Shepherds Grove Thor Site July 2011
And the SSA with de-soiled stores.
I am seeking any further information that may be available on this tragic incident in addition to what I have discovered to date.
My company have for the past 34 years specialised in the acquisition of ex MOD airfields and married quarters and indeed
acquired some 200 'tobacco houses' identical to these at the USAF base at RAF Sculthorpe Norfolk in the late 1990s. I was
interested in buying these houses at Shepherds Grove when they were offered for sale by GVA Grimley of Birmingham, as a whole in March this year. On this occasion we were unsuccessful and they were acquired by a David Harris from nearby Hengrave Hall Bury St Edmunds. But on a few of my visits to the married quarters I noticed that by the children's play area some bungalows have been removed. When I enquired of the security guards they explained about the tragedy and even talked about a ghost of a young man that was present on the estate at Shepherds Grove.
Upon returning to my office I made further enquiries of one of the professional societies of which I am a member and I was sent
2 newspaper articles from that time - the first is the Florida based St Petersburg Times of August 24 1962 and the second is a
photo of the 21 year girl and her child that were saved from the crash which demolished 2 of the bungalows and the link is below.
The aircraft was involved was a F100D Super Sabre.
I also received recently an observation from a local man, John Stynes who attended the incident and here is his recollection.
AIRCRAFT ACCIDENT RAF SHEPHERDS GROVE – MARCH 1962
At the time of the incident a local man, John Stynes, then aged 19 and a member of 82 Squadron missile crew stationed at Shepherds Grove was accommodated with many others in the fire station building adjacent to the old air traffic control building and in March 2012 wrote his recollection.
To obtain their meals when off duty, they had to travel across to the secure site where the dining room was situated and three of them were in the process of doing this. They had just reached and it and were walking across the main runway when they were suddenly aware of a very low flying F100 aircraft circling above. They were surprised and then startled as they became aware of what they believed was gunfire behind them and could then see a large plume of smoke in the direction of the tobacco houses. (They subsequently discovered that the ‘gunfire’ was the ammunition exploding in the crashed aircraft) The F100 after making several passes above their heads eventually left and they continued over to the missile site.
When they arrived, they were told that there had been a major incident and that an aircraft had crashed into the tobacco houses. All those that were not needed at work were then put into vehicles and taken to the quarters to assist until the USAF could arrive with their own personnel. Unfortunately, in the interests of economy, their own fire engine had recently been withdrawn and they could not provide assistance with the fire but they helped in saving personal possessions from the damaged houses. The aircraft had landed in the road in front of the house and parallel to it.
We were then approached by one of our Launch Control Officers (Flt Lt Stubbs) to assist him with checking the runway to ensure it was clear and we went in his car, stopping to remove any small items from the surface that we thought may constitute a hazard to aircraft. Eventually, a C47 Dakota aircraft fitted out for casualty evacuations landed and taxied up to us, inside was a medical crew including a doctor who we took back to the incident site.
By this time, the fire was out and the aircraft could be approached. Concern was then expressed about the disappearance of Peter Hammond, who most of us knew as he had recently worked at the missile site. The doctor suggested that we should form search parties and look for him, as it was possible that he was in shock and had run away. This was done, but to no avail. We were later told that Peter was eventually found beneath the aircraft. We were also told that Peter had been outside the front of the building (up a ladder?) and had seen the aircraft coming towards him over the top of the house, he had time to enter through the front door and warn the occupants who went out of the back. Unfortunately, Peter went back out the front and was hit by the aircraft that had hit at the rear of the house, skipped over it and landed in the road.
Also click on the 2 following and in addition read a resume from a researcher below.
The date was 22nd August 1962 and the aircraft was a F-100D Super Sabre 55-2784 (the one on display at
Mountain Home AFB ID with this ID is actually 54-174 of the 48th TFW/494th TFS. It crashed into base housing
(known as the Tobacco Houses) at RAF Shepherds Grove which was being used by personnel from other USAF
bases nearby. USAAF had left Shepherds Grove in 1959.
The house was being used by 1st Lt David A Staver who had an act of congress enacted in his name as he lost all
his processions in the crash but could only claim a maximum $5,000 at the time which was not enough to cover his
losses. House was destroyed.
Lt's Staver pregant wife Barbara was at home at the time with their one year old infant son Bill, she got them both
out just in time when the housepainter warned her that a plane was about to crash into the house. Sadly it is the
housepainter who was killed in this incident he was Peter Hammond and was aged '26'. Mrs Staver and her sone only
sustained small scratches.
Reading through other references Peter Hammonds age is said to be '20' (according to Times he was actually 19 and
was from Hepworth) and he actually died after the accident, while investigating the crash and after helping Mrs Staver
and her son to escape. But think they are confusing this with the actions of Mr Peter Rush who received the US Air
Force Exceptional Service Medal for her rescue.
The pilot was 1st Lt John E Malone aged 22 bailed out after the aircraft developed engine trouble.
The Times Thursday, Aug 23, 1962 has more info and a picture of the crashed aircraft and destroyed bungalows and
'Destroyed three bungalows and killed one of several men who were painting them.
Three childern in another bungalow escaped and third unoccupied.
The fighter struck the ground behind the bungalow, bounced over the top of two of
them, setting them alight and exploded on the other side.
Three childern in another bungalow escaped (this was being used by Captain Richardson
and his wife) - The children were Angela aged 13, Peggy aged 11 and Erin aged 5 months.
At the time Captain Richardson was visiting his
wife in hospital.'
Last edited by tigger; 23-08-2012 at 13:25.
Shepherds Grove Thor Site July 2011
And the SSA with de-soiled stores.
I took these shots around 2005 of the old Control Tower and Fire Station, since sadly demolished. The interior shots are inside the control tower. Cheers - Graham
Thanks for posting your pictures on here Graham. As i mentioned to you i didn't photograph the tower when it stood, i looked through the fence at it. Missed it by 2 weeks when i got there with my camera..........Damn !!!!!
Brilliant set of photos Graham, really good to see them. Do you have any others?
I notice someone on faceache suggesting Shepherds Grove was the first airfield in the UK that had Nuclear Weapons. I am rather sceptical of this as I don't think the aircraft based at SG would have had that capability, F-84 and F-86 I think were the only USAF jets to be based there before the redevolpment of the airfield as a Thor site.
Both the F-84 and F-86 could carry the Mk 7 sunshine bomb, (the same as we carried on our Canberras in Germany). Did a bomb disposal clearance of SG circa 1964/5.
The Mk 7 was a tactical bomb with old but reliable gun type system using a removable capsule that would be inserted only after loading onto the aircraft. Although it was a bulky bomb a single round could be installed on a pylon under the wing of a fighter-bomber type aircraft. Certainly, there are plenty of photos available of the F84 carrying it but I'm not sure about the F86.
I think that earlier in this thread the likely weapons storage area was discussed located on the northern section of the WW2 bomb stores.
I have just discovered that my uncles brother W/OP Sgt Samuel Thomas Collis no 1671079 was on this aircraft at the time of the incident. He survived the impact but was badly burnt and died shortly after at Ely Hospital. If any one has any information/photos of the rest of the crew and aircraft (including its squadron code numbers) I would be very grateful and I will be passing all information onto my uncle.
None of us where aware of the photograph or of how the crash happened.
Thank you Michael Hickling
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