Glen Chass Dig

The first dig of 2003 was held on Sunday 10th February at Glen Chass, overlooking Port St Mary. The aircraft in question was B17G 42-37840 otherwise known as "Combined Operations" The aircraft had been made up from two different sections hence it’s nickname. It crashed at Glen Chass on April 14th 1945, killing all 11 crew and passengers on board, when it struck the hillside in poor visibility and burst into flames. The full story can be found in Steve Poole’s excellent book "Rough landing or Fatal Flight" (available from the museum shop.)

After meeting up at John Qualtrough’s home in Port St Mary at around 9.30, we headed off in a small convoy to find a suitable parking place near the site. After being quizzed by one of the "locals" regarding parking in the turning point, we made our way up the steep track to the crash site and scanning was commenced.

Our group totalled around a dozen, which made digging a far easier job, it was definitely a case of "many hands making light work!" The weather was cold with a light wind blowing but after 5 minutes digging nobody seemed to notice.

This site has been covered by other people in the past, some illegally, producing some very poignant items including a watch, cap badge and named metal wings. It was not long before readings were being made around the impact areas where the engines had struck the ground and a number of small items were unearthed.

It was decided to try along the hedge/wall where the tail section had come to rest, and it was here that a number of spent 50 calibre ammunition shell cases were found plus a quantity of items which may have been buried there shortly after the crash. During the dig, a piece of live and intact 50 calibre round was unearthed. Due the fact that a firearms licence is required to own live ammunition, it was subsequently handed in at police headquarters the next day. If any members do have any live ammunition, please hand it in to your nearest local Police station.

Unfortunately the bad weather that was predicted for 12 o’clock arrived about an hour early and a halt was called to the proceedings.

We have only started to find items on this site, so another dig will be held in the near future, so what this space!

Ivor Ramsden has been busy cleaning and identifying the items that were unearthed. He has managed to identify the following items:-

  • Engine push rod and cover tube
  • Parts of engine front casing
  • Gauge mechanism from portable oxygen bottle
  • Instrument mechanisms
  • Crew’s oxygen supply pipe with rubber end
  • Parachute parts
  • Bulb holder from cockpit lamp
  • Ball turret fragments
  • Electric motors
  • Perspex and window glass

Other parts from previous digs have recently been identified:-

  • Ball turret gunner’s right heel rest
  • Ball turret framing
  • Oxygen supply gauge
  • Engine valve rocker
  • Engine front casing parts
  • Bomb door-opening linkage
  • Bracelet made from pilot’s metal wings with chain attached, engraved with the name and number of the Co-pilot, Collins Liersch

Thanks to all who managed to get along to Glen Chass and I look forward in seeing other members at the next dig.

Barry Quilliam.