22 February 2016

Remembering the Paragon of Bravery

Seventy-two years ago today, a plane crashed in a park near where I'm currently living in Sheffield.  A United States Army Air Force B-17 Flying Fortress named "Mi Amigo" was hit while flying a mission over Denmark.  Returning to England, the plane was headed for a crash in Sheffield's Endcliffe Park.  Sighting children playing in the park, the crew chose not to try for a crash landing on the large, flat, grassy area of the park and instead crashed the plane into a wooded area on a hill in the park.  All ten on board were killed.  Protecting those kids in the park made all ten instant war heroes as much as any of their previous deeds.

My younger daughter and I were in Endcliffe Park yesterday (Sunday, 21 February).  She fed ducks on two ponds and then played for awhile on the playground.  As we were preparing to leave, I saw men and women wearing my country's Air Force uniform.  It dawned on me that this was the Sunday when the annual remembrance of the plane crash would take place.  My daughter and I went to the crash sight and watched the ceremony.  I took the photo below just before the ceremony began (click on the image for a larger view).
It was a beautiful day in the park; the sun was out and wind sometimes got pretty strong.  I felt pride seeing my country's servicemen and servicewomen at the ceremony.  I spoke to a couple of them afterwards, asking them where they were stationed and thanking them for their service.  The Royal Air Forces Association organizes the ceremony in the park each year.  It was moving hearing the names of the ten crew members who died in the crash, but well worth hearing every one of them.


  1. On 22 Feb 1944 60 B-17s from Chelveston and Podington formed up over Leicester and Louth and set off to bomb AALBORG Airfield in Denmark on a diversionary raid. The main force following one hour later to bomb various aircraft factories in Germany. Mi Amigo was badly shot up by Uffz. Erich Naujokat in a ME109T who, flying on his first operational mission and having received abbreviated training, would have sat on the tail of the B-17 in the most dangerous of attacking positions and received fire from at least 7 guns. He crashed into the sea.
    Mi Amigo set off for England with mortally wounded tail gunner, ball turret gunner and radio operator . The radios were all damaged and the outer starboard engine also damaged Unable to radio for help, or accurately fix their position, they continued above unbroken cloud until gaps began to appear over Sheffield. After three circuits of a Park they made their final approach in terrible visibility not knowing how small the Park was or perhaps hoping it was Doncaster grass airfield which was 20 nm north. Firing a red Very to warn that they had injured on board they skimmed over the roof tops perhaps preparing for a belly landing. The kids playing soccer, used to Allied aircraft flying over Sheffield at a safe height, realised this was something different and ran for cover as described to me two years ago by a then 79 year old witness. In his words, “The aircraft must have seen us because it put on full power, making a terrific racket, and pulled it’s nose up to the near vertical(?) - presumably to avoid us kids, the café and the hill. It then slid back down spinning three times as it fell crashing into the trees behind the café.” There were no survivors.1st Lt. John Glennon Kriegshauser, 1st.Pilot and Captain was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross Medal. All the crew were awarded the Air Force Medal and of course the Purple Heart.
    I, just turned four, only saw the aftermath – a huge pall of smoke stretching into what I thought was blue sky.” But by then the cloud probably had cleared as thousands of homes lit their war time allocation of ‘evening’ winter coal in their open fireplaces thus raising the temperature sufficiently to clear the cloud and produce a twilight blue sky.”

    It is reported that the lead aircraft of this diversionary raid carried the ‘Blind Bombing Aid’ known as H2X in the American version of the British H2S. It used a 3 cm wavelength and the story of its development is explained in the following Annexes.
    Squadron Leader Richard Barry Darwin Royal Air Force (Rtd.) aged just 4 when living one mile away from the crash 22 Feb 1944.

    1. Wow, many thanks for the detailed comment. I appreciate you educating me with new ways to see the event and the park we visit frequently.

  2. Courage Above The Clouds: The heroes of Endcliffe Park B-17 'Mi-Amigo' is my facebook page relating to the crash of mi-Amigo...I think you will find it of interest....

    1. Thanks for the comment. I'll have to check out your book. I'm sure I can find a copy here in Sheffield!