THE Forest of Bowland and the Ribble Valley is littered with the wreckage of aircraft, lost on its high, mist-shrouded slopes during the Second World War. Fuselage, pieces of cockpit and twisted metal mark the spot of 14 crashes which killed 25 Allied airmen as they flew the skies in the battle against Hitler and in the years following.

One of the biggest planes to come down was American Consolidated B-24J, nicknamed ‘Come Along Boys’, belonging to 714th Bomber Squadron, which crashed on Burn Fell near Slaidburn on January 2, 1945.

The aircraft was being ferried from Seething in Norfolk to Warton, which had become a vast depot for the US Air Force during the Allied air war.There were 19 aircrew on board, including a second crew, who were going to fly another aircraft back to Seething — four of them were killed.

It is believed the crew had become disorientated in low cloud and snow showers, but obtained a radio fix on Warton and turned on to the appropriate heading.

After the accident it was determined that the fix was 20 miles out, and while flying at just 1,500ft the aircraft hit the top of the fell and bursting into flames. Photographs taken from the air of the crash site showed only a large burnt scar on the snow covered hill. Fourteen survived.

Among the other crashes was a Boulton Paul Defiant Mk.I N1651 / JT-Z from No.256 Squadron, of the Royal Air Force, which crashed on Hawthornthwaite Fell near Abbeystead in August 1941, while on a night training flight from Squires Gate, killing Pilot Norman Sharpe.

In November 1942 a Mustang A6208, Type 1 from No 4 Squadron, based at Clifton, York, came down on Holdron Moss.

The aircraft, on a photographic sortie, with pilot Flying Officer S P Marlatt from the Canadian Air Force, ploughed into the moor at cruising speed. It shattered on impact, killing the Canadian pilot instantly.

In the same month a North American Mustang Mk.I AP208, also of No.4 Squadron RAF also flew into Holdron Moss while on a photographic training flight. The Canadian pilot, Flying Officer Sohlto Paton Marlatt, known as Hob, aged 29, was killed, leaving widow Vera and a son he had never seen.

In January 1943, two Lockheed Lightning planes crashed in mid air and came down a mile apart on Dunsop Fell and Baxton Fell, with both pilots losing their lives.

They had been among 45 P-38s being ferried to Northern Ireland for desert modifications. In cloud the group struggled to maintain formation and two collided.