Franklin Field, Boston – June 24, 1919

 Franklin Field, Boston – June 24, 1919

     On June 24, 1919, a squadron of military aircraft arrived at Franklin Field in the Dorchester section of Boston as part of a New England tour sponsored by the army to exhibit the planes and try to recruit new members.  One aircraft piloted by Lt. Col. H. B. Claggett was attempting to land when strong cross winds began pushing it towards a large crowd that had been awaiting their arrival. Upon realizing this, Claggett abruptly turned his ship away from the crowd and aimed it towards a cusp of trees near the edge of the field.  It was only then that he saw three children standing in the shade of the trees, but it was too late, and his aircraft hit the children and crashed into the trees.    

     While Claggett and his observer, Captain William H. Chandler, survived the crash, the children, John Benaglia, 13, and Beatrice Rosenblatt, 9, were killed, and Sarah Welner, 12, was severely injured.   The rest of the planes landed safely. 

     The New England recruitment tour was postponed until the army investigation was completed.   Franklin Field, by the way, was not an airfield, but a park.

     The name of Lt. Col. Claggett’s plane was “Black Jack”, presumably after General “Black Jack” Pershing of WWI fame.    


Woonsocket Call, “Plane Kills Two Children In Park”, June 24, 1919

Woonsocket Call, “Postpone Visit Of Aerial Circus Here”, June 27, 1919, Pg.4

Return to Top ▲Return to Top ▲