Aircrash at Brown Edge

The information contained on this page is kindly donated by Alan Clarke  a researcher into aircrash sites.

B-24H Liberator 42-52625 of the 406th Bombardment Squadron crashed at Brown Edge between Stoke-on-Trent and Leek on the 15th August 1944 while being ferried from Warton to Cheddington following modification for night leaflet dropping operations.


Crew / Passengers Rank – If Applicable Position e.g. Pilot Status
Tommie F. Leftwich 2nd Lieutenant Pilot OK
John A. Majdick 2nd Lieutenant Co-pilot OK
Woodrow Klauber 2nd Lieutenant Navigator Injured
Ralph H. Sandmeyer Sergeant Radio Operator Injured
David P. Christie Sergeant Flight Engineer Injured
Grace M. Sharkey Corporal Passenger OK

After take off from Warton the crew could not raise the aircraft’s undercarriage, while attempting to resolve this problem the aircraft stated to bank to the left and lose height, the pilot stated that he assumed to two problems to be associated and when he recovered the aircraft to level flight headed back to Warton.  Shortly before landing the flight engineer reported he had resolved the undercarriage trouble and the gear was raised so the crew set course for Cheddington, after the undercarriage had been raised the pilot noticed that the aircraft was still drifting to the left.  Some time later the aircraft was seen circling over the Biddulph area at low level and shortly afterwards lost height and struck a tree causing the number 3 engine to burst into flames, the aircraft crashed into a field not far away where it slewed though 180 degrees.

A general over view from the accident report showing the largely burned out B-24. The tail section and outer wing section are the only recognisable aircraft parts in this photograph.42-52625-1

Source: Mike Stowe

The only large section of the aircraft that survived the fire was the empennage and rear turret, with the remains of the two tail planes still attached. It has been suggested that this section of the aircraft was removed by a tree at the far end of the field in which the aircraft crashed, but this piece can be seen clearly in the first photo.


Source: Mike Stowe

Below are two then and now shots, both are slightly out of alignment but are close enough for comparison.

42-52625-nt2 42-52625-nt1

If you have any memories of this incident then please comment below.

  7 comments for “Aircrash at Brown Edge

  1. Tim Turner
    April 10, 2018 at 8:50 pm

    I remember that in the late 50’s early 60’s, we ended up on what a friend told me was the crash site. I was skeptical but we found bits of leather/fabric in the angle between two big branches of a nearby tree – so I was convinced! Happy days…

    January 18, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    i remember the crash very well ilived at the top of willfield lane and ran over the fields to the crash site when i arrived tthe crew were walking away from the plane i remember the lady crew member combing her hair as she walked away and thinking that was cool.

  3. joe sheldon
    June 28, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    As teenagers in the early seventies I recall my best friend and I were told of the crash site and the fact that the aircraft burned on the ground. Both our parents remembered it as they had lived in the area a long time. My friend and I searched high and low for some sort of evidence in the area but found nothing significant except for evidence of molten alluminium over some of the stones in a field boundary wall. These were situated about one hundred metres from Broad Lane in the wall to the left of the foot path.

  4. Kevin Joplin
    June 1, 2013 at 6:15 am

    My father, Jim Joplin was a belly gunner with the Leftwich crew. The other gunners Lewis Bidle, John Yesso and Rexford Merritt and the bombardier Carl Holtz were not required on this non-combat flight. My dad recalls Sandmeyer and Christie suffered burns, but soon after returned to the Lefwich crew. Klauber broke his leg and did not return to the crew. Grace Sharkey was a link trainer at the Cheddington air base. 406th CO Lt. Col. Earle Aber commented that they were all lucky to have survived.

  5. trevor hewitt
    February 28, 2013 at 4:29 am


  6. February 6, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Hi Mike
    I remember my parents telling me the story of the plane crash during the war. They said it came down near Henridding Wood just off Broad Lane.

    I remember as a kid (7 – 11) going with mates looking for it, never found any evidence though.
    John Pointon

  7. Geoff Burgess
    December 23, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    I rememeber this, we playing in the field at the back of the Holly Bush when it came over the top of the houses, we all ran as fast as we could to see it, and that night half the village nicked lots of the aircraft, perspect winds went, we were making rings out it for months.
    Geoff Burgess

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