467th Bombardment Group (H)
Official Web Site
Lt Stalie Reid Crew Memorial

The events of late evening of 22nd April 44 are engraved on many who were at Rackheath as the Groups B-24's returned in the darkness from the mission to Hamm, Germany. German intruder aircraft had followed the 2nd Air Division formations home and caused havoc and pandemonium as the different Groups entered the various local landing patterns. One German aircraft strafed B-24's moving on the ground, at the same time dropping a bomb over the base. A member of Capt. Al Touchette's 1229th QMC was killed outright by the bomb (Private Daniel Miney), while returning crews still airborne were in complete confusion in the crowded night sky over East Anglia.

Returning from their third mission was the Lt. Stalie Reid crew of the 791st Squadron. They had peeled off from the formation crossing the English coast and were down to a 1000 feet well south of Rackheath over the Waveney Valley in Suffolk. Without warning, the ship was attacked by one (possibly two) German Me410's. Cannon shells struck the B-24 setting both starboard engines ablaze and causing oxygen bottles in the fuselage to explode. The ship descended into a spin and crashed in a field adjacent to the Old School House at Barsham. With such force did it strike the ground, the tail unit broke off and was flung 150 yards, landing close to a house occupied by an elderly couple. The wreck was totally destroyed. Before Lt. Reid's aircraft had hit the ground, four gunners did manage to bale out. Sadly Sgt. Hoke became detached from his chute and his body was later found at the village of Ringsfield. The three survivors who had landed by parachute all suffered facial burns and were treated by a local woman before being picked up. Along with pilot Lt. Stalie Reid, five other crew were killed in the ensuing crash that dark evening (Louis Alier, Sylvio Dery, James Ferguson, Walter Kovalenko and Waren Mason).

One witness to the dramatic events of that night was Denis Sporle who lived very near to the Schoolhouse. As a boy of 11, the loud explosion and smoldering wreckage left a lasting impression, it has long been his ambition to see a permanent memorial to the American airmen who subsequently lost their lives in the crash. For years, Denis Sporle has made a personal gesture of remembrance by placing flowers on the roadside verge at the scene of the crash. On Remembrance Sunday, the names of the perished crew were read out at Holy Trinity Church in Barsham along with those from the parish who lost their lives during the two world wars. Denis Sporle is a church warden at Holy Trinity, Barsham. As the 54th anniversary of the crash approached, Denis had drawn up plans for a suitably inscribed brick monument to be erected in a small garden area adjacent to the Schoolhouse. Following a successful fund raising drive, the Memorial was dedicated on the 55th anniversary of the event and marked by the very special attendance of Mr. Mervin Shank, sole surviving member of the Lt. Stalie Reid crew.