WWII Bellerose, Long Island B-18 Bomber Crash in Neighborhood Backyard


Occasionally I revisit my WWII photo collection to cull through material I’ve overlooked.  In this instance, I found a real gem that I somehow never took the time to research.  I remember buying this photo at a local flea market with the intention of doing some research on the crash incident, but never got around to it.  I assumed that the wreckage in the image was from a B-17 or C-47, but it turns out to be from two B-18 bombers that collided mid-air over Bellerose, Long Island on June 17th, 1940.  Eleven men died in the crash, and one Bellerose citizen died of burns following the event.  Scanning the internet, I was able to find an advertisement for asbestos siding from 1940 that makes reference to the event.  This photo is an incredibly close up shot of the event.  A fireman’s hat and jacket can be seen on the wing of the B-18 in the backyard of the burned home.  Incredible.

I was able to find an article written by one of the local survivors of the crash:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2009/june-online-only/survivingaplanecrash.html

Also, a minor league baseball played died in the fiery inferno.  Here’s an excerpt from the Baseball in Wartime website:

“On Sunday, June 16, 1940, Bedient sent his parents a telegram stating that he was spending the day with his wife at Great Neck. At around 9:00 A.M. on Monday, June 17, two twin-engined Douglas B-18 Bolo bombers, escorted by two fighter planes, left Mitchel Field on a routine training flight. The two bombers carried a crew of 11, including Second Lieutenant Bedient. Just 15 miles from Mitchel Field, above the densely populated area of Bellerose Manor on the eastern edge of Queens, New York, the two bombers were executing a maneuver at 2,500 feet. One plane had to pass under the other and there was not enough clearance. The two planes collided and crashed in flames. One landed within a block of a school and the second smashed into a one-story residence that instantly went up in flames. All 11 crewmen — two of whom unsuccessfully attempted to escape by parachute — perished in the wreckage.”

http://www.baseballinwartime.com/in_memoriam/bedient_hugh.htm

UPDATE 

An author who is writing a book on the B-18 emailed me with the following technical info on the two planes that crashed.

Douglas B-18A – AAC 37-576 Accepted 17 May 1939 and immediately assigned to Langley Field, VA. To Mitchel Field, NY 10 November 1939. Accident 17 June 1940 at Bellerose, Long Island, NY 1LT P. Burlingame, collided with B-18A 37-583 (q.v.), w/o. Coded 9B45 and 9B43 at the time, order uncertain.

Douglas B-18A – AAC 37-583 Accepted 9 June 1939. Assigned to Langley Field, VA 10 June 1939. To Mitchel Field, NY 12 November 1939. Accident 17 June 1940 at Bellerose, LI, NY, 2LT R. M. Bylander, collided with B-18A 37-576 (q.v.), w/o.

Thanks!

17 thoughts on “WWII Bellerose, Long Island B-18 Bomber Crash in Neighborhood Backyard

  1. Here is a bit more information on the mishap. I am writing a book on the B-18. Is there any way to get hi resolution copies of that photo(s)?

    Douglas B-18A – AAC 37-576 Accepted 17 May 1939 and immediately assigned to Langley Field, VA. To Mitchel Field, NY 10 November 1939. Accident 17 June 1940 at Bellerose, Long Island, NY 1LT P. Burlingame, collided with B-18A 37-583 (q.v.), w/o. Coded 9B45 and 9B43 at the time, order uncertain.

    Douglas B-18A – AAC 37-583 Accepted 9 June 1939. Assigned to Langley Field, VA 10 June 1939. To Mitchel Field, NY 12 November 1939. Accident 17 June 1940 at Bellerose, LI, NY, 2LT R. M. Bylander, collided with B-18A 37-576 (q.v.), w/o.

  2. WAS IN SEVENTH GRADE AT THE FLORAL PARK BELLORSE SCHOOL [NASSAU COUNTY], AT THE WINDOW SHARPENING PENCILS, SAW THEM GO DOWN,MY HOUSE WAS A FEW BLOCKS AWAY.

    • To Anthony Tassi,
      How well I remember you and your family. We lived on 239th Street almost behind your home at that time. My cousins (the Kuhn”s) lived right in back of your house on 239th Street.
      I went to Our Lady Of Lourdes school and was in the 6th grade at the time and for some reason was not in school that day of the crash. I remember my father taking me to the crash site and to this day I still have the center fold of the New York News with pictures of the crash.
      I also remember that your older brother gave his life in WW-2. A very sad day when your mother gave us the news.
      Would like to chat with you if you would care to call.
      Herbert Walter
      (352) 795-8873

  3. I noticed a fairly new memorial marker in the ground with an American flag at the crash site (239th Street just off Hillside Avenue). It say’s simply something like, “Eleven Army Airmen died here on 17 June 1940”. It certainly doesn’t tell us much and I’m curious to know who placed the marker – as mentioned, it appears to be fairly new. Anyone know who placed the memorial?

  4. Pingback: really old plane crashes on LI - Page 3

  5. According to the book “The War Below” by James Scott, Chapter 1 – “Silversides” 1st Lt Paul Burlingame was the younger brother of the Captain of the U.S.S. Silversides, Lt. Cdr Creed C. Burlingame (Silversides was credited with sinking 23 ships, third most of all U.S. Submarines during WWII.)

  6. My Grandfather was a US pilot, killed in the Mojave in a training accident when my mother was only 4. He kept a log book/flight book filled with photos and in it I recently found a photo which intrigued/disturbed me as it was clearly a crash – there was handwriting on the back in pencil – I could make out “Burlingame” but my first google run led me to the pilot of flight 77 – which was clearly not right! My family lived in Long Beach so would assume this is a tragic photo of a 1940 crash victim. Anyway your site has inspired me to keep researching my Grandfather’s history and career, which I am trying to do from Australia,

    • How can I be of help? I can probably track help you figure out the mystery photo if you wouldn’t mind sending me a scan of the front and back. I will send you a follow up email if I don’t hear back.

      Thanks for finding my site!

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