B-17 Bomber Crash


On Monday 24th January 1944, at 7 am, B17s, of the 100th Bomb Group, (known as the bloody hundredth, for the losses they suffered during the war) took off from their base at Thorpe Abbots, near Dickleburgh, Norfolk, they set out to bomb a metal works at Frankfurt They were part a of large formation of aircraft from many USAAF bases in the area. Due to bad weather the planes were recalled while over France.

One of these aircraft named 'Skipper'(42-3307), of 351 Squadron, did not get as far as France. The pilot, Arch Drummond, was one of the group's more experienced pilots. As the B 17 withdrew its undercarriage in the semi darkness, the crew kept a wary eye out for other bombers, (aircraft level with them, and above, were difficult to see). 'Skipper' continued climbing straight ahead. At 700 feet, Arch, and his co-pilot Claude E. Schindler were to horrified see the lights of another aircraft, a B24, coming across their path. The captain flashed his powerful landing lights to warn the approaching aircraft to keep out of their airspace. The plane did not alter its course. To avoid a collision the bomber dived steeply, and banked right, the pilot tried to level out, but hit the port wing on a barn, at High London Farm Shelfanger, about 7 miles from Thorpe Abbots..

The impact ruptured a fuel tank and caught fire, the aircraft then crashed through a group of trees, and came to halt in a meadow, approx 300 yards from the farm, debris strewn everywhere. During the initial impact, Maurice Zetlan was thrown through the front perspex nose and died of his injuries. When the plane came to a standstill the rest of the crew quickly left the burning aircraft, aware 'Skipper' was loaded with highly inflammable incendiaries. First at the scene was Farmer David Drummond of Old Boyland Hall Farm Bressingham, he found the other 9 airmen sheltering by a straw stack suffering from shock.

The Crew of the B17 Flying Fortress 'Skipper' were:

  • Lt. Arch J. Drummond (pilot) - slightly injured
  • Lt. Claude E. Sdchindler (co-pilot) - slightly injured
  • Lt. Frank J. McGuire (navigator) - injured with burns
  • Lt. Maurice G. Zetlan (bomardier) - who was killed
  • Tech. Sgt. Sidney A. Cary (top turett gunner) - injured
  • Tech. Sgt Talbert E. Spenoff (radio operator) - injured
  • S/Sgt. John R. Pendleton (gunner) - injured
  • Sgt. Steven M. Szekely (gunner) - injured
  • S/Sgt. Guthrie H. Head (right waist gunner) - injured
  • S/Sgt. Nicholas Perovich (tail gunner) - injured

by Ron Hurst 2000
Details as recorded in the records
42-3284/3338 Douglas-Long Beach B-17F-45-DL Fortress

c/n 8220/8274

3307 crashed on takeoff Jan 24, 1944 Shelfanger, Norfolk.

see also http://home.att.net/~jbaugher2/b17_11.html
**Does anyone know more about this?...*

further plane details from http://www.warbirdalley.com/b17.htm
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