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Thunderbolt P-47
Updated: 24th Jan 2015

 

On January 9, 1944, a USAAF P47 Thunderbolt plunged from the sky at Saughall Massey killing its pilot 2nd Lt. Jay Frederick Simpson. On January 9th, he was remembered when flowers are laid at a memorial to him at Saughall Massey and at Fort Perch Rock New Brighton, on the salvaged engine of his Republic Thunderbolt aircraft in the Fort's Warplane Wreck Investigation Group's Museum, which also houses the engine salvaged from the Spitfire fighter that crashed into Birkenhead Park in WW2. 2nd Lt Jay Frederick Simpson of Flight Test, BAD#1 in 8th Air Force Service Command took off from Burtonwood near Warrington on January 9th 1944 at 14.30 hours on a test flight in a USAAF P-47D Republic Thunderbolt 42-75584 along with eight other aircraft. The aircraft could not be contacted by radio, at 15.59 hours all aircraft except P-47D 42-75584 had landed.

Overdue action was taken on this plane, and at 16.30 hours it was reported to have crashed at 15.08 near Saughall Massey, Wirral with the loss of the pilot. On January 9th 2014 at 15.08 the reported time of the crash the Warplane Wreck investigation Group (WWIG) based at Fort Perch Rock, New Brighton, Wirral, will lay flowers at the memorial plaque which it installed at Saughall Massey on the 21st March 2005. Flowers will also be laid at the recovered engine which is on display at the groups museum at Fort Perch Rock.

WWIG recovered the engine in September 1973 and it is the main exhibition at its museum, during the recovery a gold ring was found which was returned to Krause-Simpson Post No300 in Gillett, Wisconsin, USA. 2nd Lt Jay Frederick Simpson as laid to rest at the American Cemetery, Madingley, Cambridge. 'We Shall Remember Them'.  Doug Darroch  Curator Warplane Wreck Investigation Group Fort Perch Rock New Brighton Wirral CH45 2JU


Lt Jay Simpson USAF
This is Lieutenant Jay Frederick Simpson who died on Jan 9th 1944 test flying a Republic Thunderbolt P-47 over Moreton, Wirral.  It flipped over in flames whilst he looked for somewhere to land safely.  He had taken off from US Burtonwood Airbase, Lancashire, earlier. It flew out to sea and on its return over Hoylake reported that the plane was on fire. It circled over the RAF Camp at West Kirby (Greasby). It was seen to lose height and flip over, landing in a field near the Arrow Brook. Pieces were dug up in 1974 and now reside in the museum of the War Plane Wreck Investigation Group at Fort Perch, New Brighton, Wallasey. This American pilot came from Gillett, Wisconsin. His gold class ring was found in the wreckage (see email below) and presented to his cousin Rose Nell Godfrey, who gave it to the local Legion post. His unused parachute was also found on the wreck site. As he was test flying I presume he was checking to ensure a fault had been repaired, maybe it wasn't?





Lt. Jay Frederick Simpson's World War II service medals, include the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, left, the World War II Victory Medal, and the Honorable Service pin, right.


Burtonwood Flight Tower

This is the actual P-47 Thunderbolt (above) that Lieutenant Jay Simpson crashed into fields near Moreton, Wirral, Merseyside, where I was brought up. Unfortunately Jay was killed, probably trying to ensure that his faltering plane did not hit any dwellings.  He came from Gillett, Wisconsin. He was on a test flight from the USAF base at Burtonwood, Lancashire. It must have been serious due to the fact that the P47 was a remarkably sturdy aircraft which could fly home even though "shot up".  Pilots during WW2 would land P47's riddled and pock marked, engine damaged, but still flying - a tribute to its designer(s).The picture of Jay is from a local historical book.

This is the location of the Fort Perch Museum in New Brighton, next to the New Brighton Lighthouse. This image
was taken by me as I flew from Liverpool to Belfast in the late 80s  

The following four images were sent to me by David Taylor. This was Jay's Thunderbolt engine

3 new images taken by me in March 2013 below

 
On the 21st March 2005 a ceremony took place upon a new bridge running by the crash site of the plane. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend but I have been sent the following images of the ceremony by Cllr Chris Blakeley

Lt Col Ben Coffey

Esther McVey, Parliamentary Candidate with Swasie Turner

April 7th 2005. I went up to Merseyside on a visit to Liverpool HQ Western Approaches and asked a friend in Moreton if she knew of the bridge and the plaque, the only one she thought it might be was only 400 yards from her house, and here it is. The plaque in the left image, sorry about my reflection and, in the second image. the field (2005) where Jay crashed.

I received this email from Yvonne, of Great Sutton, Wirral: I have just come across your Web Site, and was very interested in your web page about Lt. Jay F. Simpson's fatal crash of his P-47 on 9th Jan. 44. I first read in a local paper in Jan 1994 of a Memorial Service in which had been held at a Church on the Wirral to commemorate Jay's death 50 yrs before.  I contacted  Doug Darroch who had done the write up for the newspaper and Doug gave me all the information he had on Jay. There and then I decided to go to visit Jay's grave in the American Cemetery at Madingley, Cambridge.  It was a frosty cold February morning when we found Jay's grave and placed a bouquet of yellow roses there for him. Looking at all those white marble crosses and all the names on the Wall of the Missing, I wanted not only to learn more about Lt. Jay F. Simpson, but the men of the US 8th AF who had served over here in WW2. My quest for information on Jay brought me in touch with his cousin Rose Nell Godfrey who told me all about Jay growing up.  He was the only child of Miles and Beatrice Simpson and how before he joined up, had drove the truck making deliveries for his father who owned the 'Simpson Tavern' in Gillett. I managed to contact one of Jay's friend's who he grew up with in Gillett, Wisconsin.  He told me of how, when in their teens,  Jay got the 3 dollars together to go for a ride in one of the small planes that was visiting the area. From then on, all Jay wanted to do was to fly a plane. Rose Nell kindly sent me a number of photo's of Jay as a boy, and one taken when he had graduated Flight School. 

My pride and joy is Jay's year book 'Crosswinds'  from Class of 43-E, 7th A.A.F.F.T.D. Oxnard, California. This has class photo's of all the four 'Flights'.  At the back of the book, it is signed by Jay's friends.  One of his friends Gene Torres messages referred to Jay by his nick name of 'Nose over' !! and joked that they thought they would be sent to Japan. Another signature at the back of the book was a George Montgomery, who I eventually traced in early 1995. George lived in Florida, and I used to speak to him on the phone about his time at Flight School with Jay. In late 1995 we went over to Florida on holiday, and George was to come and visit us at our hotel, but the day before he was due, a hurricane warning was given for the area George lived in, so he could not make the meeting.  Sadly at the beginning of 1996 I got word from Georges wife, that he had died. 

On your Web Site you mention how Jay's Flight Graduation Ring had been uncovered and returned at Rose Nells wishes to the Legion Post in Wisconsin (the Legion Post had been named  Krause-Simpson in memory of the first servicemen of Gillett to be killed in WW1 & WW2). I was to speak on the phone to the man who was the  Commander of the Legion Post when Jay's ring was presented to them. He told me that in the late 70's there had been a break in at the Legion Post, and Jay's ring was one of the items stolen.

All those years Jays ring had been buried in the field at Saughall Massie, for the ring  to be stolen by some moron from  Jay's own home town Gillett. My search for information about Jay and the 'Mighty Eighth Air Force', has over the years brought me such wonderful friendship's  with many of the veterans of the 8th AF.  Now eighth years later with my knowledge and the books I have collected related to the 'Mighty Eighth',  I now help the relatives of those who served over here to track down information on where their loved ones were based, and the aircraft they flew etc. In some cases, what happened to those relatives who did not return home and paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives. So you see Mike, I have so much to thank Jay for, as it was his story in the newspaper that set me off on a quest that has brought me such wonderful friends, it is  especially nice to have made some friends that were Jay's friends all those years ago.

An Email received 16th February 2005: My Name is Chris Blakeley and I am a local Councillor on Wirral Borough Council, representing Moreton West and Saughall Massie Ward. In about 6 weeks we will be opening a new Bypass called the Saughall Massie bypass. The Bypass has been constructed, (with permission of the war  graves commission) in an area where Lieutenant Frederick Jay Simpson crashed his Thunderbolt P-47 on January 9th 1944. Local businessman Doug Darroch and a local resident Steve Marshall have kindly donated a plaque which is to be set in the stonework of the new bridge across the Arrowebrook. It is expected that this will be done sometime toward the end of March a final date is to be agreed and I was wondering if you or a representative would like to attend the commemoration service? I am also interested in contacting Yvonne from Little Sutton who has a piece published on your web site. Would it be possible for you to supply me her contact details so that I can invite her as well? I will also be contacting USAF Mildenhall or Lakenheath as well as the US embassy in London asking if they to would like to attend. I would be grateful for any information you could supply in relation to this a momentous occasion for both local residents and Lt Simpson.

July 2005: Thanks for the Thunderbolt Web page. I belong to the Burtonwood Association and maintain their database. We have members in the UK as well as the US. We have a reunion every year in the US and every other year in the UK. Last year it was in Liverpool at the Adelphi. My wife and I were there. Our web site is http://www.burtonwoodbase.org/ . You may be interested in some of the things on it.

12th June 2008: I was delighted to receive a series of emails this week from members of his family. Lachelle was one of them. Her grandfather was Jay's only child, James, who also emailed me. James lives in Billing, Montana. Thank you all for your kind words. I was glad to have been of some help.

4th March 2010. Jay's granddaughter, Lachelle,  has been back to me. She would like to know where she can have a pilots crash and death record amended because the official USAF record says 'pilot error' which, if witnesses are to be believed, in totally incorrect. Jay's plane was on fire and he was trying to land it away from dwellings, sadly it crashed before he could complete his landing. He died saving others.

18th March. I paid a visit back to the bridge in Saughall Massie, its actual location. Here are a couple of images: (note the rapid growth of moss in the cement).

   

Burtonwood

The name Burtonwood is likely to come from 'Burton', which means a 'tun' by a fortified manor. There was also a wood, which was an extensive forest, in the 13th century, hence the name Burtonwood which, in its full meaning is the 'wood by the tun'.

Burtonwood is probably best known for RAF Burtonwood where the American Air Force was stationed during World War 2. The air base was the largest in Europe during the war, with control of over 35,000 men in total. Burtonwood saw visits from many famous people including Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Jimmy Cagney and Nat ‘King’ Cole amongst others.

The base was used during the Berlin Airlift, throughout the Cold War and its last major operational use was during the Desert Storm – the Gulf War. The RAF and the USAF, as well as the US Army used the air base, until much of it was demolished in the 1980s.  Part of its main runway now forms some of the M62 motorway.

 
The Motorway M62 now runs along the main runway

http://www.gilletthistorical.com

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=0f9_1434463773
(In the video it mentions - this is how Rommel got it. Actually it was a Spitfire that attacked Rommel in his car)

Berlin Air Lift - Burtonwood


Please help me to keep this site alive, no matter how small a donation, it all helps

http://billingsgazette.com/news/article_50ef4039-b8f6-5f89-92af-c2726cd10600.html

http://www.kulr8.com/news/local/Teen-Uncovers-Historic-Past-of-Ancestor-118277384.html?m=y&smobile=y

http://capitolwords.org/date/2011/03/17/S1819-2_remembering-lieutenant-jay-frederick-simpson/

http://www.jontester.com/news/2011/billings-gazette-wwii-pilot-posthumously-honored-as-sen-tester-presents-medals-to-family/

Thanks to Jeffrey Schaub for the above links.