Town to honour US airmen who died in crash on Daventry’s Borough Hill

S/Sgt Burry's previous Air Crew
S/Sgt Burry's previous Air Crew

A formal memorial will be held later this month to mark the unveiling of a plaque dedicated to nine American airmen who died when their bomber crashed in Daventry.

The memorial plaque will be located in the garden at Daventry War Memorial.

On Sunday August 23 at 3pm civic leaders, relatives of those who died, veterans, and a representative of the US Air Force will gather in Abbey Street to dedicate the plaque.

The granite marker will be inscribed with the names of Finis Harris, John Griffin, R.L. Mason, Laverne Ridge, Herschel McCoy, Cliff Melton, Robert L. Burry, Willie Barnes, and Chas Nordland – the crew of the B-17 Flying Fortress that crashed on Borough Hill on December 15 1944.

Daventry town clerk, Deborah Jewell, said: “Those involved in the service at the War Memorial will process down from the town council offices in New Street.

“Members of the Saywell family – relatives of Robert Burry – will be there

“We have Lieutenant Col Ford from the US Air Force who is in the medical division of 42nd Sqn based at RAF Croughton

“The service will begin at 3pm. There will be words spoken, hymns, the Last Post, and a wreath donated by Orange Blossom Florists will be laid.

“Invited guest will then return to the town council offices.”

The B-17 Flying Fortress was a four-engine heavy bomber, usually carried a crew of 10. On December 15 1944 two American bombers were returning from a successful raid on Kassel in Germany where 334 planes had been targeting the town’s railway yards and tank factory. As they dropped in height to land back at Chelveston Air Field, east of Rushden, they found their vision limited by the low cloud. As they passed over Borough Hill they collided with the wires of a radio mast on the northern end of the hill, close to edge of the modern golf course. One plane flew on, the other crashed on Borough Hill, killing all of the crew on board.