On this Memorial Day, there are many ways to remember the servicemen who died in combat. One of the most unique memorials is found in northern New Hampshire – the site on Mount Waternomee of a B-18 Bomber that Crashed in New Hampshire.
Woodstock, New Hampshire was hardly the scene of combat missions in World War II, but it nevertheless is the site of two war-time casualties.
Raymond Lawrence of Worcester, Massachusetts and Noah Phillipps of Fayetteville, Arkansas died there while on a mission on January 14, 1942. The two men were part of the crew of a B-18 that was assigned to patrol the coast of New England. In those days, German U-boats would surface off the coast to harass ships delivering goods or supplies, sinking them when they got a chance.
On this frigid winter patrol, a blizzard set in. The plane was enveloped by the storm and the pilot and crew lost their bearings. A brief break in the cloud cover revealed the lights of a city below. Thinking they were flying over Providence, Rhode Island, the men set a course for Westover Field in Massachusetts.
Unfortunately, the city they had glimpsed below was not Providence. Instead, it was Concord, New Hampshire. The storm had pushed the aircraft much farther off course than the crew realized, and the course they set would take the toward New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Dropping in altitude in hopes of seeing the air field only made matters worse.
The plane hit trouble in Woodstock when it began clipping the tops of trees. It wasn’t long before it crashed in a fiery blast. A series of additional explosions as bombs and/or fuel caught fire captured the attention of the townspeople in Woodstock and they launched a rescue effort immediately.
Several hours of trudging through the snow into the wilderness and the townspeople encountered the first of the survivors. In all, the local residents extricated four men from the snowy woods, all with significant injuries. Lawrence and Phillipps, however, were killed in the crash.
The site of this crash is preserved to this day, in the woods of Woodstock, and hikers often visit it to pause and silently reflect over the engine and fuselage wreckage that remain lodged in the woods.