Memorial to RCAF crew of crashed Lancaster bomber KB993 on James’s Thorn

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Lancaster bomber KB993 on James’ Thorn

Avro Lancaster KB993 of 408 Squadron crashed on James’s Thorn in the Peak District on 18 May 1945. It would appear the pilot, while on a correct heading to get back to base near York, had failed to take into account the height of the Pennines east of Manchester and the bomber struck the hillside as it climbed out of the valley.

The crash occurred just after the war had ended and the Canadian crew were on the verge of returning home. It was meant to be a routine training flight at night, but they were probably enjoying a pleasure flight over a country only recently emerged from the blackout and doubtless with their guard down. A couple of months later, the crew of an American Skytrain (Dakota) met the same fate on this same hillside.

Just over the brow of the hill in shadow is the crash site of B29 “Over Exposed”

In Peakland Air Crashes – The North (2006), Pat Cunningham described what must have been a moving ceremony on the 50th anniversary of the crash with some relatives helicoptered in;

“Foremost among these was Mrs Marion Clifford, the 91 year old mother of Flying Officer Clifford; she and other relatives being picturesquely supported by pipes and drums from the Clan Urquhart Highlanders.”

Video added by Dave Earl showing news broadcast of the event


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The upper plaque reads;

“On the night of May 18th 1945 Avro Lancaster KB993 of Canadian 408 Squadron crashed at this place. The crew were flying circuits and bumps.

F.O A.A CLIFFORD
F.O D.A FEHRMAN
W.O M.C CAMERON
F.S C.J HALVORSON
F.S L.C HELLERSON
P.O K.B McIVER

Twenty seven days later 408 Goose Squadron Returned to Canada.

For Freedom.

Nearby on the moor below lie the remains of C47 Skytrain 2108982 which crashed on the 24 July 1845 with the loss of all on board

1st Lt G.L.JOHNSON USAAF
1st Lt E.W.BURNS USAAF
1st Lt B.W. IZLAR USAAF
Sgt T.R. McCROCKLIN USAAF
Sgt F.M MALONEY USAAF
Cpl G.R ALEXANDER USAAF
LAC J.D MAIN RAF

In Memory
They are not forgotten”

The lower plaque reads;

“Unveiled on 18th May 1995 50th Anniversary of the crash of KB993 by Mrs Marion Clifford, Canada. Erected by Paul Booth and Stephen Lewis to the memory of those killed.”

Richard Tierney looking sunward, the sparse remains of Lancaster KB993 behind him. The bomber crashed as pilot Flying Officer Anthony Arthur Clifford tried to climb up and out of this valley.

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19 comments on “Memorial to RCAF crew of crashed Lancaster bomber KB993 on James’s Thorn
  1. andyholmfirth says:

    Lovely light and shadow Ian.Must of been some ceromony up there with the pipes playing and relatives present.

  2. C J Paul (chris) says:

    an amazing set of images ian well done mate.
    chiling time my friend..

  3. **Hazel** says:

    Awesome shots of two very sad occasions Ian, brilliant images which show the atmosphere of the surroundings in which they happened!!

  4. pasujoba says:

    A great relay of the story Ian . The supplementary shots adding so much to it . The one with Richard in it really shows the sites elevation off well.

  5. SolarScot. says:

    i sometimes wonder Ian reading your descriptions why didnt the RAF after years of losing lads warn them a bit more about the hills they would encounter?

  6. Ian D B says:

    Thanks very much everyone.

    [http://www.flickr.com/photos/11563376@N03]
    They did do John, and there must’ve been many near misses, thousands of aircraft that made it home with or without their crews knowing they were just brushing the tops of the moors.

    In most cases the pilots were off course and descending thinking they were over lower ground, that where the altimeter said 2,000 feet, they in fact had no feet. Altimeters improved over the years, but back then they only showed how much height was lost or gained since take off, not like altimeters now.

    As for the pilot of this aircraft, it is more puzzling. He seemed to know where he was and where he was going, so why he never took the height of the hills into account is a mystery, but it is known that given it was such an easy peace-time jaunt, F/O Clifford decided not to take a navigator with him. Likesay, guard was down.

  7. Mark McKie says:

    Another fine set of shots Ian.

  8. mick cooke says:

    great photos ian but a sad story, there must be more air crash sites up in the peak than any where else in the uk
    take care
    mick

  9. Tech Owl says:

    Good set Ian – love the light on the first shot. The dark moorland behind gives some drama too

  10. seansonofbig says:

    nice pics…

  11. starr'sbay_1846 says:

    Thanks to the photographer and the people who erected and maintain the monuments, God bless them all. my cousin was in the Canadian Air Force, 1939-1947, flying in and out of many air bases in the U.K.
    from a proud Canadian.

  12. Gary Shield says:

    Great lighting Ian

  13. Pleasureprinciple2012 says:

    Another tragic waste, thanks for the plaque details and photo Ian.

  14. Billy Currie says:

    great info

  15. Neal. says:

    I suppose if you were distracted, even for a second, could mean life or death.

  16. Richard Tierney says:

    This is rather special Ian… the lovely lit stone against that almost black hillside is really poignant ……. Super Ian

  17. het broertje van.. says:

    So impressive man………………..!!

    Janwillem

  18. genf says:

    Nice capture, and interesting information.

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