P-38 41-7669 - Cliviger, Burnley

1st September 1942

New on 08.10.2003

Type Unit Base Duty Crew Passengers
P-38F 49th Fighter Squadron, 14th Fighter Group, AAF Atcham Interception training exercise 1 -

On 1st September 1942, 41-7669 was part of a flight of several P-38s, which had taken off at 08.45 that morning from their base at Atcham for an interception training exercise. At approx. 10.45 the flight was observed by Sgt J. Holder, a serviceman working on a Site No. 35D, some two and a half miles from Cliviger, flying at approx. 1000 feet. A few minutes later he heard one of the aircraft, above the cloud cover and stopping work to see if he could spot it, he saw it dive out of the cloud and apparently burst into flames in mid-air.

After striking the wall (To the right & just beyond the trees) 41-7669 came across this road (above left) and continued down the valley beyond (above right) - 2nd Lt. Williams ended up in the field just beyond the tree line.

In fact he had only witnessed the initial impact of the aircraft has it struck the ground at a shallow angle, losing its starboard wing, demolishing a stone wall, felling a power line and then cutting a three hundred yard long swathe through a small wood before dropping into a gorge. From over two miles away Sgt Holder's view of the impact with the stone wall on open pasture, high on the hillside could well have appeared as if the aircraft was still airborne. It is believed that as the pilot, 2nd Lt. Lyle L. Williams broke cloud cover, he was confronted with a 1,640 ft hillside directly in his flight path and attempted to turn away to the right. But he was already too close to the high pasture below and his starboard wing struck the ground and was then ripped off outboard of the engine as it hit a five-foot high stone wall. The aircraft then continued down the hillside cutting a power-line pole and several trees at about 20 feet above the ground, before it finally it dropped into a rocky gorge in the bottom of the valley and burned out.

Name Position Status
2nd Lt. Lyle L. Williams Pilot K.

2nd Lt. Williams was thrown clear of his aircraft at the last moment and landed in a field on the opposite side of the gorge, but had been killed instantly. He Lies in the Cambridge American Cemetery, England, Plot C. Row 0, Grave 66 and had entered the service from Wyoming.


Acknowledgements:

Mark Gaskell, Titus Thornber, US Report of Aircraft Accident.

 

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