USAAF B-24 bomber 42-50668 on Black Hameldon, Lancashire, UK

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USAAF B-24 bomber 42-50668 on Black Hameldon, Lancashire

Photo above taken April 2009.

Grid reference SD 91185 30052

1st Lt. Charles A. Goeking, Pilot, Injured
1st Lt. George H. Smith Jr, Co-pilot, Died of Injuries
T. Sgt. Howard E. Denham Jr, Engineer, Died of Injuries
T. Sgt. Leslie E. Johnson, Radio operator, Injured
1st Lt. Frank E. Bock, Navigator, Died of Injuries
Sgt. Robert E. Hyett, Passenger, Injured
2nd Lt. Joseph B. Walker III, Passenger, Killed
F/O David A. Robinson Jr, Passenger, Killed
F/O Gerald Procita, Passenger, Killed
2nd Lt. Elmer R. Brater, Passenger, Killed
Sgt. Randolph R. Mohlenrich Jr, Passenger, Killed

USAAF B-24 bomber 42-50668 of the 854th Bomb Squadron was flying from the American airbase at North Pickenham in Norfolk to Burtonwood airbase near Warrington on 19 February 1945.

Pilot 1st Lt. Charles A. Goeking had descended through low cloud trying to get a visual fix. Seeing a town below, which he thought was Liverpool, Lt Goeking headed East towards where he expected Burtonwood to be. Tragically the aircraft was 40 miles North East of Liverpool and the town he saw was in fact Burnley. Heading East took the B-24 towards the moors of the South Pennines.

Lt Goeking became aware of the dark shadow of Black Hameldon ahead and tried to lift the aircraft over but without success; the B-24 struck the moor, tail first and under full power. The tail section broke away, killing the crew members within. The front section of the aircraft continued some 100 yards up the slope, catching fire as it broke up.

5 of the crew died at the scene, 3 more died within days of wounds.

Charles A Goeking visited the site with his wife in 1972. He died in 1989.

Below; photos from visit March 2016




Please scroll down through the comments section for more photos provided by Alan when he visited the crash site in September 2020 and also a bit further are some photos taken by Kate Toye in April 2021.

Photos from visit March 2022



60 comments on “USAAF B-24 bomber 42-50668 on Black Hameldon, Lancashire, UK
  1. Tech Owl says:

    The crankshaft (if that’s the tall piece) almost acts like a marker ‘cross’.

  2. pasujoba says:

    Going to have to go and find this one .

  3. Neal. says:

    Sad story, the ground around the wreckage looks burned is there a reason for it?

  4. Ian D B says:

    [] see what you mean Bryan. It’s hard to tell in this photo, but there are only two pieces of wreckage left at the site – these are the undercarriage legs, too heavy to move, but I suppose someone will cart them off eventually.

    [] yeah, the moor was burned in the fire. Pollution from spilled fuel prevents anything from growing back.

  5. Hill Special says:

    A few of us used to go up on these moors on the mountain bike , when I worked over this way – I do remember passing some wreckage – could have been this same spot, but not sure

  6. Ian D B says:

    Probably. There is another wrfeck site on the other side of Black Hameldon but there is very little to see there. Last time I visited there was evidence of digging and a sheet of armour plating had been stolen.

    • DENIS SEXTON says:

      The wreckage you mention on the other side of Black
      Hameldon hill is the crash site of Halifax DT581 on Hoarside Moor.
      hit high ground returning from a mine laying opp. off the coast of Denmark it over flew its base at Snaith 77/51 squd 22-1- 11942

    • DENIS SEXTON says:

      Yes Ian Halifax DT581, there Was also a Hurricane that came down in Cliviger part of a three aircraft Navex flight from Church Fenton they ran out of fuel, another Hurricane came down across from the Bull & Butcher pub Crown point the pilot latter became the Chairman of of Kent County Council. The third Hurricane came down near Clitheroe a happy one all pilots & aircraft survived to fight another day

  7. J.Waring says:

    I grew up at a farm close to this crash site. Visited the site two days after the crash, an awful mess. I still walk these hills, about eight years ago what looked like part of the undercarriage was showing. There is a photograph on Geo graph which you might like on your site. you run an excellent web site.

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi John,

      Interesting to hear you were at the site straight after the crash. I gather it was something of a magnet for schoolboys. I will take a look at the photo on geograph. I should revisit this crash site one of these days, it is years since I was up there. Many thanks for your comment!


    • Susanna Denham says:

      My Grandaddy, Howard Denham, was on that plane. I have always wanted to visit the site. Do you have exact coordinates so I can look it up on google maps?

  8. Bob Nagel says:

    Lt Frank Bock, the navigator, was my cousin and is buried in the American Airmens Cemetery in Cofton England. Had over 40 combat missions over Europe and was only 21 years of age when he passed. Heroic but sad

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Bob, good to hear from you. I have never visited Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial (though I have once flown over it as a passenger in a vintage aircraft), it is on my list of places to visit and pay my respects. Heroes all.

      • DENIS SEXTON says:

        Madingley is well worth a visit the fatalities from Liberator 42-50668 the Burnley aircraft are interned in there

      • Bob Nagel says:

        I continue to hope that I’ll be able to visit Franks burial site along with the wreckage in the near future. I know that none of our family has ever visited either one and I would be honored to do so. I have one picture of Frank and the fellow officers he normally flew with, all on bikes, cigars in mouth, arms over each other’s shoulders, laughing…… touching, happy yet sad

        • Ian D B says:

          Where do you live Bob? If ever you are in the area, give me a call and I will take you to the crash site if possible.

          • Bob Nagel says:

            Thanks Ian, generous offer. I live in upstate NY, USA. You?

          • Ian D B says:

            I live within miles of the crash site. Let me know if ever you are in the UK? It’s not a difficult place to reach, a short tramp across the moor from the road.

        • Sue mortimer says:

          My husband and I visit the site every year to lay poppies it’s hard going but worth it to show respect

          • neil farrington says:

            I tried to find the site today but failed, which is the best route please

          • Ian D B says:

            Hi Neil, the grid ref (courtesy of UK Air Crash Site Coordinates) is at SD 91182 30039. I find the easiest way to it is from the layby (parking) on Kebs Road above Stiperden House Farm.

    • ANTHONY D HEY says:

      hello bob my name is tony ime from burnley and live in seattle i am looking for any family members of frank bock it is a long story but i have a posetion of franks that wee are trying to give back to his family if any please get hold of me.

  9. Ironside says:

    Interesting comments after all these intervening years. As a schoolboy aged 9 years I first visited this site shortly after the crash when the four engines were still complete in the small ravine just below the crash site – the first parts to be stripped were the platignum spark plugs, I remember we could still enter into the main bulk of the fuselage which was eventually dug into the peat/soil and buried – one or two who got there before us got some instruments I would love to visit this site to pay my respects to the unfortunate flight crew but my age and disability alas has prevented this – I thank all those who have been there recently and taken some excellent photographs of the undercarriage leg and the remains of the wheel hub – amazingly some chrome of the leg piston is still there and quite bright – I understand the remains of the engine crank cases are now in a museum in Burtonwood. thanks to all….. the memory lives

    • Ian D B says:

      Brilliant memories, thank you for adding your recollection of the crash site in the days afterwards, yours is a perspective we don’t often hear.

      • Ironside says:

        Thank you so much for your kind comment…..1945 was a particularly hard time to live in, things like toy’s were unheard of or were made by hand such as wooden spitfires and ships…as young boy’s the crash site wasn’t visited for ghoulish reasons but as a source for decent “Swops” of what we could find in the wreakage, things like small first aid kits fitted at various points throughout the framework for instance were worth good swop items at school…instruments were snapped up by the adults quicker than lightening!!! – I tried desperately to make the journey on Wed 6th July 2016 starting out from Hurstwood but the terrain got too much for so I abandoned it again for the third time now….I am now happy to live with just these memories….I so wanted to say a thank you prayer at the crash site for all those young souls that were lost….God Bless Them. Sorry to be so long winded…Best Regards, Ironside.

  10. Geoff says:

    I was up there a few years back and there’s an easy’er route there.It’s of the long causeway road before the bar/toll house past the wind mills from Burnley, there’s two bend’s after the second bend there’a gate way on the left go through it head for the hill there’s a sort of a track. And were the ground get’s steeper go up about 100 to150 yrds turn left, follow the hill conture there are a number of gully’s five possibly, you should be able to spot the landing gear on the hillside happy hunting.

  11. John Brim says:

    First got a look at this site with my old man best part of 40 yrs ago. (Grew up in Worsthorne short distance away.) Back then all that was left at the time was a chrome piece of landing gear stuck up in the air to mark the site, and I remember the circular engine blocks without cylinder heads showing the pistons.

    Guilty at the time of taking a single spent bullet case and a blue button with four holes in it back home. As you can imagine, these told stories in themselves.

    My old man told me the tales of the kids going up there on a weekend with go karts in his time and dragging parts of the wreckage back into town to sell/scrap, probably 5 miles in distance.

    God bless the men that passed up there, its always a warm place to visit, even on the coldest of days.

  12. Gary Harris says:

    My Grandfather PC 58 Norman Dyke of the Burnley Borough Police Force was in attendance the night the plane crashed. He had the job of helping to drag the airmen from the burning wreckage with bullets exploding around him. I still have an American coin and a green tipped blank round that’s would have been among the first bullets in a belt of ammunition that fed the aircrafts machine guns. I visited the site in 1975 when I was a member of Burnley 352 Squadron Air Training Corps. Back then part of the fuselage was remaining with the inscription of Charles Goeking on the side when he revisited the site in 1972. This sadly is no longer there.

    • Ian D B says:

      Great additional details, thanks Gary

      • David Denson says:

        I remember visiting the crash site in the 50s as a thirteen year old, collecting items as souvenirs. In acts of sheer vandalism, we took hammers to the rocker casings to extract the pushrods and an acquaintance managed to salvage several of the magnesium alloy propeller blades which he later sold to finance the purchase of a motorbike. I was also one of the boys who took a cart up there to retrieve aluminium parts which we sold for scrap. In those days you could collect live tracer bullets protruding from the peat and another, older friend, Kevin Mount,collected a haversack full. After stripping out the cordite? he made a bomb which he later used to blow away a wing section, thus gaining access to the main fuselage. I remember him retrieving, amongst other things, a pair of airman’s gloves.
        Kevin later developed an all consuming interest in the history of the aircraft and other crash sites and he it was who invited the pilot, Lieutenant Goeking, over to Burnley to visit the wreck.
        Kevin eventually wrote a book entitled ” Wartime Pendle” which contains a report of this visit with photos and accounts of other wartime crash sites. It is now out of print but I know that Burnley Reference Library holds a copy.

      • David Denson says:

        See ” Wartime Pendle” by Kevin Mount. Out of print now but Burnley Reference Library hold a copy.

  13. Josh Budimlija says:

    Very cool to see that there is interest in this site after all these years. I am the grandson of Charles Goeking and grew up hearing about this from my parents (grandpa of course never talked about it), read the book “Wartime Pendle” years ago but have never looked into the crash via the internet. Was looking up info as my family is heading to Washington DC this week for vacation and will be visiting Arlington where Co-Pilot G.H. Smith Jr is buried to pay respects. Hoping to eventually make it over there to see the site for myself.

    Thanks for keeping their memory alive

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Josh, very good to hear from you and thank you for taking the time to comment. Pleased you found this page!

    • Sue mortimer says:

      Hi Josh my husband and I have visited the site to show respect and laid a poppy wreath for a few years hard to find and hard going on the moor in our sixties get emotional. Never forget

    • Susanna Denham says:

      Hi Josh…I am the grandaughter of Howard Denham (tech. Engineer) on that flight. He was filling in for a sick friend. My father was just a baby and they never met. I am planning a trip to go see the crash site. The only thing I have of my grandfather’s is a picture or 2. I am hoping to be able to make peace there.

      • Ian T says:

        Hi Susanna,

        Where do you live? Let me know if you’re still planning a visit to the crash site and I will show you the way.


        • Susanna Denham says:

          Ian…I am planning a trip for next summer to take my father to see the crash site. His father (Lt. Howard Edward) was one of the men carried down the hill and died of burns a few days later. My father was only a baby at the time. It will be a very emotional experience and I would love to hire a guide to take us up there and offer some more history.

  14. Sue mortimer says:

    Been to the crash site for years to lay a poppy wreath will keep their memories alive

  15. Mark Naughton says:

    Best advice I’d give to anyone trying to find this, Is get to the trig point on Black Hameldon hill then face towards Pendle hill,keep walking in the direction towards Pendle and after about a quarter of mile you will see a marker, the wreckage is just near that, the terrain can be tricky so good footwear is advised

  16. John Ashworth says:

    Hi I visit this site regularly and will be visiting again this Friday 19-6-20 together with my brothers, we are keen ornithologist as there is a peregrine’s nest close to the crash site so we always take the opportunity to see the remaining wreckage. It is fascinating to see the interest on here and to understand the human element.If we can provide any info on here or perhaps with notice guide interested parties to the site.

  17. John Edgington says:

    I am going to this site again this Wednesday the 8th July because it looks as though the weather will be reasonable . Was up there last week and found the trig point but couldn’t find the site itself. The grid reference puts it at 912300 which almost follows the county border line along which I think there is now a fence so is this correct because Pendle Hill seems to be to far to the west

  18. Alan says:

    Was up there today 13,09,20
    Last month i was on the wrong side. Last week i was so close but missed it. Today found it. A poppy reef is there and some poppys tied at various points. Stayed for a while and brewed up. Its not as easy as you think to find it, but worth it just to have that quiet moment. Would love to post some pics but cant see a way.

  19. Pam Brater says:

    My uncle, 2nd Lt. Elmer Brater, was killed in this crash. He was only 23. I never knew him, he died before I was born. Thank you for this site. It means a lot to me to find out so much about it. Thank you all for your accounts. I didn’t expect that after all these years people are still interested in it. His body was brought home and is buried in a family plot here in Delhi (Cincinnati, Ohio) USA.

  20. Kevan Boyle says:

    Managed to find the site today on a circular walk from the Long Causeway car park opposite the windmills which leads down Shedden Clough. Went via Cant Clough Reservoir up to Gorple Road. Turned left following the boundary fence almost to Black Hameldon summit. The site is approximately 200 metres from the fence in a gully which is clearly marked on the OS map and which takes water down to Cant Clough. Could have been a good idea to follow the gully up from the reservoir probably better underfoot than the tussocks we encountered.
    Returned to the Long Causeway by heading for the windmills but the terrain was really difficult and very tough going for a couple of seventy odd year olds. We clocked 7miles in 4 hours!
    It was amazing to find the place after reading so much interesting detail about the tragic event.
    Took a few pics and can send them to you if you wish.

    • Neil says:

      There is a circular bearing / ring that looks to be from the upper machine gun turret. The bit the gun rotated on. It’s about 300m to 400m NW of the site; located in the stream.

  21. Ian D B says:

    Photos taken by Kate Toye, visit 04 April 2021 and used with her kind permission.





  22. George Pollard says:

    Third time lucky! Walked Black Hameldon from the Pack Horse Pub near Widdop Reservoir, no crash site. Walked Black Hameldon from the Windmills on the Long Causeway, no crash site. Today, walked from Hurstwood past Cant Clough Reservoir and before bresting the hill top there it was…

    Walking on this hill is really not easy due to a lack of any discernable paths, the tussocks, and hidden holes you can unwittingly drop into with very wet peat bog at the bottom, but it was well worth the effort in the end.

    I have been meaning to do this walk since the early seventis when I first heard of it so it’s taken a while, but it was nice to be able to finally pay my respects to the poor souls that lost their lives on that fateful night. RIP men, you will never be forgotten.

    PS. Should anyone visiting from abroad need a bit of guidance I would be more than happy to help out.

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi George, apologies for the late reply. It’s great to read of your visit. It is a sad place but one I like visiting. Can’t say why.

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