A Glimpse into History
In a dramatic twist of nature’s course, the Eyjafjallajökull glacier in Iceland is revealing a long-hidden secret. Debris from an American B-17 Flying Fortress bomber, lost since World War II, is emerging from its icy grave. The discovery by Morgunblaðið sheds light on a historical event that has been concealed for decades. On September 16, 1944, this bomber crashed into the glacier. Remarkably, all ten crew members survived the harrowing incident.
The melting glacier is now breaking the wreck into multiple fragments. These pieces scatter across the site, giving it a junkyard-like appearance. The wreckage provides a tangible connection to the past, a stark reminder of the war’s far-reaching impacts.
The Call of Adventure
The reappearance of the B-17 wreck has sparked interest among many, including Guðmundur Gunnarsson, the former mayor of Ísafjörður. An experienced hiker, Gunnarsson found the story of the wreck irresistible. His fascination with the site led him and a group of friends to undertake a challenging hike to the crash site. After their visit to Þórsmörk, they journeyed to the glacier, inspecting and documenting the wreckage.
Their expedition was not just an adventure but a journey into the past, connecting them with a moment frozen in time. The group’s photographs and observations add to the historical understanding of the crash.
The Crash and the Crew’s Survival
The story of the crash is as compelling as it is miraculous. In 1996, the US Air Force disclosed the details of this unfortunate event. En route to England, the bomber stopped at Keflavík Airport for refueling. Poor weather in Iceland caused the plane to veer off course, eventually crashing into the glacier due to a down-draught.
The crew’s survival was nothing short of miraculous. The bomber’s snowy landing allowed it to glide until it abruptly stopped in a snowbank. This softer landing, despite causing significant damage to the aircraft, played a crucial role in the crew’s survival. They were thrown out through the fuselage but managed to rescue each other and seek shelter nearby.
A Harrowing Escape and Rescue
The crew’s ordeal did not end with the crash. For two days, they endured harsh conditions on the glacier, uncertain of their location and unable to contact help. A glimmer of hope appeared when they saw a light in the valley. Braving the elements, they descended from the glacier. Some even crossed the Markarfljót, a glacial river, guided by the light. Their perseverance led them to the farm Fljótsdalur in South Iceland, where they were eventually rescued.
This tale of survival against the odds adds a human element to the wreckage. It underscores the resilience and bravery of those who fought in the war.
The Military’s Response and the Glacier’s Role
In the aftermath of the crash, the US Military conducted two expeditions to the glacier. The first team reached the wreck, retrieving some items. However, the second team couldn’t make it, highlighting the challenging conditions of the area. Over time, the glacier engulfed the entire plane, only to reveal it piece by piece in recent years.