Holland, MA. – September 1, 1943

Holland, Massachusetts – September 1, 1943


P-47C Thunderbolt
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On September 1, 1943, 2nd Lt. Charles J. Collins, (26), took off from Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, in a P-47C fighter plane, (Ser. No. 41-6147), for a high altitude gunnery practice flight.  When he failed to return to Westover Field he was declared missing, and an intensive search followed, which included  military aircraft and a Navy blimp from Lakehurst, New Jersey. 

     On September 4th it was reported that the wreckage of his plane had been found on the bank of the “Connecticut River”.  The same paper placed the crash site in Fiskdale, Massachusetts, which is actually a village in the western portion of Sturbridge, bordering Long Pond and East Brimfield Lake near the Holland/Brimfield town line.  Both lakes are fed by the Quinebaug River, which continues south from Brimfield to Holland.  Therefore, it is believed that the aircraft wreck was discovered along the banks of the Quinebaug, and not the Connecticut. 

     It was also reported that a “huge S.O.S.” had been found marked on a clay bank, presumably along the river.  This led investigators to believe that Lieutenant Collins had successfully bailed out of the plane, and may be lying injured in the dense woodlands.   Nearly 1,500 military, fire, police, and civilian personnel took part in searching the rural forested woodlands.   

     The body of Lieutenant Collins was found on September 8th, about two miles from his plane, in a wooded area of eastern Brimfield.  He’d suffered a severe injury to his right leg while bailing out and died from loss of blood. 

     There had been no witnesses to the crash, no radio distress message had been received, and due to the total destruction of the aircraft, investigators were unable to determine the cause for the accident.     

     Lieutenant Collins is buried in St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Baraboo, Wisconsin.  


     The Waterbury Democrat, “Search For Crash Pilot”, September 4, 1943.

     The Evening Star, (Washington, D.C.), “Body Of Pilot Missing Since September 1 Found”, September 11, 1943, page B-6.

     Book, “Fatal Army Air Forces Aviation Accidents In The United States, 1941-1945”, By Anthony J. Mireles, C. 2006. 


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