Accident Douglas C-47A-40-DL (DC-3) 42-24018,
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Date:Friday 5 November 1943
Type:Silhouette image of generic DC3 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Douglas C-47A-40-DL (DC-3)
Owner/operator:United States Army Air Force - USAAF
Registration: 42-24018
MSN: 9880
Year of manufacture:1943
Engine model:Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 8
Aircraft damage: Destroyed, written off
Location:Foel Feddau, Preseli Mountains North Pembrokeshire -   United Kingdom
Phase: Unknown
Departure airport:Marrakech-Menara Airport (RAK/GMMX)
Destination airport:Newquay-St Mawgan RAF Station
Mission: Transit/Ferry. Details: 77th Troop Carrier squadron was first activated at Bowman Field, Kentucky during February 1943, as one of the original squadrons of the 435th Troop Carrier Group. The group used the Douglas C-47 Skytain (Known as the Dakota by British forces) and Douglas C-53 Skytrooopers in preparing for duty overseas as part of the 9th Air Force. The 435th’s air echelon was broken up into four separate movements, one for each of the four Troop Carrier Squadrons beginning with the 76th departing Baer Field on the morning of the 17th of October, followed by the 77th on the 20th. The 77th arrived at RAF St Mawgan on the 5th of November then at their first allocated airfield, arriving at RAF Langar (AAF Station No.490) the following day. The move from the USA to Britain was a 9998 mile journey that took 76 flying hours to complete. From all the aircraft that made the trip it was fortunate that there was only one loss when 42-24018 became lost. On arrival, the group began training for participation in the airborne operation over Normandy.
Skytrain 42-24018 took off from Marrakesh during the early hours of the 5th. An hour from RAF St Mawgan, the radio operator tried to make contact, but due to the amount of aircraft trying for the same base, they failed to get through. As the time to land approached, and thinking they were still over the sea, the pilot gradually let down through the cloud to 600 feet. But still ‘No Joy’ from the radio and the onset of the mainland rapidly approaching they climbed and started to home into RAF Valley. It was around this time that 1st Sgt Dow managed to get a reply from RAF St Eval and obtained a radio bearing and made a 180 degree turn due South. What was unknown to the crew, was, they were now over Cardigan Bay, a lot further West than was expected. The new bearing was now taking them further North over the Welsh mainland and high ground. The operator at St Eval gave the cloud base at 800 feet ASL, with this new information and still thinking they were over the Bristol Channel, dropped to 600 feet, a mere 200 feet below the cloud base. Soon after, they crossed the coastline of Wales. Then they encountered cloud and entered thick grey fog, so the pilot started a slow assent. All of a sudden, the ground came out of the murk only thirty feet below and rising rapidly, Lt Burr pulled up sharply. Seconds later the C-47 struck the ground at a fairly low speed due to the sudden climb before the pilot could react and put the throttles through the gate. They skidded some 25 yards uphill at a 40-degree gradient. The high ground feature they hit was the 1,100 feet Foel Feddau, one of the Northern most peaks of the Preseli Hills of Northern Pembrokeshire. Unfortunately, as the aircraft hit the ground, both engines were under power and with both sets of propellers turning, two propeller blades of the Port engine came off, ripping into the cockpit and killing the pilot. The time was 10:15 hrs. Local farmers and some residents made their way up to the downed aircraft to give help. At 11:35hrs, contact was made with RAF St Mawgan giving details of the crash including the location, provided by the locals. During the hour after the crash and the locals arriving, the crew was found with varying minor injuries, laying in the heather. The locals looking for the crew spoke to each other in their native tongue, the crew being unfamiliar with the spoken Welsh, mistook it for German and in their confused state post-crash, simply hid away until discovery. Eventually, RAF personnel from RAF Haverford West arrived, guards were posted day and night for three weeks until all the aircraft was recovered with the help of some of the locals. Farmers kindly helped with their tractors pulling the dismantled parts down the hill to awaiting Queen Marys which then took the recovered sections to RAF St Athan. Hardly anything was left on that lonely hillside. Crew: Lt Richard Jack Burr 19yo USAAF. Pilot. Killed. 1 2/Lt George Barnes Callicoatte 26yo O-677657 USAAF. Co/Pilot. Safe. Saw out the war and passed away on the 14th of June 1987, aged 70. 2/Lt James Alvin Sigl 21yo USAAF. Navigator. Safe. Survived the war and passed away during 2012, aged 89. His body was donated to medical science. 1st/Sgt Harry Z Dow USAAF. Radio Operator. Safe. 1st/Sgt Charles W Spencer USAAF. Flt/Engr. Safe. 3 unknown NCO passengers. All safe. Buried: 1 Cambridge American Cemetery & Memorial. Section E. Row 1. Grave 21. Wreckage: Some small fragments may remain, the intact airframe was dismantled and taken away. Memorials: A memorial plaque to the crews of the 435th TCG can be seen at Riverside in Montgomery County, Ohio (The American Midwest, Great Lakes).


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