I received this query from my brother who is webmaster of the popular community website http://www.blackmorevillage.co.uk. It concerns an aspect of history with which I am unfamiliar. Does anyone have any information on the Americans in Essex during the Second World War?
Rebecca wrote to the Blackmore Village website:
8 November 2008
“Don’t know if you can shed any light on research that I am doing alongside others for the 1st Ashingdon Scout Group regarding a B26 bomber that crashed in Blackmore on 24th September 1944?”
29 November 2008
I know little about this but the Internet has the following reference to crashes:
Baby Doll III
2Lt. Richard E. Baehr
1Lt Richard J. Snyder flew over in this plane. Crashed near Blackmore, Essex, returning from a ferry mission from France.
The same Rebecca wrote on 31 October 2008:
“I'm searching for crew members details of those who were in Lilly Commando which crashed in poor weather conditions in Ashingdon, Essex, England. Sadly the crew were all killed in the crash on 24th September 1944. The pilot was Jack T. Hanlon who had previously flew Rationed Passion. This may also help Greg Hansard who posted a message asking for details of the whereabouts of the plane and crew. His father, Elmer Hansard, had previously flown in Lilly Commando. 573rd BS391st BG. Have just been to the site where the plane crashed. It informed us that the plane was flown by 1st Lt. Richard E. Baehr and also listed the crew as Sgt. E.G. Demyanovich, Sgt. W.L. McCarty, Sgt. D.E. Crider III, 1st Lt. F.I. Yawitz. As there were several crashes around this area I confused it with the earlier enquiry, sorry. From the pilots name we have since learned that the plane was 'Baby Doll III' returning from France on the 24th September 1944. It crashed in an area known as Blackmore which is in Ashingdon, Essex. The plane was based at Matching Green (391st 573rd) serial number 4295823. The plaque marking the spot where the plane crashed is in the middle of a field and I doubt many people know of its existence, it has also not weathered well. Our local cub scout leader suggested it would be an idea for four cubs and scouts to investigate the history of the plane and crew and perhaps give them a better memorial at our local church. I am interested as one of those scouts is my son who also has great interest in anything connected with flying and planes from WW2. I have taken a few pictures of the plaque which was placed in 1988, but sadly the plaque has not weathered well. We would love to hear from anyone who has any knowledge of the plane and crew. Thanks, Rebecca Ricks (Beaver Scout Leader 1st Ashingdon-St. Andrews, Essex”.
Following this up I asked a lifelong inhabitant of Blackmore who confirms that a B26 did crash off of Fingrith Hall Road. He said that many ‘planes came back badly damaged and some American airmen did not make it. The Essex Record Office holds Air Raid Patrol records for the area so might have reference to this event.
A recent television programme said that one in six Americans were killed in their bombing sorties and many damaged planes were diverted to Stansted airfield because it had a 1½ mile runway. This is now the site of the airport with its controversy surrounding an additional runway. For more information on Stansted Airport’s history visit http://www.126126.info/stansted-airport-the-usaaf-pows-and-car-hire-services/