• American plane crash above Port St Mary 14th April 1945

    About the Author

    Peter Vernon is a board member of the Rushen Parish Commissioners.

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    June 15th, 2012 by Peter Vernon in Events

    In this publication you will find an account of what happened on the day of the crash by an eyewitness, a thank you from relatives and some photos of the placing of the memorial stone on 14th April 2012

    Then & Now

    14 April 2012 here on the Isle of Man there were blue skies and sunshine but it was cold.

    14th April 1945 was very different. There was a thick mist hanging around Port St Mary and it was damp.

    On both dates it was a Saturday. I remember it well because I was a schoolboy and I was off school. Nelson and I were playing snooker in the British Legion Hall in Port St Mary.

    It is not a day that I shall ever forget.

    Suddenly, there was a very loud noise of aircraft engines and they were uncomfortably close. We ran outside and almost immediately heard a terrible bang.

    Boys being boys, we had to know and see what had happened. We started cycling in the general direction of the hills until we could see the flames from the crashed aeroplane. It was wartime and the plane had ammunition on board; this was exploding from the heat. We realised what was happening and fortunately for us the local policeman arrived on the scene and told us to go back to Port St Mary. We did just that, keeping our heads well below the tops of the stone walls to avoid exploding bullets.

    There is now a feeling of closure about the whole dreadful incident after 62 years. We have certainly not forgotten what happened and this was made very clear when we saw the large number of local people and some from much further away.

    Rushen Commissioners had arranged for a suitable plaque to be erected at the site of the crash; the pilot’s sister was there together with other relatives; a local minister conducted a short service.

    Appropriately, the Deputy Air Attaché from the US Embassy represented the USA and laid a wreath.

    I always think of that time when I am walking in that area; there is an eerie sensation at that spot.

    As a schoolboy I was still very aware that as I left the Legion Hall the plane and its crew were just a few feet above my head.

    Seconds later they were all dead

    Only a few weeks before the end of the war.

    Letter of thanks from relatives:

    As one of the few remaining relatives of Collins Liersch, co-pilot of
    Combined Operations when it crashed on your lovely isle, I wanted to
    formally thank the Parish for their most kind gesture of establishing
    a memorial to the flight.     While I have sent a formal letter of
    thanks via post in your name to at the address shown above, I’ve also
    attached an electronic copy of my letter to share with you and the other
    commissioners in case I’ve mislabeled the postal letter.

    Many thanks from Collins’ family to the people of the Isle of Man.

    Mike Schleich