Sheffield remembers crew of Mi Amigo at service in Endcliffe Park to mark 75th anniversary of crash
The sun shone brightly over Sheffield as crowds gathered to pay tribute to the young airmen who lost their lives when their plane crashed in the city 75 years ago.
Hundreds attended the annual wreath-laying ceremony held at Endcliffe Park yesterday, in memory of the 10 American airmen who died when the badly damaged B-17 Flying Fortress, known as Mi Amigo, plummeted from the skies and into woods in February 22, 1944.
Servicemen and women from RAF Menwith Hill assembled in front of those who came to pay their respects – all uniting in a solemn silence as a roll call of the fallen was read out by Reverend Claire Dawson, priest in charge of nearby St Augustine’s Church.
The Mi Amigo had completed a daring day time raid on the Aalborg airfield in occupied Denmark but was hit in the attack and limped back over the North Sea.
The story goes that the crew were attempting to make an emergency landing on Endcliffe Park, but in a final heroic act, changed course after witnessing children playing in the field, and crashed into woodland.
The memory of the tragedy is still fresh in the minds of those who witnessed it, including Tony Foulds, now aged 82, who was one of the children on the field that day.
He has spent several decades tending to the memorial but only attended the annual service for the first time yesterday to meet with relatives of the Mi Amigo crew.
Peter Wolstenhome, 83, who now lives in Woodhouse, was playing near his home in the Manor, when he saw the Mi Amigo flying low overhead.
“One engine had stopped with smoke trailing out,” he said. “We could see day light through the fuselage in the tail and then it turned over City Road cemetery towards the city and we lost sight of it.
“We found out a day or two later that it had crashed in Endcliffe Park. I come regularly to the memorial because I saw it before it crashed and its part of my childhood and I want to remember them.”
Rob James, 55, travelled from Nottingham in memory of his mother who witnessed the aftermath of the tragedy.
He said: “My mum lived on Hunter House Road during the war and can remember the plane coming over and crashing into the park. She was terrified by the noise. Her twin brother raced down to see what had gone on, and its a story she told me from when I was young.
“Over the years I was able to do research, and show her books that had been written and we came here two years ago and attended the memorial. She is 87 now and said she was really please that we came to memorial in her name”
The ceremony was followed by a service at St Augustine’s Church in Brocco Bank, in which representatives of the United States Army Air Forces presented the Royal Air Forces Association with an American flag to be flown each year on the anniversary of the tragedy.