Thursday, April 21, 2011

ATA Air Crash at St Bees (27 March 1941)

(Top): Photograph from "Tomlin", St Bees (2011)
[View looking south]
(Middle): Photograph of South Head, St Bees (2011)
(Bottom): Photograph of South Head, St Bees (c.1938)
[Looking north towards "Tomlin" & St Bees Head]

On 27 March 1941 there was an air crash at "Tomlin" near St Bees Head, Cumberland (now Cumbria). Unfortunately, the American pilot, First Officer George Washington Holcomb, A.T.A was killed. The photographs above show the crash site area.

For additional information click on 'Comments' below


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information

The photographs seen above show the WW2 crash site at "Tomlin Point", St Bees, Cumberland (now Cumbria). It occurred on 27 March 1941. The aircraft was a M Master Mk I T8822 1 FPS and was being flown by an American Air Transport Auxiliary pilot: First Officer George Washington Holcomb. He died as a result of the crash. The aircraft was burnt out and the wreckage removed by a salvage unit.

First Officer Holcomb was subsequently interred in the nearby Whitehaven Cemetery. A separate article has been written about the burial of F/O George W. Holcomb and posted to this website.

The South Head of St Bees (seen in the middle and bottom photographs above) is locally known as "Tomlin" and this is where First Officer's plane crashed. As can be seen from the three photographs the headland rises steeply from sea level to the summit of Tomlin at about 110 metres (360 feet).

On fine days from Tomlin Point it is possible to see the Lakeland fells, including Scafell and Scafell Pike, much of the West Cumbrian coast, the Solway Firth, Galloway (Scotland) and the Isle of Man. On other days, such as when there is a sea mist or thick fog, visibility can be down to a few metres. For this reason, on St Bees Head, a little to the north of Tomlin Point, is St Bees lighthouse warning seafarers of the dangers of the rocky headland. On a day of low cloud, sea mist and poor visibility it is relatively easy to envisage a contributory cause of an aircraft crashing at Tomlin point.

In 1938 (the year it is believed the black and white photograph seen above was taken) it was perceived that there was an increasing likelihood of war with Germany. "Tomlin" was identified as an ideal location to look out over a wide panorama of land and sea. Consequently, in the same year a coastguard look-out station was built immediately above the cliffs and close to the highest point. It was built mainly of Whitehaven bricks at an altitude of 80 metres (262 feet). During the war the "Tomlin" coastguard look-out was permanently manned and so there would have been someone at the crash site almost immediately. As it is understood the aircraft burst into flames immediately after crashing there would have been no chance to rescue F/O Holcomb.

After the war the look-out station has been largely dismantled, although there are still recognisable elements that can be seen. In recent times three panoramic view panels have been installed to assist any passers-by in identifying what can be seen. However, there is nothing to be seen in the vicinity tomark the actual crash site of T8822 which crashed here at the end of March 1941.

Monday, 25 April, 2011  

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