The "Lil Edie" B.17 Flying Fortress which came down - "in trouble" - near Darsham Station on 6th February 1945
At 8,10am on 6th February 1945 a heavy bomber from the U.S. 8th Air Force crashed into a field just north of Darsham railway station, oposite Darsham Garage. The early hour was lucky as children had not yet left for school.
The plane was named "Lil Edie" and had a crew of nine from the 490th Bomb Group, 851st Bomb Squadron, and had taken off from Broome airfield, Eye. They were on route to bomb the Bohlen-Rotha, Synthetic Oil Refineries, deep in Germany when one engine caught fire.
The bombs were dumped and the crew fired the machine guns to warn people in the area before they all parachuted to safety.
The most accurate account of the event is likely to be from a Police report submitted to his Supt the following day by Pc 127 William Martin. A copy of this is produced below.
The report by the Police was factual, however the newspapers were a bit more dramatic.
FROM AN UNKNOWN NEWPAPER REPORT.
FLYING FORTRESS DITCHES TO NORTH OF DARSHAM RAILWAY STATION
6th Feb 1945
VILLAGE WARNED "BOMBS COMING"
When a Flying Fortress loaded with bombs got into difficulties over a Suffolk village on its way to bomb Germany yesterday, the machine guns were fired to warn people to take cover.
Then the bombs were dropped - most of them falling in one field and causing casualties only to three pigs and a pony.
The crew baled out, and a few moments later the bomber crashed in a field next to a railway station and burst into flames.
Two of the bombs which fell into the road and made large craters blew sixty-nine-year—old James Leveret, a roadman, off his bicycle.
When he recovered from the shock he unstrapped his shovel from the cycle and started to fill in the craters. His trousers were cut by shrapnel but he was not scratched. A train had only just left the station when the bombs went off. Children from the village in the train on their way to school saw their houses enveloped in smoke as the bombs exploded. Then the burning plane crashed.
The children got out at the next station and walked back home, to find that the damage only consisted of broken windows and shattered roofs.
One member of the crew fell on the railway line in front of the oncoming train. He released himself from the parachute and just managed to scramble to safety.
FROM EAST ANGLIAN DAILY TIMES. 7TH FEBRUARY. 1945. (REPEATED IN IPSWICH EVENING STAR ON THE SAME DAY).
BALED OUT FROM BLAZING 'FORT. PLANE ZIG-ZAGGED BETWEEN PARACHUTES.
When nine U.S. airmen bailed out of their blazing flying fortress after it had exploded over an English village yesterday, the flaming wreckage zig-zagged through the field of parachutes barely missing the airmen. Bullets from the 50 calibre gun belts sprayed them. The 'Fort's bomb load, more than 5000Ib, tore down between the descending men. Below them sped a train. Yet all nine parachuted to safety without a scratch and the burning wreckage and the bombs, which struck sheds around a railway station, did not injure a civilian.
BOMBS FELL ON SUFFOLK FIELDS.
All the bombs, it was learned later, felI into fields at a Suffolk village between the main London to Gt. Yarmouth Road and the railway. The road was crowded with traffic and children going to school but the only casualty was a horse, whose hind leg was broken.
A seventy year old roadman was blown off his bicycle by blast and two houses were badly damaged.
Below are some pictures of the wreckage.