Paul Douglas

Anniversary of WWII-era plane crash at Kebo approaches

Paul Douglas

Paul Douglas of Bar Harbor checks out a RCAF plane that crash-landed on Kebo Valley golf course in October of 1941.

October 24, 1941

It was, truly, a dark and stormy night – just weeks before the United States’ entry into World War II.

As dazzlingly bright aerial flares began to drift down out of the fog over a sleeping village just before midnight, the telephone at the Bar Harbor police station began ringing off the hook. “Is it really the Nazis?” one woman reportedly asked, her voice tinged with real fear.

For 10-year-old Paul Douglas of Bar Harbor, the drone of a large, twin-engine aircraft circling low above the town, coupled with the sight of those flares glowing mysteriously in the mist, was the perfect invitation to adventure.

“After it made a couple more passes over our house on Snow Street I was out of bed and into the street,” he recalled. The flares drifted on a westerly breeze, falling slowly in the vicinity of the nearby Shore Path and the waters of Frenchman Bay.

Meanwhile, the situation overhead in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Avro Anson coastal patrol plane, number 6715, was becoming critical. Earlier in the day the aircraft departed its base at Pennfield Ridge in New Brunswick on a navigation training mission. It was now lost in the fog. The crew had encountered some snow, and ice was forming on the plane’s wings. As fuel ran low, the crew spotted the lights of Bar Harbor and flew as close to the ground as they dared. Releasing flares for illumination, they desperately looked for a place to set the war bird down.

With the engines running on fumes, the 22-year-old pilot could wait no longer. He banked hard and brought the large plane down on the only open area he could see – the 535-yard, par 5, 14th hole at Kebo Valley Golf Club just west of town. The aircraft made a belly-landing. The propeller blades bent on impact and the plane, fuselage and wings intact, skidded for about 600 feet before hanging up in a sand trap. With no fuel left in the wing tanks, there was no fire.

Bar Harbor Police Chief George Abbott is quoted in accounts of the crash as saying that the pilot had done a “marvelous job” of bringing the aircraft down safely. “A lot of people couldn’t drive a car along that fairway, let alone an airplane,” he said. One RCAF official said the only thing the plane clipped “was the grass.”

For more, pick up a copy of the Mount Desert Islander.

Earl Brechlin

Editor at Mount Desert Islander
Islander editor Earl Brechlin first discovered Mount Desert Island 35 years ago and never left. The author of seven guide and casual history books, he is a Registered Maine Guide and has served as president of the Maine and New England Press Associations. He and his wife live in Bar Harbor. [email protected]

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