14.07.1944. 552 Fighter Training School P-47D 42-22492 2nd Lt. Pfaff Location: Upper Tean village, Staffordshire
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Mission: Battle Formation Training

Date: 14th July 1944

Unit: No. 552 Fighter Training School (495 F.T. Group)

Type: P-47D Thunderbolt

Serial: 42-22491

Base: Atcham, Shropshire

Location: Upper Tean village, Staffordshire

Pilot: 2nd Lt. Donald Martin Pfaff 440714 U.S.A.A.F. Age: 22. Killed


Taking part in a battle formation exercise as part of a group of 4 other P-47'S when another P-47 jumped the group. 2nd Lt. Pfaff took evasive action and his aircraft went into a spin and he was given many orders to bale out. This he did not do, it seems that he preferred to remain in the aircraft to try and gain control as his aircraft was over a populated area. It is estimated that the spin started at around 7,000 ft, cloud tops were between 5 - 6,000 ft and cloud base about 2,500 ft. It is likely that because of the cloud he thought that the spin had been recovered and by the time the aircraft broke cloud he would have had very little time to make any further decisions and consequently went in with his aircraft.
Witnesses in the other aircraft all called for 2nd Lt. Pfaff to bail out but it seems he was determined to try and recover the aircraft. At 18.20 hrs (approx.) the P-47D hit two cottages and the aircraft burst into flames.
P-47D Pilot, 2nd Lt. Donald Martin Pfaff
The heroism of 2nd Lt. Donald Martin Pfaff did not stop that evening. Inside the cottage a 13 month old baby, Ivan Wood, was asleep in his cot. His father and mother were at the cinema. He was being cared for by his grandfather, Ambrose Hill. The child was pulled from the rubble by Arthur 'Jack' Simcox who lived nearby (member of the Home Guard). Arthur Simcox received no recognition for his bravery that night. The child suffered no more than a bruised forehead. Apart from the tragic death of 2nd Lt Pfaff it was amazing that nobody else was killed indeed injured! Arthur 'Jack' Simcox deserves some form of recognition for this rescue - Jeff and Sara are trying to make this happen.
pfaff-crash-site-1     pfaff-crash-site-2
Official U.S.A.A.F. photographs of the crash site in 1944
Left to right above: John (Son of rescuer) Ivan the 13 mth old child and Jeff and Sara - pictured outside the cottages in August 2009 where the aircraft crashed and where they will be placing the memorial plaque.
arthur-john-simcox  ivan-wood
Above left rescuer: Arthur 'Jack' Simcox. right: Ivan Wood in later years
Heroism continued when a Lt Frank Salt (Home guard) placed his life at risk when in a bid to rescue the stricken pilot from the burning aircraft who he soon realised had been killed in the impact he then started to ditch aviation fuel and ammunition to avert another major disaster. This won him a gallantry commendation from the Home Guard.
P-47D Thunderbolt - similar to the type that crashed on July 14th 1944
Following a meeting of the Royal British Legion Tean Branch regarding this incident extensive research took place into this crash by Jeff and Sara Gibson. A memorial is planned to be erected on the cottages which were repaired and are still in use today. Jeff and Sara have organised this superb memorial with the assistance from the Royal British Legion. (they are both members of the Tean branch.) They decided to do this as no recognition has been made to the pilot or to some of the other heroes this July evening in 1944. All the information they have discovered has been passed to the relatives of the Pilot 2nd Lt. Donald Martin Pfaff and plan to attend the ceremony announced to be held on the 18th October 2009. We hope to be able to publish the photographs when this event has taken place, but first, of course, they will be sent to the Pfaff family in the U.S.A.
Support from this local newspaper has greatly assisted Jeff and Sara with the memorial plans pfaff-memorial-1  pfaff-memorial-3
pfaff-memorial-4  pfaff-memorial-5
Above - pictures taken during the memorial plaque dedication in October 2009
atcham-airfield  woodlawn-cemetery002c-wilkinsburg003a2
Above left: Atcham Airfield, Right: Woodlawn Cemetery, Wilkinsburg

Burial details:
2nd Lt. Donald Martin Pfaff Sec 4 Woodlawn Cemetery, Wilkinsburg Allegheny, Pennsylvania, Son of Michael (Mihaly) and Matilda Plaff

Research undertaken for the Aircrew Remembrance Society by Jeff and Sara Gibson (Royal British Legion - Tean Branch)

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