Fairy Lochs Memorial – USAAF B-24-H Liberator Bomber Crash Site

Stitched Panorama  Fairy Lochs Walk, near Shieldaig

At the end of World War II on 13th June 1945 a US B-24-H Liberator bomber (Serial 42-95095 based at Warton Aerodrome) was returning to the USA from Prestwick airport with 15 airmen on board. The crew of nine was from the 66th Bomber Squadron and also on board were six crewman from Air Transport Command. The route should have taken the aircraft over Stornaway but perhaps due to instrument failure, navigational failure or even some other reason the flight path taken was over Wester Ross in Scotland where in heavy cloud it hit the top of the 981m high mountain Slioch, suffering some damage to the bomb bay doors. The pilot then attempted an emergency landing in Loch Gairloch as he descended but unfortunately crashed into rocky outcrops close to a number of small lochs known as the Fairy Lochs. Wreckage was scattered over a wide area and all aboard were killed. This area is now regarded as a war grave and a small memorial plaque with the names of all those lost has been mounted in the rocks close to the loch where some of the wreckage lies. There are numerous pieces of wreckage including pieces of the landing gear, some of the airframe, propellers and engines, some partially submerged in the loch. Visitors have left shall plaques, money and flags at this site in tribute to the lost crew and passengers.
Fairy Lochs Walk, near ShieldaigFairy Lochs Walk, near ShieldaigFairy Lochs Walk, near ShieldaigFairy Lochs Walk, near ShieldaigFairy Lochs Walk, near ShieldaigFairy Lochs Walk, near Shieldaig

The Fairy Lochs is a recent English name for Na Lochan Sgeireach and are a small group of lochans approximately 2 miles (3 km)
SE of the village of Badachro near Gairloch in Wester Ross, Scotland. The lochans have become known as the ‘Fairy Lochs’ due to the close proximity of the ‘Sìthean Mòr’ hill which translates into English as the ‘Large Fairy Mound’.

The lochans are close to Loch Bràigh Horrisdale, which flows into the Badachro River (Scots Gaelic: Abhainn Bad a’ Chrodha). There are several large waterfalls in the area, and Sìthean Mor overlooks the Lochan Sgeireach and the bay of Loch Gairloch. The lochs are remote and are accessed over farmland and along paths through marshy ground.

To get to the start of the walk to the crash site drive south from Gairloch on the A823, take the B8056 to Badachro then park at or close to the Shieldaig Lodge Hotel.

 

Fairy Lochs Walk, near Shieldaig

Stitched Panorama  Fairy Lochs Walk, near Shieldaig

Stitched Panorama  Fairy Lochs Walk, near Shieldaig

Stitched Panorama  Fairy Lochs Walk, near Shieldaig

Fairy Lochs Walk, near Shieldaig

Fairy Lochs Walk, near Shieldaig

From the car park of the hotel walk east about 500m and then take the marked track on the right which heads into the hills. After passing some buildings and cattle enclosures on the left and then passing through a gate the track heads through a lightly wooded area. A short distance after this there is a sign marking the start of the smaller track to the left to the crash site.
The small track then heads up the hills over rough peatland marked in places with stakes as well as additional crash site signs. The track then passes through a newly fenced area which you have to pass through a gate then you descend to the Fairy Lochs which are a set of very small lochs. As you approach the first loch you will start to see the remains of the crashed aircraft at the side of the loch as well in the loch itself.
Stitched Panorama  Fairy Lochs Walk, near ShieldaigFairy Lochs Walk, near ShieldaigFairy Lochs Walk, near ShieldaigFairy Lochs Walk, near ShieldaigFairy Lochs Walk, near ShieldaigFairy Lochs Walk, near Shieldaig
There is little of the aircraft left, parts of the corroded airframe, broken propellers, parts of the landing gear and a couple of engines. On the rock face next to the loch a plaque has been mounted listing the names of the lost crew and passengers. Visitors to the site have also left small plaques as well as money and flags in remembrance.
It is a pleasant walk out to the site over boggy peatland but the path is well marked. You can do a circular route, visiting the Fairy Lochs and crash site, then returning on the main track by the other larger track. The total distance if this circular walk is approximately 5.3 km so can be completed in a couple of hours.
Fairy Lochs Walk, near ShieldaigFairy Lochs Walk, near ShieldaigFairy Lochs Walk, near ShieldaigFairy Lochs Walk, near ShieldaigFairy Lochs Walk, near ShieldaigFairy Lochs Walk, near ShieldaigFairy Lochs Walk, near Shieldaig

B-24-H Liberator Bomber Specifications

The Consolidated B-24 Liberator was an American heavy bomber, designed by Consolidated Aircraft of San Diego, California. It was known within the company as the Model 32, and a small number of early models were sold under the name LB-30, for Land Bomber. The B-24 was used in World War II by several Allied air forces and navies, and by every branch of the American armed forces during the war, attaining a distinguished war record with its operations in the Western European, Pacific, Mediterranean, and China-Burma-India Theaters.

 

Fairy Lochs Walk, near Shieldaig

Fairy Lochs Walk, near Shieldaig

Fairy Lochs Walk, near Shieldaig

Fairy Lochs Walk, near Shieldaig

Fairy Lochs Walk, near Shieldaig

Fairy Lochs Walk, near Shieldaig

Fairy Lochs Walk, near Shieldaig

Fairy Lochs Walk, near Shieldaig

Often compared with the better-known Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, the B-24 was a more modern design with a higher top speed, greater range, and a heavier bomb load; it was also more difficult to fly, with heavy control forces and poor formation-flying characteristics. Popular opinion among aircrews and general staffs tended to favor the B-17’s rugged qualities above all other considerations in the European Theater. The placement of the B-24’s fuel tanks throughout the upper fuselage and its lightweight construction, designed to increase range and optimize assembly line production, made the aircraft vulnerable to battle damage. The B-24 was notorious among American aircrews for its tendency to catch fire. Its high fuselage-mounted “Davis wing” also meant it was dangerous to ditch or belly land, since the fuselage tended to break apart. Nevertheless, the B-24 provided excellent service in a variety of roles thanks to its large payload and long range and was the only bomber to operationally deploy the United States’ first forerunner to precision-guided munitions during the war, the 1,000 lb. Azon guided bomb.

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