A message from Winston Harrington 5th November 2007
Dear Mr Lindsay.
I am writing to salute your efforts to commemorate the crash of the B-24 bomber “Belle of the East”, which crashed in August 1944 near its base in East Anglia while returning from a bombing mission over Germany. Thank you so much for your interest.
My father Craig Harrington was the pilot. I understand that you were in E-mail contact with my cousin John Harrington of Gastonia, NC. He sent my brother Tom the materials you sent, and he in turn contacted me, I assume you are the author of the narrative that John sent to us describing the events of that day. My dad did not talk very much about the war, but he did tell me this story. Although his account was not as complete or as detailed as the story that you have put together, there is close agreement between them. Below I list a few items on which my dad’s account differed slightly from yours; I thought you might be interested.
You will see from the e-mail exchange below that I recall from the mid – 90’s when my dad was contacted from that part of England about the crash. Perhaps that was you. He was very ill at the time and unable to respond, and around the time of his death, my mother gave me the letter and asked me to do something about it. Although I intended to, I put it off repeatedly until I finally forgot about it, I have no idea what happened to the letter, as I recall, to the newspaper clipping that was also enclosed.
If that was you, it seems as though you have done very well without me, not that I could have added much. I understand that you did manage to get in contact with some other members of the crew. In any event “congratulations on a job well done”.
From: Winston Harrington.
To: Tom Harrington.
Dated: 19th October, 2007
Thanks so much for sending me this material, and please do not think my e-mail silence indicates a lack of interest – far from it! It’s just that so many things were going on that distracted me, from lingering health issues to some imperatives at work to some late difficulties with the sale of the house . The inspection was last Friday, and although it was about what you can expect from a 20 year old house, buyers expect perfection these days and as a result the deal is now hanging by a thread. We’re in negotiations on concessions and having to meet tradesmen who are making specific enquiries on matters brought up by the inspection. I might not even been replying now had I not have received an E-mail from John Harrington today, which reminded me that I really owed everyone a reply.
I never knew the name of the plane; Did you? But of course I heard the story before, and what is quite remarkable to me is the version I heard was so close to the version you sent. A couple of things I can add are these:
1- Craig told me when they neared Rackheath the controller on the ground asked if any planes had any emergencies, such as empty fuel tanks or serious injuries, that required them to land first. Their plane was quite low on fuel, but not critically so, so he passed on the opportunity to land first.
2- I heard only one crewmember rode the plane down, but obviously, you have to believe the people who pulled the occupants from the plane.
3- Craig’s phrase was “Tanks to engines cross-feed” and I got the impression that after he flipped those switches, all the engines stopped. If they had had a little more altitude they would have tried to restart the engines, but there was no time.
4- I think Craig did feel somewhat at fault for what happened. When he told me, though, my impression was that he didn’t blame himself for the plane going down so much as for bailing out while some of his crew stayed with the plane.
5- He said he rather got the third degree from the board of enquiry. I wonder – do transcripts still exist? How would one find out? He never said so, but I wonder if part of the reason they were so hard on him was because of the earlier crash in Boise. Although there was (as far as I know),no blame attached to him for the earlier accident. You never know how investigators are going to think. It also occurs to me that men who survived two crashes of heavy bombers during the war must been made of an exclusive fraternity.
6- Finally, back in the mid-nineties when Craig was so sick, he got a letter from someone in England who was researching the crash – Mr Lindsay, probably. Susan gave me the letter and I was going to respond on his behalf, but I procrastinated until I forgot about it. I always feel a little bad about it; now feel bad. But anyway I’m glad they could find out so much without my help
You’re right – I should contact Mr Lindsay and thank him for his efforts. Maybe I’ll send him these points. it’s not much, but maybe it will help around the story.
I hope you are all well.
From: Tom Harrington.
To: Winston Harrington
Dated: 12th October, 2007
Johnny called me earlier this week with information that he had located on the internet about daddy’s plane crash in England. He has just sent me this series of e-mails that he has corresponded with two Gentlemen about it. One is from the 467th Bomb Group and the other is from Richard Lindsay, who as you can see has done a lot of research on the “Belle of the East”. The mission description is very interesting.
I know you would be interested in this information as I was. We should contact both of these Gentlemen and thank them for honouring the Belle of the East crew in this way. I’ve copied Johnny in on this e-mail so he will have your e-mail address in case he has other information that he wants to share with us. – Tom
From: Richard Lindsay
To: John Harrington Jr’
Dated: 12th October, 2007
Well thanks for your e-mail, yes as you could say I have done quite a bit on the Belle of the East, to say the least.
The current situation is that I still write to the original co-pilot that flew her from the US to Rackheath and to the pilot’s Granddaughter both who still live in Florida.
I have had the story published in various books and we have a local road in the village named after her.
As for Craig’s crew, well sadly, most have passed away now, but there is one left a Dave Grinnell (waist gunner) that lives in Washington.
I did manage to contact Johnny Boesen, Fred Sammingter, Eugene Jaquemart and Martin Berman.
I have about 30 pictures of the Belle of the East from various crews I’ll attach a few as a taster!!.
I even wrote to Craig on various occasions, but never got a reply by what other crewmembers said he always thought it was his fault for the crash, probably, why he never spoke or wrote about it.
I also have crash reports with all eyewitness statements and also the mission report for that day, these are hard copies but would gladly send you a copy.
Also Marvin’s Ray – Ban Sunglasses from that day, and the original photograph of the Harrington crew signed whilst in Training, copy attached.
Well I hope this is of help to you and it’s surprising what turns up now and again.
Anyway do not hesitate to contact me for further help, No Problems!!!
P.S. Also have a look at http://www.beltonhistory.co.uk/ and look under Belle of the East
From: John Harrington
To: Richard Lindsay
Dated 11th October, 2007
Thank you for all your work you did on the “Belle of the East” I would appreciate any information you could send me by e-mail about your research on this plane. I will see that any information you can send me will be sent to my Uncles Two son’s.
From: Andy Wilkinson
Cc: Richard Lindsay
Dated: 11th October, 2007
Thanks for your e-mail. I have just returned from the annual 467th BG reunion/convention that was held in Dayton OH, this year, sadly numbers were way down on previous years, but nevertheless we all had a good time.
You may wish to contact a researcher called Richard Lindsay here in England who did a lot of work concerning the research into the accident in Belton. He was largely responsible for there being a plaque o the local pub and a recent road naming ceremony in honour of the “Belle of the East”.
His address is above Cc
To: Andy Wilkinson
Dated: 10th October, 2007
Thank you for this web site. I enjoyed reading about the “Belle of the East” plane. The pilot of this plane Lt Craig Harrington was my Uncle. I enjoyed seeing his picture with his crew. Uncle Craig never talked much about what he did in WWII very much. His two other brothers, which included my late Father were different. They were in the Ground Forces and even they were overseas much longer than Uncle Craig, they were never under nearly as much direct enemy fire as he was. I guess the emotional toll on Bomber Crews was much greater than any of us could imagine.