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B-17 41-24451 Info Sign

<< Back to Slieve an Orra Forest


On the left-hand side of the monument.


An info panel printed in colors and inscribed in English text which tells the history of the area, the plane crash in October 1942 and the memorial location.

Monument Text:




Orra Air Crash October 3rd 1942 


United States Army Air Force 1942

91st Bomb Group (Heavy)

B17F Flying Fortess No. 124451


The 91st heavy bomb group was composed of four squadrons of B17 flying fortresses which were moved to the RAF base at Bassingbourn, Cambridge in October 1942. It was composed of 50-60 planes and 2000 personal in total. 


The purpose of the move was to combine with RAF squadrons on concentrated bombing raids over Germany. On their flight to England they flew north of to Gander in Newfoundland, then to Prestwick and then the last stage south to Bassingbourn. 


The plane which crashed on Slieveanorra was one of A group of seven which left Gander at 23:00 GMT on October 2nd. Five of the seven arrived safely at Prestwick on October 3rd, average time of arrival approximately 11:30 GMT October 3rd. One landed in Stomoway at 11:30 GMT October 3rd.

Aircraft No. 124451 crashed approximately 11:10 GMT here in Northern Ireland. 



Crew Details: 

1Lt. John A McLean - Pilot - born about 1919. Buried at

Cambridge American Cemetery.


Capt. Dale L Lasselle - Co-pilot - born 12th April 1915.

He is buried at Finley Sunset Hills Memorial Park in Portland Oregon.


2nd Lt. Leonard L Koebel - Bombardier - born 19th July 1917.

He is buried at Greenwood Memorial Park San Diego, California.


2nd Lt. Robert N Allen - Navigator - born 5th January 1918.

He is buried at Memory's Garden Cemetery Town of Colonie New York.


Sgt. Robert James Vaughan - Gunner - born 3rd April 1916.


Pvt. Justin C Hamblin - Flight Engineer - born 25th August 1918.

Buried at Cambridge American Cemetery.


Capt. George C Wassell - Medical Doctor & passenger - born 10th May 1910.

Buried at Jefferson Memorial Park in Pennsylvania.


Corp. John Newton Gibson - Radio operator - born 8th June 1915.

Buried at Greenwood Cemetery Virginia Minnesota. 


Survivors of the crash:


Corp. Leon Rivers Harrison - Flight engineer - born 12th November 1919. Died 6th April 1998.

Buried at Jonesboro Memorial Park Cemetery, Arkansas


PFC Norman Eugene Wickes - Radio operator - born 3rd January 1920. Died 9th June 1983.

He was awarded the "Soldiers Medal" in 1943.

Buried at Calverton National Cemetery.


History of the Area 


This is also the site of the Battle of Orra (Battle of Slieve-na-Aura) which took place in the middle of the sixteenth century (1559) between the warring Clans of the MacQuillan's, O'Neills and the MacDonnells in which the MacQuillans and O'Neills were defeated. 


Section 3 - 6.6km of the Moyle Way 


The Slieve an Orra memorial is erected on Section 3 of the Moyle way, on the gravel track in a small lay by just opposite the marker for Hugh McPhelim O'Neill's Tomb close to the summit of the mountain.


Access the track at Orra Beg parking area, turn right onto a gravel track. The track climbs steadily through the trees for almost 1 km, then exits the forest and you find yourself suddenly deposited on a high open mountainside. The surrounding terrain looks rough and it's easy to be grateful for the firm surface of the track. As you climb, spare a thought for the doomed members of the MacQuillan and O'Neill clans, who perished near here with no such firm surface to save them.


With Thanks


The Slieve an Orra US Airmen Association was set up to commemorate the Airmen who sacrificed their lives so far from their country. Thanks to the local people who rescued them and those who gave medical attention to the two survivors. Also donations and help from the various organisations listed below.