Remembering the heroic Sheffield school children who tried to save airman after plane crash

The crew of the Flying Fortress.
The crew of the Flying Fortress.

The dramatic story of how a group of school children tried to rescue a dying airman from the wreck of a burning plane that crashed into a Sheffield park can be told for the first time today.

The Star's recent coverage of an eyewitness account of the moment an American bomber crashed into Endcliffe Park during the Second World War prompted a number of readers to come forward to share their memories of the tragedy.

The scene of the crash.

The scene of the crash.

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William Buttrick was just 12-years-old when he witnessed the B17 Flying Fortress - nicknamed Mi Amigo - smash into the park on the afternoon of February 22, 1944.

And he gave a never before told account of how he and two friends rushed to the scene and attempted to pull an airman from the burning wreckage.

Now aged 85, the Norfolk Park resident said: "Me and two friends were playing out when we saw the plane come flying over us. We thought it was going to crash into houses in Hunter House Road at first but it just missed them.

"Moments later we heard a huge bang when the plane crashed into the park."

Memorial service held earlier this year.

Memorial service held earlier this year.

He added: "We ran over and saw the wreckage. One of the crew was stuck in the gunner's cockpit.

"The plane was burning inside at this point and we tried to pull him out but his legs were stuck.

"Then the emergency services arrived and took over. They told us to get back as the plane was getting hot from the fire inside."

READ MORE: VIDEO: Man who witnessed bomber plane crash into Sheffield park relives tragedy
All 10 crew on board were killed. The plane was attempting to return to its base in Northamptonshire but ended up off course over the skies of Sheffield after being attacked by German fighters that fateful day.

It had been carrying a 4, 000 lb bomb intended to be dropped on a Luftwaffe air station in Aalborg, Denmark, when it was ambushed by enemy planes over the North Sea and was left heavily damaged.

Mr Buttrick, who spent five years in the RAF as a mechanic working on the Lancaster Bombers, said: "It was a terrible tragedy. I'll never forget what happened."

His account comes after Tony Foulds told how he developed a deep-seated feeling of guilt over the crash in later years.

The 82-year-old Lowedges man said he was in the park with friends when the bomber started circling above.

The crew motioned for them to get out of their way so they could land but as young boys they did not understand the urgency of the situation.

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Rather than risking the lives of the children, the bomber then crashed into trees behind where the modern day cafe is.

The pilot Lieutenant John Kriegshauser, was awarded a posthumous Distinguished Flying Cross for minimising loss of life.

Civic leaders gather with representatives from the American military every year at a memorial in the park to remember those who died.