THAMESIDE AVIATION MUSEUM

COALHOUSE FORT, EAST TILBURY, ESSEX.

THE HOME OF AVIATION ARCHAEOLOGY IN ESSEX

The excavation of a 385th Bomb Group B-17

 

The 385th Bomb Group badge

ON THE 26th SEPTEMBER 1943 AT 6.53hrs,TWO B.17's OF THE 385th BOMB GROUP 551st BOMB SQUADRON FROM GREAT ASHFIELD, SUFFOLK, ENGLAND. COLLIDED IN MID-AIR OVER THE VILLAGE OF WEST HORNDON, ESSEX, ENGLAND.

THIS PAGE WILL BE DEDICATED TO THE RECOVERY OF ONE OF THE AIRCRAFT 42-30364, AND THE MEMORY OF BOTH CREW'S, OF WHO ALL BUT ONE PERISHED IN THIS TRAGIC EVENT.

 

 

Details of the Excavation

In the late summer of 1977 we decided to look for two B.17 Flying Fortress Bombers which had crashed in the early evening of the 26th September 1943 after a mid-air collision, we had the farm names of where they had come down so this time it had been made less of a problem to track down.

We found both aircraft on the same day, the second aircraft 42-3290 flown by 2nd Lt. John T. Keeley, had hit the ground and made a hole around 30ft (10m) across.

As the bomb load had gone off on impact we found only very tiny fragments lying around the surface for about a of a mile in all directions, one of the undercarriage legs had been at the farm for many years but we searched but could not find it, so it may have been sold for scrap. We could not excavate this aircraft due to the fact the the crater had been filled in with builders rubble in 1975.


The B-17 we were to excavate, 42-30364, flown by 2nd Lt. Paul M. Yannello and his crew, had crashed straddling a ditch, Robin Hill found part of the radio panel still in the ditch with the switches still intact and working. An Oak tree growing around twenty feet (7m) away from the main impact point bore the scares of the crash including a bolt wedged in so tight we could not get it out.

The metal detector went off the scale in a 7m diameter area, indicating a substantial amount of metal below the surface.

Finds were also coming to light on the surface including .5 calibre cartridge cases, with a little digging by hand it was decided that we were going to have to get in some big machinery for this excavation.

 

 

THE CREW DETAILS THE MISSION
THE PHOTOS THE HISTORY
REUNION 18th JUNE 2005 385th BG LINKS
DIG PICTURES  

 

 

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updated June 05