Westfield, MA. – November 30, 1942

Westfield, Massachusetts – November 30, 1942 


P-47B Thunderbolt
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On November 30, 1942, 2nd Lt. Daniel B. Austin of Dorchester, Massachusetts, took off from Westover Air Field in Chicopee, Mass., for a routine training flight.  He was piloting a P-47B Thunderbolt, (Ser. No. 41-6024).  At 3:30 p.m. he was killed when his aircraft crashed into Higgins Swamp, a marshy area to the east of Barnes Airport in Westfield.  Although numerous persons witnessed the accident, the cause was not immediately known.

     Lt. Austin was assigned to the 321st Fighter Squadron.


     The Springfield Republican, (Springfield, Mass.), “Army Flier Dies In Westfield Crash”, December 1, 1942.  


Cheshire, MA. – March 9, 1943

Cheshire, Massachusetts – March 9, 1943


P-47B Thunderbolt
U.S. Air Force Photo

     At 4:15 p.m. on March 9, 1943, a P-47B aircraft piloted by 2nd Lt. Sommers D. Levermore, 22, crashed on the farm of Adolph Geoffron, located on Windsor Road, in Cheshire, Massachusetts. 

     Two children on their way home from school witnessed the accident and ran to a nearby home to alert the homeowner, who then called the state police barracks in Pittsfield. 

     Several nearby residents made their way through the snow to reach the plane, which had come to rest in two pieces at a tree line at the edge of a field.  The pilot was still alive, and first aid was given, but he died a short time later before an ambulance could arrive. 

     The cause of the crash was not stated.

     Lt. Levermore was assigned to the 321st Fighter Squadron at Westover Field in Chicopee, Mass.

     Lt. Levermore was from Rockville Center, New York.  To see a photograph of him, go to www.findagrave.com, memorial #156413374.  


     Unknown Newspaper, “Cheshire Plane Crash Fatal To Army Pilot”, March 10, 1943.  (Article found on www.findagrave.com)

     Springfield Republican, “Cheshire Crash fatal To Young Army Flier; Plane Breaks In Two”, March 10, 1943, page 1



Holyoke, MA. – May 22, 1943

Holyoke, Massachusetts – May 22, 1943


P-47 Thunderbolt – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On Saturday, May 22, 1943, two Army P-47 fighter planes collided in mid-air over the city of Holyoke.  One aircraft, (Ser. No. 41-6072), was piloted by 2nd Lt. Charnelle P. Larsen, 22, of Lakeland, Florida.  The other P-47, (Ser. No. 41-6050), was piloted by another 2nd lieutenant.  Both men were assigned to the 321st Fighter Squadron based at Westover Filed in Chicopee, Massachusetts.   

     The accident occurred at 6:20 pm, and numerous people saw the collision and watched the planes come down.  As both aircraft began to fall, the pilot of P-47 #41-6050 bailed out while the aircraft was at an altitude of only 700 feet, and remarkably, and his parachute opened successfully.  His airplane crashed into a large tree before striking the side of a two-story brick house at the corner of Hampden and Linden Streets where it exploded into flame.  The pilot meanwhile landed safely in a nearby tall tree on Linden Street, but had to wait to be rescued.    

     A mother and her two older sons were in the house at the time, but were not seriously injured.  A mailman was wounded when the flames began setting off the machinegun bullets in the wrecked airplane.  One bullet struck him in the right hand, but the injury was not life threatening.       

     As to Lieutenant Larsen, one wing of his aircraft was severely damaged from the collision, but he fought to maintain control because he was over a heavily populated neighborhood.  Witnesses reported seeing him try to steer his plane away from the area, but it continued to fall despite his best efforts.  He was killed instantly when his plane crashed and exploded in an alleyway between the homes facing Pine and Beach Streets, to the south of Appleton Street.  While some buildings suffered damage, there were no reported injuries. One account stated the aircraft came down behind 200 Pine Street.

     Lt. Larsen was praised by the Mayor for his heroic decision to remain with his aircraft in order to protect civilians on the ground.   


     Holyoke Daily Transcript, “Lt. Larsen Dies Avoiding Local Homes In Saturday’s Double Crash”, May 34, 1943, page 1.   

     Unknown newspaper, “Army Flier Killed, Second escapes In Holyoke Collision”, May 22, 1943 

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