|Birth: ||1940, England|
|Death: ||Aug. 23, 1944|
A special Thank You to Armantia for the transfer of Martin's page!
UPDATE 19, FEBRUARY 2014 - I have just received the information that Martin's mother was a Bertha H. Alston (nee Evans) and that she was married in 1935. Thank You to Geoffrey for the update!
Martin Peter Alston was one of 38 children killed on 23, August 1944 when a U.S. bomber crashed into the small village of Freckleton during a storm. The casualty list would reach 61 individuals, among them the pilot and crew of the crashed airplane, staff and customers in a small cafe in the path of the crash, and civilians.
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 Blomendahl, 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; 14 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.
Martin Peter Alston was the son of Corporal Cecil P. Alston of the RAF and B. H. Alston - there is some notation that the 'B' may be for the first name Betty. The family lived at Upminster, Essex.
He is memorialized with the other Freckleton casualties at the official memorial, and it is noted that he was buried in a communal burial.
Lastly, the one good thing that may have come from this horrible tragedy is that, due to the opinions that perhaps the pilot had not been trained for the severity of British weather, all American pilots sent over following the Freckleton Disaster were re-trained regarding weather threats, and pilot adaptation to sudden emergency.
Note: Civilian War Dead
Holy Trinity Churchyard
Maintained by: Rhonda C. Poynter & Frie...
Originally Created by: Armantia
Record added: Mar 20, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 49973646