Debris field of crashed Flying Fortress 43-38944

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Flying Fortress 43-38944

On January 2nd 1945, a brand new Flying Fortress was being delivered from the American air depot at Burtonwood near Warrington, to a bomber squadron at Nuthampstead in Hertfordshire.

The pilot had not gained sufficient height to cross the last hills of the Pennines however, and struck the ground at Birchenough Hill near the village of Wildboarclough in the Peak District with the loss of all on board.

The photo above shows the spot where the B17 came to rest, 100 metres from the crash site.

First Lieutenant Donald James DeCleene. Pilot.
Second Lieutenant Maynard Stravinski. Co-pilot
Flight Officer Thomas Manos. Navigator
Technical Sergeant Howard F Ayres. Radio Operator
Technical Sergeant Frank E Garry. Flight Engineer


Details from
Peakland Air Crashes- The Central Area, P Cunningham. 2006

36 comments on “Debris field of crashed Flying Fortress 43-38944
  1. andyholmfirth says:

    It’s another poignant image Ian.Do you take the poppies up with you ?

  2. Ian D B says:

    Hi Andy,
    Thanks for that. Yeah, sometimes I do. I bought a job lot from a bloke selling poppies at Sainsbury’s in Halifax last November.

  3. ​favourite waste of time​ says:

    I do love the touch of red in all of these against the snow and loneliness.. nice job. I hadn’t realized you did the poppies… Lovely touch.

  4. Ian D B says:

    Thanks Sonja. they do add a welcome bit of colour. Not always me though, often there are poppies left by other visitors, the wreath on the other photo wasn’t placed by myself.

  5. Lo Scorpione says:

    I love the view you gave to this picture. Impressive start of the new year.

    Seen on my Flickr home page. (?)

  6. Anonymous says:

    amazing dof 😀

  7. Anonymous says:

    amazing dof 😀

  8. pasujoba says:

    Its a good idea Ian , especially with weather like this , it adds a splash of colour as well as leaving a mark of respect to the crew.

  9. redrocker_9 says:

    It’s a wonderful image, you do bring these sights a whole new life~

  10. sidewinder54 (Closed For Business) says:

    Beautifully captured Ian… I love the view.. The poppies are a lovely mark of respect.

  11. Tech Owl says:

    You can see the array of high ground around (looking out into the distance as your shot is). The snow adds an extra touch to the shot

  12. SolarScot. says:

    I,m Glad They Are Remembered

  13. Billy Currie says:

    The snow suits these barren locations so well

  14. Pleasureprinciple2012 says:

    Good to see that even this bad weather we are having can’t keep a good man down, nice image.

  15. Tony-H says:

    The poppy is a nice touch Ian …. so many US aircrews trained in Texas must’ve found flying in the English winter clag a real challenge.

  16. --- Green Light Images --- says:

    A similar accident occurred around that date with a bomber hitting the Trotternish Ridge near Staffin on Skye.

  17. IANLAYZELLUK says:

    Another Moving Capture.

  18. cgullz says:

    great shot. superb with the red of that poppy against the snow.

  19. Jack Garry says:

    Thank you for the photo’s and poppies. Frank Garry was my uncle who I never got to meet. Thank you again.

    • Ian D B says:

      Thanks Jack. The poppy cross was left by me, the wreath was already there, probably left on Remembrance Day (Veterans Day) a couple of months before. I have added a couple more photos.

      • Jack Garry says:

        Thank You for the new photos. I see his name bottom left. My grandparents never got anything back from him from the Army which hurt them greatly. Wish they could have at least seen these photos to give them some closure. Wish we had something that belonged to him to bury along with my grandparents, would be nice. His name is inscribed on the bottom of their headstone. My grandmother worked as a nurse in England during WWI.

        • Ian D B says:

          Hi Jack, I am sorry to hear your grandparents (and you) had nothing tangible of him. Makes these little memorials so much more important, though they fade over time. Good though that this one seems well remembered, i.e. with the poppy wreath placed on it; most are forgotten by all apart from by the odd individual. I shall have to make another visit, see how it looks now.

          The patch of grey in the middle of this google map is where the aircraft came to rest and burned out. The impact point and memorial stone is a 100 metres or so to the south west of this point.

          Some links you may not have seen;

          This page tells of the memorial stone being erected. It is a bit fanciful with regards the pilot “skillfully” missing the other hills – the aircraft crashed at cruising speed but it was dark, being after 7pm on a winter’s evening, and the pilot was evidently oblivious to the high ground beneath. And it didn’t bellyflop and bounce back into the air, the bomber reportedly struck the ground and careered across the moor before coming to a halt. And as for the ghost story, these crash sites often attract such tales and they are all pretty much the same (airman in a bomber jacket with an American accent asking for help). The weather was not “appalling” that night either… Actually there’s not much to be said for this page, it makes me question the detail about the memorial if the author has got the other information wrong. But there are some more photos. The detail about the grass not growing back is also a common feature of these places, the ground is polluted by the fuel.

          This little slideshow on Youtube shows the site in 1981.

          And this memorial at a nearby church lists your uncle among the dead of several crashed aircraft in the area. His name is on the first panel.


  20. Jack Garry says:

    Ian if you ever visit the site in the future would it be possible to send a small piece of the plane. They (Army) say he is buried in Cambridge but they (Cambridge) have no record of him being there. Thanks Jack

  21. Amanda says:

    I hoped to visit this site yesterday as it is not far from home. Unfortunately the weather was not good. Have you been back recently? I would be more than happy to send a piece of the aircraft remains if that is allowed to Frank’s family if that would help give them a sense of closure. Just started to research the crew. Your pictures are very poignant.

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Amanda, I haven’t visited this site for many years, I don’t know how it looks now. Let me know if you need the grid reference.

    • Jack Garry says:

      Amanda that would be amazing. Yes it would help with closure. Jack Garry

      • Amanda says:

        Hello Jack, I am hoping to get to the site soon. The weather is not good here at the moment. Have you seen the picture of Frank on the American Air Museum in Britain website? He is With Harold F Spangler’s crew. They were so young. Will have to check on the rules over here regarding wreck sites. How much work have you put into finding out where your uncle is buried? Like Ian, I am surprised his burial is not listed anywhere. I wonder if sometimes mistakes are made with names and dates. There is a Howard F Ayers buried in Woodlawn National Cemetery in Elmira, New York but this date of death is March 5th 1945, not January 2nd 1945. I really hope one day you find where he is. Take care.

  22. Amanda says:

    Yes please. When was the last time you were there? Do you have the names of any websites that would be helpful for my research? Visited Burtonwood museum yesterday.

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Amanda, sorry for the late reply.

      There are various websites out there covering air crashes, what is the particular information you require?

      The grid references for this crash site are SJ 99460 67766 (impact site and memorial) and SJ 99545 67797 (terminal site where the aircraft burned out)


      • Amanda says:

        Hi Ian, just trying to find out about the crew and the plane. Done a lot of work searching online but as you know there are lots of different websites. Would like to know more about the young men on board. Do you know of any sites when it comes to service records? Have you ever been to the cemetery in Cambridge?

        • Ian D B says:

          Hi Amanda, no I have not yet been to the American cemetery (I once flew over it in a vintage aircraft – does that count?!)

          From this admin page, I can see your email address so I will send you a little more about this air crash.


          • Amanda says:

            Hi Jack,l would like to know more about your uncle from stories your grandparents hopefully told you. Trying to find out where he is buried

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