South Portland, ME. – July 11, 1944

South Portland, Maine – July 11, 1944   

A-26 Invader – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On July 11, 1944, a U. S. Army A-26 Invader, (Ser. No. 43-22253), left Barksdale Field in Louisiana, for a cross-country training flight to Bradly Filed in Connecticut, and then on to Portland, Maine.  The plane carried a crew of two: the pilot, 2nd Lt. Philip I. Russell, (24), of South Portland, Maine, and the flight engineer, Staff Sergeant Wallace Mifflin, (22), of Seattle, Washington.  The flight was uneventful until it reached Portland where it encountered heavy low-lying fog.  In the process of attempting to land, the aircraft crashed into a government operated trailer park used to house those working at the South Portland Shipyard.  The A-26 exploded and broke apart on impact setting numerous trailers ablaze. 

     In one instance it was reported that one of the plane’s engines tore through a trailer barely missing a mother and her child sitting inside.   Miraculously they escaped uninjured.  

     The accident killed 17 people as well as the crew of the aircraft, and 20 others were injured.  To this day this incident remains  Maine’s worst military aviation accident.

     In 2009 a memorial to this tragedy was erected at the crash site.  

     Lt. Russell is buried in Forest City Cemetery in South Portland, Maine.  To see more information, and a photo of Lt. Russell, click here: 

     Staff Sergeant Mifflin is buried in Highland Cemetery in Colville, Washington.  To see more information and a photo of his grave, click here: 

     Both Lt. Russell and S/Sgt. Mifflin were assigned to the 331 Base Unit at Barksdale Army Air Base.    

     For more information about this accident, as well as a photo of the fire, click here:

     Other sources:

     The Evening Star, (Washington, D.C.), “16 Dead Identified In Trailer Camp Crash”, July 13, 1944, page A-4 


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