B-17 41-24451 Monument
On the west side of the track, near the two towers.
A black stone monument printed in colors and inscribed in English text. The insignia of the Eighth Air Force is printed on the top and the American flag on the left. An information board could also be seen nearby. The monument commemorates the crew and a passenger of the downed B-17F #41-24451 in the area. Eight men perished while 2 survived. The monument was erected on September 10, 2014.
Source of photos: http://www.91stbombgroup.com
On 2nd October 1942, American Flying Fortress B17 41-24451 took off from Gander, Newfoundland. The plane was one of seven from 401st Bombing Squadron, 91st Bomb Group bound either for Prestwick, Scotland, or RAF Bassingbourn. The crew was on what was known as a "ferry flight".
Prestwick then was home to a transatlantic ferry terminal. At 1110hrs on the morning of 3rd October 1942, the USAAF plane crashed on Slieveanorra in Co. Antrim. Slieveanorra, also written Slieve an Orra or Orra Mountain comes from the Irish meaning “Hill of Battle”. It’s a 1,600 feet crest at the northern end of the Antrim hills, which run north from Belfast.
With an inexperienced crew, it was not unheard of for planes to veer off course. In this case, poor weather and unfriendly terrain resulted in B17 41-24451 coming down in boggy ground just below the summit.
Eight of the ten men on board died when the plane came down about 40 miles northwest of Belfast. The US War Department conducted an inquiry and issued a report on 5th October 1942. For many years, the information it contained remained classified. The report was based on an examination of the crash site and eye-witness accounts from the two survivors.
The rear left-hand side of the plane first struck the northwest side of the mountain about 30 feet below the summit. The plane continued for approximately 100 feet across a gully before impacting the hillside. The plane burst into flames and the right-wing and all four engines were torn off.
Five of the airmen were thrown clear of the crash. The remaining five stayed trapped in the wreckage. One from each group survived the crash.
The injured PFC Wickes attempted to rescue his fellow radio operator John Gibson. The burning wreckage had trapped Gibson and his lower half could not be moved from the waist down. An ambulance driven by Ballymoney man William Murdock brought the surviving crew to a nearby hospital.
Dedicated to the memory of
the American Service men who perished
on Slieve na Orra 3rd October 1942
THE CREW AND PASSENGERS WERE AS FOLLOWS
JOHN A McLEAN
DALE L LASSELLE
ROBERT N ALLEN
LEONARD L KOEBEL
JUSTIN C HAMBLIN
JOHN N GIBSON
ROBERT J VAUGHAN
GEORGE C WASSELL
LEON R HARRISON
NORMAN E WICKS
AWARDED THE SOLDIER'S MEDAL IN 1943 FOR HIS BRAVERY DURING THE CRASH
ERECTED BY SLIEVE NA ORRA MEMORIAL COMMITTEE 2014
401st Bomber Squadron, 91st Bomb Group
8th Air Force
91st Bomber Group
US Army Air Corps