Witness wracked with guilt over World War II crash honors fallen airmen decades later

U.S. airmen killed in crash honored

Sheffield, England — In a city park in England, Tony Foulds, 82, personally tends to a memorial for 10 U.S. airmen who died there in 1944. He thinks the crew of the "Mi Amigo" died because of him.

"If I hadn't have been on the park, they could have landed on the park," Foulds said.

The park is in the city of Sheffield, where he was playing with his friends at 8 years old when a damaged bomber approached.

"It was full of holes. Some of the holes were really big, shell holes," Foulds said.

The Mi Amigo had been badly shot up while on a bombing raid against the German Luftwaffe. More than 40 B-17s didn't make it back that day. Mi Amigo almost did. It was apparently trying to land on the field where Foulds and his friends were standing and watching.

Tony Foulds CBS News

"We thought they were just waving," he said.

Now, he's convinced the wave meant something else.

"Actually they were telling us to get out of the way," Foulds said.

With the kids in the field, the pilot veered away. Mi Amigo never made it over the surrounding trees. Now a memorial stands where the plane went down and Foulds comes by almost every day.

"This is my life now literally. I just come down here because I've nothing else," Foulds said.

The pilot of Mi Amigo was John Kriegshauser. His nephew, who lives in Chicago, was named after him.

"We're all very touched by his devotion and his remembrance of this. But I think he's as much a victim of this as my uncle and the air crew were," Kriegshauser said.

Foulds' private vigil is about to become public, with an Air Force fly-past on the 75th anniversary of the crash next month. As usual, Foulds will be there.

Tony Foulds honors a group of U.S. airmen killed during WWII. CBS News
  • Mark Phillips
    Mark Phillips

    Mark Phillips is CBS News senior foreign correspondent, based in London.