History

Mi Amigo: The 10 Heroes Who Fell From the Sky

The American airmen were killed in a crash in 1944 but their actions on that fateful day are thought to have saved many lives.

On 22 February 1944, a plane carrying 10 American airmen plummeted from the sky and crashed into a wooded area beside Endcliffe Park in Sheffield.

The plane tumbled through the trees and snapped clean in two before hitting the ground.  

Local firemen rushed to the aid of the crew but by the time they reached Endcliffe Park, flames had engulfed the aircraft and all 10 men had died.

Whilst their lives were lost, it is thought that the crew’s final actions saved many more on that fateful day.

The B-17 Flying Fortress, nicknamed 'Mi Amigo', had been carrying a 4,000lb bomb intended for a Luftwaffe air station in Denmark when they were ambushed over the North Sea.

They abandoned their mission and began to head home to Northamptonshire.

Endcliffe Park is surrounded by tightly packed terraced houses.

However, the plane was badly damaged and as the B-17 limped over Sheffield the crew spotted Endcliffe Park – the only visible patch of green in a densely populated and sprawling city.

It is thought the crew hoped to make a safe landing in the park but there was a problem.

Playing football in the park were a number of children whose lives would be at risk if the B-17 crashed landed close to them.

Instead, the plane spiralled into the nearby wood – potentially saving the children’s lives but killing the crew.

Keith Peters was nine-years-old at the time and was one of the little boys playing in Endcliffe Park:

“You could hear planes nearly the whole time during the war,” Mr Peters told Forces News.

“But you didn’t really bother about them.”

US aircraft were routinely based in Britain during the second World War (Picture: US Department of Defense).

The first indication he had of that there was something wrong was when he heard a “terrific noise” and looked up to see the plane clearly out of control.

After the crash, the children hung about before they were moved away by adults worried there could be unexploded bombs.    

“We should have been scared,” he recalled.

“But I don’t think we were scared, we were nosey.”

Thousands turned out for the 75th anniversary flypast in February 2019 (Picture: US Department of Defense).

To this day, a memorial to the 10 US airmen in the park is lovingly tended and on the 75th anniversary of the crash, a flypast took place to honour their memory.

The flypast fulfilled the lifelong dream of Tony Foulds, who was also playing in the park on the day of the crash.

"It's taken 75 years for them to be remembered and what a day, what a day to remember them," Mr Foulds said.