Tomahawk Warrior commemorative marker in U.K. officially inaugurated
Pilot Charles J. Searl was among crew of plane that crashed during WWII
By Jalen Maki
Tomahawk Leader Editor
PENN, UNITED KINGDOM – Seventy-seven years after the Tomahawk Warrior aircraft went down in a field in the United Kingdom during World War II, and nearly two years since a commemorative marker was installed near the crash site, that marker has been officially inaugurated.
Among the Tomahawk Warrior crew was pilot Charles J. Searl of Tomahawk.
David E. Huntley, who witnessed the aftermath of the crash, wrote a book about the crew. Huntley hopes to publish The Tomahawk Warrior: A Final Honor next year.
In Nov. 2019, Huntley was able to have the crew recognized for their sacrifice with the Scroll of Honor and a permanent marker near the crash site, 75 years after the Tomahawk Warrior went down.
On Sept. 11, 2021, Huntley was finally able to make the trip to England to officially inaugurate the marker.
On hand for the inauguration of the marker were Lord Howe and Countess Howe. After the Tomahawk Warrior crew was recognized for their sacrifice with the Scroll of Honor in 2019, a celebration was held at Penn House, the country estate of Lord Howe and Countess Howe. The Howe family’s history dates back to Henry VIII.
The Tomahawk Warrior
Early on the morning of Aug. 12, 1944, a plane, engines sputtering, roared over the cottage of Huntley’s family in Loudwater, near High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, about 30 miles west of London. The plane passed over at a low altitude and went down less than a minute later at Lude Farm in Penn, just north of Loudwater. Huntley, who was nine years old at the time, raced to the scene with his brother and step-brother to find that the aircraft had been destroyed and its entire crew had died in the crash.
Huntley later learned that the plane was called the “Tomahawk Warrior,” and it was piloted by Searl.
The Tomahawk Warrior was a B-17 Bomber, part of the United States Army Air Forces 398th Bomb Group. On the morning of the crash, the plane and its crew departed from Royal Air Force Station Nuthamspead, England, headed for Versailles, France, on their 25th bombing mission. On their way to France, the plane, loaded with bombs for the mission, experienced mechanical problems and went down.
Huntley said the explosion was heard in all the surrounding towns, and the blast was louder than most he had heard in London during the Blitz, Nazi Germany’s bombing campaign against Great Britain in 1940 and 1941 during the World War II.
According to the 398th Bomb Group Memorial Association, Searl purposely put the ill-fated aircraft down in an open field near Lude Farm, saving countless lives by avoiding the populated areas nearby.
Huntley said he found the information about the Tomahawk Warrior, its crew and the crash near his family’s cottage happened purely by chance while he was researching another WWII story. Coincidentally, he found the account of the Tomahawk Warrior on Aug. 12, 2016, the 72nd anniversary of the crash.
Huntley stated he wanted his book, The Tomahawk Warrior: A Final Honor, to focus on the men who were aboard the plane when it went down.
“We know that the crew is the Tomahawk Warrior crew. Those are the guys that died,” he said. “The story (I wrote) is a human story. It’s a story of people.”