|Birth: ||unknown, England|
|Death: ||Aug. 23, 1944|
Gwendoline Franken is listed as one of the employees of the Sad Sack Cafe, which was destroyed 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. 61 people were killed, among them 38 children and the entire staff on duty at the Sad Sack that day.
Storms came up suddenly early 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 American 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 trained to adapt to them.
Very little is known about Gwendoline - her husband is listed as Harold, but that is about all I have discovered so far... she is memorialized on the Freckleton Memorial and websites, but all efforts to 'trace' her on my part have turned up very little information. I will continue to search for verified information, and update this page, accordingly.
Note: There is more than one statement that Gwendoline was a young woman, in her late teens or early twenties, which might suggest that she still has surviving family. I would be glad to hear from anyone with thoughts, photos or connections to her.
Body lost or destroyed
Specifically: There are statements that Gwendolyn is buried in a mass grave for the Freckleton victims
Created by: Rhonda C./Friends
Record added: Aug 30, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 96275493