New Hampshire

The World War II Bomber That Crashed In New Hampshire

A B-18 bomber that crashed in New Hampshire today serves as one of New England’s most unique memorials to those who died in World War II.

B-18 Bomber

B-18, similar to the bomber that crashed in New Hampshire.

Woodstock, N.H., was hardly the scene of combat missions in World War II, but it nevertheless is the site of two wartime casualties.

Raymond Lawrence of Worcester, Mass., and Noah Phillipps of Fayetteville, Ark., died there while on a mission on January 14, 1942.

U-Boats

The two men belonged to the crew of a B-18 assigned to patrol the coast of New England. In those days, German U-boats were harassing merchant ships, sinking them with abandon.

The U.S. military lost many of its B-18s in the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The remaining planes didn’t have enough power or defense armament to go on combat missions. So instead they transported soldiers, trained pilots and patrolled the coast for U-boats.

On this frigid winter patrol, a blizzard set in. The storm enveloped the plane 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, R.I., the men set a course for Westover Field in Massachusetts.

Unfortunately, they had not glimpsed  Providence below, but Concord, N.H. The storm had pushed the aircraft much farther off course than the crew realized, and the course they set would take them toward New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Dropping in altitude in hopes of seeing the air field only made matters worse.

The Bomber That Crashed in New Hampshire

The plane hit trouble in Woodstock when it began clipping the tops of trees. In a matter of moments 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.

lost-river

The Lost River in the woods of Woodstock, N.H.

After several hours of trudging through the snow into the wilderness, 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, perished in the crash.

The site of this crash is preserved to this day, in the woods of Woodstock. Hikers often visit it to pause and silently reflect over the engine and fuselage wreckage that remain lodged among the trees.

For directions to visit the crash site, visit here. To see a video of hikers visiting the site, visit here.

This story about the bomber that crashed in New Hampshire was updated in 2020. If you enjoyed this story, you may also want to read about Maine’s two worst plane crashes, which happened on the same day in World War II, here

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