Family and islanders to remember WW2 plane crash

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Calum Maclean

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Wreckage is still visible at the site of the fatal plane crash in 1945

A 75th commemoration is to be held to remember nine US airmen killed in a crash on Skye during World War Two.

Fresh from training, the crew were flying a B-17G Flying Fortress bomber from the US via Iceland to RAF Valley in Wales.

The aircraft clipped cliffs and crashed in Trotternish on 3 March 1945.

Relatives of Second Lt Paul Overfield Jnr will be among those gathering at a war memorial in Skye which carries the names of the nine men.

The 21-year-old pilot along with co-pilot Second Lt Leroy E Cagle, navigator Second Lt Charles K Jeanblanc, radio operator Cpl Arthur W Kopp Jr, engineer Cpl Harold D Blue and gunners Cpl John H Vaughan, Cpl Harold A Fahselt, Cpl George S Aldrich and Cpl Carter D Wilkinson died in the crash.

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In foggy weather, the bomber crashed on Beinn Edra, the highest point on the Trotternish Ridge in Staffin.

Islanders who tried to go to their aid found the men’s personal belongings among the wreckage, including fishing rods and bicycles.

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Paul Overfield Jnr family

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Second Lt Paul Overfield Jnr was among the nine crew

Parts of the wreckage are still visible on the ridge.

The names of the airmen were added to Staffin War Memorial five years ago to mark 70 years since the crash.

Second Lt Overfield’s sister Betty Foote, who is now in her late 80s and living in Florida, is not well enough to attend Tuesday’s 75th commemoration but other members of her family are expected at the event.

Recalling her older brother, she said: “During high school he and his friends collected scrap iron on Saturdays for the cause (war effort).

“I was 13-years-old and in 8th Grade when Paul was killed. The minister came to the school and took us home.”

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Getty Images

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The crew had flown a Flying Fortress from the US

Former Army chaplain, the Rev Rory MacLeod, will lead the commemoration which takes place at 11:15 at Staffin War Memorial.

Relatives and islanders will later gather at community building, the Columba 1400 Centre, and family have an opportunity to visit Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre in Portree.

The commemoration has been organised by Staffin Community Trust, supported by Staffin Community Council.

BBC News

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