click to return to 
Freckleton Home & Contents

The Parish of Freckleton
in the County of
-- Lancashire --

click to return to Lancashire Home

Freckleton Air Disaster
23 August 1944

Two newly refurbished B-24s, prior to delivery to the 2nd Combat Division, departed USAAF Base Air Depot 2 at Warton Aerodrome on a test flight at 10.30 a.m. Due to an impending violent storm, both were recalled. By the time they had returned to the vicinity of the aerodrome, however, the wind and rain had significantly reduced visibility. Contemporary newspaper reports detailed wind velocities approaching 60 m.p.h., water spouts in the Ribble estuary and flash flooding in Southport and Blackpool.

On approach from the west, towards runway 08, and in formation with the second aircraft, the pilot of B-24H-20-CF Liberator, aircraft serial number 42-50291, named "Classy Chassis II", lst Lieutenant John Bloemendal, reported to the tower that he was aborting landing at the last moment and would "go around". Shortly afterwards, and out of visibility from the second aircraft, the aircraft hit the village of Freckleton, just east of the airfield.

Already flying very low to the ground and with wings near vertical, the aircraft's right wing tip first hit a tree-top, and then was ripped away as it impacted the corner of a building. The rest of the wing continued, ploughing along the ground and through a hedge. The fuselage of the 25-ton bomber continued, partly demolishing three houses and the Sad Sack Snack Bar, before crossing the Lytham Road and bursting into flames. A part of the aircraft hit the infants' wing of the Freckleton Holy Trinity School. Fuel from the ruptured tanks ignited and produced a sea of flames.

In the school, 38 schoolchildren and six adults were killed. The clock in one classroom stopped at 10.47 a.m. In the Sad Sack Snack Bar, which had been opened to cater for American servicemen from the air-base, 14 were killed: seven Americans, four Royal Air Force airmen and three civilians. The three crew on the B-24 were also killed.

A total of 61 adults and children died in the disaster.
Air Disaster Memorial. Photograph supplied by and © of Brian Young
Air Disaster Memorial
Photograph supplied by and © of Brian Young
Air Disaster Dedication. Photograph supplied by and © of Brian Young
Air Disaster Dedication
Photograph supplied by and © of Brian Young

Freckleton Home & Contents ©Lancashire OnLine Parish Clerks

Lancashire Home