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C-47 Skytrain - 42-100549, 81st Sq. 436th TCG, US 9th Air Force

Aldbourne Gorse

00:55hrs, 16th May 1944.

This was the first aircraft lost by the 81st TCS in England. The squadron had been up on a night training exercise and had returned to their home base at Membury. However due to a 'red alert' (enemy aircraft in the vicinity) they were advised by flying control to use no lights whilst landing. The squadron circled the airfield in formation with their wheels down waiting for their turn to land. 1st Lt. Arthur G. Swasey, the pilot of 42-100549, became confused following evasive action taken to avoid hitting part of the 437th TCG which was circling Ramsbury Airfield. Unable to distinguish an horizon he wandered out of line and crash landed into a hill two miles south-west of Aldbourne. The aircraft was in fairly level flight when it hit the ground and slid along on its underside before coming to a rest against a grove of trees. The crew were unhurt and scrambled out of the aircraft via the escape hatch above the cockpit. The aircraft had been carrying Jerry cans full of fuel and seconds after they had escaped the aircraft exploded. The following day all that was left to be seen were the charred remains of the two engines.

Crew Details:
Pilot - 1st Lt. Arthur G. Swasey
Co-pilot - 2nd Lt. Stuart J. Anderson
Flight Engineer - T/Sgt. John R. McDonald
Radio Operator - S/Sgt. John I. Sheldon

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© Copyright 2004 Roger Day