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Memorial for historic WWII bomber which crashed 75 years ago unveiled near Keflavík Airport

By Staff

  • Liberator B 24 Iceland played a critical role in WWII as a waypoint between the Americas and Europe and a naval base in the N Atlantic. Photo/US Air Force, Creative Commons license

75 years ago the first US bomber plane to survive 25 bombing raids on Germany in WWII crashed on Fagradalsfjall mountain on Reykjanes peninsula, near Keflavík Airport. The plane, a B-24D Liberator, was returning from England, flying to the US, when the accident took place. Only one member of the crew survived the crash.

A world historical event

 

Frank M Andrews

Frank M Andrews The commander of US operations in Europe was killed in the crash. Photo/US Air Force

Among those killed in the accident was Frank M. Andrews, the commander of the US forces in the European theatre. Andrews was one of the founders of the US Air Force. After the untimely death of Andrews the command of the European operations passed to Dwight D. Eisenhower, who led the Normandy landing. Eisenhower later became the 34th President of the US. 

Read more: Watch: What did the “bleak outpost” of Reykjavík look like in WWII?

A memorial commemorating this historic event was unveiled yesterday near Grindavíkurvegur road, near Keflavík Airport and the Blue Lagoon. The memorial features a model of the plane as well as a history of the plane and its mission in WWII.

Tragic crash
The Liberators, which were classified as heavy bombers, played a critical role in the air campaign of the allies against the Third Reich, but many were shot down by the Luftwaffe over German held territories. The US military therefore pledged that all planes and crews who completed 25 successful raids would return to the US. Tragically the first plane and most of its crew to win this honor perished in Iceland.

Only the rear gunner, George A. Eisel, survived the crash. This was the second plane crash he survived.

The idea for the memorial came from two local flight enthusiasts, the brothers Þorsteinn and Ólafur Marteinsson.

 

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