Making for Sweden, Case 219
At 0120 hours (LT) on 20th October 1944 a C-87 crashed at Antens kapell (Alingsås) in West Sweden. The wreck caught fire and the crew of six was killed. The aircraft was on a courier flight from Leuchars (Scotland) to Bromma airport (Stockholm). The load was a number of oil barrels for the maintenance of United States aircraft interned in Sweden.
The investigation, carried out after the crash by the Swedish Civil Air Board, concluded that the reason for the crash was a navigational error which led to collision with the ground. The radio operator had very little experience, a fact which also contributed to the fatal crash. B.O.A.C. was responsible for the weather service for both British and United States courier flights to Sweden. This night the weather was reported to be foggy and Bromma was closed after 2030 hours (LT) on 19th October. All landings had to take place in Gothenburg, where fog and bad visibility could also be expected. In spite of this B.O.A.C. reported the start from Scotland by N18618 at 2035 hours (LT) stating that the arrival at Bromma would be around 2300 hours.
The aircraft was flying the northern route over Norway and made a first radio contact with Bromma at 2226 hours, stating that the estimated time of landing to be 2310 hours. Four minutes later this was changed to 2323 hours. As Bromma was closed due to low fog, the aircraft was ordered to proceed via Bromma and Bjurvik on to Gothenburg. The radio operator on NC18618 confirmed this and stated the estimated arrival time at Torslanda (Gothenburg) was 0030 hours.
It is suspected that the pilot and navigator both mistook the lights coming from Alingsås for those of Gothenburg. That could explain the aircraft actually descending from one thousand five hundred meters down to one hundred and fifty meters when it hit the ground.
The six dead men were identified and buried in Malmö on 1st November 1944. Even today two men (Campbell and Ragland) are still buried in Malmö, the other four bodies were exhumed in May 1948 and moved from Sweden.
Authors: Bo Widfeldt and Rolph Wegmann.
This text can also be found in their book "Making for Sweden, part 2", ISBN 1-871187-37-0.