Newton Poppleford war time plane crash remembered 75 years on

PUBLISHED: 07:00 02 September 2019

A photograph showing an identical C-47, that belonged to the same squadron, that was involved in the crash. Picture: Contributed

A photograph showing an identical C-47, that belonged to the same squadron, that was involved in the crash. Picture: Contributed

Archant

Details of American airmen killed in a plane crash in World War Two outside of Newton Poppleford have been unearthed by an Exmouth historian.

A site map showing the crash. Picture: ContributedA site map showing the crash. Picture: Contributed

Keen military historian Simon Fogg has been researching the accident which happened 75 years ago this week over the last two years.

He discovered the historic crash by accident when researching archaeology sites in Devon.

The Exmouth resident said there was very little information about what happened and found out more by securing declassified files from the US Air Force.

The records show a Douglas C-47 'Daokta' aircraft, carrying four American servicemen, crashed in a field near Newton Poppleford on September 8, 1944.

A copy of the report secured from the US Air Force. Picture: US Air Force.A copy of the report secured from the US Air Force. Picture: US Air Force.

Pilot, Lieutenant Bernard J Tuohy, co-pilot, Lt Charles Betz Jr, Staff Sergeant Charles Taylor and Staff Sergeant Kerman Lamberth all died in the crash.

The men were aged between 21 and 23.

The troops were part of the Ninth Air Force's 440th Troop Carrier Group and 97th Troop Carrier Squadron based out of RAF Exeter.

The aircraft was returning to base from a freight mission to Brussels in preparation for Operation Market Garden.

The declassified report said the cause of the accident was a 'misjudgement of altitude' and pilot fatigue causing the plane's airspeed to slow to an almost stall.

It is believed, Lt Tuohy 'snatched' the controls to 'pull-up' and re-align the aircraft - but instead the plane went into a near vertical 'straight-dive'.

The aircraft crashed near to the junction of the B3180 and the A3052 to Newton Poppleford, a few hundred yards from the Halfway Inn.

Mr Fogg said: "The cause of the accident was probably a combination of poor weather conditions and wartime pilot fatigue, as Lt. Tuohy had been flying for more than 10-and-a-half hours.

"It would be nice if the American airmen were remembered in some way, as they played an important part in Operation Market Garden."

The objective of the operation was to liberate the Netherlands and for Allied forces to advance into Germany's industrial heartland.

Exmouth's Royal British Legion is holding a memorial event on Sunday (September 8) to mark the 75th anniversary of the operation, which took place between September 17 and 25 1944.

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