B-24 Liberator KG857

Hill of Wirren, Edzell, Angus













Aircraft Type Photo


BELOW: B-24 'Diamond Lil' in flight. The RAF GR-V Liberator featured on this page was a variant of the USAAF B-24 shown here.


B-24 Diamond Lil in flight


Photo : [no date] US Federal Government photo released to the public domain.






Aircraft Type and Background


RAF Consolidated B-24 GR.VI Liberator / KG857



Aircraft Type Designation: B-24 (Heavy Bomber)


Aircraft Type Nickname: Lib; Lumbering Lib; Flying Boxcar, and others.



The Consolidated B-24 heavy bomber first flew in 1939. The prototypes were equipped with four Pratt & Whitney 1200hp R-1830-33 Twin Wasp engines. (Photo).


Early production versions were fitted with P&W 1200hp R-1830-41 engines with GE turbo superchargers. Later production versions (B-24Ds) were fitted with P&W R-1830-43 engines. Later variants followed. Their maximum speed was about 487km/h (303mph).

The B-24 was fitted with 11 machine guns and had a bomb carrying capacity of about 3,629kgs (8,000lbs); and, with modifications, had a range of about 4600km (2,858 miles).

Although overshadowed by the B-17 (Flying Fortresses), the B-24 was produced in greater numbers than any other aircraft in history (in excess of 18,000 aircraft).



BELOW: Another variant of this aircraft; this time showing a USAAF B-24H Liberator.


a us b-24h liberator in flight


Photo: Courtesy of the National Museum of the US Air Force






Aircraft Accident Details


B-24 Liberator KG857 departed RAF Leuchars on a night anti-submarine patrol over the North Sea. The area to which the aircraft was heading was known for frequent U-Boat incursions. These wolf packs assembled in this area in preparation for attacks on the Arctic convoys as they headed to and from Russia with essential supplies.


However, due to an undetected faulty compass setting, Liberator KG857 began to fly overland toward the high ground of Northern Scotland, instead of over the sea as had been planned. Darkness and heavy cloud prevented the pilot from seeing that he was heading toward the Grampian / Cairngorm Mountains in the proximity of Braemar.


The Liberator, however, was never to reach this far north. As the aircraft continued on its course, it struck Hill of Wirren on the Braes of Angus at about 21:25 hours and erupted in flames. Seven crew members died in this incident. The remaining four survived.


The crash and fire had been heard and seen by farmers and other workers on lower ground. These individuals immediately alerted the emergency services.


 The Fire Service tender from Brechin proceeded as close as possible to the crash site. Other rescuers, including police and ambulance personnel, also proceeded to the scene.


The survivors from the B-24 crash were taken by ambulance to Stracathro Hospital near Brechin in Angus.






Aircraft Crew Casualties / Survivors


Those who died in this incident were:

  • F/O James Robert Menzies, (22), Pilot, RCAF (547 RAF Sqn.).
    (Buried, Section 2, Class C, Grave 23, Montrose (Sleepyhillock) Cemetery, Angus.)

  • Sgt Arthur John Langdon Lee (30), Flt. Engr., RAFVR.
    (Buried, Row OO, Grave 25, Kettering (London Road) Cemetery, Northamptonshire.)

  • Sgt John George Lee (21), Navigator, RAFVR.
    (Buried, Section C, R.C. Plot, Grave 18522, Plymouth (Weston Mill) Cemetery, Devon.)

  • F/O David Nicholas Edwards (21), Navigator, RAFVR.
    (Buried, Section 2, Class C, Grave 22, Montrose (Sleepyhillock) Cemetery, Angus.)

  • Flt Sgt Robert Muir McGregor (27), W/Op. Mech., Air Gnr. RAF.
    (Buried, Section C, Grave 198, Carnmoney Cemetery East, Co. Antrim, N. Ireland.)

  • Sgt Ronald Claxton Daynes (23), W/Op. Air Gnr. RAFVR.
    (Buried, Section E.6, Grave 155, Pinner Cemetery, Middlesex.)

  • Sgt Cyril Edward Townshend (21),  W/Op. Air Gnr. RAFVR.
    (Buried, Section 17, Grave 5960, Surbiton Cemetery, Surrey.)

(Please click on the hyperlinked names above for further details at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's website.)




Those who survived (with injuries) were:

Flt Lt Harold R Ellis.

P/O H C  Wheeler.

Sgt Gordon Berryman, Nose Gnr.

Sgt W.Jack Murray, Rear Gnr., RCAF.





Crash Site Photos 


BELOW: James Mackenzie standing beside the main wreckage from RAF B-24 Liberator KG857 on Hill of Wirren, Angus.


main wreckage from raf b-24 liberator kg857


Photo: © Colin Mackenzie | Mackz.net



BELOW: Aluminium panels from the B-24 Liberator that crashed on Hill of Wirren in 1944.


aluminium panels from the b-24 liberator on hill of wirren


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: Part of the airframe wreckage.


part of the airframe wreckage


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: A detached section of wreckage with bracing spars lies partly camouflaged among the rocks.


detached section with bracing spars


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel












BELOW: The main remaining wreckage from the B-24 Liberator.


This wreckage lies not far from the farm track access gate, which may be seen at the top left-hand corner of the photo.


another view of the main wreckage


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: Another view of the wreckage, showing evidence of fire damage.


another view of the wreckage, showing evidence of fire damage


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: A closer view of part of the box-braced airframe.


a closer view of the box-braced airframe


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel



















Crash Date / Site



Accident Date: 17 Oct 1944


Accident Site:

Hill of Wirren (678m)


Nearest road: B966 from Edzell. (Then, N by unclassified roads and tracks leading toward Glen Esk; OR, NW by unclassified roads leading toward Glen Lethnot.)


Region: Angus.


Nearest towns or villages:

Edzell (S) or Brechin (S).


Nearest large towns:

Stonehaven (E) or Montrose (SE).


OS Grid Ref. (44) 521 733.


GPS Ref: N/A


Present Condition: Some wreckage remains at the crash site.



Air crash sites in this vicinity:


1) RAF Consolidated Liberator KG857, Hill of Wirren.
(The aircraft on this page.)


2) RAF Bristol Beaufort AW242, Hill of Wirren.


3) RAF Bristol Beaufighter EL335, Hill of Wirren.


4) RAF Hawker Hurricane AF978, Hill of Wirren.


5) RN Fairey Swordfish L9785, Hill of Wirren.


6) RN Hawker Sea Fury VW590, Hill of Wirren.




Aircraft Details



Registration or Serial: KG857


Operator: RAF (547 Squadron, Coastal Command.)


Operating Station: RAF Leuchars.


Station Location: Leuchars (9.5km / 6 miles from St Andrews), Fife, Scotland.


Current Station Status:

RAF operations will cease in 2013. The station will then be taken over by the army.


Current Station Name (Until Closure): RAF Leuchars





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