The Canvey B-17

a ww2 crash site

One summers day in 1943 or 1944 three small boys stood at the top of Belton Way Leigh-on-sea seeing an American Air force B17 Fortress bomber in trouble. It came from the east lower and lower over Southend pier with a long long trail of smoke behind it. As it passed the pier parachutes could be seen coming out, and the wake of the air-sea rescue launch going out from the pier head.

The aircraft got lower and lower, and landed with a vast splash on the mud right at the eastern tip of Canvey. There were attempts to get the engines and some other equipment out, but I heard that some salvage equipment as well as the aircraft sank so deep into the mud as to be not retrievable.

In later years there was a sort of grid of aluminium sections, the core of the vast tail which still stuck out of the mud, and in very small craft one could sail quite close to that.

Does anyone else remember this? This was not one of the two that collided over Canvey in another incident.

The undersigned also remembers Shell Haven on fire, with a vast column of flame by night, and smoke by day, lasting several days at another date in the war.

J Stafford-Baker

PS And also  – the Canvey bus with outside stairs, waiting for
enough passengers to make it worth while!.

Comments about this page

  • When I was a small boy around 1950-53, I was on holiday in Canvey. I remember very well playing on a large radial aero engine that was just in the sea, but could be reached when the tide was out. Further up the beach was a large yellow painted object which I now think could have been a tail fin. I have never forgotton this, and have always wondered about it.

    By Raymond Hammond (30/11/2010)
  • Yes I was there a few days after the crash there was lots of debris around and I took a small piece. The army was also there trying to salvage parts. One could only see it all at very low tide I am surprised there was survivors.

    By NORMAN OF SIMI (19/10/2012)
  • I lived on Canvey from 1961 until 1973 when I joined the Royal Air Force. I still visited family there until the early 90s. Love reading the pages of this site and browsing through, came across this page. With my keen interest in aircraft I can say that the picture used above is not a Boeing B17 but rather a Boeing XB15 designed in 1934 as a test for the United States Army Air Corps to see if it would be possible to build a heavy bomber with a 5,000 mile range.

    By Dave St Pier (27/03/2020)
  • Dave the photograph has been used for illustration purposes only. Nowhere does it say what plane it is.

    By Janet Penn (27/03/2020)

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