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.


10 responses to “Aircrash at Brown Edge”

  1. Eric Capewell.

    On the afternoon of Aug 15th 1944,myself and pals from Norton in the Moors were watching a match at Knypersley cricket ground Biddulph. At the southern end there was a coppice of tall trees.Suddenly a Lancaster Bomber, at very low alttude flew down th pitch. The plane flying N-S went through the tops of the Trees,branches were ripped off. One engine started to smoke.The Plane veered to the East, towards Endon and Leek. On the next day news came that the bomber had crash landed in a field behind Brown Edge.I went on a search, found the site but it was cordoned off.However I found a crumpled piece aluminium,one side painted yellow , outside the crash site My souvenir ! I retained this despite house moves over the Years. What a Blessing all of the crew survived.

    Very old Nortonian.!!

  2. Hello-
    My name is Ralph H. Sandmeyer III. My grandfather was the radio operator on the B24 that crashed in Brown Edge. It has always been my desire to visit Brown Edge. I’d be happy to share some of my grandfather’s military photos if you’d like to add them to your page.

    Ralph Sandmeyer

    1. Hi Ralph
      There are not so many people left on the village that can remember the crash now! but I managed to get someone who was actally in the field when the plane came down to tell me about it before she passed away. My Dad told me about it first of course when I was a boy he said it circled Brown Edge and dumped fuel because he got on his bike when he saw it in trouble but that doesnt fit in with official records. After it had landed it was on fire and one villager who had been in the first war attempted to get inside because he thought people were still inside and his hair and clothes set on fire. Most people knew that a lady was on board as well and my etewitness said when everyone jumped out of the plane she clearly remembers the lady stopping and brushing her hair! The others shouted at her to get behind the wall.
      Any information you have would be gratefully appreciated.
      It’s good to remember this little bit of piece of history. Its only a miniscule part of what was a massive undertaking by the allies but each part was an element of the overall victory.

  3. Tim Turner

    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…


    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.

  5. joe sheldon

    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.

  6. Kevin Joplin

    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.

  7. trevor hewitt


  8. 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

  9. Geoff Burgess

    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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