Eagle Squadron Crash Memorial- Isle of Man
In the Churchyard of Maughold Parish Monument
A brass inscribed plaque mounted on a rock base about 4 feet high.
The memorial remembers four Americans who were killed on the Isle of Man on October 8, 1941 while flying in the Royal air Force from Fowlemere Airfield in England in bad weather.
Background on this crash:
During early October 1941 No.133 (Eagle) Squadron was being moved from Duxford near Cambridge to Eglinton in Northern Ireland for advanced training. Advanced parties had travelled to Eglinton 4th and 5th by surface transport. On the 7th the first flight of aircraft made the journey to Northern Ireland. They were followed on the 8th by the final 15 aircraft, of these four would never arrive. The flight was to be done in stages with the aircraft flying cross country to Sealand near Chester, then onward to Jurby and Andreas on the Isle of Man and finally to Eglinton. The flight left Duxford's satellite station of Fowlmere at about 13:30, by 14:30 all the aircraft had arrived at Sealand for refueling. The first six aircraft at about 15:30 and headed towards the Isle of Man they arrived safely at Jurby and Andreas within an hour. The nine other aircraft in the flight left Sealand shortly after the first six. Three aircraft from this section successfully flew to Andreas and two returned to Sealand due to the weather conditions. The remaining four aircraft were all lost on the island, two crashed very close to each other on farm land near Maughold on the east coast of the island, one of the pilots had bailed out of his aircraft but landed in the sea and drowned. He was eventually washed ashore over a month later
The two other aircraft had become separated from the flight, P/O Stout crossed the coast at Laxey and flew up Laxey Glen, at the head of the glen P/O Stout must have seen the ground and tried to avoid striking it, however he appeared to have lost control of his aircraft at low level as the aircraft dived into the ground near Snaefell Mines killing P/O Stout. P/O McCall had crossed the coast a little further north and ended up in the glen below North Barrule, his aircraft ploughed into the ground in near level flight killing P/O McCall instantly.
About the Eagle Squadrons from the American Battle Monument Commission Website:
The concept of American volunteers fighting with combatant nations, and serving international relief agencies before the United States declared war dated back to World War I. The Lafayette Escadrille of the French Aéronautique Militaire was the most famous, and led to an American fascination with these “cowboys of the air.” When World War II broke out in Europe in 1939, Americans were encouraged by their example to volunteer for service in the new war.
An odd group of men gathered to collect Americans bent on flying for the Allies. One recruiter was Charles Sweeney, an American mercenary and friend of Ernest Hemmingway. He managed to dodge the FBI and Axis agents while illegally seeking pilots in the United States, risking $1000 fines and prison. Still, Sweeney had a reputation for entertaining candidates in nightclubs and seeking newspaper coverage, playing on a nation intrigued and fascinated with adventurous pilots. After the fall of France the United States relaxed its concern over British recruiting. In July 1940 the FBI found there was no wrong done by Sweeney’s recruiting.
Meanwhile in Canada, WWI Ace Billy Bishop, a recipient of the Victoria Cross, and a WWI American pilot volunteer and artist Clayton Knight created the Clayton Knight Committee with the purpose of recruiting and training Americans for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). Before the end of 1941 Bishop and Knight had recruited over 7,000 Americans, though fewer than 15 percent became pilots. Almost all the pilots went to Britain to serve with the Royal Air Force (RAF). While the motivation to serve as a recruiter or early pilot varied greatly from person to person, many of these people thrived on adventure and their love of flying.
By July 1940 France had fallen. England was under aerial attack. The RAF decided to group acceptable American pilots into one unit, 71 Squadron, known as “The Eagle Squadron,” which became operational in February 1941. Sweeny had designed a unit shoulder patch bearing an American Eagle, the source of the unit’s name. Enough American volunteers followed to form 121 and 133 Eagle Squadrons, operational by fall 1941. By the beginning of 1942 all three American-piloted Eagle Squadrons were flying sweeps over France, escorting bombers or performing strikes.
Among the first and the most experienced pilots in these squadrons were Vernon “Shorty” Keogh, Andrew Mamedoff, and Eugene “Red” Tobin. Each of them went to Europe in 1940 to fly with eight other Americans in British squadrons throughout the Battle of Britain that same year. All three Americans died before the United States officially entered World War II. Mamedoff was forced down in bad weather. Keogh died defending a coastal convoy. And Tobin lost his life in a dogfight between 71 Squadron and German fighters near Boulogne, France.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, 71 and 121 Squadrons contacted the U.S. Embassy to request transfer to American service. They remained with the RAF until September 1942 when all three squadrons were turned over to the American 8th Air Force as the 4th Fighter Group. The 71, 121, and 133 Squadrons became respectively the 334th, 335th, and 336th Fighter Squadrons. (By special order, former Eagle Squadron members in the 4th Fighter Group were allowed to wear their RAF pilot’s wings on their American uniforms.) They flew combat missions from October 1942 until April 25, 1945. As the top scoring Allied Fighter Group, they were the first with missions into Germany and the first over Berlin.
Today the names of Tobin, Keogh, and Mamedoff are among the 260 pilots and squadron staff engraved on the Eagle Squadron Memorial in Grosvenor Square, London not far from the American Embassy.
See this website, Eagle Squadron Memorial, site Grosvenor Square for more on the Eagle Squadrons.
The four Americans listed on this memorial are buried in the Commonwealth Grave Commission (CWGC) Cemetery at the Brookwood Military Cemetery, Brookwood, Woking Borough, Surrey, England.
See this website ISOB and the name of the Pilot for more on the burials.
The text on the plaque is written in English and reads:
IN MEMORY OF
THE AMERICAN FIGHTER PILOTS OF
THE ROYAL AIR FORCE 133 EAGLE SQUADRON
WHO LOST THEIR LIVES HERE
ON THE ISLE OF MAN
8 OCTOBER 1941
FLIGHT LIEUTENANT ANDREW MAMEDOFF
AGE 29, THOMPSON, CONNECTICUT
PILOT OFFICER HUGH MCCALL
AGE 24, SO. PASADENA, CALIFORNIA
PILOT OFFICER ROY STOUT
AGE 25, ASH GROVE, MISSOURI
PILOT OFFICER WILLIAM J. WHITE
AGE 21, TOPEKA, KANSAS
THE MANX AVIATION PRESERVATION SOCIETY
FAMILY, FRIENDS, AND THE
EAGLE SQUADRON ASSOCIATION
ON 8 OCTOBER 1998