - we were all shocked. I later worked with an engineer (one of the semi-retired "associates" that we use) who worked on the investigation into the failure. I wouldn't make a pimple on that guy's .... Sadly, he's gone on to his reward.

 

On a nicer note: Toward the end of the program, NASA released a Google Earth "Live Space Shuttle" add-in that allowed you to follow the shuttle in very close to real time. Had a little Space Shuttle Icon and everything. I followed Discovery's last landing with it, but the last flight, I was kinda sad because I couldn't watch the landing at some ungodly early hour of the morning. Strangely enough, though, I woke up at 4:30 AM. So I got up, fired up my computer and laptop, and had NASA live TV on one, with Google Earth on the other. Then I get a text from my 82 year old mother - "Are you up?" She lives in Winter Haven, FL, near my sister. She went downstairs, but in the dark she couldn't see the shuttle. But she stayed on the phone, and so I got to hear the last sonic boom over her cell phone!

 

You know how in an air liner, you're traveling at, what, .82 - .87 Mach and 39,000 ft max? And you start descending probably a good 100 miles from your destination, just easing on down... Winter Haven is like, 40 miles from the Cape, and the Shuttle passes over it at 90,000 ft doing Mach 3, and they proceed to "dead stick" a 1 shot landing a couple of minutes later. You read the exploits of the pioneers, from Lilienthal to our heroes from the Great War, to these guys, and you wonder how their craft ever left the ground carrying their enormous brass ... well you know what I mean! Think of the moon landings and how many things had to go right. What must it have been like to be on the moon's surface - fantastic on the one hand, but the "magnificent desolation" spoken of by one of the astronauts - I mean, it's just you and your buddy and if that little rocket right under your feet doesn't work right... just unbelievable courage.

 

Best,

 

Tom

Edited by HumanDrone

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They could have landed at Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California, but that, of course, has to be a decision made well before the de-orbit burn.

 

Yup, it was Edwards. IIRC, that was the original landing site because that's where the refurbishment facilities were. But as I heard it, loading the shuttle on the 747 to get it back to the Cape was such a pain that they extended the runway at the Cape and moved the refurb operation there. After that, Edwards became an emergency field. There were several other designated emergency fields scattered around the world, too, but they were never used.

 

Once when I was stationed at the USMC base of 29 Palms, I had a day off so I rented a car, drove over to Edwards, and just wandered around all over it. In those days at least, all you needed as a military ID to get in the gate. And there on the ramp was the 747 with the shuttle on top, getting ready for the trip to Florida. I also learned something interesting on that trip. When newly built, the shuttles came by truck to Edwards, where they got on the 747. They went right down the main street of Lancaster, CA, which was a tight fit. In fact, for a couple of blocks, the wingspan was too big to fit between the streetlamps, so they installed special hinged lamp poles to fold back out of the way while the shuttle went by. Sadly, I can't find a pic of the folding lamp poles, but this pic should give you an idea of why they were necessary :) http://bentcorner.com/something-never-seen-in-texas/

 

You know how in an air liner, you're traveling at, what, .82 - .87 Mach and 39,000 ft max? And you start descending probably a good 100 miles from your destination, just easing on down... Winter Haven is like, 40 miles from the Cape, and the Shuttle passes over it at 90,000 ft doing Mach 3, and they proceed to "dead stick" a 1 shot landing a couple of minutes later.

 

I have a cousin (the age of my parents) who in the early days of the shuttle was one of the honchos in charge of training astronauts. He was nice enough to give me a backstage tour of the NASA facility in Houston, where they did all the training (it's not just "Mission Control"). There I got to see the simulators (sadly, just "look but don't touch").

 

The 1st simulator they built shows you just how long ago the shuttle program started. This simulator was just for the final landing approach, to support the very first glide tests of Enterprise. It consisted of a physical scale model of the terrain around Edwards and the runway with a TV camera moving on a mechanical arm in response to control inputs and gravity. This was in 1 room while the trainee was in another with a mock-up instrument panel and a TV monitor on top, foreshadowing what some dedicated flightsimmers build today in their homes :grin: . The main purpose of this simulator was get the pilots used to the brick-like glide profile of the shuttle, which came down at like a 45^ angle. And I was told in all seriousness that one of the guys who helped build and test it was a former X-15 pilot, and he'd managed to do a barrel roll on final approach and still land perfectly :yikes: .

 

The main simulator, however, occupied a room the size of a small warehouse. Most of this was filled with what was then a supercomputer and its RAM, dozens and dozens of metal boxes the size of double filing cabinets. In 1 corner of this huge room was a mock-up of the shuttles whole cockpit on a stand that could rotate it from horizontal to vertical, plus a few consoles outside where the training crew set up the scenario. I suppose that today, apart from the mockup prop, you could do all this on your PC with the freeware Orbiter software :blink: . When I was there, the crew of the 6th mission were inside practicing for their upcoming job and I got to meet them.

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Fantastic! My only connection to that program is that my company custom designed and built replacement 150 Hp motors for the vertical motion simulator. My boss recenetly did the repowering study for the crawler, but I didn't get involved with tha at al!, unfortunately!

 

Tom

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