John and Margaret Allison
Please read Margaret's comments at the end..
Lt. John A., then the Base Engineering Officer, was supposed to be on that C-47 flight but was told by Col. McAllister, Base Commander, to stay at the base. For that order John feels quite fortunate today.
DH in reading between the lines got the idea that John was one of the "Old Man's" favorites. The story, of how the Col. M took John A along when to check them selves out in a "spare" B-17 on the ramp, is a hair raising tale all by it self.
After being told of the accident John A was immediately assigned as the Engineering Representative and get to Naper the early the next morning.(August 4) With memories now being hazy he thinks that he flew there there with Col. A. In a UC78 and landed in a cow pasture....DH
Col. M told me that I originally was supposed to be on that flight. But then he decuded not to send me because needed (me)there (At Bruning). I supposed it was for test flights.
(August 4th Morning) I don't know of any other military that was there before us. After flying there we landed at a (pasture landing)site. I'm not sure, but I think it was pretty close to the crash sight. I think they had a little transportation there for us to drive to the crash. It may have been a half a mile away.
Anyway, they took us over and we walked the crash sight, saw bodies and some (that)of them had already been removed, some had not. We made a complete survey of the crash. I recall now the C-47 did flip over on its back. The significant thing for me was that the control surfaces on the C-47 were fabric and they were literally gone and torn off of the structure. Which lead me to believe in the storm that they had, I don't know about hail, we don't know anything about that, but it made me believe that they (the control surfaces) were damaged. We saw fabric down the field from the landing sight. There was some fabric around that point before it hit the ground.
That led me to believe that the actual damage to the control surfaces was long before it made that flight. That?s the reason in my opinion. It was the basic cause of the accident. I don't know if that got on the report or not.(It did not..dh)
There were four people in the plane (UC78)with me.
We stayed about ten hours. We didn't go into town, but we stayed there at the scene. I did what I was supposed to do in connection with gathering information of the (aircraft)structures. I didn't have anything to do with the bodies, except they said there were bodies underneath the wing. I did the investigation from the stand point of (the) mechanical. That was my main emphasis.
We (Bruning AAF) were a replacement training unit(262nd FPTS) for P-47 units who had lost pilots. We trained them as much as we could about flying planes and the (flying) characteristics. We did dog fighting and (practice )gunnery (passes). The reason that people were in that plane is that they were going up for a gunnery mission (30 day LIVE gunnery school with Hot Guns). I (also) did that in Pierre South Dakota.
I didn't get into the age (?) of the plane. As I recall they had little lanterns there lining the take off field, located to mark the take off direction. We went back to the direction of the crash. We went back to the last few moments before the crash, and observed structures, and ground clutter and any metals and so forth to see if we could determine anything that failed on it as it came down. We found a few parts, most of them were just before the crash. I do recall that they indicated that there were bodies under the wing. And I didn't know the wing surface. And I did not see those, but I was told that was the case. One of the members of the board.....
Was asked if he remembers any of the other crash site members
I don't remember all the names of the people (Accident Investigation Team)that were there. There were other inspectors that came in. I'm not sure about them coming in from other bases. I believe that the commanding officer probably requested additional help because of the massive destruction. And they wanted to really determine if they could determine much of what happened.
Question Did you have to refuel the UC78 before going back to Bruning AAF that Nite?...DH
The thing that would come up in my mind is just the fact that we, had so much fuel and I don't recall stretching it or not. A long trip. I have a feeling on it that we did not have to get any gas at the point where the crash was. We just used a full tank. DH-How many (total AF Flying )hours did you have at the time?
JA- oh, probably 1000.
I have a history of going around and flying at night in a SBD?s, A-24?s, Dive bombers. I did that in Florida. Let me think of if there is something else in this connection.
Break in the interview ...DH
I have talked with one person who is a cousin of my wife?s about the C-47 and I told him about my thought of loss of fabric on the control surface. He said he hadn't heard of that happening, but he did say that C-47 doesn't take much negative G?s. That?s probably what happened. I'm not convinced.
Those two pilots were experienced pilots even though they had flown most of their time in fighters. They were experienced pilots. I don't know how many hours they had. I would say that they did not fly in the storm cloud. That?s my opinion
I would not have done it and I think that they flew below the storm cloud. And that the people that had said that they saw them coming out of the cloud it could be. (Difference in stories can now be explained...dh)I think what happened, is they got underneath it(roll clouds) and actually lost the fabric on the control surface, particularly the elevators. That they would lost have control of the C-47 in very rough weather. And it could have caused them to roll over underneath and cause them to dive right into the ground. If they were going down, and they pulled up on that elevator that didn't have any covering on it, I believe firmly that they would not have any control to bring the nose of the plane back up. Those pilots were excellent and I hate to see them get the blame for all or any part of that. I think they did a marvelous job in trying to control it but they had nothing to control it with, and there?s no chance for them in that situation for ever recovering.
When did you go up there?
I went up the 4th. The next morning. I think that McAllister may have been up there that night.
While DH was interviewing John about those years Margaret, with her sweet southern Texas accent, would jump on the other phone with some very wonderful memories that she had as a "mature" 18 year old WW2 military bride.
She and John lived in Hebron Nebraska in some apartments. When John would leave in the morning for the base, the German war prisoners (Local PW Camp) working close by, would all smartly salute HER 2nd Lt.. She said the PWs liked the cookies that she and the others would make for them.
She also remarked that they and another local couple went to Kansas to a small restaurant for some excellent steaks, supposed to be rationed but they got them anyway...
She said she was considered one of the "old timer" wives as they had some wives that were still 17 years old and she had to show them the "ropes"
Margaret's closing comment was quite telling of the times. She said that before John left that morning to go to the crash site that he was a happy, carefree, happy-go-lucky young husband, but when he came back late that night after 10 hours investigating that terrible accident that John had aged 10 years....Thank you very much Margaret...DH