Fred Kauffman was the co-pilot of Heavenly Body II the B17 bombers that crashed off Canvey Point after the mid-air collision on the 19th June 1944.
This is a letter his brother, Milton, sent him dated the 18th June 1944. It was eventually returned to Milton following his brother’s death. The date is very significant. Milton says ‘Be careful – hope to be seeing you soon.’
Fred was the co-pilot but he was at the controls at the time their plane was accidentally hit by the other aircraft. Fred was, at first, thought to have steered the plane away from Canvey Island saving a lot of lives but he was already deceased. How the plane seemed to be in controlled flight no one knows but it is clear from the investigation at the time that no one was steering the plane.
Many thanks to Fred’s nephew Steven Kaufman for allowing us to publish this little bit of history. We have only just made contact with Steven but hope he will be able to visit the Island in the not too distant future.
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I saw the two plans hit and fall apart. I was standing at the lakes edge. The sky was full of parachutes I got scared and ran home. In my mind they could have been Germans.
Thank you all for the help you gave me.the ones that helped me.over the years that have past.i started this project 1978 on the crash incident. Not at the time who made it out and some survivors carried on to serve the 8th air force. In ww2. It was many years before I had the photos of the crew.looking at me in the group photos. Which made the hairs on my neck stand up. Were ever you are.we thank you for the gallant service. The American armed forces. And me and many others will not forget the sacrifice that was made to help great Britain. In our hours of need.you cared for us.we now care for you. In keeping the memory alive of that day when 2 B17 bombers collided over the river Thames. And become part of Canvey history to pass on to the new generation. 19th june 1944.is an important day for me. Because the memory of the first day over the crash site 1978.was the beginning of my quest to remember them all.when I found out the loss of life.on that tragic day when flying home after there mission. Who new all the years later peoples were still interested in this incident. And was proud to share my knowledge what I found out.and to let the Americans no will still care. Over here. I meet people that I wouldn’t have known if it was not for the incident freinds made for life. That I have loved and lost.thank you all. And my mum past 19th june 2009.and inspired me at the beginning to this quest to carry on. To get them crews remembered. Young men a long way from home. That over here we look after them now. God bless all. It’s been a long haul. A large part of my life.thats been experiencing for me…Gary Foulger.
You certainly started something Gary. The first I knew about it was when you pushed to have the memorial put at the paddocks. How long ago was that?
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