Las Cruces, NM (near) Bomber Crash, Aug 1942



Mystery still shrouded, today, the crash of a four-motor army bomber from Biggs Field which occurred 20 miles west of Las Cruces Sunday morning, killing seven officers and men and injuring two others, as officers from the Fort Bliss Field investigated to determine its cause.
The crash occurred on a ranch road about one mile west of Harvey Bissell's Corralitos ranch headquarters at approximately 2:30 a.m.
Corralitos ranch hands, who were awakened by the plane's troubled motors, said the plane circled three times before the crash; then, in mid-air, they added, there was an explosion, and the big ship fell in flames.
Cowboys hurried to the scene, found two injured men, brought them to the McBride Hospital here and notified Las Cruces mortuaries and authorities at Biggs Field.
There were nine men in the plane -- seven officers and two non-commissioned officers.
Only one lieutenant and one sergeant were saved, and only two bodies were found intact; the rest, were scattered along the road and neighboring desert, searchers said, for a distance of 200 yards.
So difficult was it to identify bodies, or piece them together, that seven Las Cruces fliers -- five of them members of the civil air patrol here -- got permission to fly over the area and hunt for others who might have escaped by parachute.
The air searchers, flying in six separate planes -- Nell Ruth Roughton of the Border Flying Service, Gregory Yelvington, Robt. Chamberlain, Buford Busby, Robt. Turner, Gus Glass and Robt. Crawford -- found no additional men alive, however.
One officer from Biggs expressed the belief that the original explosion might have thrown the men saved clear of the plane and simultaneously opened their parachutes.
The men found alive, however, were piled one upon the other, parachutes entangled, apparently, the plane had been too close to the ground for them to get full benefit of the chutes.
One of the men whose bodies found intact apparently had tried to open his parachute, since it was lying with his body partly opened.
As soon as officers from Biggs field arrived, they placed a guard around the scene to keep sightseers away.
They didn't want anything disturbed, they explained, until a thorough investigation could be made; furthermore, it was understood, they wanted to guard secret parts of the machine from being examined by possible agents of enemy countries.
Col. W. B. Hough, Biggs Field commandant, said the ship carried practice bombs, which were to have been dropped on an undesignated target to the northwest at daybreak.

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