|Birth: ||Jul. 31, 1922|
San Bernardino County
|Death: ||Apr. 23, 1945, Isle of Man|
Charles was a Captain in the U.S. Army Air Forces 534th Bomber Squadron, 381st Bomber Group, Heavy Service # O-804448
He entered the Service from California.
Awards: Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with 7 Oak Leaf Clusters.
Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress 43-38856 of the 534th Bombardment Squadron, 381st Bombardment Group, was on a ferry flight from Ridgewell in Esssex to Nutts Corner in Northern Ireland with a normal ferry crew and a large number of passengers. These passengers were additional aircrew and ground crew travelling to Northern Ireland for a short period of much needed leave. The aircraft was on course flying in low cloud when it crossed the coast of the Isle of Man. Shortly after the aircraft passed over Glen Mona and Corrany before flying into the steep southern slope of North Barrule about 200ft short of the summit of the hill. The aircraft disintegrated with most of the airframe being consumed by fire. The crash killed all 31 crew and passengers on the aircraft.
The sadness of this tragedy was compounded by the fact that it happened just two weeks before the end of the war and it followed another tragedy just nine months earlier when six died in a separate crash on the hill.
Reports from the time of the second crash stated that no operations over Germany were planned, so servicemen from nine different units were billeted for a week's leave to Northern Ireland. The men chosen were the support servicemen, the ground crews, armourers, mechanics and fitters – people who kept the aircraft flying, combat-ready and safe.
Some of those men had been billeted since June 1943 and for most this was their first real break.
The flight, piloted by Lieutenant Charles E. Ackerman was never to reach its destination.
In 1995 Maughold Commissioners and the Manx Aviation Preservation Society erected a memorial plaque and flagpole at the crash site.
Every year since, Mike Corlett of Laxey, leads fellow members of the Manx Aviation Preservation Society up North Barrule where they fly an American flag over the spot for a week to commemorate the tragedy.
Mike Corlett visited the crash site as a boy soon after it happened in 1945 and remembers the scene of devastation on the hillside with broken and burnt parts of the aircraft spread over a wide area.
However, by 2010 the society's American flag was becoming severely weather-beaten due to the high winds which scour the hillside.
Upon hearing of this predicament Kelly McCarthy, second vice president of North American Manx Association and one of the island's worldwide network of honorary representatives, arranged with her US senator to acquire a special flag.The North American Manx Association provided not just any flag, but one that had been flown over the Capitol in Washington DC.
When not flying, it is on display at The Manx Aviation and Military Museum located at the edge of Ronaldsway Airport on the main Douglas to Castletown road.Exhibits, personal effects and more information about the worst crash in Manx aviation history can be seen there.
The two crashes on North Barrule claimed the lives of 37 people within nine months of what turned out to be the last year of the war.
There is a possible reason for the second crash, or at least a contributing factor.
Perhaps it was coincidence, but there exists a probable relationship between two pilots, namely Ronald B. Dorrington of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, and Second Lieutenant Charles E. Ackerman. Both men had worked as pilots in the 534th Bombardment Squadron of the United States 8th Air Force for a couple of years, and had flown together on 10 missions over enemy territory.
Although it is not known for certain that these men flew in the same aircraft on these missions it is highly likely that they would have been acquainted and it's possible they may have been friends.Whatever the terms of their relationship together, within a year both men would be in their graves.
On July 6, 1944, only weeks after completing his tour, Dorrington was second pilot of a B-24 Liberator bomber which was being flown from Langford Lodge in Northern Ireland to Warton in Lancashire, on what was known as a ‘ferry flight', For some reason the aircraft ploughed into the cloud-covered southern slopes of North Barrule, killing all five men on board.
Charles Ackerman completed his own tour of missions on June 10, 1944 but, after going home to the USA for a time, he returned to his squadron on September 21. As an experienced pilot Ackerman was appointed to lead his squadron and in recognition of this he was promoted to captain on November 14, 1944.
Ackerman led the 534th BS on 27 missions, with his last mission being to Brandenburg on April 20, 1945. Only three days later he was killed in similar circumstances to his former squadron colleague, Dorrington.
In an extraordinary twist of fate, he flew into the same hill, close to where Dorrington had died nine months before. He would have known about Dorrington's death on North Barrule and, taking advantage of a flight path which took him close to the Isle of Man, he may have flown low to have a look at the place where Dorrington died and himself fell victim to the hills.
This was the second accident on the island involving a B-17 in less than 10 days.
Of the 31 crew and passengers on the aircraft when it crashed 8 were subsequently buried at Cambridge American Cemetery, including Pilot,Captain Ackerman.
Sergeant Edwin Charles Ullmann
Private First Class Angelo Quagliariello
Corporal Merle L. Ramsowr
Private Andrew Robertson Barbour
Corporal Harry Super,
Technical Sergeant Wesley Malcolm Hagen
Master Sergeant Edward Z. M. Gelman
Flight Officer Edwin Augustus Hutcheson Jr.
1st Lieutenant John Philip Fedak
1st Lieutenant Wayne Wendell Hart
Technical Sergeant David Howard Lindon
1st Lieutenant Lawrence Edward McGhehey
Technical Sergeant Joseph William Sullivan
Staff Sergeant Ralph Laverne Gibbs
Staff Sergeant Wayne Kenneth Manes
Staff Sergeant Alfred Mares Mata
Passenger (Air Gunner)
Sergeant Jose Maximinio Martinez
Tech 4. Andrew Piter Jr.
Corporal Earl Graham Ammerman
Corporal Edward Gene Bailey
Burial place unknown
Corporal Thomas Peter Flaherty
Corporal Herbert Clarence Gupton Jr
Sergeant Michael Joseph Kakos Jr.
Corporal Leslie Howe Maxwell
Sergeant Irwin Russell Hargraves
1st Lieutenant Martin M. Matyas
1st Lieutenant James Maxon Hinkle
Technical Sergeant Joseph Lee Gray
Technical Sergeant William Everett Geist
Tech 5. Walter Alexander McCullough
George Lewis Grady (1906 - 1993)
Nellie Emma Philips Grady (1902 - 1994)
CAPT, US ARMY AIR FORCES WORLD WAR II
Note: buried on April 27, 1945,
Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial
South Cambridgeshire District
Plot: Plot D Row 5 Grave 56
Maintained by: Martin Douglas Packer
Originally Created by: CWGC/ABMC
Record added: Aug 06, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 56287271