Lakeville, MA. – May 29, 1942

Lakeville, Massachusetts – May 29, 1942


B-25 Mitchel bomber

     On the morning of May 29, 1942, a U. S. Army B-25 bomber, (Ser. No. 40-2284), loaded with depth charges, took off from Westover Field in Massachusetts for an anti-submarine patrol off the New England coast.  The mission was uneventful, and as the plane was returning it reportedly developed engine trouble and the pilot ordered the crew to bail out.  The crew, consisting of three officers and three enlisted men, successfully bailed out, and the aircraft crashed in a unpopulated wooded area of Lakeville.  The area where it crashed was bordered by Hill Street, Montgomery Street, Pickens Street, and Precinct Street.  The exploding depth charges were heard for miles, and ignited several forest fires.  Fortunately there were no injuries to civilians or personal property on the ground. 

     Two men said to have witnessed the event told a reporter they were driving on the Taunton-New Bedford Highway when they saw the bomber begin trailing smoke before suddenly bursting into flames.  

     Two other witnesses, a man and his wife, also told of seeing “a flash of fire” in the sky followed by explosions. 

    Army authorities later released a statement that the cause of the crash was due to engine trouble.  

     The pilot of the aircraft was 1st Lt. Oscar Leland Wertz, of Kansas.  Lt. Wertz returned to duty and was later promoted to Captain and assigned to the 5th Air Force in the Pacific Theatre of Operations.  He was killed on July 23, 1943, when the B-25 he was piloting crashed while attacking a Japanese barge in Hanish Harbor, New Guinea.    

     For more info, click here:


    Army Air Corps Technical report Of Aircraft Accident Classification Committee #42-5-29-1

     The Standard Times, (New Bedford, Ma.), “Bomber Crashes, Burns In Lakeville”, May 30, 1942, pg. 1 

     The Standard Times, (New Bedford, Ma.), “Engine Blamed In Plane Crash”, May 31, 1942


Fall River, MA. – May 29, 1954

Fall River, Massachusetts – May 29, 1954


B-25 Mitchel bomber
USAF Museum photo

     On the morning of May 29, 1954, a B-25 Mitchell Bomber, (Ser. No. 44-31321), with four men aboard, took off from Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts, bound for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.  A short time later the left engine caught fire and the plane began loosing altitude.  Fog and low clouds obscured the ground creating low visibility as the pilot attempted to make an emergency landing at Fall River Airport.  As the pilot attempted to line up on a runway the B-25 crashed in a wooded area about one mile east of the airport.  The wings and fuselage broke apart but there was no fire. 

     The pilot, 1st Lieutenant Henry D. Woltz, was killed.  The co-pilot, 1st Lt. T. T. Monutz, and the crew chief, Airman 2/c Edward Crowther, were seriously injured.  A passenger aboard, Captain Joseph Smith, was able to drag the co-pilot from the gasoline soaked wreck.  He then made his way towards the airport for help. 


     Fall River Herald News, “Airman Is Killed In Plane Crash Here”, May 29, 1954, page 1, with photo.    

     The Provincetown Advocate, (no headline), June 3, 1954. 

Granby, MA. – December 20, 1944

Granby, Massachusetts – December 20, 1944 


B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the evening of December 20, 1944, a B-24J Liberator, (Ser. No. 42-109868), with nine men aboard, took off from Mitchell Field,  on Long Island, New York, bound for Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a cross-country navigational flight.  As they were approaching Westover Field the aircraft encountered poor visibility conditions.  As the plane circled the field at 2,000 feet two of the four engines began to “run away”.  As the pilot tried to reduce the RPMs, cockpit instruments indicated a fire in one of the engines.  Then the remaining two engines began to lose power and the pilot ordered the crew to bail out, and five did so.  The pilot, co-pilot, navigator and a gunner remained with the aircraft.    

     The aircraft came down on a farm in Granby about two miles from Westover Field.  After skidding on snow, crashing through some trees, it went into a farmhouse, but none of the home’s occupants were injured.   The pilot, 2nd Lt. James E. Webster, 25,  and the co-pilot, Flight Officer George H. Slack, 20, received serious injuries, but the navigator and the gunner were killed.  Additionally,  one of the men who bailed out also perished.   

     The dead were identified as:


      Navigator: 2nd Lt. George E. Bennett, 19, of Brockport, New York.  He’s buried in Lakeview Cemetery in Brockport, New York. 


      Bombardier: 2nd. Lt. Julian Berger, 19, of Baltimore, Maryland.  He perished as a result of injuries received when he bailed out of the aircraft.  He’s buried in Oheb Shalom Cemetery in Baltimore. 

     Gunner: Cpl. Stanley Saffer, 19, of New York City. He’s buried in Mt. Zion Cemetery in Maspeth, New York.  To see a photo of him, click here:

     As to the other four members of the crew, all received injuries, two required hospitalization.  

     The rest of the crew were identified as: Cpl. Kenneth A. McPhail, Cpl. Robert H. Risdon, Pfc. Fred Lopez,  and Pfc Walter E. Oparowski


     The Waterbury Democrat, “Two Army Fliers Killed In Crash”, December 21, 1944, page 2.

     The Brockport Republic & Brockport Democrat, Obituary for Lt. George E. Bennett, December 28, 1944, page 4. 

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

North Reading, MA. – July 18, 1942

North Reading, Massachusetts – July 18, 1942


B-17G “Flying Fortress”
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On July 18, 1942, a B-17B “Flying Fortress”, (Ser. No. 39-8), left its base in Grander, Newfoundland, bound for Middletown, Pennsylvania, to have some equipment updated.  While passing over Massachusetts the aircraft encountered thick clouds and ground fog.  It was speculated that the while the pilot was letting down through the scud the aircraft developed “wing flutter” which caused one of the wings to break away.  The plane went down in a wooded area of North Reading and all aboard perished.       

     The crewmembers were identified as follows:

     Pilot: 1st Lt. Marion R. Klice

     Co-Pilot: 1st Lt. Donald H. Johnson

     Bombardier: 1st Lt. James N. Phillips, Jr., (24), buried in Jasper Cemetery, Jasper, Arkansas. 

     Navigator: 2nd Lt. Orville Drue Andrews, (22), buried in Pineview Cemetery, Rocky Mount, North Carolina.

     Master Sergeant Archie R. Jester, Jr. (32), buried in Salem Cemetery, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

     Engineer: Staff Sergeant William E. Perkins, (21), buried in Evergreen Memorial Park, Portsmouth, Virginia.

     Radio Operator: Corporal Stephen Bilocur, (20), buried in St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Cemetery, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. 

     Staff Sergeant Robert J. Aulsbury, (23 or 24), buried in Memorial Park Cemetery in Jennings, Missouri.

     PFC. Sidnney Samuel Koltun (24), buried in Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in St. Louis Missouri.  

     Corporal Charles H. Torrance

     There is a memorial to these men on the town green in North Reading. 


     North Reading Transcript, “Veterans Day Ceremony To Memorialize 1942 B-17 Bomber Crash”, November 2, 1995, page 13. 

     North Reading Times, “May Their Noble Deeds Live Forever”, November 16, 1995, page 1

     North Reading Transcript, “B-17 Bomber Crash Was 59 Years Ago This Week”, July 12, 2001, page 14.     

     North Reading Transcript, B-17 Bomber Crash In Town Happened 65 Years Ago Next Week”, July 12, 2007, page 6. 

    North Reading Historical Commission Blogspot.



Melrose, MA. – September 24, 1945

Melrose, Massachusetts – September 24, 1945

Updated February 4, 2022


B-25 Mitchel bomber
USAF Museum photo

     On September 24, 1945, a twin-engine B-25J, (Ser. No. 43-36088), with six men aboard, took off from Grenier Field in Manchester, New Hampshire, for a training flight to Boston.  

    The airplane made it safely to Boston, and later took off to return to Manchester.  On the return trip, while approaching the area of Saugas, Massachusetts, the plane developed engine trouble, and before long one of the engines caught fire.  The pilot, Major Doak A. Weston, (30),  gave the order to bail out, and all five crewmen did so and landed safely.  Because the airplane was over a populated area, Major Weston opted to stay with the aircraft hoping to find a safe place to crash-land.  As the plane dropped lower he circled over the towns of Melrose, Malden, Saugus, and Wakefield.  Then he saw the Mount Hood Golf Course in Melrose and aimed for it.   

     The aircraft was now too low for Major Weston to bail out.  As the plane neared the ground witnesses reported seeing a flaming wing drop away.   The B-25 crashed and exploded at the 8th green of the gold course, killing Major Weston instantly.   A portion of the burning plane came through the wall of a nearby private home setting it on fire, but firemen were able to extinguish it before too much damage was done to the structure. 

     There were no injuries on the ground.   

     Major Weston’s actions no doubt saved the lives of people on the ground.   

     On September 24, 2010, sixty-five years after the crash, the Town of Melrose honored Major Weston’s sacrifice with a ceremony held at the site where his plane crashed, which included the unveiling of a small monument engraved with the crew’s names.  The ceremony was attended by Major Weston’s son, who was only three years old at the time of the incident.  

     Some sources state that Major Weston was from Denver, Colorado, and others state Aptos, California.  

     Major Weston had survived a previous aviation crash on February 23, 1943, when a B-25C, (Ser. No. 41-13289), he was piloting crashed into Lake Murray in South Carolina.  (He was a 1st Lieutenant at the time.) In that instance, He was flying low over the lake on a skip bombing training mission when the plane went into the lake and sank in 125 feet of water.  He was reportedly thrown clear of the aircraft as it cartwheeled across the water, and despite being seriously injured, was able to swim to shore.  Unfortunately the other five men aboard perished.   

     Those who perished were:   

     Co-pilot: 2nd Lt. Marshall S. Hawke, 26, of Muncie, Indiana.

     1st Lt. Clifford O. Sherry, 24, of Chicago.  

     2nd Lt. Harold L. Feineuer, of Bay City, Michigan. 

     2nd Lt. John E. Handcock, 27, of Carmel, Pennsylvania. 

     Sgt. George W. Rhine, 22, of Inglewood, California. 

     Deep water divers were sent to attempt to recover the bodies.  It is unknown if the aircraft was recovered, or allowed to remain where it was. 


     The Nashua Telegraph, “Grenier Field Plane Goes Up In Flames On Way To Saugus”, September 24, 1945.

     The Waterbury Democrat, “Army Checks Bomber Explosion”, September 25, 1945, page 9. 

     Imperial Valley Press, (California), “Five Army Fliers Die In Carolina”, February 24, 1943, page 5. 

     Detroit Evening News, “Bay City Flier killed In Crash Of Bomber”, February 24, 1943, page 4. 

     Detroit Evening News, “Bomber Hits Lake, 5 Killed”, February 25, 1943, page 12. 

     Book: Fatal Army Air Forces Aviation Accidents In The United States, 1941-1945″ by Anthony J. Mireles, C. 2006.


Granby, MA. – September 17, 1944

Granby, Massachusetts – September 17, 1944

     Updated February 3, 2022


B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     At 10:08 P.M. on the night of September 16, 1944, a B-24J Liberator, (Ser. No. 42-50985), took off from Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts for a night training flight.  Upon returning to the field at 3:oo A. M. on the morning of September 17th, the aircraft crashed into a thickly wooded area in Granby, Massachusetts, about two miles north of Westover Air Field.  The aircraft broke apart on impact and wreckage was reportedly scattered for hundreds of feet.  The area where the crash occurred was on a farm off East Street.  

     All seven crewmen aboard the aircraft perished in the accident.

     Pilot: 2nd Lt. Gene Revere Asay, 28, of Lodi, Colorado. To see a photo of Lt. Asay, click here:

     Co-pilot: 2nd Lt. John W. Woodrow, 22, of Huntington, Indiana.

    Flight Engineer: Sgt. Neal W. Johnson, 22, of Ashland, Kansas.

     Asst. Flt. Engineer: Pfc. Jack W. Hariston, 18, of Atlanta, Georgia.

     Radio Operator: Cpl. John A. Perry, 21, of Warwick, R.I.

     Asst. Radio Operator: Pfc. Clifford K. Nordby, 18, of Walhalla, North Dakota.

     Air Gunner: Sgt. William Donald Haynes, 26, of Parsons, Kansas.

     The men were assigned to the 112th AAF Base Unit at Westover Field. 


     Springfield Union, “Westover Bomber Crashes In Granby, Killing Seven”, September 18, 1944

     Berkshire Evening Eagle, “Westover Field Bomber Crash Kills Seven”, September 18, 1944

     Evening Star, (Wash. D.C.), “Army Bomber kills 7 Flyers In Massachusetts”, September 18, 1944.

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


Mt. Holyoke B-24 Memorial

Mount Holyoke, Massachusetts – May 27, 1944

     Updated February 2, 2022


B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     At 11:50 P.M. on the night of May 27, 1944, a B-24 J, bomber aircraft,  (Ser. No. 42-100024), took off from Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, with ten crewmen aboard.  Shortly after takeoff the aircraft crashed into the side of Mt. Holyoke and everyone aboard perished.  

     The crew consisted of:

     Pilot: 2nd Lt Talbot M. Malcolm. 20, of Elizabeth, New Jersey. He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery.  To see a photo of him click here:

     Co-pilot: 2nd Lt. John D. Logan, 20, from Tokeka, Kansas.  He’s buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery in Tokeka. To see a photo of him click here:

     Navigator: 2nd Lt. William M. Ashley, Jr.

     Bombardier: 2nd Lt. Donald D. Dowden, 25, of Minneapolis, Minnesota.  He’s buried in Sunset Memorial Park, in Minneapolis.

     Engineer: Sgt. William H. Deckert  (No further info at this time.)

     Asst. Engineer: Cpl. Kearney D. Padgett, 24.  He’s buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Gulfport, Mississippi.

     Radio Operator: Sgt. Ambrose D. Griffith, (27 – 28).  He’s buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Arlington, Massachusetts.

     Asst. Radio Operator: Cpl. Robert J. Ohr, 18.  He’s buried in Evergreen Cemetery & Mausoleum in Evergreen Park, Illinois.  

     Gunner: Cpl. Ronald C. Lloyd, 28-29, of Seaford, Delaware.  He’s buried in Oddfellows Cemetery in Seaford, Del.

     Gunner: Sgt. Arnold H. Anderson

     In May of 1989 a memorial was dedicated to honor those who lost their lives in this accident. 


Click on images to enlarge.

Mount Holyoke, Massachusetts, B-24 Memorial.

Mount Holyoke, Massachusetts, B-24 Memorial.

Back Side of Mt. Holyoke B-24 Memorial. Photo Taken 2007

Back Side of Mt. Holyoke B-24 Memorial. Photo Taken 2007

The Williamsburg, Mass. B-24 Bomber Crash – May 1, 1945

The Williamsburg, Massachusetts B-24 Bomber Crash – May 1, 1945


B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the morning of May 1, 1945, a flight of U. S. Army B-24 Liberator aircraft left Westover Field Air Base  in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a combat formation training flight.  Briefing for the flight had been held at 3:00 a.m. during which the pilots had been told that there would be a low cloud overcast covering the area, but that it was expected to clear.  However, after the flight was airborne for nearly two hours, instead of improving, weather conditions had continued to deteriorate, and the overcast gradually extended lower and lower to the ground.        

      Shortly before 8:30 a.m., one aircraft, a B-24J, (Ser. No. 42-50995), began to drop down through the overcast, which by now extended nearly to the ground.  The crew however, was unaware of this.  The pilots watched the altimeter closely.  It was reading 1,500 feet when they suddenly broke through the mist and found themselves at tree-top level over the town of Williamsburg, Massachusetts.  The pilots attempted to climb and gave the engines full throttle but it wasn’t enough.  The plane barely missed a private home before it began clipping tree-tops for a third of a mile and then crashed into a wooded area of second-growth trees off Briar Hill Road. The B-24 plowed several hundred feet though the woods knocking down trees and smashing through stone walls, breaking apart in the process.  Although its fuel tanks held high-octane aviation fuel, there was no fire which saved the lives of crew members trapped in the wreckage.    

     Two of the crew were killed instantly in the crash, a third died two days later.  The other seven suffered various injuries, but survived.  Only the co-pilot was able to extricate himself form the wreckage.  

     Among the first to reach the scene were some local residents including Doctor Ruth V. Hemenway, and a group of wood cutters who had been working nearby.  Fire and rescue crews from Williamsburg, Northampton, and Westover Field, as well as state and local police, also arrived to help.  It reportedly took rescuers more than an hour to free those trapped in the wreckage.  The injured were transported Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton.       

     Those who lost their lives were identified as:

     (Nose Gunner) Corporal Kenneth Virgil Powell, age 19, of Urbana, Ohio.  

     (Gunner) Corporal Donald R. McKenzie, of Spokane, Washington. Cpl. McKenzie was survived by his wife and daughter. 

     (Gunner) Corporal Joseph Skwara, of Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Cpl. Skwara survived the initial crash, but later succumbed to his injuries. 

     The following images of the crash scene are from the U.S. Air Force investigation report.

 Click on images to enlarge.

Air Force photo from crash report.

Air Force photo from crash report.

Air Force photo from crash report.

Air Force photo from crash report.


     Army Air Forces Report Of Major Accident, #45-5-1-5

     Research Paper, “Burgy Plane Crash, Briar Hill, 1945”, by Ralmon Jon Black, Williamsburg Historical Society, 2012.  Includes articles from the Springfield Union News, and Daily Hampshire Gazette, and other information about the accident.  

     Daily Hampshire Gazette, “Third Member Of Crew In Bomber Dies From Injuries”, May 3, 1945 

     Daily Hampshire Gazette, “Fire Chief Is Commended By Colonel Henry”, May 8, 1945

     Book, “History Of The Williamsburg Fire Department”, by Mary S. Bisbee, Roger A. Bisbee, Peter B. Banister, c. 1998

     Obituary for Cpl. Donald McKenzie, Spokane Daily Chronicle, May 5, 1945, page 6.





Sandwich, MA – August 29, 1961

Sandwich, Massachusetts – August 29, 1961 


RB-57F.  The U.S. Version of the English Electric Canberra.  U.S. Air Force Photo.

RB-57F. The U.S. Version of the English Electric Canberra. U.S. Air Force Photo.

     On August 29, 1961, Major Harold D. LaRoche, 27, took off from Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts, in a Martin B-57 Canberra en-route to Andrews Air Force base in Virginia.  (He was the only person aboard.)

     Shortly after take off  LaRoche radioed Otis tower that he had an emergency and turned back towards the base.  On his approach he crashed in the Forestdale section in the town of Sandwich, Massachusetts.  The plane exploded and the major was killed. 

     Major LaRoche was assigned to Ent Air Force base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and had been on a cross-country flight.     



Falmouth Enterprise, (Photo) “Wreckage Of Bomber Which Crashed In Forrestdale”, September 1, 1961

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