Lancashire

Freckleton Air Disaster: Memorial held to mark 70th anniversary

A memorial service has taken place to mark the 70th anniversary of an aeroplane crash on a Lancashire village which killed 61 people.

Thirty-eight children were among those killed when the US Liberator heavy bomber destroyed houses, a cafe and a church school in Freckleton.

The service for was held at 10:30 BST - the time the plane hit the village.

It was held at Holy Trinity Church to remember those who died on 23 August 1944, during World War Two.

Artist's impression of Freckleton Holy Trinity School before the disaster
Holy Trinity CofE School before the disaster

Ruby Currell was one of three children who survived when the reception classroom at Holy Trinity Church of England School caught fire.

She said: "I just want future generations to remember them. One day I'm not going to be here to do it.

"I just hope the village will continue to remember.

"It's nice to do this memorial service this year - it's 70 years and it is a long, long time."

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Freckleton Air Disaster

First Lieutenant John Bloemendal struggled to keep the B-24 in the air
First Lieutenant John Bloemendal battled to keep the Liberator in the air
  • Two US Army Air Force B-24 Liberator heavy bomber aircraft took off from Warton on a test flight, but they hit a violent storm swept in from the Irish Sea.
  • First Lieutenant John Bloemendal battled to keep the Liberator, known as Classy Chassis, up in the air when the storm struck
  • The right wingtip hit a tree-top before it was ripped away as it crashed into the corner of a building
  • The fuselage of the 25-tonne bomber partly demolished three houses and the Sad Sack Snack Bar, before crossing the Lytham Road and bursting into flames.
  • Fourteen people were killed in the Sad Sack Snack Bar, which was opened for American servicemen from the nearby air-base
  • A teacher who arrived at the school the day before the disaster was one of the people who were killed
  • Those who died are buried in a mass grave
  • Freckleton was known as Little America, as 10,000 Americans were based there at the time of the crash
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Servicemen searching through the rubble of the cafe
Seven Americans, four Royal Air Force airmen and three civilians died when the plane hit a cafe

Nellie Hankinson was in another classroom at the school and survived, but her sister Dorothy, five, was killed.

"It was a dreadful event. You never get over it.

"My mother and father never did," said Mrs Hankinson, 78.

"I still don't like thunder... I go to pieces when it thunders.

"I have always said it was the first time I saw a man cry. He was crying taking me home, crying.

"Tears were streaming down his face," she said.

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