This article has kindly been contributed by reader John Gurney:

During WW2 the Boeing B17-G Flying Fortress ‘Tomahawk Warrior’ was part of the 398 Bomb Group which arrived from the USA to their allotted Hertfordshire aerodrome of Nuthampstead in March 1944.

The aircraft had been named by pilot and captain Charles Searl after the town in the USA where he lived. As well as being a long range bomber capable of carrying a heavy bomb load, the Flying Fortress was so named because of the heavy armament in several gun turrets to protect against enemy fighters.

The effectiveness of this fire power was portrayed vividly in the film ‘Memphis Belle’.

‘Tomahawk Warrior’ had completed several missions to Europe between May and August 1944 and at 6.18am on the morning of 12th August 1944 took off from Nuthampstead for mission number 25 to France.

The weather was bad and by 7.00am ‘Tomahawk Warrior’ was spotted in trouble over the built up area of High Wycombe with two engines on fire.

Charles Searl was desperately searching for open ground away from the densely populated area as the full bomb load would cause massive loss of life it he crash-landed there. Shortly after ‘Tomahawk Warrior’ narrowly missed the Lude Farm farmhouse in Penn and crashed in the open fields beyond.

The massive explosion on impact killed all nine crew but there were no casualties on the ground. Ironically the whole event would have been tracked from the 8th Air Force HQ at Daws Hill in High Wycombe and later that afternoon Commander-in- Chief General James Doolittle came to survey the wreckage.

None of the crew had attempted to bale out and no distress signal had been sent.

No official investigation into the causes of the crash was ever carried out. Information disclosed several years later suggests that there may have been a mid-air collision with a Liberator bomber which crashed at about the same time just 28 miles away near Cheshunt.

Because of their ultimate sacrifice in finding a safe place to crash, the nine young crew are remembered in the history of Penn for ever. Each Armistice Day their names are read out during the service at Penn Church and small American flags are placed along the path to the church door.

Their names are also inscribed in the church Book of Remembrance.