Hidden Landmark-World War II British Flying School Crash Site, Big Mountain, OK

Between 1997 and 2001, students at Rattan Elementary School in Rattan, Oklahoma, researched the crash site of a flight of Texan AT6 training aircraft.  These aircraft were piloted by Royal Air Force pilots which were stationed at British Flying Training School No. 1 in Terrell, Texas, and were enroute to Miami, OK.  Below is the text from the signage next to the memorial:

The morning of Saturday, February 20, 1943, Course 12 of the #1 British Flying Training School left Terrell, Texas, in a low level, cross-country training flight.  Their destination was the #3 BFTS in Miami, Oklahoma.  These AT6s encountered bad weather near Red River, the boundary between Texas and Oklahoma.  Some planes returned to Terrell, some continued to Miami, but three were reported missing.  According to the information gathered by Rattan Elementary students, one AT6 “belly landed” and slid into a tree.  Pilot, Vincent Henry Cockman, and navigator, Frank R. Frostick, were found still in the cockpit.  The Anderson-Clayton Funeral Home in Antlers, Oklahoma, picked up their bodies.  The bodies were then transported to Terrell, Texas, for burial on Monday, February 22, 1943, at Oakland Cemetery.  The AT6 flown by Michael John Minty Hosier with navigator Maurice Leslie Jensen nose-dived into the ground turning up a boulder, which created what community members refer to as a “natural tombstone.”  The bodies of the two cadets were recovered on that (same) Monday and taken to the funeral home in Antlers.  They were (also) returned to Terrell for burial.  The third AT6 was able to land safely in a field and was flown back to Terrell the following day.  The navigator of this plane, Gordon “Wilbur” Wright returned to Terrell in the AT6 while its pilot, John Wall, stayed to search for the two crashed AT6s.  Wall wrote a letter describing this incident.  The letter is included in the research report available at the Pushmataha County Historical Society in Antlers, Oklahoma, and at the Oklahoma Historical Society in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  This monument was placed at the “natural tombstone” crash site for two principal reasons.  The research brought about student awareness of the importance of maintaining good relations between the United States and the United Kingdom.  The research also served as a reminder of the great sacrifices both countries have made to preserve and protect our freedom.  This monument was placed in honor of these four cadets as well as all others who have given their lives for the cause of freedom.  The monument was designed by the student researchers in consultation with the Canadian Commonwealth War Graves Commission and prepared by a local artisan, Mr. Allen Parsons of Allen’s Monuments.  The monument was dedicated on Sunday, February 20, 2000, at 2:00 pm on the 57th anniversary of the crashes. 

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The six BFTSs were, with opening dates:
1 BFTS Terrell, Texas 9 June 1941 *
2 BFTS Lancaster, California 9 June 1941 *
3 BFTS Miami. Oklahoma 16 June 1941 *
4 BFTS Mesa, Arizona 16 June 1941 *
5 BFTS Clewiston, Florida 17 July 1941 *
6 BFTS Ponca City, Oklahoma 23 August 1941
7 BFTS Sweetwater, Texas May 1942 but closed August 1942

Other training would take place with the USAAC in their own schools, under the Arnold Scheme, named after General Hap Arnold.  Altogether, some 18,000 RAF cadets passed through the BFTS and Arnold Schemes. Another 1,000 USAAF cadets were also trained at the BFTSs (http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/17/a7189617.shtml)

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