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.