Today some members of the Hornchurch Aerodrome Historical Trust were in attendance with a display of photographs and artifacts relating to the two 385th Bomb Group B-17’s that collided in mid-air on the 26th September 1943 over West Horndon. This year marked the 75th Anniversary of the tragic accident with a Service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving at St Mary The Virgin, Bulphan.
Crash crews from RAF Hornchurch attended the accident and took the only survivor Sergeant John Adams back to the Officers Mess, along with armaments recovered from the two crash sites.
An witness statement by Mr. Charles Hill, a former armourer with 64 squadron, RAF Hornchurch.
That particular day I was on a 24 hour pass from RAF Hornchurch, and I can remember that I was walking down through the very rural surroundings of wingletye Lane, with my girlfriend of the time and although we only had eyes for each other our attention was suddenly taken by a very loud thud far off in the distance, there were some other people walking down the lane and they must have heard it but seemed to take no notice, after the initial noise had past we did not see any visible signs from our point of view in the lane, we carried on to our original destination and I thought no more of it.
The next day when I returned to my duties at RAF Hornchurch some of my opo’s said shame about the accident yesterday weren’t it, what accident I said. Two yank B-17’s came down at Horndon and we were sent out to recover any armaments, not much left though as both aircraft went up with a bang, some of the Browning’s are over in the armoury, rather twisted burnt and full of mud. The only survivor was fetched back to Hornchurch while the rest of the crew’s remains were brought back to the RAF site (formerly Suttons Institute) to its morgue. Obviously after hearing this statement I was able to confirm that this is what we had heard the day before.
We have had the honour of attending these memorial services since 2013 and will continue to support them with all they do.
Photographs are ‘Courtesy of Air Cadets Stanford-le-Hope’ and the Hornchurch Aerodrome Historical Trust.