The Freckleton, England, Air Disaster

The B-24 Crash That Killed 38 Preschoolers and 23 Adults, August 23, 1944


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About the Book

The Freckleton catastrophe of August 23, 1944, occurred when an American B-24 Liberator crashed into the small village of Freckleton in northwest England. The plane was on a test flight when it encountered a rare and severe summer thunderstorm. Air traffic control at the American air base Warton recalled the bomber back to the base. When the pilot attempted to abort the landing because of poor visibility and high winds, a downdraft caught the plane and it crashed into the adjacent village of Freckleton. As the B-24 tumbled through the village, destroying three houses and a snack bar, flames erupted from wreckage and engulfed Holy Trinity grade school. Before the fire could be brought under control, the holocaust destroyed an entire generation of children in this village of fewer than 1,000 inhabitants. The village would never be the same.
In a compelling account of sorrow, loss, hope and finally rebirth, the book looks at the history of the village, the establishment of the base at Warton, the crash, the funeral of the 61 victims, the official British inquest and the American investigation into the cause of the crash. The lives of the survivors, the servicemen and the villagers are followed through 2012.

About the Author(s)

James R. Hedtke is a professor of history and political science at Cabrini College where he has taught for 40 years. He lives in Broomall, Pennsylvania.

Bibliographic Details

James R. Hedtke
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 216
Bibliographic Info: 21 photos, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7841-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1362-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments  ix
Preface  1
1. Freckleton Before World War II  5
2. Base Air Depot 2  19
3. Ground Pounders, Fly Boys and Their Amazing Machines  39
4. Accident  56
5. The Crash: Wednesday, August 23, 1944  62
6. The Inferno  74
7. The Interment of the Innocents  93
8. The Investigation  106
9. The New Normal  121
10. The Playground Memorial  136
11. Remembrance  145
12. Freckleton Today  166
Epilogue  179
Appendix  183
Chapter Notes  185
Bibliography  195
Index  199