23rd of June 1944 Crash Landing of a Thunderbolt P-47 (41-6358)

from the 9th Air Force's 405th Fighter Group

Returning from a mission close to Le Mans France, pilot Lt Walter R. Davis in his P-47 Thunderbolt (41-6358) developed a battery issue. He indicated to the Squadron leader that he had an issue and an emergency landing was planned at an advanced landing strip close to Cherbourg. However, on route to the Strip Davis takes a wrong turn and heads towards Jersey. He crashes lands at the Bottom of Jubile Hill and becomes a prisoner of war being transferred to a Luftwaffe POW Camp in Europe.  

 

"During the morning an American single-seater fighter came down at St. Ouen's owing to lack of petrol; the pilot was arrested and the plane put under guard. The Germans issue a notice calling the attention of civilians to the danger of exposing themselves to anti-aircraft fire and warning them to take shelter when the guns are firing; in the event of fighting and on the sounding of the air-raid sirens civilians must keep off the streets. Not much shipping in the harbours."

23rd of June

Diary of Lesley Sinel 

Civilian

 

"On Friday morning 23rd of June 1944, I was leading Wainwright Squadron back to our home base. Before making waterfall out we had spent about thirty minutes staffing enemy vehicles south of the bomb line. About ten minutes before leaving the enemy coast, Lt Davis, apparently with radio out, flew up on my wing and gestured that he had to land. 

 

I switched to Channel C and called our controller who gave us an average heading to a strip. When we made waterfall I instructed the other fighters to head home while I picked up a vector to the nearest advanced airfield at the base of Cherbourg Peninsula. Davis was with the flight at this time. I then flew toward the stirp for about three minutes and found that he was no longer with me. 

 

I contacted Lt Poole who was Lt Davis element leader and learned that he had made a turn in the opposite Direction when my aircraft turned to the landing strip.   

I cannot understand what caused Lt Davis to take this action unless he was confused and assumed the wrong position. The visibility was about 3 to 5 with a 10/10th overcast at five thousand feet. There are indications that Lt. Davis ship developed a dead battery."

Ralph C Jenkins 

Captain, Air Corps 

In the above photos, you can see the Normandy invasion stripes. Alternating black and white bands were painted on the fuselages and wings of World War II Allied aircraft, for the purpose of increased recognition by friendly forces during Normandy Landings. The bands, consisting of three white and two black bands, wrapped around the rear of an aircraft fuselage just in front of the empennage (tail) and from front to back around both the upper and lower surfaces of the wings.

Below is a rough location of the crash site

Official US report about the crash

Before the P-47 was transferred to Walter Davis and the 9th Air Force's 405th Fighter Group. It belonged to the 4th Fighter Group, 334th Squadron. Lieutenant Colonel Chatterley (above) flew Thunderbolt (41-6358) and named it "California or Bust". His tour was not without incidents. His normal combat routine was first interrupted by a mid-air collision on 27 April 1943. He was flying 41-6358 in a mock dogfight over Castle Camps with Lt. James Wilkinson. Archie overshot, slicing off Wilkinson's tail. Wilkinson bailed out, but was unconscious, with back injuries when he hit the ground - the injuries kept him in hospital for months. Archie, however, was able to perform a dead-stick landing in his plane Near Newmarket. The repairs required meant that it was out of action and then transferred to the 9th when operational. 

Above Lt. Ralph K "Kidd" Hofer, Salem, MO. 334th Fighter Squadron, poses by the P-47C 41-6358 QP-G “California or Bust” in 1943. On the 2nd of July, 1944 the 4th Fighter Group joined the 352nd and 325th Fighter Groups in a bomber escort mission to Budapest, Hungary, flying from bases in Foggia, Italy. Over the Budapest area, they encountered a force of Bf 109s. Hoffer was shot down and did not survive the landing.

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