Skye to mark 70th anniversary of Staffin air crash

Staffin, on the Isle of Skye. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Staffin, on the Isle of Skye. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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THE Skye community is to mark the 70th anniversary of a plane crash which saw nine American airmen killed, only months before the end of the Second World War.

A victim’s relative from the US will also be attending to emotional service near to the crash site.

On 3 March, 1945, a B-17 Flying Fortress tragically hit the hillside during fog at Beinn Edra in Staffin, in the north end of Skye, on its way to a RAF base in Wales after departing from America.

The Staffin Community Council and community trust both agreed to arrange a commemoration event to mark the sad date which saw local people attempt to rescue the stricken crew from the hill, which lies between Staffin and Uig in the Trotternish peninsula.

It is hoped to add the names of the American servicemen to the Staffin War Memorial, provided funding can be secured.

The plane crew were part of the Allied Forces, like the Staffin men listed on the memorial, and the move is a mark of respect and a fitting tribute to their wartime efforts.

Dr Terence Christian, a Glasgow University archaeologist who has investigated the crash site, has also agreed to deliver a talk after the ceremony and will present new findings on the tragedy.

The community council and Staffin Trust are also hoping to organise a small exhibition of the disaster, invite older members of the community share their memories of that sad day and involve local children.

An American relative of one of the men killed in the crash has welcomed the community’s plans.

Kim Marti, who lives in Kendalville, Indiana, said she was delighted that the anniversary would be marked in Staffin.

She added: “I began researching the accident six years ago and the journey has been very revealing, exciting and humbling.

“I felt compelled to learn all I could about my great uncle Harold D Blue who was the flight engineer on that ill-fated plane.

“I have read articles published at the time of the accident and what resonated with me was how quickly the people of Staffin rallied to try to assist in any rescue effort they could.

“Now, 70 years later, the Staffin community again is showing their compassion and respect for our US military men by remembering our fallen men.” Mr Blue was from Warshaw, a city in Indiana.

Dr Christian, who will document the crew’s backgrounds during his talk, said he was also looking forward to the event.

“Inscribing the names of the deceased on the local war memorial is most certainly a fitting tribute to the crew,” he said.

The plan is to hold the anniversary events on Saturday, 7 March at the Staffin War Memorial.

The 70th anniversary is earlier that week but it was felt that a weekend would allow more members of the community to take part.

Hugh Ross, the trust’s development officer, said: “Donations to the cost of the engraving would be welcomed.

“If anybody in Staffin, or elsewhere, has any material or items related to the crash and would be willing to loan it for inclusion in the exhibition please email me.”

His email is staffin.ldo@gmail.com

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