On the evening of the 12th of May 1944 a full scale dress rehearsal for the forth-coming D-Day airborne drop was ending with two squadrons of United States army Air Force flying back to their base at Cottesmore.
At approximately 0341 hours two C47 aircraft from the same Troop Carrier Group; the 316th, collided mid air. An account of the collision after describes what happened:
“The main part of the lead formation went down and under the second, but Lt Sharber left the formation and attempted to go over the second formation striking the second aircraft being commanded by the 36th Troop Carrier Squadron leader Major J Farris. Lt Sharber’s aircraft was in a steep climbing turn at the time of the collision. Both aircraft burst into flames and crashed at Benwick, Cambridgeshire all personnel on both aircraft were killed”
That was a total of 18 personnel from the USAAF and the 82nd Airborne. As the operation was a pre D-Day training exercise for the Troop Carrier Groups for their role on D-Day dropping the US airborne; each plane had a member of the airborne Division that they would be carrying.
I first came across this tragic story after speaking to a 82nd Airborne Division veteran who told me his platoon leader was killed in an air collision during a training exercise in the UK.
With this information and his name I went about trying to put all the pieces of the puzzle together.
This is why I am writing to you as village members of Benwick to see if anyone can help me with any more information about this tragic and sad loss of life.
After speaking with a couple of very helpful locals historians, it seems the air crash has become a bit of a mystery with very little of information on the event.
Any information big or small will help piece the puzzle together, please contact Darren Bond at 07946437852 or by email email@example.com