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Thread: Flying Fortress AN534 Memorial - Stoke Albany.

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    84OTU Chris Lowe's Avatar
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    Default Flying Fortress AN534 Memorial - Stoke Albany.

    The memorial below is in St Botolph's Church Stoke Albany & was dedicated with a service in May 2007, local historian Steve Vincent who organised the memorial & service told me about it, the text below was written by him.

    The bomber, a United States built Boeing Fortress I, an early version of the legendary B17 was in service with the then top secret, high altitude bombing squadron based at Polebrook Northamptonshire. 90 Squadron (RAF) was specially reformed to take delivery of 20 of these aircraft supplied under the lend-lease agreement in the early summer of 1941. The crews were hand picked individuals who were exceptionally fit and had undergone special tests to ensure they could withstand the harsh conditions met at high altitude in unpressurised aircraft.

    The aircraft were hastily pushed into service despite a number of operational problems that the Americans were as keen to iron out as the RAF. Each aircraft was crewed with six RAF men and a USAAC “Advisor”. A sensitive issue at the time as America was still a neutral country.

    The crew to be commemorated at Stoke Albany are those of aircraft WP-E “Easy” AN534 which crashed vertically at high speed into a field just outside the village, killing all seven men on board. An RAF board of enquiry blamed the crash on pilot error. These aircraft were known to suffer instability problems if the auto-pilot was engaged when the gyros weren’t correctly synchronised. However they were also known to “ice up” seriously at the 32,000 feet they were expected to operate at. Icing could affect all control surfaces and in some cases cause the aircraft to drop like a stone. An eyewitness to the crash remembers the deafening noise and seeing the aircraft break apart just before the impact that killed the seven men:-

    Flt. Sgt. Reginald G Bradley RAFVR aged 28:
    Flt. Sgt. Hubert CG Brook RAFVR aged 25:
    Sgt. Robert Henderson RAFVR aged 23:
    1st Lt. Laird W Hendricks USAAC aged 25:
    Flt. Sgt. Ronald CA Muir RAF aged 20:
    Sgt. Philip S Pugh RAFVR aged 23:
    Sgt. Roy Smith RAFVR aged 28:












    For anyone wishing to visit the church is open & there is a car park next door at the village hall, the information folder with the memorial contains a lot of information including letters & birth certificates.

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    84OTU Chris Lowe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flying Fortress AN534 Memorial - Stoke Albany.

    For anyone wishing to visit the church is located here:

    Last edited by Chris Lowe; 23-12-2012 at 08:38.

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    Default Re: Flying Fortress AN534 Memorial - Stoke Albany.

    http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/in...?topic=13286.0
    Link takes you to KHF (Kent History Forum) where I posted this about R G Bradley.

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    84OTU Chris Lowe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flying Fortress AN534 Memorial - Stoke Albany.

    Thanks for posting that up Richrat you are welcome to use my pictures in the other forum if you wish.

    Chris

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    Default Re: Flying Fortress AN534 Memorial - Stoke Albany.

    Welcome to AiX Richrat

    Could I ask if you coule post the photos on here rather that linking elsewhere. We don't mind links but would appreciate info on here to0 - we don't bite!

    Cheers

    Rich

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    Default Re: Flying Fortress AN534 Memorial - Stoke Albany.

    Thank you for posting these pictures my uncle was the british member of the crew Ronald Muir and I have been trying to find more info for my mum (his sister) who is now 89. I will be visiting Stoke Albany 25th April 2012 to visit the church and take a photograph of the memorial. I sent a photo of him to Steve Vincent in 2004. He helped me alot and gave me some pointers.

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    84OTU Chris Lowe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flying Fortress AN534 Memorial - Stoke Albany.

    Welcome to the forum Jeanette.

    Does Steve know that you are visiting?

    Chris

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    Default Re: Flying Fortress AN534 Memorial - Stoke Albany.

    Quote Originally Posted by buccaneer66 View Post
    Welcome to the forum Jeanette.

    Does Steve know that you are visiting?

    Chris
    No with it being a weekday i thought everyone would be working. I have been planning to come down for some years and this is the first opportunity. I am hoping to get pictures and information for my mum.
    regards
    jeanette
    Last edited by jeanette; 17-04-2012 at 12:40.

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    84OTU Chris Lowe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flying Fortress AN534 Memorial - Stoke Albany.

    Yes I'll be at work on that day, the church is easy to find.

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    Default Re: Flying Fortress AN534 Memorial - Stoke Albany.

    Quote Originally Posted by buccaneer66 View Post
    The memorial below is in St Botolph's Church Stoke Albany & was dedicated with a service in May 2007, local historian Steve Vincent who organised the memorial & service told me about it, the text below was written by him.

    The bomber, a United States built Boeing Fortress I, an early version of the legendary B17 was in service with the then top secret, high altitude bombing squadron based at Polebrook Northamptonshire. 90 Squadron (RAF) was specially reformed to take delivery of 20 of these aircraft supplied under the lend-lease agreement in the early summer of 1941. The crews were hand picked individuals who were exceptionally fit and had undergone special tests to ensure they could withstand the harsh conditions met at high altitude in unpressurised aircraft.

    The aircraft were hastily pushed into service despite a number of operational problems that the Americans were as keen to iron out as the RAF. Each aircraft was crewed with six RAF men and a USAAC “Advisor”. A sensitive issue at the time as America was still a neutral country.

    The crew to be commemorated at Stoke Albany are those of aircraft WP-E “Easy” AN534 which crashed vertically at high speed into a field just outside the village, killing all seven men on board. An RAF board of enquiry blamed the crash on pilot error. These aircraft were known to suffer instability problems if the auto-pilot was engaged when the gyros weren’t correctly synchronised. However they were also known to “ice up” seriously at the 32,000 feet they were expected to operate at. Icing could affect all control surfaces and in some cases cause the aircraft to drop like a stone. An eyewitness to the crash remembers the deafening noise and seeing the aircraft break apart just before the impact that killed the seven men:-

    Flt. Sgt. Reginald G Bradley RAFVR aged 28:
    Flt. Sgt. Hubert CG Brook RAFVR aged 25:
    Sgt. Robert Henderson RAFVR aged 23:
    1st Lt. Laird W Hendricks USAAC aged 25:
    Flt. Sgt. Ronald CA Muir RAF aged 20:
    Sgt. Philip S Pugh RAFVR aged 23:
    Sgt. Roy Smith RAFVR aged 28:












    For anyone wishing to visit the church is open & there is a car park next door at the village hall, the information folder with the memorial contains a lot of information including letters & birth certificates.
    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    My name is John Hendricks. I am the nephew of Lt. Laird W. Hendricks, USAAC, who was also killed in this incident.

    "Uncle Laird," as I refer to him, was a graduate of "West Point," the US Military Academy in the US, in the late 1930s.

    He yearned to be a pilot and went to US bases in the Western part of the US for training on the B17.

    He was dispatched, through Canada, to the UK in mid-July 1941.

    He started a diary on arrival at RAF Polebrook. His diary contains three entries, for July 25, 26 and 27, 1941.

    His body was returned to the US and he was buried at Arlington Cemetery in Virginia, not far from Washington DC.

    In Florida, his birthplace, a training field was dedicated to him during the War, as the firs Floridian to die in the war. This location was what is now Sebring FL, the site of many auto races.

    I hope to visit the area in the coming years and would welcome any further information from the UK side.

    Kind regards, John Hendricks

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