Appeal for war hero’s missing watch in Sheffield

Sgt Harry Estabrooks
Sgt Harry Estabrooks
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A military historian is trying to track down a hero airman’s missing watch - some 71 years after he and his crew crash landed in Sheffield’s Endcliffe Park.

Paul Allonby is trying to help the relatives of US staff Sgt Harry Estabrooks locate the missing military-issue Elgin wristwatch.

It is believed it may have been found by local youngsters several days after the crash - on February 22, 1944 - and kept as a souvenir.

Mr Allonby, who lives in Derbyshire and has written a book on the tragedy, said: “There is some evidence to indicate that the watch could still be in the possession of a local person.

“If they are reading this, the message from the family is that they would like it back as a reminder of a much-loved family member who made the ultimate sacrifice so that strangers – residents of Sheffield – could live.”

Sgt Estabrooks, aged 23, from Kansas, was the flight engineer on the US Army Air Force bomber MI-AMIGO. He was based at Chelveston airfield, Northamptonshire, where his unit flew hazardous daylight missions over Nazi-occupied Europe.

Mr Allonby said: “Sgt Estabrooks was a highly-accomplished, brave young man, just like his crewmates.

“Their aircraft was badly damaged in combat during a raid in Denmark, and was flown with great skill back to England.

“However, when MI-AMIGO emerged from low clouds the crew found themselves not over Doncaster, where US military files indicated they were making for safety.

“Instead, they were over Sheffield, urgently needing somewhere to crash land, with three seriously injured crew aboard, and with engines faltering.”

Ten young men sacrificed their lives by crash landing in Endcliffe Park to avoid hitting nearby homes.

The missing watch was made of steel with a hexagonal back, engraved with Sgt Estabrook’s service number and other information.

Email Mr Allonby at miamigoresearch@gmail.com with any information.