Higher Shelf Moor Crash Site

On 3rd November 1948 Superfortress RB29 (F-13A) 44-61999 "Over Exposed" of the 16th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron of the USAF took off from RAF Scampton Lincolnshire on a routine flight to USAF base at Burtonwood,Cheshire. It never made it. About 20 minutes into the flight it crashed on the high moors above Glossop Derbyshire killing all 13 members of the crew.
 

17 years ago Geoff and I visited the site of the crash and were impressed by the scale of devastation still evident. There was a considerable amount of debris strewn along a shallow gully below the summit of Shelf Moor. On that day we had previously made inquiries at the Tourist Information in Glossop. "We're looking for the site of a plane crash," Geoff explained to the gentleman on duty. "Which one," replied the gentleman on duty, "there are 57!" It turned out that the gentleman on duty was something of an expert and when Geoff gave him a few details he was able to pin point precisely the scene of the crash on the OS map. A few hours later in dense mist Geoff and I located the site just north east of the trig point.

 

In 2011 Geoff and I returned to the site in clearer visibility with our friends Jim, Chris and Madeleine. On one part of the walk Chris told me about an article he had read about "Dark Tourism" and I suppose we wondered whether or not we were engaged in a form of it. Dark Tourism accounts for the popularity of places which have stained history in some way - the futile sacrifice on World War One battlefields, the death camps of world war two particularly Auschwitz, Hiroshima and Nagasaki and more recently Ground Zero, New York. In our secular age these sites seem to fulfil a need in a similar way as places of pilgrimage do for the religious. They give us pause for thought.

A few weeks ago the Norwest Fellwalking Club has an outing to Glossop. As leader of one of the guided parties I worked out a route that would take us to the site. As we set out from Torside Reservoir on the Pennine Way we were exposed to a fierce wind so unpleasant that it was arranged for some members of the group to take a low level route to Glossop. David, Joe, Alan, Tom and I pushed on to the top.
 

A few hours later we located the scene of the crash.

 

We spent about 20 minutes at the site in a sombre mood contemplating what happened there almost 68 years.

 

Thinking about catastrophe and sudden death takes away the right to complain about trivial concerns.

 

Perhaps this is the appeal of "Dark Tourism" - the need to confront the horrors of war, terrorism and totalitarianism to remind us to be grateful for all that we have in our own lives. Pause for thought.

Location of Super fortress "Overexposed" is 200yds north east of the trig point at Higher Shelf Stones at this grid reference SK09040 94896 (memorial stone).

 

This is approximately 600yds from the Pennine Way to the east. Readers are recommended to check out http://aircrashsites.co.uk/superfortress-44-6199-over-exposed-2 for a detailed description of the route. Given that there is a considerable amount of wreckage still to be seen the site is well hidden by peat hags surrounding the gully. Even in clear weather it is not easy to locate.

 

The best approach to the site is from the south parking on the layby at the top of Snake Pass A57 between Glossop and Ladybower Reservoir.

Distance: 4 miles there and back.
 

Time: Allow 2 hours

Grade: Easy.

 

 Map by kind permission of Johnston Press

Directions: Heading north on the Pennine Way follow it for 1½ miles as it skirts the higher ground to the west below the summit of Shelf Moor. Then after a break in a paved section of the path and less substantial path breaks to the left heading towards to summit of the moor. Should you overshoot the site go to the trig point and take a bearing to the north east. From the memorial stone the trig point is in sight.

 

'Over Exposed!' was a photo reconnaissance aircraft - hence the name - and had photographed some of the nuclear bomb tests at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean and had taken part in the Berlin airlift.

 

 

In remembrance the crew were:

Captain Landon P. Tanner
Captain Harry Stroud
Technical Sergeant Ralph Field
Sergeant Charles Wilbanks
Staff Sergeant Gene A. Gartner
Radar operator David D. Moore
Technical Sergeant Saul R. Banks,
Sergeant Donald R. Abrogast,
Sergeant Robert I. Doyle
Private First Class William M. Burrows
Corporal M. Franssen
Corporal George Ingram
Photographic adviser Captain Howard Keel

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