Hero airmen honoured 71 years after Sheffield disaster

Present day US airmen and women pay their respects to the crew of B-17 Mi Amigo that crashed in Endcliffe Park
Present day US airmen and women pay their respects to the crew of B-17 Mi Amigo that crashed in Endcliffe Park
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Sheffield folk have paid their respects to ten hero US airmen who died when their bomber crashed in the city 71 years ago.

The B17 Flying Fortress, known as Mi Amigo, came down in Endcliffe Park on February 22, 1944.

The plane crashed in the trees behind the park’s cafe and the pilot, 1st Lt John Kriegshauser, was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for narrowly avoiding nearby streets, terraced houses and children playing in the park.

Sheffield locals and air force veterans gathered at the park on Sunday to honour the men in a wreath-laying ceremony led by Rev Gordon Unsworth.

Military historian Paul Allonby, who has written a book about the tragedy, said: “Their aircraft was badly damaged in combat during a raid on the Luftwaffe airfield at Aalborg 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 either at the RAF Transport Command base near the town’s racecourse, or the RAF bomber base at Finningley.

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

“The pilot of the aircraft was endeavouring to manouvre the aircraft so they could make a forced-landing when there was a catastrophic technical failure which caused the aircraft to crash down into the trees behind the park’s café.”

Mr Allonby added: “The US military investigation report stated the crew found themselves in a situation not even a test pilot could have escaped from.

“The crash was no-one’s fault, and the officer who wrote the report described the crew as all being heroes – which I would certainly echo.”