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C-47 Skytrain 42-100586, 84 Sqd, 437th TCG, US 9th Air Force
Horsehall Hill Farm, Chisbury
4th March 1944.
On the evening of March 4th 1944 squadrons of the 437th Troop Carrier Group took part in a simulated paratrooper mission. Aircraft number 42-100586, piloted by 1st Lt. Lloyd Sloan from the 84th Squadron, was flying No.42 in a 49 ship formation. The group encountered severe weather conditions (heavy cloud and snow) and in order to reduce the risk of collision split into a number of 3 ship elements. The separate elements then set course for Ramsbury and upon arrival broke formation and entered the airfield's traffic pattern.
1st Lt. Sloan appeared to be late turning into the circuit and as a result his flight path took him well beyond the airfield's boundaries. He then made a timed turn which under normal circumstances would have brought him in to line with the runway in use (260). Unfortunately, although the bearing was correct he was about two miles south of the runway. Unaware of his error he lowered the undercarriage and looked in vain for the lights of the field.
The ground was covered by several inches of snow and this may have made Lt. Sloan's judgement of height above the ground difficult. It is believed that he thought he was on his final approach, and after flying over open fields for some distance, decided to land the plane. Unfortunately instead of landing on a concrete runway the aircraft ploughed into trees on the eastern edge of Heron's Point wood, about 3/4 mile west of the small village of Chisbury, and caught fire. Living at Horsehall Hill Farm (about 300 yards west of the crash site) was 11 year old David Cady. He links the time of the crash with his father's habit of 'popping' out to the pub between 9 and 10 o'clock in the evening. David's mother, after hearing the noise, went around to her neighbour and asked him to go and see what had happened, but he refused. About half an hour later Stanley Cady returned home and made his way to the crash site. He was the first person on the scene but, despite managing to pull one of the pilots clear of the burning plane, was unable to save the lives of the crew.
The crash had been reported to Ramsbury flying control by the pilot of a plane that had just landed and also by Marlborough Police. A fire engine from the 2054th Fire Fighting Platoon based on the airfield was immediately despatched to find the crashed aircraft. After searching an area south of Froxfield and Little Bedwyn the crew of the fire tender eventually found the burning plane at Horsehall Hill Farm.
The committee responsible for compiling the crash report came to the conclusion that the prime cause of the accident was an error of judgement by the pilot.
Pilot - 1st Lieutenant Lloyd Sloan
Co-pilot - 2nd Lieutenant Richard Clark
Radio operator - Sgt. Harold Pope
Paratrooper - Pvt. Harry S. Scott
Paratrooper - Pfc Lawrence H. Ward
Above: Small item of wreckage recovered a number of years ago from the crash site. The wording 'ALCLAD' is stencilled on one side.
left: Heron's Point wood looking east. The doomed C-47 entered the wood
at about this point and crashed through the trees towards the camera position.
Below centre: Some of the wrecked plane ended up in this pond.
Below right: The mangled tail section of 42-100586. (Maxwell Air Force Base via Accident-Report.com)
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Copyright 2004 Roger Day