Poem tells of disaster

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A man from Freckleton has had a poem published telling the story of when an American B-24 Liberator bomber crashed into the centre of the village during a storm

Dave Carr, who works in the Oxide Business Unit at the Sprin nuclear fuel manufacturing plant, near Preston, has personal connections to the tragedy.

He said: ““My grandparents’ younger son, David, was among the dead.

“He was just six years old.”

Dave’s poem, ‘The Freckleton Air Disaster’ makes up part of a new book about the disaster on August 23 1944 - ‘The Freckelton, England, Air Disaster’ - written by history professor James R Hedtke, from Pennsylvania.

Dave, who is named after the little boy who died in the accident, said: “My poem tells of the disaster, but in particular from my grandparents’ viewpoint as they lost their son David.

“The irony was that my granddad, Jim, worked on convoys and was always in danger himself.”

The plane demolished Holy Trinity School, three houses and the Sad Sack Snack Bar, which catered for US servicemen, killing 61 people including 38 schoolchildren.

The Freckleton Air Disaster

In mid Forty Four came the turn of the war;

Our troops had advanced up the Seine,

And Hitler withdrew as the allies pushed through,

Growing strong since the D-Day campaign.

Jim thought of his boys as he worked the convoys

And patrols in the mine ridden sea.

Not sure if or when, he would see them again,

Back at home where he longed to be.

In a town on the Fylde, Agnes finally smiled

As she heard that her Jim would return.

After months without news of the ships and their crews

Things had finally taken a turn.

On the twenty third of August they heard

That Paris was soon to be freed.

The day started bright for a U.S. test flight

And the two planes came up to speed.

The Lancashire base was warned of the pace

Of a storm moving up from the south.

From all the reports, they’d agreed to abort

As they searched out the dark Ribble mouth.

They heard one airman say that they must turn away

As suddenly day turned to night,

For the other plane’s crew it was too late, they knew,

As the storm clouds shut out the light.

From out of the black came an ungodly crack

As a fireball of lightning struck.

The huge burning plane roared on down through the rain

‘Till the wing hit a tree and broke up

The Sad Sack Café was just carried away

As the great metal carcase swept past.

Further over the road it was seen to explode

As the school took the brunt of the blast.

The wreckage became a huge ocean of flame

As rescuers battled the blaze.

With increasing dread they recovered the dead

In a mission that lasted for days.

Of the children inside, some thirty eight died

And the grim news seeped out through the nation.

The stunned disbelief soon dissolved into grief

As they mourned for a lost generation.

So poor Jim returned, as soon as he learned

That his young son had died in the school.

He had lived with the threat to his own life and yet

The direction of fate can be cruel.

Can you close your eyes tight and imagine the sight,

Tiny coffins laid row after row?

Can you see parents left standing torn and bereft?

Can you feel the tears start to flow?

There were many who tried to understand why,

And questioned their faith every day.

And some would hear screams evermore in their dreams

As Freckleton’s nightmare replayed.

Now a place to reflect and pay their respects

Marks the grave where the victims all lay.

A memorial cross tells the world of their loss

When the dark angel passed by that day.