On January 14, 1942, 5 weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor, an American B-18 Bomber, patrolling the Atlantic coast, was returning to its base in Massachusetts. Flying at 4,000 feet, they ran into a strong, blinding winter storm, and lost all communication. Flying blind, in heavy winds, they were blown significantly off course. Through a break in the clouds, they saw the lights of a city, which they thought was Providence, RI, and set the course for home. They had no way to know that the city below was actually Concord, NH, which set them on a course directly into the mountains of New Hampshire.
They would crash directly into the side of Mount Waternomee, with seven American soldiers aboard. Just before impact, the co-pilot would make a move that would save 5 of the 7 on board as the bomber crashed through the trees and deep snow on the side of the mountain. Incredibly, rescue crews from Lincoln, and Woodstock, NH would set out, on snowshoes, in total darkness, and in the midst of a heavy snowstorm, within 30 minutes of the crash, and arrive at the site, on the side of the 4,000 foot mountain, within three hours.
I had the opportunity to hike to the crash site, in the summer of 2012, with a select group of family and friends, including a licensed pilot. I compiled this video of the hike, and added information about the original mission, and an overview of “that time” in our history. How many of us can remember, during this time, especially in the weeks immediately following December, 1941, what the mindset was in this country. How many remember that, even during broadcasts of baseball games, mention of weather conditions by the broadcasters, etc., was prohibited. I can only imagine what the locals must have been thinking when the explosion was heard and seen, from the side of that mountain. And, the courage and compassion of the rescue units which took off through the woods, on snowshoes in a blinding snowstorm, to rescue and carry back, the five surviving crew members.
Here is our video documentary, of a time in December, 1941 and January, 1942 … and then the time in 2012, when a smaller group of citizens, in broad daylight, on a clear, hot, humid summer afternoon, hiked up the side of this same mountain in Lincoln, NH, to be greeted by the remnants of a B18 Bolo Bomber … You could still feel the courage, and tragedy, mingled with wreckage, all equally strewn over the landscape of a New Hampshire mountain …