Crash site of USAAF P51B Mustang 43-12419

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Crash site of USAAF P51B Mustang 43-12419 on Rooley Moor

4th June 1944. A couple of days before D-Day, Second Lieutenant Charles D Nelson, on a cross country navigation exercise from the American airbase at Goxhill in Lincolnshire, was killed when his Mustang crashed on moors between Rochdale and Rossendale in Lancashire.

Lancashire Aircraft Investigation Team states that at “…2117 (the time the aircraft’s clock stopped), the aircraft struck the ground at about a 30 degree angle under full power, breaking up as it cartwheeled across the moor…”

The airbase at Goxhill (named Goat Hill by US crews) was where ‘Gone With The Wind’ star Clark Gable briefly served during the war*. He had joined the US Army Air Corps in 1942 after his wife had died in a civil plane crash near Las Vegas. All on board the TWA DC3 were killed. A devastated Clark Gable joined up to fight for America aged 41, and was promoted to rank of Major by May 1944. He flew a number of combat missions over Germany in B17 Flying Fortresses.

Strangely, while internet searching the name ‘Second Lieutenant Charles D Nelson’, references to the Las Vegas crash kept cropping up; a man of exactly the same name and rank as the pilot of this Mustang had been a passenger on board the DC3 that crashed in Nevada two years earlier.


There is no visible wreckage remaining at the site which is somewhere between the middle distance and the nearest turbine.

Photo taken at sunrise. The column on the right is a Viewpoint, or it used to be. There was a metal disc fastened to the top, which had distances to towns and hills around the compass engraved on it. But not fastened well enough, and it is now missing presumed pinched.

*This may be a myth, there being no evidence to prove it.

Goxhill now…

14 comments on “Crash site of USAAF P51B Mustang 43-12419
  1. rob of rochdale says:

    ooooh, get you and that pose! 🙂

    Once again Ian, great information. I’ve walked over here a few times now and never suspected anything was lying beneath my feet, apart from earth. What a lovely sunrise you’ve captured too!

    Now then, more about the chewits please! 🙂

  2. andyholmfirth says:

    Lol ! You’ve been eating to many chewits mate 🙂

  3. Ian D B says:

    Chewier than Barrow-In-Furness Bus Depot!

  4. SolarScot. says:

    its funny you know Ian,Neal and i were watching American Jets dog fighting right over our heads the other day,bloody noisy they are! watching the Contrails as they zigged and zagged over the Scottish Borders,the same kind of lads that fought and gave so much for all of us as you so eloquently show us in your fab shots.

  5. pasujoba says:

    Great story Ian , you have hardly changed , bet you could even stand on the column still .
    Amazing how the moor looks different with the turbines there..
    If the aircraft cartwheeled , it must have been fairly smashed up and spread over a large area .
    There must be something of it somewhere still hiding in the heather .Even if only tiny pieces . Would be nice to tie it down a little .

  6. Tech Owl says:

    Very interesting shot, with the wind farm there now too. I was wondering if this is the same area where I took my ‘Power Line’ shot which did have a trig point out of shot

  7. Tech Owl says:

    Just noticed that you have the moon in shot too!

  8. Pleasureprinciple2012 says:

    They were a hardy breed 26 years ago, thought it was a statue for Larry Grayson initially!!

  9. Tony-H says:

    What a fab story … I’ll be sure to pay my respects next time I’m up on Rooley Moor !

  10. nick goth says:

    Hi Ian again. Another Mustang to visit soon… I googled Rooley Moor road and its a loooong road lol. How far down the road is the moor? Just head for the wind turbines i think.

    This moor is a bit of a plane graveyard it seems. Google brought up this:

    Rooley Moor Oxford
    An article about Airspeed Oxford Mk.II P1920 which crashed on Rooley Moor near Rochdale
    David Stansfield – Pennine Aviation – Research, Recovery & Restoration

    From this wreck magazine page:

    Needs more research i think so i can find more info. I doubt nothing will remain.


    • Ian D B says:

      hi Nick, I have documented on this site a crash on Rooley Moor, it was a P51. But no-one knows where the crash site is for certain. A metal detector would probably be of little use unless the site could be narrowed down as there’s so much junk up there from industry – quarrying, rail tracks across the moor and more recently the turbines of course.

      • Jamie Hewitt says:

        My grandad told me about this years ago , he says he remembered kids on brotherod estate running around with cannon shells from the crash site . He also says he found some metal years later , when he took it to an old scrap merchant , the owner told him it was a P51 mustang radiator ( or part of it) , as he had scrapped quite a few in the war .

        • Ian D B says:

          Thanks for that Jamie. When I looked there (and have been back several times since) was not a trace of the aircraft, so your grandad’s story is a very welcome addition!


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