On Sunday, September the 5th of 1943, during WWII an Army B-17 Bomber crashed between Palmersville and Latham, Tennessee, resulting in the loss of nine airman’s lives. Seventy three years ago today, the crew, consisting of ten Army airmen, who where flying out of the Dyersburg Army Air Base, close to Halls Tennessee, in route to Gulfport Mississippi, became lost just after takeoff. Fifty miles off course, in the opposite direction that it was first charted. While flying over the northern part of Weakley county, local witnesses stated the plane suddenly exploded midair over the Palmersville and Latham, Obion River bottoms.
Mr. Hugh Brann of Palmersville, who was only twelve years old at the time, said he witnessed the plane explode and fall, while riding his bicycle with friends,west of Palmersville. He said “the plane just seemed to come apart as it flew over them ” and said he could hear it as it fell from the sky, in what he describes, to have been approximately five miles northwest of Palmersville.
According to the Dresden Enterprise, others in the Latham and Palmersville area had also witnessed the plane catch fire and explode and that it had been scattered over a large area between the two towns. And stated some of the wreckage came to rest on, at the time, the Wilkinson, Stowe and Bondurant farms. Also that two men had parachuted from the plane and had survived, but later reports, other than the newspaper, said that one of the two had passed away shortly after being transported back to the air base by Army personnel during the night.
The newspaper also stated, that one of the surviving airmen had told a resident in the area, about the plane being off course. And at the time of the crash he thought they were flying over of part Mississippi, but was told he was in fact in Weakley County, Tennessee. The newspaper reported in their September 24th,1943 issue, of the massive amount of equipment that had been brought into Weakley County by the Army to salvage the wreckage. And how the Army had posted guards around the area of the crash for weeks while the cleanup was completed.
Mr. Harold Reynolds of Palmersville says he remembers seeing all the large equipment coming through town that year and tells about the B-17 bomber crash of 1943. To this day people, while hunting or logging, tell of finding parts of the plane scattered throughout the woods of the Palmersville and Latham, North Fork of the Obion River bottoms.
Please feel free to leave a comment about this 1943 plane crash. Many people have told tales and stories of it. And it has been passed down by family or friends for many years following this unfortunate tragedy in 1943.
Story by – Glen Reynolds of the Palmersville TnBlog page.