Mt. Waternomee, NH – January 14, 1942

Mt. Waternomee, New Hampshire – January 14, 1942

Woodstock, New Hampshire

     

Douglas B-18 National Archives Photo

Douglas B-18
National Archives Photo

     At 1:04 p.m. on January 14, 1942, an Army Air Corps B-18A, (#37-619) took off from Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for an anti-submarine patrol over the Atlantic.    

     There were seven crewmen aboard:

     (Pilot) 1st Lt. Anthony Benvenuto, of Brooklyn, N.Y.

     (Co-pilot) 2nd Lt. Woodrow A. Kantner, of Cranford, N.J.

     (Navigator) 2nd Lt. Fletcher Craig, of Gridler, California.

     (Engineer) Pfc. Richard G. Chubb, of Billerica, Mass.  

     (Radio Operator) Pfc. Noah W. Phillips, Jr., 20, from Fayetteville, Arkansas. He’s buried in Hester, Cemetery in Fayetteville.

     (Bombardier) Pfc. Raymond F. Lawrence, 21, of Worcester, Mass. He’s buried in Hope Cemetery in Worcester. 

     (Photographer) Robert P. Picard, of Springfield, Mass.   

     The press listed Pfc. Lawrence as the plane’s gunner, and Pfc. Phillips as the bombardier, however the Air Corps Accident Investigation Report, (#42-1-14-2), lists Pfc. Lawrence as bombardier, and Pfc. Phillips as the radio operator.  As a point of fact, Pfc. Phillips was the radio operator. (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #41911453)

     When the plane left Westover, the weather over Massachusetts was clear with strong winds which caused some turbulence for the airplane.  After traveling 250 miles out to sea the pilot turned the aircraft around and began heading back towards land.  Then the plane got caught in a strong wind shift and drifted off course, and the oncoming darkness made visibility difficult.

     Once the plane reached land the crew tried to get their bearings by using the plane’s radio and radio compass, but couldn’t do so due to extreme static.  The sky was overcast and the night was very dark.  That, combined with wartime blackouts made it difficult for the crew to recognize any landmarks below. 

     The overcast grew thicker and after awhile the pilot was flying on instruments at 4,000 feet, while the co-pilot watched for any breaks in the clouds.  At 8:04 p.m. the co-pilot shouted a warning that there was a mountain ahead, and the pilot hade a sharp turn to the right just before the plane struck Mt. Waternomee at 160 miles per hour.  The aircraft broke apart on impact scattering wreckage over a wide area, and the subsequent fire set off the cargo of bombs.   

     Two crewmen, Pfc. Raymond F. Lawrence, and Pfc. Noah W. Phillips, were killed in the crash.  Miraculously, the other five crewmen survived.  

    Some sources, including the Air Corps crash investigation report, have put the location of this crash as being on Moosilauke Mountain, but this is incorrect.  The crash occurred on Mt. Waternomee.   

     The wreckage of the B-18 can still be seen today. (See www.hikenewengland.com, and www.logginginlincoln.com, to see photographs of the crash site and memorial.)   

     Sources:

     Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident, # 42-1-14-2

     Boston Herald, “U.S. Probes N. H. Crash – Two dead Five Hurt As Bomber Hits Peak”, January 16, 1942 

     The Union-Leader, (Manchester N.H.) “Crash Survivors Due To Recover”, January 16, 1942

     The Union Leader, (Manchester N.H.) “Bodies of Bomber Victims To Go Home On Week-End”, Unknown Date. (Copy of article was attached to investigation report.)

     www.findagrave.com

    

    

    

    

      

      

Pawtuckaway State Park – November 29, 1944

Pawtuckaway State Park – November 29, 1944 

    

B-24 Liberator  U.S. Air Force Photo

B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On November 29, 1944, a B-24 Liberator, (#44-49669) took off from Grenier Field in Manchester, New Hampshire, en-route overseas.  When the plane was about 16 miles north-east of Manchester it suffered a structural failure in the rear rudder system causing the pilot to loose control.  The B-24 crashed and burned at the base of Middle Mountain in Pawtuckaway State Park in the town of Nottingham, N.H.  There were no survivors.

     As part of the investigation into this crash, military authorities spoke with three witnesses who stated the plane was flying low and even, and not trailing smoke of flame.  Two reported seeing an object or objects fall away from the aircraft just before the crash. 

     The dead were identified as:

     (Pilot) 2nd Lt. Paul Lavern Hackstock, 24, of Fort Morgan, Colorado.  He’s buried in Riverside Cemetery in Fort Morgan.    (See www.Findagrave.com)

     (Co-pilot) 2nd Lt. Wilbur C. Stephenson, 23, of Cokesville, Penn. He’s buried in Blairsville Cemetery, Blairsville Penn.

     (Navigator) Warrant Officer Russell L. Jones, 20, of Grand Rapids, Mich.  He’s buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Grand Rapids, Mich.

     (Engineer/Gunner) Cpl. Calvin R. Rickenback, 19, of Ephrata, Penn. 

     (Radio Operator/Gunner) Thomas L. McDougall, 21, of Marydel, Maryland. He enlisted Jan. 22, 1943.

     (Gunner) Cpl. William L. Swarner Jr., 19, of Overland Park, KS. He’s buried n Highland Park Cemetery, Kansas City.

     (Gunner) Cpl. Preston K. Smith, 19, of Strawberry Plains, Tenn.  He’s buried in Thorngrove Cemetery, Thorngrove, Tenn.

     (Gunner) Cpl. Kenneth J. Young, of Windsor, Ontario, Canada

     (Gunner) Cpl. Robert H. Wells, 24, of Hanover, N.H. Survived by his wife Myra.

Sources:

Nottingham Community Newsletter, Nov./Dec. 2013, Vol 15, Issue 6.

U.S. Army Air Force crash investigation report #45-11-29-19

www.findagrave.com

 

 

       

    

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