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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 163242
Last updated: 29 November 2019
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Date:06-JAN-1944
Time:13:00
Type:Silhouette image of generic A20 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Douglas DB-7B Boston Mk IIIa
Owner/operator:107 Sqn RAF
Registration: BZ387
C/n / msn:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 4 / Occupants: 4
Other fatalities:1
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:nr Eagle House School, Sandhurst, Berkshire. -   United Kingdom
Phase: Approach
Nature:Military
Departure airport:RAF Hartford Bridge
Destination airport:RAF Hartford Bridge
Narrative:
On 6 January 1944 the Boston IIIA BZ387 OM-L of 107 Sqn RAF was returning to RAF Hartford Bridge from an aborted mission in northern France. Still carrying its bombs, it lost power during the approach when downwind over Sandhurst for some unexplained reason (but believed to be due to engine failure, having maybe be hit by the heavy and accurate flak over the target area). The bomber veered over and into a steep dive and then crashed at Eagle House School, Sandhurst, at around 1300 hrs. It crashed between the kitchen garden of Eagle House School and ’Ivy Bank’ bungalow in Longdown Road, Little Sandhurst, and destroyed the gardener’s cottage. The aircraft caught fire and several brave locals rushed to the scene to try and free the crew. Unfortunately the remaining bomb exploded, killing the crew. An airman on leave who ran to help (AC1 Sidney Herbert Rance) was fatally wounded in the explosion and died the next day in Pinewood Hospital. Several locals were injured: Mr Williams, landlord of the Fox And Hounds, lost a leg, Frank Peabody, the butcher, had leg injuries and Lev Goswell cuts about his face. Shrapnel rained down in the devastated local area, narrowly missing several bystanders.

Crew (all killed):
Lt Arthur G. Truxler USAAF (pilot)
Plt Off Donald H Skipp (bomb aimer)
Plt Off Albert John Naisbit (air gunner)
Plt Off Brian Alphonsus McConnell RAAF DFM (air gunner)

Jim Moore of 88 Sqn RAF was in Sandhurst at the time and recalled seeing the aircraft pass overhead. He said: "During the afternoon of the 6th we were in Sandhurst when we saw a Boston flying over on its landing approach. Inexplicably it crashed about half a mile from us. A local airman who was on leave, together with two civilians, went to the crash scene in an attempt to rescue the crew, but the aircraft blew up, killing not only the crew but also the airman who was trying to help. The two civilians were badly injured in the explosion and when I cycled back to the airfield I was horrified to learn that it was Art and his crew that had been killed."

George Loader, who was delivering coal in Little Sandhurst that day, remembers: “I was near Napper’s bakers shop, now called Victoria Stores I think„ at about mid afternoon when I heard an aircraft engine misfiring. I looked up and saw a plane nosedive down. I immediately drove in the direction I thought it had fallen. It was just off Longdown Road in the kitchen garden of Eagle House School, there used to be a gate to it two doors up from ’Ivy Bank’. Leaving my lorry in the road 1 went into the garden where I saw one of the airmen burning, he was the only one to get out as far as I could see, I think he might have been blown out. I went to him and was putting out the flames; while I was doing this the bomb exploded, the airman gave a kick and died and I was knocked over on the ground by the blast. As there was nothing else I could do I went back to my lorry and saw that all the windows had been smashed by the blast. I went into Mr. Snell’s house, walking through broken glass all over the road, not all of it from my lorry, to phone the coal yard to say where I had been and then carried on delivering coal."

Jean McLlwaine (nee Tigar):
"The 7th January 1944 brought this happy period to an abrupt end. We were all aware of the Bombers that flew out of Blackbushe, we waved them off every night, and started to count them back well into the night.
A very late arrival did not make it back to The Airfield. It crashed behind our large holly hedge in the grounds off Eagle House School, We heard a very large bang so we all huddled together under a table in a room at the front off the house. My Mother said " do not move until I get back "
She told us that she ran down the small lane at the side of our garden, She arrived straight on to the utter chaos, the Janitor of the school was already there, his house was at the bottom of the lane. He gave the prop from his washing line to my Mother and asked her to try and get the door open, she found this difficult, more helpers began to arrive, so mother and a young man called Ron were sent to get fire extinguishers which were kept in every third house, Mother kept to our side of the road and sent Ron to the other, just then there was a large explosion. She said " dive for it Ron!” She said afterwards she even had time to smile at him, he linked his thumbs and went head first into a holly hedge, just as though he was being marked for style! As she rolled under a thorn hedge on the far side of our garden, she looked up and saw this very large object coming over the house. It landed partly in the road and in the garden of the house two doors down, the very place where the extinguisher was to be found. At this stage she turned and ran back into the house to see if we were okay, this included my baby sister who had been born in the August 1942.
We ventured into the garden and I remembered seeing lots of personal belongings of the crew. We took two parachutes into the house knowing how valuable to the R.A.F, they were but the ladies of the house thought of all the nice silk underwear they could make. We were then taken from the very badly damaged house, to Harts Leap to a very caring lady.
Later on my Mother caused a problem when she asked if she could collect her Document box and her dentures. When The Larches was mentioned " You can’t go up there.” However she got around the senior officer, and was reunited with her precious belongings."

Jack Green:
"I never did know the date of the Boston air crash only through reading the Sandhurst war book by the Historical society that my dear friend Peggy Green sent me a few years ago now. This is what I remember of that day. We were on school holidays at that time and mum had just given us our lunch so my brother Ron and I called next door to get Brian Goswell and we were walking up Longdown Road. As we got to Ken Over’s house which was the 3rd house from ours we heard the plane approach from across Wellington College area but could not see it as tall trees blocked our view at this time we were standing at the entrance to Eagle House laneway that lead down to the garden sheds just behind Over’s house. The plane appeared at top of trees and at same time it turned quickly on its left wing and fell out of the sky. As you can imagine we couldn’t believe it we saw smoke and flames rise up and nervously walked down towards the wreckage. I cant say for sure that we were the first on the scene as we were so close when it crashed, people started to arrive and gather at the scene, ammunition was exploding in the fire, but we didn’t realize the danger that was happening. Someone said, how do we get the fire out, then I remembered that Mr and Mrs Webb, who lived next to us, kept a Stirrup pump and buckets of sand and water in case fire bombs were dropped in the area, these were on their front porch, so the three of us started walking back up lane to get the stirrup pump, which would have been useless in such a fire. We got halfway up the lane when the plane exploded, and the blast seem to carry us across Longdown Road and we finished up in Michael Meads gateway straight way across the road. By this time authorities arrived and told us all to leave Longdown Road, so we went home and saw mum and sister Phyllis who were in back garden, as they had gone through our hedge at bottom of garden to see what had happened. All our back windows had been blown in and glass was everywhere, some of the splinters had stuck in our kitchen sideboard opposite the window. I remember Brian was crying as his mother Mable was at the crash and she had not returned, we did find out she was badly wounded and taken to hospital. We were told to go down to a house in Wellington Road at the end of the Walls, the lady gave us all tea and biscuits. When all was safe we all returned to our homes. Our granny, dads mother was coming for lunch that day, we arrived back to find her clearing up all the glass, so she decided to go home again on the bus to Nine Mile Ride where she lived. Once we got used to what happened, and looked around, there was a large piece of plane engine in our back garden, and on Brian’s roof between the chimneys was long bits of wire and metal from the explosion. I think it was the next day that I was with Ken Over in his back garden, I looked up at something red hanging up in a Oak tree that grew along on the lane way down to Eagle House garden sheds, I pulled it down and it was the planes emergency survival kit from one of the life craft, it was all entangled in the red sail of the lifeboat, the sail had white lettering on it of how to use it, the ration kit was sealed in a plastic type package. I opened it up, finding chocolate and biscuits, also a compass, not realising what we were doing we ate the biscuits and chocolate, but I kept the compass for months, but eventually gave away to someone, now I know, of course, that I should have kept it as a memento of that sad day. When the crash site was cleared and all forgotten some weeks later, I went down to see how it looked, and looking on the actual spot where plane fell I found some money, silver and pennies which I assumed might have been from the aircraft crew. When we did return to the road that day, there was the three propeller blades and boss that had ripped through a tree at Mr Benfell’s house and landed on the footpath. The people that got killed and injured can be read about in the war book, so that is my account of what happened that terrible day. I often say that the three of us were saved by Mr Webb’s stirrup pump."

Sources:

http://farnborough.proboards.com/thread/13602/raf-hartford-bridge
"2nd Tactical Air Force. Volume One: Spartan to Normandy. June 1943 to June 1944", by Christopher Shores and Chris Thomas. ISBN 1-903223-40-7
http://web.archive.org/web/20160308080741/http://oehs.org.uk/aircrash.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandhurst,_Berkshire
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eagle_House_School
http://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=51.356190&lon=-0.800660&z=13&m=w


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
14-Jan-2014 15:37 gerard57 Added
23-Feb-2014 21:30 angels one five Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Phase, Departure airport, Destination airport, Narrative]
23-Feb-2014 21:57 angels one five Updated [Other fatalities, Location, Narrative]
13-Mar-2014 19:44 Nepa Updated [Operator, Location, Departure airport]
16-Apr-2014 08:47 angels one five Updated [Operator, Location]
08-Nov-2014 09:59 Comet123 Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Location]
08-Nov-2014 09:59 Comet123 Updated [Aircraft type]
20-Apr-2015 22:34 angels one five Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Location, Departure airport, Narrative]
16-Aug-2015 12:07 Angel dick one Updated [Operator, Location]
06-Jan-2017 07:31 Laurent Rizzotti Updated [Time, Source, Narrative]
16-Oct-2018 19:25 Nepa Updated [Operator, Operator]

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