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USAAF C-54 D 45-543 on Stake House Fell
Crashed in low cloud in the Forest of Bowland, January 7th 1949.
All crew and both passengers were killed in the crash. This C-54 was taking part in the Berlin airlift, and was flying from the C-54 base at Rhein Main in Germany to Burtonwood in England. The pilot was in contact with Burtonwood just moments before the crash. It is evident that 1st Lt. Wurgel thought he was several miles South of where the aircraft actually was. A later investigation found that a BBC radio signal had interfered with the Burtonwood signal, ruling out pilot error.
1st Lt. Richard M. Wurgel, Pilot
1st Lt. Lowell A. Wheaton Jr, Co-pilot
Sgt. Bernard J. Watkins, Engineer
Cpl. Norbert H. Theis, Radio Operator
Capt. W. A. Rathgeber, Passenger
Pte. R. E. Stone, Passenger
The C-54 had crashed onto the steep slope of the fell, some metres above the hollow where the remains of the aircraft were broken up and dumped. The aircraft had been carrying some cargo as part of its duties in the Berlin Airlift. This included engines due to be returned to the USA for major overhaul, and some medical supplies. Searching the impact site, I found this fragment of a 1940s four ounce bottle.