American plane crash site, above Penmaenmawr

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American plane crash site, above Penmaenmawr

Five American airmen and their mascot, a terrier called Booster, were killed when their B-24 Liberator bomber crashed here on 7 January 1944. The photo of the crew (below-right) was taken by pilot Adrian J Shultz.


The aircraft, named Bachelor’s Baby by its crew, had left their base in Palm Beach, Florida, a month earlier and flown, via Brazil and Morocco, to RAF Valley, Anglesey. The plane left Valley with orders to follow a B17 ‘Flying Fortress’ which was to act as the crew’s escort to their new base, RAF Watton, in Norfolk. In heavy cloud and drizzle they lost sight of the B17, and their magnetic compass malfunctioned. They realised they were too low when the clouds broke momentarily. Despite the pilot’s best efforts, the plane struck the ridge, crashed and burst into flames. It was carrying a huge cargo of ammunition, which started to explode on impact. The surviving airmen struggled to free their comrades.

The bomb aimer, Second Lieut Norman Boyer, made his way down to a farmhouse near Rowen and raised the alarm. Meawhile, local quarrymen and PC Hughes-Parry of Llanfairfechan hurried to the crash site after seeing and hearing the plane in difficulty. Help also arrived from RAF Llandwrog, base of the RAF’s first mountain rescue service. The helpers administered first aid, then carried the injured down the hillside to Graiglwyd Hall, Penmaenmawr.

Before the survivors were transferred to hospital in Bangor, gunner Sgt Harold Alexander asked quarryman Ellis Lewis to return to the crash site and bury Booster, the mascot.  Mr Lewis buried the little black and white fox terrier next to the burnt-out aircraft.

Navigator Second Lieut Julian Ertz survived the crash, but with a broken back. Before the war he played American Football for his high school and later Temple University, Pennsylvania. He was known to fellow airmen as the “singing fullback”. After treatment in Bangor and American military hospitals, he returned to America and recovered enough to finish his law studies. He became an attorney. He died on 19 November 2016.

In 1980 a stone memorial was dedicated to the crew and Booster. It stands in a patch of bare rock, where vegetation has still not covered the scar caused by the crash and fire.

With thanks to Adrian Hughes, of the Home Front museum, Llandudno

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