Jet Crash on Hospital - Lodge Moor Sheffield 9th December 1955

The following Report appeared in The Times dated Saturday 10th December 1955

JET CRASH ON HOSPITAL

WOMAN PATIENT KILLED

WARDS DAMAGED

From Our Correspondent Sheffield Dec 9

An American jet aircraft crashed on Lodge Moor Hospital on the outskirts of Sheffield this evening. A woman patient was killed and seven other patients were slightly injured.

The pilot of the aircraft bailed out and landed near Hathersage, Derbyshire. He was uninjured.

An official statement issued by the hospital said that the aircraft crashed just after 5 o'clock on the North 1 and 2 wards of the hospital which stands 950 feet above sea level on the edge of the Derbyshire moors. A hospital official emphasised that all the injuries suffered were slight and added that no member of the hospital staff had been injured.

MACHINE IN FLAMES

The aircraft tore off the roof of a single story cubicle ward, demolished a corridor, ploughed 200 feet through a sanitary block, and then burst into flames in a quadrangle. all available nurses, doctors and hospital porters were called to the scene where patients lay among broken glass and debris.

The woman killed, Mrs Elsie Murdock, aged 46, of South Road, Sheffield was due for release within 48 hours. The injured were three children and four adults. patients in the effected parts of the building were quickly transferred to other wards.

Dr. Joseph M. Kennedy, medical superintendent of the hospital who was sitting in an office 50 yards away from the crash heard the sound of the aircraft low over the hospital "Suddenly there was this terrific crash, and we all rushed out as we thought it was crashing  into the tower" he said. An official said the rescue work went on efficiently and the patients kept calm.

A statement issued by the United States Air Force stated that the aircraft had taken off from Sculthorpe (RAF Sculthorpe, Norfolk) on instrument training flight when the pilot experienced a "flame out". After several attempts to restart the engine he elected to bale out at 3,500 feet. Ammunition was stored in the aircraft's wings.

U.S. ENQUIRY

A spokesman for the United States Air Force said that the aircraft was a F.84 - described usually as a Thunderstreak. The pilot was Lieutenant Roy G. Evans age 24. An American official said that a full board of investigation officers had been appointed and were starting work immediately.

Mr Selwyn Williams of Lodge Moor Road Sheffield who lives within 100 yards of the hospital was one of the first on the scene after the crash. He said it was raining at the time.

"I was making a telephone call when I heard an explosion" he added. " I immediately dialled 999 then got in to my car and went to the scene. The single aircraft had crashed through the roof of a single storey building and sliced through three cubicles before hitting the ground. Its tail was leaning against the walls. A number of people with blackened faces were running about. The wreckage was blazing fiercely.

The engine of the aircraft came to rest about 10 yards from the ambulance station containing vehicles and about 1,000 gallons of petrol. For a time the gas supply was affected by the crash"
 

The Daily Mirror dated 10th December 1955 also carried a report on its front page

A F84 Thunderstreak,

  1. The accident was also extensively reported in both local newspapers the Sheffield Star and the Sheffield Telegraph. These are the additional details of the crash that were omitted in The Times report

    Aircraft was a Republic F-84 Thunderstreak from the Third US Air Force. A photograph of the crashed plane shows airframe serial number of 26692.
     
  2. The pilot, Lt. Roy G. Evans, 24 was from  Polaski, Tennessee but attached to RAF Weathersfield.
     
  3. Colonel Harold Bailer, base operations commander at USAF Burtonwood (Lancs.) arrived at crash site and said trouble started when the flight was over Derbyshire. The controllers at Burtonwood were only people with contact with pilot at the time by radio. The base could faintly hear the pilot, but the pilot could not hear them. Pilot reported "I have a flame-out.... leaving the aircraft". Pilot ejected in cloud after several attempts to re-start his engine over the Peak District at what was believed to be 2,500ft and was recovered on the moors east of Hathersage. Lt. Roy G. Evans suffered an injured ankle and was returned to USAF Burtonwood. The impact speed was estimated at 300 mph
     
  4. The blazing wreckage of the aitcraft was tackled by the local fire brigade. It was eventually brought under control by 7.30pm
     
  5. The only fatality Mrs Elsie Murdoch of South Road, Walkley, Sheffield was convalescing and due for a discharge on  Monday 12th December. After the crash, nurse Margaret Schofield, 20, ironically of Hathersage, stayed with her until she died. The other persons injured in the crash were all patients:
    Florence Stanton, 67, of Wickersley, Rotherham (shock)
    John Wilson, 12, of Manor, Sheffield (injury to left hand)
    Patrick Handley, 13, of Upperthorpe, Sheffield (slight foot injury)
    Sandra Williams, 10, of Rotherham (superficial injuries to legs, right hand and scalp)
    Dorothy Corrill, 30, of Dalton, Rotherham (superficial injuries to scalp, face and hands)
    Florence Burcoyne, 45, of Tinsley, Sheffield (slight Shock)
    Harold Wilcockson, 47, of Woodhouse, Sheffield (cut finger and bruising).

19 year old nurse Nita Richardson was a convalescing patient and had left her cubicle for a cup of tea when the crash occurred. The crash shattered her cubicle and she would almost certainly have died had she not gone for a cuppa

Colonel E. Salisbury of the US 3rd Air Force investigated the crash. The following day, the USAF personnel present on the site were headed by Brigadier-General John "Troup" Miller, four colonels, two first-lieutenants, and over 50 technical staff. B-G Miller visited Mr Murdoch, the dead woman's husband with Frank Kershaw from the hospital management. Messages of 'deep regret' were also sent by Major General Roscoe C. Wilson, Commander of the US 3rd Air Force

Notes

(From American Post War Aircraft)

The F-84, the USAF's first post-war fighter, made its initial flight on February 26, 1946. It began rolling off the production lines in June 1947, and by the time production ceased in 1953, approximately 4,450 "straight-wing" F-84s (in contrast to the swept-wing F-84F) had been built. In addition to being used by the USAF, many were supplied to allied nations participating in the Mutual Security Program. During its service life, the F-84 became the first USAF jet fighter able to carry a tactical atomic weapon.

The airplane gained its greatest renown during the Korean Conflict where it was used primarily for low-level interdiction missions. Almost daily the F-84 attacked enemy railroads, bridges, supply depots and troop concentrations with bombs, rockets and napalm.

Sources

The Times dated Saturday 10th December 1955

The Sheffield Star and The Sheffield Telegraph

The Daily Mirror dated 10th December 1955

Wkipedia

American Post War Aircraft

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