Home   News   Article

Memorial unveiled in Hatfield Heath to three United States Air Force men killed in plane crash in Second World War





Three brave young American airmen who died in a Second World War plane crash in Hatfield Heath have been honoured in an emotional ceremony in the village more than three-quarters of a century later.

Pilot Howard Noland, 24, flight engineer Jake Crider, 27, and radio operator and gunner Warren Terrian, 23, were killed when their Martin B-26 Marauder crashed into a house in Chelmsford Road on September 24, 1944.

Now villagers on the Heath have been warmly praised by the United States Air Force (USAF) for their decision to honour the three men who died thousands of miles away from home and are buried in the American Cemetery at Madingley, Cambridgeshire.

The B-26 crashed into a house in Chelmsford Road in poor weather just miles from Matching airfield on its way back from France
The B-26 crashed into a house in Chelmsford Road in poor weather just miles from Matching airfield on its way back from France

Mark Ratcliff and Steve Foster spent hundreds of hours researching the crash and the men who died, and arranged for a special memorial to be erected at the crash site.

Last Friday, on the 77th anniversary of the tragedy, the tribute was unveiled.

Among those who attended the ceremony was David Brown, whose aunt lived in the house but survived as she was in hospital giving birth.

Memorial organisers Mark Ratcliff, left, and Steve Foster, right, with Major David Nan, of the USAF, and Essex Deputy Lord Lieutenant Rosemary Padfield
Memorial organisers Mark Ratcliff, left, and Steve Foster, right, with Major David Nan, of the USAF, and Essex Deputy Lord Lieutenant Rosemary Padfield

Also there was Patrick Roberts, whose grandfather lived in the house opposite and who recalled collecting parts of the fuselage from his garden until the late 1950s.

Major David Nan, of the USAF, was visibly moved as he said: “This was a really special gesture and we can't thank the people of Hatfield Heath enough.

“I'm a pilot myself so I can really appreciate what these men went through that day. It's so lovely that they are being remembered so many years later.”

The twin-engined B-26 bomber – nicknamed “Miss Laid” – of the 391st Bombardment Group was one of a flight of six that had been on a ferry mission from Matching airfield to the group’s new base at Roye Amy in advance of its move to France.

From left, Pilot Howard Noland, 24, flight engineer Jake Crider, 27, and radio operator and gunner Warren Terrian, 23 (51652314)
From left, Pilot Howard Noland, 24, flight engineer Jake Crider, 27, and radio operator and gunner Warren Terrian, 23 (51652314)

Returning in bad weather, three of the six aircraft were unable to land and crashed with the loss of all on board, totalling 12 men.

The crash destroyed several properties but mercifully no civilians were killed.

The calamity has always been known about in the village and several inhabitants still remember the aftermath, but until now there had been no memorial.

The memorial in Chelmsford Road draped in the Stars and Stripes before the unveiling
The memorial in Chelmsford Road draped in the Stars and Stripes before the unveiling

Mark and Steve, with the support of Hatfield Heath Parish Council and Stuart and Rachel Wells, the owners of the property where the plane came to rest, designed and commissioned the memorial.

Cllr Mark Lemon, who represents Hatfield Heath on Uttlesford District Council, said: “I'd like to pay tribute to all those involved in getting this memorial erected – particularly Mark and Steve.

Hatfield Heath memorial (51649038)
Hatfield Heath memorial (51649038)

“It's right that the lives of these three young men have been recognised all these years later.”

Mr Ratcliff, who grew up living on Chelmsford Road just 200 metres from the crash site, said: “It was a very emotional day and it was lovely that the lives of these three young men who died so far away from their homes in the United States were recognised.

“We are very grateful that so many people turned up to pay their respects.”

Hatfield Heath memorial (51649041)
Hatfield Heath memorial (51649041)


This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More