'Can you save me, kid?' - Dramatic first-hand accounts emerge of Mi Amigo plane crash into Sheffield's Endcliffe Park

A dramatic first-hand account of an airman's dying plea for help from inside the crashed US bomber Mi Amigo has emerged as Sheffield prepares to mark 75 years since the tragedy.

By Lee Peace
Thursday, 21 February, 2019, 11:18

All 10 crew on board the badly damaged B-17 Flying Fortress, known as Mi Amigo, were killed when it plummeted from the skies and crashed into Endcliffe Park in 1944. 

How we reported the crash.

As the city gets ready for a military flypast to pay tribute to the lost airmen tomorrow, we look back on how we first reported the wartime tragedy.

After delving into the archives of The Star and Sheffield Telegraph, we found newspaper clippings that detailed a number of dramatic eyewitness accounts of the crash and how people tried to save the stricken airmen.

Arthur Needham, then aged 12 who rushed to the scene, told The Star: “I saw one man trying to get out from the middle of the plane, and I was able to get hold of his hand.

“He was breathing heavily but managed to gasp out 'Can you help me, kid?'

The wreckage of the Mi Amigo.

“I pulled at his hand until I fell over backwards, but I hadn't enough strength to get him clear.

“I think his legs were trapped and as the flames from the bomber were getting very hot, I couldn't do any more.”

Our sister title, the Sheffield Telegraph, detailed how a group of children who were present in the park at the time and were fortunate to escape injury after the plane crashed and “burst into flames.”

Tony Foulds with BBC presenter Dan Walker. Picture by Simon Hulme

Postman William McNerlen saw how the aircraft “rolled over three times and then crashed.”

A Mrs Clarke, of Endcliffe Crescent, thought the plane was performing a victory roll but then noticed it make “three terrific spins and plunged earthwards.

“A second later there was a terrible crash, a sudden uprush of flames.”

Other eyewitness accounts include that of an officer from the National Fire Service, who was dispatched to the scene, and told how he could see the “bomber was in difficulty” before hearing an “explosion.”

Coverage in The Star.

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Emergency services worked through the night to recover the bodies.

The story of the Mi Amigo has hit the headlines in recent weeks after Tony Foulds, who witnessed the crash as a schoolboy, successfully campaigned for a military flypast to take place to mark the tragedy.

The aircraft was left badly damaged after a bombing raid over Nazi-occupied Denmark and suffered catastrophic engine failure over Sheffield while returning to base.

It is believed the crew was attempting to make an emergency landing on the field but upon witnessing Tony and his friends, diverted and crashed into a nearby wooded area.   

Pilot Lieutenant John Kriegshauser was awarded a posthumous Distinguished Flying Cross for minimising loss of life.

Tony, now aged 82, has told in recent weeks how he has dealt with feelings of deep-seated guilt over the crash and spent several decades tending to the memorial to the brave crew.

How the Sheffield Telegraph reported the tragedy.

Thousands of people got behind the Lowedges grandfather-of-four’s plea for a flypast, including BBC presenter Dan Walker, who helped to arrange the event.

People are advised to arrive at the park tomorrow from 7.15am. 

There will be a memorial service from 8am, followed by the flypast at 8.45am. 

It is dependent on weather conditions and mission requirements, but the USAF and RAF is anticipating using a unique variety of aircraft from bases in Lakenheath, Midenhall and Coningsby. 

This includes four F15 Strike Eagle fighter jets which will perform a missing man formation as an aerial salute to the Mi Amigo victims.

A Dakota, CV-22 Osprey, MC-130, KC-135 Tanker and two RAF Typhoons will complete the flypast.  

Our coverage from last year.
The Mi Amigo crew.