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Search for the Boeing B-29 Stratofortress

In our extensive research of the Peak District we had been fascinated by the 50 or so air crash sites recorded in the Peak District National Park. We thought it was time to find one. There are some great websites that have recorded and logged the numerous crash sites in the Peak district and we sought the one that, in our opinion stood out amongst the rest, a Boeing B-29 Superfortress, known as "Exposed", which crashed on the 3rd November 1948 near Higher shelf Stones on Shelf Moor killing all 13 crew members.

We parked on the side of the A57 where it meets the Pennine Way just up from Doctors Gate. There were a number of cars parked, all empty, as people took to the moors on yet another glorious day. As usual, for such a popular spot, the parking facilities were pathetic and arguably dangerous. Whilst authorities campaign to get people to the Peak District sometimes facilities let down the sentiment. Heading northup the Pennine Way , the sun was hot and bright with not a cloud in the sky. There was a stiff warm breeze and it was hard to imagine that October would be upon us next week.

The walkway is well maintained and walking is made easier by strategic flagstone paving-not of Roman descandancy on this occasion. After approximately 2.5km we came to a waymarker with an arrow pointing to the left. Looking over to our left we could something glinting in the sun-on a hunch we guessed this could be our destination. We were now off roading heading towards Shelf Moor and more specifically Higher Shelf Stones. At this time the going was good but there were still instances of very wet areas as my new boots can testify. (purchased in the Peak District View online store for 24.99-made a mental note to query staff discount). If you pick your route carefully you will not be going down too many ravines and gullies.

After about 1.5km the first signs of the Air Crash Site could be seen. There was a strange atmosphere from here on in. Sure, we had read about Peak District air crashes, sure, we had seen photographs of this site, but quite frankly, we didn't know what to expect. Silence was upon us.

The Boeing B-29 Superfortress crashed whilst descending through cloud. Another 200 feet and it would have made it, but sadly it hit the moor and cut a groove into the peat before bursting into flames. The first thing was parts of the fusilage followed by other bits of twisted metal, sections of wings, undercarriage legs and all four engines. A monument had been erected in 1988 to commenerate the crash and all over there were rememberance crosses. Under one of the wing sections there were some poppy wreaths and knowing how tenacious the weather can be up here we guessed the tributes were placed on a regular basis.

The twisted metal rattled as the wind blustered over the moor but nothing moved. It was almost as if the wreckage was there to stay in perpetuity, as a permanent reminder-of what I wasn't sure. We took a number of panoramic shots without uttering a word. We seemed to just know where the each shot should be taken without discussing it. For some strange reason I started to whistle the tune from the Dambusters or was it 633 Squadron as we looked at the wreaths and make shift crosses made of rocks.

There is a trig point to the northwest and a couple of hundred metres from the crash site located at SK089-948 on Higher Shelf Stones. the rocks are covered in graffitti carved into the rocks-some dating back to the 19th century. The views from here were fanastic and can be seen on this panorama.

We walked back through the crash site and then back to the Pennine Way. We have been doing this job for some months now and have seen incredible historic sites. But for the first time, history seemed to be a reality, it was believable, it meant something.

If you are up to it this is definitely worth a visit. What you will see has lasted nearly 60 years so please respect it. No doubt it has been plundered in the past but now it is a memorial to the 13 airmen killed on the 3rd November 1948.

Look at our panoramic photographs to see for yourself.

Chris Sabian, Peak District View - 2006-09-21 22:17:24





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