USAAF B-24H 42-94841 ‘Sack Time!’ on Twizle Head Moss, Yorkshire, England.

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USAAF B-24H 42-94841 ‘Sack Time’ on Twizle Head Moss, Yorkshire

On 9th October 1944, B-24H Liberator ‘Sack Time’ was being taken for a test flight following repairs. The crew, skippered by First Lieutenant Elmer D Pitsenbarger of Iowa, were joined by two ground crew passengers who had been begging for a flight for some time and were taken along for the ride.

All except one on board were killed in the crash. The B-24 was flying too low in low cloud. Trying to remain below the cloud in order to maintain visual contact with the ground, the pilot had not accounted for the high ground rising unseen ahead.

42-94841 flew low over Holmfirth and along the Holme Valley. However, the ground rises steeply at the end of the valley and the Liberator collided with the moor, gouging a trail 200 metres long and bursting into flames. Another 20 feet might have seen them clear.

Survivor Staff Sgt Curtiss Anderson recalled looking out of the window and seeing wisps of cloud. He plugged in his intercom having just returned from the flight deck, looked out again and saw grass… At that point, everything went black.

He awoke on the moor, surrounded by fire lighting up the gloom. Using wet peat he was able to douse the flames on himself. Looking down at the burning fuel running in rivulets in the black peat, and at the burning wreckage and his dead pals, with munitions exploding all around, he said “It looked as though I was in hell.”

The first on the scene found Staff Sgt Anderson staggering around the crash site. When they asked him his name, the airman could only repeatedly answer “I’m from California. I’m from California.”

They also found another man alive, though Flight Officer Frank Cser of New Jersey died in hospital less than twelve hours later.

By January 1945, Staff Sergeant Anderson was able to return to the US. He underwent plastic surgery in Pasadena and finally made it home to San Francisco two years after the crash. He died January 16th 1988.

Crew and passengers;
1st Lt Elmer D. Pitsenbarger – Pilot – killed
S/Sgt Curtis Anderson – Gunner – injured
F/O Jack M. Bliss – Navigator – killed
F/O Frank Cser – Bombardier – died of injuries 10.10.44
T/Sgt Presley E. Farris – Flight Engineer – killed
Cpl Charles T. Lowblad – Passenger – killed
2nd Lt James D. Nendel – Co Pilot – killed
S/Sgt Frank A. Villelli – Gunner – killed
Cpl Clarence S. Watson – Passenger – killed
T/Sgt Joseph W. Zwinge Jr – Radio Op – killed

Crew of  B-24H 42-94841 'Sack Time!' beside B-24J, 95911 'Lucky Strike'

Eight of these ten men were on board 42-94841 at the time of the crash. This photo was taken in the US in May 1944 and naturally does not show the two passengers, Cpl Clarence S Watson and Cpl Charles T Lowblad.

Back Row (Left to right): Jack M. Bliss, Frank Cser, Elmer D. Pitsenbarger and James D. Nendel

Front Row (Left to right): Joe W. Zwinge, Presley S. Farris, Charles Anderson, C. McQuade (not in the crash), Frank A. Villelli and H. Steel (not in the crash)

The aircraft is a B-24J, 95911, named ‘Lucky Strike’

Info from
32 Co Pilots by Charles R. Bastien (2004)
Peakland Air Crashes – the North by Pat Cuningham (2006)





22 comments on “USAAF B-24H 42-94841 ‘Sack Time!’ on Twizle Head Moss, Yorkshire, England.
  1. Jan Gunn says:

    Wow! Thanks for sharing this Ian

  2. andyholmfirth says:

    Compelling tale Ian.I’m waiting for a warm sunny evening to look up those two locations you sent through.

  3. Tech Owl says:

    That’s either some crater edge, or a coincidence of a natural feature.

  4. Lo Scorpione says:

    Tragic story! In particular for the two passengers having waited so long for their flight, only to crash and die.
    But what an amazingly atmospheric rendering of the site this is! Double selective colouring…very nice.

  5. Pleasureprinciple2012 says:

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. Ian D B says:

    Thanks all.

    [] yeah that’s the edge of the main crash site. It’s only a few inches deep, but nothing will grow here for years to come.

  7. stephenwalder says:

    I’d never have known, thanks for sharing that.

  8. Mcdillonz says:

    Thanks for this detail….

  9. delarever says:

    Great Angle

  10. pasujoba says:

    Just watching a programme about Dogfights and ‘Sacktime’ was rammed by a Bf109 , losing part of the tail and surviving . It must have been ‘Sacktime 2’ because on further viewing it was in 1945.

  11. buddiesmom says:

    wondering how you got all this info, etc. One of the crew members is a family member, one of the deceased.

  12. Ian D B says:

    Hi buddiesmom, good to hear from you. The info is from books about crash sites and from internet resources etc. there are a couple listed above.

    There are lots of ways of discovering info about a crash. For more on this USAAF crash, this might be a good starting point for further research;

    May I ask which of the crew you are related to?


  13. Mayflowerranch says:

    Hello, My uncle was Clarence Watson. My mother was 15 years old when her brother died in the crash. Thank you so much for the information. If you have any further info I would be highly interested. Clarence’s body was never recovered so we have an empty grave in his hometown with just his headstone. Regards, Vicky

    • Christopher says:

      Hi My dad lived in fox farm cottages at Harrington and is in his 90s.
      Just wondered have you any information on your uncle or photos would be great.Hoping to walk to the crash site in the year.

    • Dave Pattern says:

      Hi Vicky

      This is from a local newspaper report which says that your uncle’s body was recovered. However, I’m unsure why it wasn’t repatriated to your family.


      The body of the ninth victim, that of Clarence Watson, who was flying in the aircraft as a passenger, was not recovered until Thursday night.

      For three days American troops and police searched the moors. It was thought at first that he might have baled out just before the plane crashed and wandered off on to the moors. Many miles of moorland near the scene of the crash were thoroughly combed.

      On Thursday American troops, specially trained to, deal with crashed aircraft, were brought into the district, and manhandled heavy oxy-acetylene apparatus across the one-and-a-half miles of rough moorland to the scene of the crash from the main Woodhead Road. The wreckage of the plane was cut into pieces, and the body was found underneath the mid-upper turret.

      (Huddersfield Daily Examiner 14 Oct 1944 – Bomber Crash on Holme Moss)

  14. Ian D B says:

    Hi Vicky, I have sent you a PM via Flickr with my e-mail address.

  15. Jillian higginbottom says:

    Hi the b24h.94841 at this site was not called sack time this air craft had no name re the crew cpl Watson was found by recovery crew two days after the crash under neath mid upper turret but for some reason the USAir force say he still missing this crew before this tragedy did a few ops carpetbaggers fly secret agents over enemy lines all this info came from Curtis Anderson the only survivor of the crash cheers bill

  16. Jillian higginbottom says:

    Hi Curtis Anderson was good friend of Russel Ives how as written a book about the crew sadly Mr Anderson pass away in late 80s iv been to this crash site many time with Russell I’ve over the year the book about the crew is called 89 days by r Ives thanks again bill

  17. Hi Ian,
    We communicated back in 2011 (I’m the niece of Clarence Watson) and I’ve lost the emails. I was wondering if there is anything planned on October 29, 2024 the 80th anniversary or how I could find out. I’d love to make the trip over from USA to be there.

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Vicky, lovely to hear from you. I can see your email address here, not the same as the one you used previously. I will send you an email now using this new address.

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