‹ Return to USAAF Crash Sites 1942 – 1945
C-47A Skytrain 41-7803 Moel y Gaer, Wales
In ‘Fallen Eagles’ (1990), Edward Doylerush tells the story of C-47A 41-7803 which crashed on a hill top (which happens to be the site of an Iron Age hillfort called Moel y Gaer) on Llantysilio Mountain, west of Horseshoe Pass in north Wales on 23 August 1942.
The C-47 of the 18th Squadron, 64th Troop Carrier Group, had departed Bradley Field airbase, Connecticut, one of 12 bound eventually for the USAAF base at Atcham in Shropshire, England.
Below Map showing the North Atlantic air route the flight took, summer 1942.
Leaving Prestwick in pairs for the last leg of the journey, the flight encountered low cloud. The co-pilot of the other C-47, Lt Robert Walker, had radioed to 41-7803 that they were going to climb above the cloud. For whatever reason, the pilot of 41-7803, 1st Lt Williams, instead descended and the Skytrain struck the top of the hill.
Doylerush refers the co-pilot of the other aircraft who had radioed their intention to climb: “Indelibly etched in Walker’s memory is the sight of Lieutenant Richard E Pazder, the navigator, waving to him from the plexiglass bubble on top of the aircraft as the cloud closed around it.”
Of the thirteen crew and passengers on board, three survived the crash but two died within hours. One of them died on the way down the hill when a rescue was effected, and T/Sergeant Petterson died that night in hospital. Only one, passenger Technical Sergeant George Albert Lesikar, lived to tell the tale. According to Doylerush, the doctor at the hospital in Wrexham told T/Sgt Lesikar that he was surprised he had survived.
Two weeks later, T/Sgt Lesikar was moved to a US field hospital at Sutton-in-Ashfield (the first such US Army hospital built in the UK for the purpose). On 07 December 1942, he returned to the USA on board the RMS Queen Elizabeth. He opted to remain in service as a Maintenance Inspector at a depot in California. After the war, George returned to his job as a teacher. He married Beulah and they had five children. George Lesikar died on 08 March 2006 aged 92.
Photo from findagrave
First Lieutenant Charles Edward Williams
First Lieutenant Richard Pazder
Second Lieutenant Theodore F. Furness Jr.
Second Lieutenant Morris B. Penner
Private Harry R. Adams
Technical Sergeant Jonathan B. Akers
Technical Sergeant Robert E. Anderson
Technical Sergeant Isreal Gross
Technical Sergeant Herman A. Hermes
Technical Sergeant Raymond S. Nash
Technical Sergeant Jesse L. Patterson
Technical Sergeant George A. Lesikar
Visiting the crash site
The crash site is at grid reference SJ 16779 46415.
There is street parking available in the village of Bryneglws, postcode LL21 9LN will get you there.
Good paths and tracks lead up the hill from the village, and the walk should provide no difficulties.
The crash site is a stony scar on the edge of the remains of the hillfort. There is nothing remaining except fragments of metal. Previous visitors have provided photos showing bits of metal from clothing – a zip fastener and as recently as 2020, buttons embossed with the American eagle. When I visited in 2023, there was nothing like that on the ground, though of course it’s possible I just didn’t see them.
Fragments found at the site
One of the few identifiable fragments of debris I found at the site
Looking east from the crash site to Moel-y-Gamelin
Photo I took of a C-47A in 2014. You can see the observation bubble (or astrodome) in which Lt Walker saw the navigator of 41-7803 waving to him before the aircraft crashed.