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Author Topic: Mid-air Crash of Two B-26 Marauders over Gillingham - June 6, 1944  (Read 26164 times)

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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.

Offline unfairytale

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Re: Mid-air Crash of Two B-26 Marauders over Gillingham - June 6, 1944
« Reply #29 on: April 16, 2012, 20:43:45 »
Are the wrecks of downed German aircraft not covered by the 'Protection Of Military Remains act' as British and American aircraft are?
When you've got your back to wall, there's only one thing to do and that's to turn around and fight. (John Major)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/unfairytale/sets/

Offline lutonlad

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Re: Mid-air Crash of Two B-26 Marauders over Gillingham - June 6, 1944
« Reply #28 on: April 16, 2012, 20:38:21 »
Please note the land owner is a personal friend ,and will not allow anyone else on to the land.
If it cant be mended with a hammer, it must be an electrical fault, bash it anyway.

Offline lutonlad

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Re: Mid-air Crash of Two B-26 Marauders over Gillingham - June 6, 1944
« Reply #27 on: April 16, 2012, 20:35:23 »
I have been allowed onto the East Court farm site a couple of times now, and had some interesting finds.Found some spent 50 cal rounds,a radio jack plug.parts of some sort of instrument,as well as a few small metal fragments.It was a pretty moving time finding these remains, knowing the last time they were seen the crew were still alive. We also found some musket balls and some old naval 17th century tunic buttons. I will be going back as we only searched a small area,will let you know if we find anything else.
If it cant be mended with a hammer, it must be an electrical fault, bash it anyway.

Offline Bilgerat

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Just by way of filling in a gap:

This is a B26 Marauder



and here's all you would want to know about the aircraft and it's history

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_B-26_Marauder
"I did not say that the French will not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Lord St Vincent

ealdwita

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On June 6th 1944 two B-26 Marauders on route to France suffered a mid air collision and crash in Gillingham, Kent. The crew of both planes perished as well as four civilians on the ground. Less the half an hour later two more B-26 Marauders from the same squadron suffered the same type of accident over Battle, Sussex. Only the pilot of one plane was to survive.  

Flying above Gillingham, Kent at 5:30 am two bombers piloted by Lt Witcher Berger and Lt Claude W Kline collided mid air. Lt Berger?s crew all perished in the resulting crash after trying to jettison it bombs. Unfortunately this plane crashed into homes on Corporation Road in Gillingham resulting in the deaths of four civilians. Lt Kline and his crew all perished in the explosion when their plane crashed into the orchard at the East Court Farm.

Living close to Corporation Road, on Parr Avenue Gillingham was, the then nine year old father of Chris Ford. Mr. Ford recalls being woken up early as the B-26 which crashed close by, passed low over his house. He recalls it as being on fire which lit up the whole house. Typical as kids in those days, they ran to the crash site. It was that close. Mr. Ford remembers seeing the buildings destroyed and fires which "made the garden wall glow red". He was on the site the following day watching them remove the unexploded bombs and remembers seeing the bodies of the airmen. Chris and I had only just began the research for this web site when we realized that another accident very similar to this had occurred above Sussex about an half hour later and had involved two more B-26?s of the same 394th Bombardment Group.

The other B-26 crashed at East Court Farm...
... into the orchard of East Court farm about ? of a mile away killing the pilot 2nd Lieut. Claude W Kline Jnr and his crew Emil F Ostrowsky; Raymond F Sablatura; Joseph Amato; Boris R Selinsky and James F Bechtler. Wreckage was strewn over quite a large area of the orchard. Some landed behind the barn and the resulting explosion blew out the back of the barn. Another large piece landed against the Drawing-room window of the house. The body of Claude W Kline is buried now at the American Cemetery at Cambridge. I understand that the Military removed what they could find of the rest of the crew but Uncle Ken quietly buried ?bits?, when he found them, where they lay and said a quiet prayer. Alas the orchard is no more.

Only my Uncle and Aunt were living there at the time. I had left 8 months before, with my mother. But I went back to stay in August 1944 and was shown the bits of the wreckage that were still there. I was then 8 years old.

Ann Brooker was a young girl living at East Court Farm in Gillingham where one of the planes involved in the mid air crash came down. Ann had only left the farm eight months before the crash.



My grandmother lived in Grange Road at the time, and I vividly remember her telling me about it.

 

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