Shortly after 1530hrs on 10th April 1944, Martin B-26B Marauder #41-18150 “Winnie Dee” crashed On Chimney Rock Mountain in the Mourne Mountains, Co. Down. It was one of three planes to take off on a gunnery training mission at 1445hrs that day from Toome Airfield, Co. Antrim.
Second Lieutenant Howell Collier Osborne Jr. was the pilot of “Winnie Dee”. To his right, Second Lieutenant Richard A. Newman was at the controls of the lead Marauder. The third plane, #41-18054 “Jezzebelle” was flown by Lieutenant Eugene G. Wegman. Of the three planes, “Winnie Dee” had been retired from front-line service as “war-weary”.
Visibility was around 4 miles with stratus cloud at 1,000 feet, overcast with breaks, and reported haze. Shortly before the crash, Osborne circled over the Irish Sea, around 3 miles off the coast east of Kilkeel, Co. Down. Aiming to get out of a cloud bank forming around the mountains, he lost position, and lost sight of his accompanying Marauders. “Winnie Dee” disappeared into the cloud bank between 1,200 and 1,500 feet behind the other planes, and crucially at an altitude of 400 feet lower. Newman in the lead plane made two attempts to contact the “Winnie Dee” crew to no avail. Osborne’s plane had crashed on the southwest slope of Chimney Rock Mountain.
[Osborne] made an error in technique by permitting himself to get too far out of position in formation and that the pilot made an error in judgement by flying into clouds in a known mountainour area.
Five members of the crew from 3rd Combat Crew Replacement Center, United States Army Air Force died as a result of the incident. They were pilot Howell Collier Osborne Jr., second-pilot Chester Murray Turner, aerial engineer Roy Roberts Cappe Jr., and air gunners Jimmie Gyovai and William Joseph Devenney. All five were listed as missing. Several days later, a group of soldiers of the U.S. Army’s 5th (Red Diamond) Infantry Division discovered the wreckage while on a routine training hike. 364th Service Squadron received official confirmation on 15th April 1944.
On 20th April 1944, Osborne, Turner, Cappe, Gyovai, and Devenney were first buried in Class A uniforms and with full military honours at Lisnabreeny American Military Cemetery on the outskirts of Belfast in 1944. U.S. Army Graves Registration recovered the crew, bringing them to Wilton’s Funeral Home, 255 Crumlin Road, Belfast.
Second Lieutenant Howell Collier Osborne Jr., U.S.A.A.F. died on 10th April 1944 when Marauder "Winnie Dee" crashed in low cloud over Chimney Rock Mountain.
Second Lieutenant Chester Murray Turner, U.S.A.A.F. died on 10th April 1944 when Marauder "Winnie Dee" disappeared in cloud, crashing on Chimney Rock Mountain.
Staff Sergeant Roy Roberts Cappe Jr., U.S.A.A.F. died on 10th April 1944 when Marauder "Winnie Dee" disappeared into cloud and crashed on Chimney Rock Mountain.
Sergeant Jimmie Gyovai, U.S.A.A.F. died on 10th April 1944 when Marauder "Winnie Dee" disappeared into low cloud before crashing on Chimney Rock Mountain.
Sergeant William Joseph Devenney, U.S.A.A.F. died on 10th April 1944 when Marauder "Winnie Dee" disappeared into cloud and crashed on Chimney Rock Mountain.
3rd Combat Crew Replacement Center operated from Toome Airfield, Co. Antrim, readying pilots and crew for combat in U.S.A.A.F. B-26 Marauders and A-20 Havocs.
During the Second World War, crews from both the Royal Air Force and the United States Army Air Force made use of the airfield facilities at Toome, Co. Antrim.
During the Second World War, the Mourne Mountains, Co. Down provided a training ground for troops as well as a hazard to military planes on training exercises.