Northborough, MA. – April 15, 1943

Northborough, Massachusetts – April 15, 1943


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

     On the morning of April 15, 1943, 2nd Lt. James F. Lyons took off from Bedford Air Field in Bedford, Massachusetts, in a U.S. Army  P-47C aircraft, (Ser. No. 41-6459).  Lt. Lyons was assigned to the 342nd Fighter Squadron. 

     Shortly after 9:00 a.m., he was killed when his airplane crashed and exploded on the Tibbet’s Farm located on West Main Street in Northborough.  The crash was witnessed by a man and wife living across the street from the Tibbet’s Farm.  Their attention had been drawn skyward by the sound of a motor “screaming” overhead.  “It came out of the sky at a terrific speed,” the man later told a reporter, adding, “The thud and the explosion were awful.  It was all over in a few seconds.”  The couple ran to the site of the crash, but were driven back by exploding bullets.  

     The aircraft reportedly left a crater twenty feet across and ten feet deep, with stones and debris thrown up to 300 feet away. 

     Lt. Lyons was reported to be from Newport, Rhode Island.

     The cause of the accident was unknown. 


     The following two articles are from an unknown newspaper.  They were obtained from a scrapbook in the local history collection at the Shrewsbury Public Library, Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.  Shrewsbury borders Northborough.    

     “Pilot Believed Killed In Fire Or Explosion”, April 16, 1943. 

     “Northboro Plane Victim Identified As Newport Flier”, April, 16, 1943 



Andover, MA. – March 7, 1943

Andover, Massachusetts – March 7, 1943 


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

     On the afternoon of March 7, 1943, two P-47 fighter planes from the 342nd Fighter Squadron based at Bedford Field, were conducting aerial maneuvers several thousand feet over the town of Andover.  The activity was closely monitored by members of the local civil defense who were manning a plane spotting tower. 

      One of the P-47s, (Ser. No. 41-6444), was piloted by 2nd Lt. John R. Prindle, 23, of Erie, Pennsylvania.  The other, (Ser. No. 41-6003), was piloted by another second lieutenant.  At 2:25 p.m., the two aircraft collided in mid-air, with Lt. Prindle’s plane loosing a significant portion of its wing.  As Prindle’s plane fell away, he bailed out and deployed his parachute, and northerly wind’s pulled him towards a large forested area. 

     Meanwhile his plane crashed and exploded on the estate of John B. Towle on Porter Road, barely missing the main house.  The resulting fire set off the live ammunition in the machine guns sending bullets flying in all directions and hindering firemen from extinguishing the blaze.  The house was unoccupied at the time and there were no injuries to those on the ground. 

     The other aircraft involved in the collision was able to safely make it back to Bedford Field. 

     The plane spotters immediately reported the crash, and the result was perhaps the largest search and rescue effort ever mobilized by the town.  Hundreds of military men, local and state officials, civil defense units, and volunteer civilians from Andover and nearby towns took part in the search to locate the missing pilot. The Red Cross supplied thousands of gallons of coffee and hundreds of pounds of food.   The search lasted throughout the night, with temperatures dropping to near zero.  One 15-year-old boy was reported to have frostbite. 

     Lt. Prindle was finally located the following morning, alive and in good spirits, in a wooded area near the Boxford town line.  His injuries received from the collision and bail out prevented him from walking out of the woods on his own.  He’d been able to keep warm due to the fact he’d been wearing his leather and fleece flying suit.   


     The Evening Tribune, (Lawrence, Ma.), “Pilot Found In Wooded Area”, March 8, 1943, page 1.       

     The Andover Townsman, “Army Flier Improves After Crash Sunday”, March 11, 1943, page 1.

    Waterbury Democrat, (Ct.), “Army Pilot Safe As Plane Burns”, March 8, 1943. 


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