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USAAF B-17 42-31322 ‘Mi Amigo’, Endcliffe Park, Sheffield
On 22 February 1944 Flying Fortress ‘Mi Amigo’ crashed in this public park in Sheffield with the loss of all 10 crew men on board.
The B-17 had been on a raid on the German airfield at Ålborg in occupied Denmark (apparently Ålborg has the unwanted distinction of being the first city in the world to be taken by paratroopers). The airfield was home to Fw 190s and Bf 109s.
These attacked the B-17s overhead, and pursued ‘Mi Amigo’ as bombardier Second Lt Hernandez, aware of the Danish civilians below, was unable to release the bombs due to cloud cover obscuring the target.
Pilot First Lt Krieghauser’s aircraft was badly damaged by the attacking fighters. The bombs were released harmlessly over the North Sea as the B-17 limped back towards base in Northamptonshire.
It is probable the navigation and communication equipment was out of service, and that some of the crew were dead or wounded from the attack. For whatever reasons, ‘Mi Amigo’ ended up 80 miles off course and circling low over the city of Sheffield.
In Endcliffe Park, kids playing football watched as an engine finally cut, a wing dipped and the aircraft spiralled down into a wooded knoll next to the playing field. It is possible First Lieutenant Krieghauser was considering a crash landing on the playing field. This might also account for why some of the crew at least didn’t bail out. Eye witness accounts at the time (and there were many) are extremely harrowing and there seems no point in repeating them here.
The memorial is surrounded by 10 American oaks planted in 1969, one for each crew member.
Cunningham notes that the ten men added to the “total of American aircrew lost over Europe that day to 430, and with ‘Mi Amigo’ bringing the day’s toll of American bombers downed to 43.”
(Peakland Air Crashes – The Central Area, Pat Cunningham DFM, 2006)
First Lieutenant John Glennon Krieghauser, pilot.
Second Lieutenant Lyle J Curtis, co-pilot
Second Lieutenant John W Humphrey, navigator
Second Lieutenant Melchor Hernandez, bombardier
Staff Sergeant Robert E Mayfield, radio operator
Staff Sergeant Harry W Estabrooks, engineer / top turret gunner
Sergeant Charles H Tuttle, ball-turret gunner
Sergeant Maurice O Robbins, tail gunner
Sergeant Vito R Ambrosio, right waist gunner
Muster Sergeant George U Williams, left waist gunner
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Detail on the memorial.