A B-18 bomber that crashed in New Hampshire today serves as one of New England’s most unique memorials to those who died in World War II.
Woodstock, N.H., was hardly the scene of combat missions in World War II, but it nevertheless is the site of two wartime casualties.
Raymond Lawrence of Worcester, Mass., and Noah Phillipps of Fayetteville, Ark., died there while on a mission on January 14, 1942.
The U.S. military lost many of its B-18s in the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The remaining planes didn’t have enough power or defense armament to go on combat missions. So instead they transported soldiers, trained pilots and patrolled the coast for U-boats.
On this frigid winter patrol, a blizzard set in. The storm enveloped the plane and the pilot and crew lost their bearings. A brief break in the cloud cover revealed the lights of a city below. Thinking they were flying over Providence, R.I., the men set a course for Westover Field in Massachusetts.
Unfortunately, they had not glimpsed Providence below, but Concord, N.H. The storm had pushed the aircraft much farther off course than the crew realized, and the course they set would take them toward New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Dropping in altitude in hopes of seeing the air field only made matters worse.
The Bomber That Crashed in New Hampshire
The plane hit trouble in Woodstock when it began clipping the tops of trees. In a matter of moments it crashed in a fiery blast. A series of additional explosions as bombs and/or fuel caught fire captured the attention of the townspeople in Woodstock, and they launched a rescue effort immediately.
After several hours of trudging through the snow into the wilderness, the townspeople encountered the first of the survivors. In all, the local residents extricated four men from the snowy woods, all with significant injuries. Lawrence and Phillipps, however, perished in the crash.
The site of this crash is preserved to this day, in the woods of Woodstock. Hikers often visit it to pause and silently reflect over the engine and fuselage wreckage that remain lodged among the trees.
This story about the bomber that crashed in New Hampshire was updated in 2023. If you enjoyed this story, you may also want to read about Maine’s two worst plane crashes, which happened on the same day in World War II, here. Image: B-18 bomber By Articseahorse – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36733808.