On 6 May 1945 at approximately 6:40PM, an US Army Air Forces aircraft crashed on Long Man Hill near Wilmington, Sussex in southern England. All four crew members were killed. With two days remaining in the war in Europe, this was not the only USAAF crash that day. It was not the only one in Europe. It was not even the only one in England. The fact was that aircraft were crashing and being shot down at a rate that is hard for us to fathom these days. WWII took a horrendous toll on a generation of young airmen.
Seventy-five years later, we pause to remember a specific crew of many that died on this day in 1945.
1st Lieutenant Sidney “Jack” Gibson, pilot
2nd Lieutenant Victor L. Young, co-pilot
Staff Sergeant Daniel M. Campbell, crew
Staff Sergeant James F. Maloney, crew
They were members of the 314th Troop Carrier Squadron of the 349th Troop Carrier Group and were station at Advanced Landing Ground A-73 near Roye in northern France. They had only arrived in Europe in March 1945 and the unit had only become operational on 30 April 1945. Since all of the big airborne drops of WWII had already occurred, troop carrier units were mainly being used to ferry equipment, material, and wounded to and from France and England. On this particular mission, the Curtiss C-46D (like the one pictured above from the 314th), tail # 44-77861, was flying a load of lumber and mail from the depot known as “Eccles” near Attleborough, Norfolk in England to the Advance Landing Ground A-61 near Beauvais in northern France.
The pilot was rated for instrument flying, but was apparently trying to stay under a layer of cloud that obscured the top of Long Man hill. The aircraft struck the hill approximately 500 feet from the top and disintegrated on impact. One more aircraft and four more souls lost to the war to free Europe from Nazi control.
The remains of three of the crew were sent back to their homes for burial. 1st Lieutenant Sidney “Jack” Gibson was buried in Newkirk, Kay County, Oklahoma, USA. 2nd Lieutenant Victor L. Young was buried in Muskegon, Muskegon County, Michigan, USA, and Staff Sergeant Daniel Marshall Campbell was buried in Lincolnton, Lincoln County, North Carolina, USA. Staff Sergeant James F. Maloney of Westchester County, New York was buried at the American Battle Monuments Commission’s Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial, Coton, Cambridgeshire, England. His cross is the image above.
The 314th Air Refueling Squadron, 940th Operations Group, 940th Air Refueling Wing of Beale Air Force Base, California remembers the 314th Troop Carrier Squadron crew of 44-77861 on this 75th anniversary of 6 May 1945. May they rest in peace and be remembered for their sacrifice.
Any idea why Staff Sergeant Maloney’s remains were not repatriated? No mention of his age on the memorial either, is that usual?
Thanks for reading, sir.
I am not 100% sure, but I think I remember reading something at the Omaha Beach cemetery that families were given the choice if they wanted the remains to come back home or not. There were hundreds of makeshift cemeteries during the war that were consolidated to only a few at key places around Europe. I think I remember reading also that to this day there are occasional requests from families to bring remains home.
Quite a choice to be given, hope there was no financial element to the decision for the family. I’ve come across graves for soldiers in the Australian Imperial Force (if I remember the term correctly) from WW1, would have been a greater consideration to return the remains at that time presumably. Very moving.
All at U.S. Government expense. My regiment helped bring a cavalry trooper back last year who was killed in the waning days of WWII in Czechoslovakia and the government handled it. I don’t know how the British government handled imperial troops in WWI or WWII. Or English troops for that matter. I have found British troops individually in French church graveyards over the years. I find that very moving; where the French village took care of the British troops who were killed there. It is also very moving when one thinks of the families and the holes that were created in those families. I am a military historian and I love digging into the history of these events, but I would have far more preferred that they had never happened and these people could have lived quiet lives at home with their families.
Thanks for the feedback, gtdalgleish. Glad to have people who read and take interest!
Remains of this aircraft can be viewed in the Etchingham Military and Aviation museum. There are still fragments of wreakage to be found at the crash site.
Thank you, Mr Willis. We visit the UK 1 or 2 times a year, so this is on my next itinerary.