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42-107191

B-17 Flying Fortress

Delivered Tulsa 18/3/44; Kearney 29/9/44; Grenier 6/4/44; Assigned 600BS/398BG [N8-K] AAF-131 Nuthampstead 9/4/44; while on practice mission 4/5/44 with Lt K. Elwood collided in mid-air with 42-102467, but ret to base, vertical fin was damaged.

42-107191 was damaged again on 8 May 1944 at 17:30 hrs when piloted by Cpt William Markey, the right wing tip hit the top of a parked truck and then the lower right wing of parked B-17 42-97394.

Aircraft was lost during assembly for mission to Versailles (Buc) and crashed Lude Farm, Loudwater, Bucks. on 12 August 1944; with Charles Searl, Co-pilot: Albert Dion, Navigator: Saul Kempner, Bombardier: Leo Walsh, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Jim Beaty, Radio Operator: Cecil Kennedy, Ball turret gunner: Alf Bueffel, Waist gunner: Orville Wilson, Tail gunner: Albt Knight (9 Killed in Action); Salvaged 14/8/44.

Note: to date no photograph of this aircraft has been found so far, although at least one may possibly exist.

Further information about the events of 12 August 1944:

Crashed with the loss of all crew at Lude Farm, Penn, Buckinghamshire, England.
Coordinates of crash site are 51°37'4" N 0°40'43"W

B-17 42-107191 took off at 0618 from AAF Nuthampstead, south of Royston, Hertfordshire and was to head to "Splasher" #6 a radio beacon, but this was changed during thr Mission-76, to “Splasher” #11 radio beacon. This was situated at Haben Farm one mile South of Rogate in Hampshire.

One post mission interrogation report from Lt E.L.Ford ( who was flying to the left and forward of “7191” states that he saw " a large explosion above clouds- may have been Searl or Doodle-bug, left one splotch of smoke, but no trail.Believed it was a buzz-bomb"
This might account for later reports suggesting an in flight explosion?

Whatever the cause may have been, the aircraft crashed at Lude Farm, Gatemoor Lane, with no survivors, at a time estimated between 07:10 to 07:25am,- Lt Charles J Searl, the pilot, may have been searching for AAF Bovingdon Air Field, Station 112 Lat 51°43'35" N Long 0°32'41" W.in an attempt to make an emergency landing.

(Note that tail gunner and tenth crew member, Frank.A. Snyder, did not fly on the day of the crash and survived the war, passing away on 5 June 2015, aged 90 years).

All aircraft flew with only 9 crew members at this time. This was due to aft centre of gravity problems at high combat weights. Thus the tenth crew member along with the radio room gun, and all anti-icing equipment were removed to reduce weight and bring the centre of gravity back within limits.

Reports of severe icing on the morning of 12th August , including the abort and return to base of another B-17 from the 398th BG, indicate that the weather conditions and removal of de-icing equipment may have played some part in the chain of events.

Note, as of January 2017, two witnesses to the crash are still alive. Mr Len Howard, and Mr David Huntley. Mr Howard states he saw the aircraft pitch down and then spin three times before impact.

David E. Huntley as the only living witness to the immediate crash scene has offered the following description of the event that fateful day;

"B-17 Crash August 12, 1944
This is the story of the Tomahawk Warrior crash that this author witnessed!

A NOTE TO MY CHILDREN & GRAND - CHILDREN
It would probably surprise you if I said that a 40 second sliver of time and distance separates you all from what you are today, to nothing at all, to a non-existence, to not even be a thought in someone’s mind. A little dramatic perhaps but nevertheless, true.
Let me explain;
I have in the past mentioned to you that as a small boy I had just been through the blitz in London and later the V1 and finally the V2's were starting to come in when we left the city and came to live temporarily at an aunt's cottage in Loudwater near High Wycombe Buckinghamshire. Early one morning just as it was getting light, a plane roared overhead flying extremely low with its engines spluttering and in less than a minute a massive explosion rocked the building and the whole area. My brother Bob and step brother Tom said there was a plane crash, and we should all get up out of bed, and go to investigate.
We ran up the hill of Derehams Lane toward where the crash occurred and it was there I saw the remains of a plane virtually unrecognizable as a plane at all! There were people running around with galvanized metal tubs picking up bloody body parts, and I re-call parachute silk being used to cover bodies or remains . As an almost nine year old it made a deep impression upon me. My brothers were trying to shield me from the gruesome scene although I had seen plenty of wartime in London. I was asking how could the airmen have been using parachutes? Obviously the plane had been too low for the crew to bail out. I now have the answer to that question. The chutes were now shrouds!
It was an amazing coincidence that exactly on the 12th of August 2016 I came across the written history of that crash that had occurred on the 12th of August, 1944 while researching for a different story of WWII. Although it’s 72 years later, it validates everything I saw that fateful morning. A B-17 bomber of the USAAF 398th Bomb Group nicknamed “Tomahawk Warrior” took off from Nuthamstead for their 25th bombing mission when 2 of the four engines caught fire.
This caused them to crash at Lude Farm in Penn just above Loudwater.
When you read the official account of the flight that I have attached below, you will learn that the pilot Lt. Charles Searl, was making every effort to avoid crashing his plane in a populated area. He could not crash land in the large meadows nearby to our cottages because like many other large open spaces, they were covered in massive concrete pillars to prevent German invaders from using gliders to land troops.
Lt. Searl saw the farmland and flew right over our cottage to get to it. Lude Farm is 1.5 miles from where we were staying and at the speed he was flying, probably around 150 miles per hour, it must have been approximately 40 seconds later he hit the ground. The effect of this plane load of bombs exploding on impact was of course far greater than any single bomb I had experienced in London. The noise and blast was felt for miles around. Had that plane not made it to the open farmland and had dropped on us in Loudwater, many people would have been killed, including ourselves.
So we should all be thankful that America came to the rescue of Europe in WWII and for our family in particular, we must remember Lt. Charles Searl and his crew who bravely diverted his plane that morning so that we could enjoy the fruits of freedom from an oppressive government had the Nazi’s prevailed.
I had written my book (see below)and dedicated it to WWII veterans long before I came across the record about this plane. Maybe it's part of my quest to thank those who served in helping to save Europe from tyranny.
David E. Huntley
Author - Death Watch Beetle, A Historical Post WWII Spy Thriller.
August 15, 2016
David now resides in McKinney Texas and is 82 years old.

Researchers note: For the last 74 years, this aircraft has widely been reported as having the nickname “The Tomahawk Warrior”, in contemporary records, most likely due to the original aircraft named and flown across from the US ( Rapid City), to Nuthampstead, England.( see 42-97267).

New records from the Late George Schatz, who was bombardier on 42-107191, on at least 14 documented occasions, strongly suggest the aircraft was in fact called “Peggy”, named after the wife of the aircraft captain- Lt Ken Elwood. It is believed that the name “Peggy” was painted in red on the port side of the nose.

Service

Units

  • 398th Bomb Group

    398th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 398th Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses from Nuthampstead, Hertfordshire on strategic bombing raids over Germany. The Group switched focus in the days before D-Day, when they targeted enemy positions on the Cherbourg peninsula. When the Allied...

  • 600th Bomb Squadron

People

  • James Beaty

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Engineer | 398th Bomb Group
    Killed in Action (KIA) 12 August 1944 in B-17 near Penn, England. Exploded in route to target.

  • Alfred Bueffel

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Ball Turret Gunner | 398th Bomb Group
    Killed in Action (KIA) 12 August 1944 in B-17 near Penn, England. on B-17, 42-107191, exploded in route to target.

  • Albert Dion

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 398th Bomb Group
    Killed in Action (KIA) 12 August 1944 in B-17 near Penn, England. Exploded in route to target

  • Kenneth Elwood

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 398th Bomb Group
    May 4 1944 Elwood was flying ship 107191 in the number two position in the lead element of the low squadron and Lt Ford was flying the number 3 position. Elwood said, "before the accident occurred one of my crew told me to watch Ford's shi

  • Saul Kempner

    Military | Lieutenant | Navigator | 398th Bomb Group
    Wounded in action 8 July 1944 on Humieres mission. Killed in Action (KIA) 12 August 1944 in B-17 near Penn, England. Exploded in route. Purple Heart (July 1944)

  • Cecil Kennedy

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Radio Operator | 398th Bomb Group
    Killed in Action (KIA) 12 August 1944 in B-17G near Penn, England.

  • Albert Knight

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 398th Bomb Group
    Killed in Action (KIA) 12 August 1944 in B-17 (42-107191) near Penn, England, exploded en- route to target.

  • George Schatz

    Military | First Lieutenant | Bombardier | 398th Bomb Group
    May 4 1944 Elwood was flying ship 107191 in the number two position in the lead element of the low squadron and Lt Ford was flying the number 3 position. Elwood said, "before the accident occurred one of my crew told me to watch Ford's shi

  • Charles Searl

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 398th Bomb Group
    Killed in Action (KIA) 12 August 1944 in B-17G 42-107191 near Penn, England. The aircraft exploded on impact with ground at Lude Farm, whilst en-route to target. Aircraft was carrying 38 100lb AN M-30 GP Bombs for target at Luc airfield, Versailles,...

  • Frank Snyder

    Military | Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 398th Bomb Group

Show more

Missions

  • 358

    19 May 1944

  • 379

    29 May 1944
    Mission #2. The target was an aircraft assembly plant. Flak was exceedingly heavy. We were in the air 7-1/2 hours.

Places

  • Nuthampstead

    Military site : airfield
    Built during 1942-43, Nuthampstead was the nearest Eighth Air Force heavy bomber base to London. It had three concrete runways, 50 loop hardstandings and two dispersed T2 hangars. It was first occupied from September 1943 to April 1944 by the 55th...

Events

Event Location Date
Crashed Lude Farm 12 August 1944

Crash site of B-17 G. 42-107191

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
21 May 2018 18:08:28 DHardie Changes to mission associations
Sources

398th.org formation charts

Date Contributor Update
21 May 2018 17:58:27 DHardie Changes to nicknames
Sources

Private papers of the late George Schatz, bombardier 398th BG, kind permission of K.Miller.

Date Contributor Update
21 May 2018 17:53:16 DHardie Changes to nicknames and description
Sources

Papers of the late George Schatz, bombardier 398th BG, by kind permission K.Miller.

Date Contributor Update
21 May 2018 17:42:15 DHardie Changes to nicknames, person associations and mission associations
Sources

398th.org formation charts

Date Contributor Update
20 April 2018 11:25:22 DHardie Changes to nicknames
Sources

Ongoing research by D.Hardie

Date Contributor Update
18 April 2018 02:35:07 DHardie Changes to events
Sources

George Schatz personal papers

Date Contributor Update
18 April 2018 02:33:34 DHardie Changes to nicknames and description
Sources

George Schatz personal papers

Date Contributor Update
16 April 2018 12:51:16 DHardie Changes to description
Sources

D. Hardie - text edit ref photograph

Date Contributor Update
03 January 2018 23:49:30 Mdala Changes to description
Sources

Extract from Author's web site

Date Contributor Update
25 May 2017 17:58:24 DHardie Changes to description
Sources

Group Commander's Report 398th BG for Mission 67, 12 August 1944, and recent interview with eyewitness Mr L Howard.

Date Contributor Update
24 May 2017 21:07:36 DHardie Changes to description
Sources

Reference from Cliff Bishop's book "Fortresses over Nuthampstead" , p223,136,23

Date Contributor Update
17 May 2017 09:49:05 Lucy May Changes to production block number, nicknames, markings, description and unit associations
Sources

Brought in information from a duplicate record. Sources:
Dave Osborne, B-17 Fortress Master Log;
Darryl Parker of the 398th Bomb Group Memorial Association (https://www.americanairmuseum.com/user/32993);
http://www.joebaugher.com/usaf_serials/1942_5.html

Date Contributor Update
28 April 2017 15:16:28 DHardie Changes to description
Sources

Information on tail gunner F. Snyder verified with online obituary 5 June 2015.

Date Contributor Update
28 April 2017 14:57:29 DHardie Changes to description
Sources

Narrative changed in accordance with 398 BG operational report for 12 August 1944.

Date Contributor Update
09 February 2017 14:06:13 DHardie Changes to production block number, manufacturer, nicknames and markings
Sources

Museum of Flight archives, Boeing Field , Seattle,Wa.

Date Contributor Update
03 February 2017 16:50:42 DHardie Changes to events
Sources

Location description

Date Contributor Update
03 February 2017 16:48:40 DHardie Changes to events
Sources

Map location of crash site

Date Contributor Update
03 February 2017 16:32:33 DHardie Changes to description
Sources

Coorrdinate corrections.

Date Contributor Update
03 February 2017 16:31:25 DHardie Changes to description
Sources

Grammatical corrections to text.

Date Contributor Update
03 February 2017 16:27:53 DHardie Changes to description
Sources

Edits to Cheshunt website entry to coordinates for airfields changed to degrees , minutes, seconds format.

Some info also sourced from site http://deathwatchbeetle.net

Date Contributor Update
03 February 2017 16:01:13 DHardie Changes to markings
Sources

Wally Blackman's description of Identification of 398th BG aircraft from 398th.org website, as well as photographs of similar squadron aircraft on the same website.

Date Contributor Update
03 February 2017 15:52:07 DHardie Changes to media associations
Sources

Photograph submitted by D Hardie

Date Contributor Update
03 February 2017 15:38:15 DHardie Changes to description and person associations
Sources

Cheshunt at war website

Date Contributor Update
03 February 2017 15:28:51 DHardie Changes to markings
Sources

Geoff Rice 398th.org photograph archiver

Date Contributor Update
03 February 2017 15:26:57 DHardie Created entry with serial number, aircraft type, nicknames, description, aircraft associations, unit associations, person associations and place associations
Sources

Internet website

http://www.cheshuntatwar.co.uk/

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