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Author Topic: Mid-air Crash of Two B-26 Marauders over Gillingham - June 6, 1944  (Read 29256 times)

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Offline Maid of Kent

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I know the exact orchard and where it fell, as my uncle Kenneth Coxe was probably the first on the scene as it landed on his family property and he was already up ( preparing to go and milk the cows) and it happened only a few seconds walk from East Court Farmhouse but there was nothing he could do. 

Offline Bilgerat

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This page tells you everything you might want to know about this tragedy...

http://gillinghambattleb26crash.weebly.com/
"I did not say that the French will not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Lord St Vincent

Offline Dave Smith

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Maid of Kent. Please read my eyewitness account in KHF Wartime Memories of the immediate result of the collision as these Marauders rapidly descended. They were in the clouds, so there could be no "eyewitness" account of the actual collision but definitely "earwitness" by me. There were further comments by Members who knew which orchard in Grange it was that I saw the enormous explosion. When I originally reported this many, many moons ago- before KHF- a chap who was writing the history of USAF Bomber Groups operating from  airfields in Essex, wrote to me with details of all those American Airmen who perished on that sad day.

Offline Maid of Kent

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In 1977 a book entitled 'The War Dispatches. World War ll as it happened from the Pages of the Daily Mail' was published (15.5" x 11") consisting entirely of facsimile pages of the Daily Mail. On page for the Daily Mail, Wednesday June 7 1944 in 4th column (just above Newmarket Racing Results) is the following;

 "Planes Collide over Town

Two planes collided over Gillingham, Kent early yesterday. One an American Aircraft, crashed on a row of houses killing three people. The other fell in an orchard, causing an explosion.

Mrs Fanny Whittingham, aged 60 and Miss Joan Taylor, aged 19, were killed in their beds and Mr George Gandon, aged 45, died later in hospital. Five of the planes crews were found dead"


We now know that all the crew members died. Strangely, there is no mention of the mid-air collision of another 2 planes, also from Boreham, Essex which crashed an hour later at Battle in East Sussex when only one airman survived.

Offline lutonman1

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The strange thing about the air crashes that happened, was the security. Several air crashes in the Medway area, I never heard of, until after the war. I never heard what happened to the flying fortress,
I saw flying low over Rochester airport, firing a green flare. I just assumed it carried on to Gravesend airport.
MoK

Offline Maid of Kent

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Today, 6th June 2014 is the 74th Anniversary of this very sad event. The death of those 12 young Americans, who were all under 25years old has been much on my mind today.

Offline Maid of Kent

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Re: Mid-air Crash of Two B-26 Marauders over Gillingham - June 6, 1944
« Reply #38 on: April 10, 2018, 15:55:16 »
So sorry - that didn't work. I'll try this

Offline Maid of Kent

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Re: Mid-air Crash of Two B-26 Marauders over Gillingham - June 6, 1944
« Reply #37 on: April 10, 2018, 15:53:07 »
We were looking for the naval connection to the land ,we understood it was used as a naval rifle range , hence the buttons, and musket balls.
Would you enlarge on this statement for me please. Are you refering to the garden of the old house and its adjoining neighbour or the gardens of the Speirs or the field that surrounds all the properties -the bare oblong bound by Grange Rd, East court lane and Lower Rainham rd and the dark green on the far border as seen in  the aerial photo earlier in this topic. Can you tell me where you got the info that it was used as a rifle range - I have never heard that before. In fact if anyone as any information on this site would be most grateful.

I now this is slightly off the subject but I have just come across a photo which might answer this question of the Naval connection which is, hopefully, attached. All that is written on the back is 'East Court 1920' I have no idea who took the photo, nor do I recognise the handwriting so no clues. In the 1890s my great grandparents rented the land belong to East Court before buying the house and land in 1917. They also took in Naval Officers as lodgers later during this period - say just pre WW1 so may be one of them 'asked' and was done on a regular basis. On other might have been a 'one off' - there are a lot of men in the photo

Offline Bilgerat

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What a sad end to 14 young American lives, so far from home.   “We will remember them.”           
Dave Smith

Amen to that. When I hear people complaining about Americans, I always point out that they owe their freedom to, amongst others, the 26,000 young Americans who gave their lives in the air above Europe.
"I did not say that the French will not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Lord St Vincent

Offline kyn

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Due to some technical hitches I have been asked to post the following memories on behalf of new member Dave Smith.

I was awoken at daybreak to the sound of many low flying aircraft overhead. As a 14 year old, “ mad keen” on aircraft, I was up and sash window raised high, peering up into the sky for a sight of these aircraft. Unfortunately, low “ skud” cloud prevented any sighting but suddenly, a “crump” from above and within a few seconds a B26 (Martin Marauder) broke through the cloud to the North East (my window faced North) in an ever steepening dive before disappearing vertically behind trees in the cemetery behind our house. A huge explosion ensued, followed by a column of black smoke. From the corner of my eye, I was aware of another aircraft appearing and disappearing to the North West. The first B26 had come down in the Grange Road orchards area and I later heard that the other aircraft, also a B26, had crashed into some gardens/houses in lower Gillingham. After school that day, I cycled along Grange Road and found one large orchard with “no entry” signs - but the crash/crater must have been too far in to see anything.                                                                           
What a sad end to 14 young American lives, so far from home.   “We will remember them.”           
Dave Smith

Offline lutonlad

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Maid of Kent.That was a great thing to do, well done. A great link to this crash is  gillinghambattleb26crash.weebly.com  look at the age and pictures of the crew,it brings a tear to your eyes. Also think it is so good that people still remember those brave young men and civilians today.
If it cant be mended with a hammer, it must be an electrical fault, bash it anyway.

Offline lutonlad

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It is the large field behind the house, bordering
Grange rd/Eastcourt lane.not sure where the naval connection came from. might have been on the forum.however we have found more naval buttons and musket balls.
If it cant be mended with a hammer, it must be an electrical fault, bash it anyway.

Offline Maid of Kent

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I forgot to say that last Rememberance Day (2011) I went to Boreham Airfield near Chelmsford where those planes had taken of  just a short while before their tragic end and looked at the names of Kline, Berger and all their comrades and laid a Memorial Cross

Offline Maid of Kent

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We were looking for the naval connection to the land ,we understood it was used as a naval rifle range , hence the buttons, and musket balls.
Would you enlarge on this statement for me please. Are you refering to the garden of the old house and its adjoining neighbour or the gardens of the Speirs or the field that surrounds all the properties -the bare oblong bound by Grange Rd, East court lane and Lower Rainham rd and the dark green on the far border as seen in  the aerial photo earlier in this topic. Can you tell me where you got the info that it was used as a rifle range - I have never heard that before. In fact if anyone as any information on this site would be most grateful.

Offline lutonlad

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Re: Mid-air Crash of Two B-26 Marauders over Gillingham - June 6, 1944
« Reply #30 on: April 16, 2012, 22:06:56 »
We were looking for the naval connection to the land ,we understood it was used as a naval rifle range , hence the buttons, and musket balls.
If it cant be mended with a hammer, it must be an electrical fault, bash it anyway.

 

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