Located on a wall beside a t-junction in the hamlet of Dreenhill, just west of Haverfordwest on the road to Dale, is an inconspicuous looking plaque. This plaque would often be passed without a second glance, but it commemorates a sad tragedy which unfolded at Dreen Hill on 3 January 1943. The photograph of the memorial was kindly sent in by Dai Phillips.
CONSOLIDATED B-24D LIBERATOR 41-23806
On 3 January 1943 a flight of 13 Consolidated Liberators from 67 Bomb Squadron, 44 Bomb Group, 8th USAAF were despatched from Shipdham, Norfolk to join another flight of Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bombers, in a daylight raid on the Nazi U-Boat pens at St. Nazaire. Eight of the Liberators reached the target before heading home, following the B-17’s. During the return flight the B-17’s mistakenly headed for the Pembrokeshire coast. Unfortunately each of the Liberators was running low on fuel, and the aircraft began looking for somewhere to land.
With the port fuel tanks empty, and both port engines stalled, Liberator 41-23806, nick-named BAT OUTA HELL attempted a forced landing near Dreenhill, just west of Haverfordwest, but a third engine failed, and the stricken aircraft crashed about 200 yards north of New House Farm. One of the crewman was killed instantly, while the others, all injured, were taken to the War Memorial Hospital at Haverfordwest. Two of these men were returned to hospitals in the USA where they died within days. The men are commemorated on a plaque, which was erected on 6 June 1994.
The crew of Liberator 41-23806 were;
Pilot, 1st Lieutenant Roy B. Erwin (Died 5 January in Louisiana)
Co-Pilot, 2nd Lieutenant Clark Everett Swanson (Killed)
Navigator, 2nd Lieutenant Thomas Deavonport (Died 8 January in Texas)
Bombardier, 2nd Lieutenant John Gavin
Engineer, Staff Sergeant Hylan Simmons
Radioman, Staff Sergeant Thomas Laskowski
A Radio, Staff Sergeant George Kelsey
Gunner, Sergeant Lanville McCarty
Gunner, Sergeant Robert Reasoner
Gunner, Sergeant Delbert Perry.
Clarke Everett Swanson