Whilst climbing into the sun and broken cloud to join formation, the B17G 'Flying Fortress' of Captain Leach (711th Squadron, aircraft no.43-38245) ascended into the similar bomber of Lt. Wilder (of 710th Squadron, no.44-6460). Leach's propeller cut into Wilders fuselage severing the tail, causing both the heavily laden planes to plummet to the ground. Leach's plane crashed at Wetherden Hall in Hitcham with the loss of all crew, and most of Wilders, at Treacles Farm in Kettlebaston.
There was however one very fortunate survivor. The navigator from Wilders plane (2nd Lt. Eliot Mishler) somehow managed to parachute to safety from the stricken aircraft. He not only survived the crash but also the war, and is still believed to be alive and well and living in the America at the time of publication.
This page is currently awaiting further content to be forwarded from the USA. Please call back soon for yet more detail surrounding the incident.
Wilder (second from the right, bottom row) is shown here as having ten man crew. This was later reduced to nine in June or July 1944 when one of the waist gunners was reassigned. Normand D. Mannock (his co-pilot) is second on the left on the bottom row.
The full crew list that day was:
2nd Lt. William M. Wilder, Pilot
Rattlesden Airfield and The 447th Bomb Group Association:
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