BAR HARBOR — Several Mount Desert Islander readers have come forward to share their connection with the crash of the Navy airship K-14 on July 2, 1944. The story of that incident has been profiled in a three-part series that wraps up in the Islander this week.
Ted Spurling Jr., on Islesford, reports that a piece of the blimp’s wooden ribs has been handed down in his family for the past 67 years. It is believed to have been found by his grandfather, Clarence, washed up on the shore of Bunker’s Cove on Islesford where salvage vessels were finally able to pull the wreckage out of the water and remove the bodies of the deceased crewmen.
“It’s been tucked alongside a floor joist in my cellar, probably since 1944,” Mr. Spurling said.
“The piece is about 3 feet long, roughly 1½” x 3″, slightly curved and tapered. It’s made of wood, spruce edges sheathed with 3/16″ mahogany plywood nailed along the sides,” he continued.
Penciled in Mr. Spurling’s father’s handwriting are the words “Rib of ‘Blimp’ July 4th 1944, came down 6 miles SE of the Rock.”
According to Mr. Spurling, one end is broken and torn; the other end cut with a saw. “I imagine there were a lot of souvenirs taken,” he said.
According to Mr. Spurling, the series of stories in the Islander have filled in some gaps in the family’s knowledge of the blimp. “I’ve known about the blimp since I was a kid, as my dad had shown me the rib and told me a little about it. But I never knew that the blimp was hauled up here on Islesford, a few hundred yards away. Your article makes it come alive,” he said.
According to Arlene Spurling, a relative of Ted’s in Southwest Harbor, she recalls what happened the night the blimp went down in vivid detail. “I was a teenager sitting on the front porch with my parents in Manset. It was a beautiful evening,” she said. Suddenly, out to the east, their attention was drawn to a series of flares. “Then we heard shots and the thuds of large explosions,” she explained.
Ms. Spurling said that little was said afterwards due to wartime censorship. “I hadn’t heard the Navy said it was pilot error until I read the articles in the paper,” she said. “Everyone in town thought that blimp was shot down by a submarine. It was common knowledge that subs were out there all the time,” she continued. “I’m glad to finally read something about what really went on,” she said.