|Death: ||Aug. 23, 1944|
A special Thank You to Armantia for the transfer of Jean's page!
Jean Butcher was one of 38 children killed on 23, August 1944, when an American U.S. Army Air Force Consolidated B-24 Liberator heavy bomber crashed into the village of Freckleton, located in Lancashire County, England. 61 people in all were killed when an infant school, a cafe and three homes were demolished.
Storms came up suddenly that day, and two B-24s already in air were recalled, with weather warnings; however, by the time the order to return to ground had been issued, winds had reached 60 miles per hour, flash flooding was being reported in Blackpool and other areas, and water spouts were appearing in the Ribble Estuary.
1st Lieutenant John Blomendal, the pilot of the second aircraft, the "Classy Chassis II", reported that he was aborting landing at the last moment, and would circle round again. Within minutes, the aircraft struck Freckleton, east of the airfield.
It was determined that the aircraft's wings were nearly vertical when it hit a treetop, and then impacted with the corner of a building; one of the wings was immediately sheared away, and continued along the ground and through hedges. The 25 ton bomber's fuselage demolished three homes and the "Sad Sack" Snack Bar, before crossing the road and bursting into flames. A part of the aircraft struck the infants' wing of Freckleton Holy Trinity School, its' fuel igniting a sea of flames.
The three crew on the B-24 were among the dead; 18 of the dead were in the "Sad Sack" at the time of the crash.
The official decision regarding the cause of the crash was listed as unknown, but perhaps the pilot had not realized the dangers of an English storm, until his final approach. At this time, his speed and altitude would have been insufficient against the storm, and he could not 'correct'.
Possibly one positive thing that came from this horrible tragedy is that U.S. pilots coming to the U.K. afterward were warned emphatically of the dangers of thunderstorms in
England, and perhaps further disaster was averted.
Jean's parents are listed as Mr. and Mrs. Edward Butcher of Fold Side Farm; there is no other information available at this time, but I am continuing to research the matter.
Note: Killed in the Freckleton Disaster.
Holy Trinity Churchyard
Maintained by: Rhonda C./Friends
Originally Created by: Armantia
Record added: Mar 20, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 49973868