Arthur W Reeve

Civilian

Object Number - UPL 23202 - Arthur Reeve

The following is a true account of events as witnessed by A W Reeve:

'The morning was cold, overcast and misty and as I cycled down Ramsholt Road the Fortresses were plainly already on their way to another raid and my thoughts were with them.'

'My old friend Mr Arthur Hunt was at this point disappearing from my view on his moped down the hill towards the Ramsholt Arms Public House. He was an experienced mariner, most of his life at sea, losing the use of one lung after an action at sea off Naples during the First World War. I (Arthur Reeve) was on my last day of a week’s leave from RAF Tern Hill, Shropshire.'

'Having arrived at the Quay Mr Hunt and I were chatting and getting ready to see if it was worth going out fishing. The tide was still running out, and for our purposes we wanted a slack tide. As we decided Mr Hunt looked inland towards Waldringfield and saw flames showing above the river wall towards Stonner Point.'

'In a few seconds as it turned towards Ramsholt opposite Kirton Creek we could see straight away it was a Fortress with a serious engine fire. We ran towards a storage boat nearby for some shelter in case of a collision with the Quay. I was petrified but as I looked up the aircraft ditched in the middle of the river, about 150 yards from us and the Quay.'

'After a few seconds we collected our senses and I remember saying if we are going to try to recover any crew we need the motor boat which we used for fishing, our small dinghy was only large enough for us. Straight away we launched our dinghy and I rowed as I had never rowed before to get to our motorboat.'

'I remember just before we tied up, I thought please God I hope the engine starts – it was always a difficult starter. Now, also just as we got to the motorboat we heard the call of a survivor. The engine in the boat started first time and away we went to a hand sticking out of the water and a muffled cry.'

'We quickly got to this crewman but I could not get him into the boat, as his clothing and equipment were, of course, waterlogged. However, holding him by his harness I could get Mr Hunt to gently get the motorboat ashore, which we did. We propped him up at the end of the Quay as he vomited up the salt water.'

'We then noticed another crew member scrambling towards the shallow water and mud. Mr Hunt was shouting at him getting him to go to the walkable edge which would enable him to make his way to us. We put them together as I felt we should get afloat in case of any other survivors.'

'We searched around the plane which was dangerous because of all the leaking fuel in the water. There was nobody visible to retrieve so we continued our search down river towards Green Point.'

'By the time we got back to the Quay the local police had arrived and the lady from the Ramsholt Arms had taken the two crew members away from the Quayside.'

'I never saw the survivors we had helped again.'

Jeff Coleman:
'The Story Continues: Arthur Reeve married my father’s young cousin in 1954 and it wasn’t until after her death in 2013, that I came across his written account of these events. AS they had no children my brother and I were the Executors. Arthur passed away 2009. I found the story quite fascinating so as part of my research into it I joined a USAF forum and to my total amazement I actually corresponded with Janice, the daughter of 1st Lieutenant Frederick E Stindt. It’s sad to think that I was never able to put Arthur and Janice in touch with one another.'

Connections

See how this entry relates to other items in the archive by exploring the connections below.

People

  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 493rd Bomb Group 860th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 39402660
  • Highest Rank: Technical Sergeant
  • Role/Job: Flight Engineer; Top Turret Gunner
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Civilian
  • Nationality: British
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 493rd Bomb Group 860th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: O-824981
  • Highest Rank: First Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Pilot

Aircraft

  • Aircraft Type: B-17 Flying Fortress
  • Nicknames: Little Davey II
  • Unit: 493rd Bomb Group 861st Bomb Squadron 863rd Bomb Squadron

Places

Events

Event Location Date Description

Other

Witnessed the fatal ditching of B-17 43-38568

Ramsholt, Woodbridge IP12, UK 20 February 1945

Died

Revisions

Date24 Aug 2016 14:17:06
ContributorLucy May
Sources

Eyewitness account and all information in this record shared by Jeff Coleman.

Arthur W Reeve: Gallery (2 items)