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James W Wilkinson

Military

James Wilkinson served with the 4th Fighter Group and then the 78th Fighter Group, flying missions from England.

On April 27, 1943 while with the 4th Fighter Group, the tail of Lieutenant Wilkinson's P47 41-6416 was sliced off in a midair collision with Archie Chatterly, also of the 4th FG/ 334th FS. Both returned to service, but Wilkinson fractured his spine in the bale out which kept him in the hospital for months. According to Losses, he transferred to the 78th FG in November 1943 and became commanding officer of the 82nd FS on May 23, 1943.

Around this time, he met and married Frieda Sutton. She was involved in the nursing services and the Air Raid Precaution.

Wilkinson was killed in a Flying Accident (KIFA) on 4th June 1944. His P-47 42-26256 crashed into a mountain in Wales on a practice strafing flight. He failed to clear a ridge, perhaps due to low cloud ceiling. Wreckage from the doomed flight has recently been recovered and is part of the AAM collection.

Wilkinson was interred at Cambridge American Cemetery. Wife Frieda received his DSC and Silver Star posthumously.

DSC Citation:
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to Captain (Air Corps) James W. Wilkinson (ASN: 0-885574), United States Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving as Pilot of a P-47 Fighter Airplane in the 82d Fighter Squadron, 78th Fighter Group, EIGHTH Air Force, in aerial combat against enemy forces on 19 May 1944, during an air mission in the European Theater of Operations. On this date Captain Wilkinson, withoutregard to the almost insuperable odds against him, led a flight of three fighters in an attack against thirty or more enemy fighters forming to attack a friendly bomber formation. Disregarding the danger of attack by even larger numbers of enemy fighters approaching behind the first enemy formation, Captain Wilkinson and his wingmen completely dispersed the enemy flight. During this engagement, one of his wingmen was forced out of action, and Captain Wilkinson's plane was damaged by enemy fire. Nevertheless he unhesitatingly flew into the second flight of enemy fighters and broke up its attack against the bombers. He and his remaining wingman then flew ahead of the bombers and attacked a third enemy group of more than thirty fighters forming for attack against the bombers. Although in this action his other wingman was lost, Captain Wilkinson continued to press straight through the enemy flight, shot down one plane, and once more broke up a threat against the bombers. By his extraordinary heroism and his determination to protect the bombers at all costs, Captain Wilkinson rendered outstanding and valorous service to our nation.

Tragically, Wilkinson's widow, Frieda, committed suicide at the age of 34 on January 12, 1945 in Marylebone. She died clutching a photograph of her husband.

Service

People

  • Ismal Boase

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Crew chief | 78th Fighter Group
    Sergeant Boase served as Crew Chief to Captain James Wilkinson, alongside Sergeant Eugene Carter. Awards: WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Eugene Carter

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Asst Crew Chief | 78th Fighter Group
    Eugene Carter served with the 78th Fighter Group, and was Assistant Crew Chief to Captain James Wilkinson, alongside Ismal W Boase as Crew Chief. Awards: Bronze Star (5OLC), WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Archie Chatterley

    Military | Lieutenant Colonel | Fighter pilot | 4th Fighter Group
    Archie was from San Diego, California, and joined the 4th Fighter Group, 334th squadron on 20 January 1943. He flew a p-47 Thunderbolt named " California or Bust". His tour was not without incidents. ...

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Units served with

  • 8th Air Force

    8th Air Force

    Command

  • 4th Fighter Group

    4th Fighter Group

    Group
    Some of the pilots of the 4th Fighter Group had seen many hours of combat by the time they joined the 4th Fighter Group as they had volunteered with the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Air Force. The three 'Eagle Squadrons' of RAF Fighter...

  • 78th Fighter Group

    78th Fighter Group

    Group
    The 78th Fighter Group was initially based at Goxhill but moved to Duxford in April 1943 and stayed there until October 1945. It flew all three of the USAAF's principal fighters. On D-Day every available Thunderbolt provided air cover to the Allied...

  • 334th Fighter Squadron

    334th Fighter Squadron

    Squadron
    The 334th Fighter Squadron was the successor to No. 71 Eagle squadron of the Royal Air Force when the 4th Fighter Group was activated on 12 September 1942. They were based at Debden Field, Essex. The "Fighting Eagles" as they were called, flew...

  • 82nd Fighter Squadron

Aircraft

  • 41-6358 CALIFORNIA OR BUST

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    Mid air collision with 41-6416 5 miles North of Castle Camps, pilot Archie W. Chatterley managed to land the damaged A/C. 27th April 43. 41-6146 was abandoned as tail was sliced off, pilot James W. Wilkinson injured when he bailed out but survived. ...

  • 41-6416

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    Mid air collision with #416358 5 miles Nth of Castle Camps, pilot 1st Lt James W Wilkinson injured his spine bailing out. A/C destroyed. 27th April 43.

  • 42-7954 'Pin Up Girl'

    P-47 Thunderbolt

  • 42-26256

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    Crashed in fog into a mountain Llandovery, Wales on a practice strafing flight. 4th June 1944. Pilot James W Wilkinson KIFA

Associated Place

  • Duxford

    Military site : airfield
    RAF Duxford, now a museum and still a working airfield, was operated by the USAAF from 1943 to 1945. The base was briefly the home of the 350th Fighter Group in late 1942, but it was not until April 1943 that it became a fully American station when the...

  • Steeple Morden

    Military site : airfield
    Originally used from 1940 as a small, grass airfield, satellite for nearby RAF Bassingbourn, Steeple Morden was allocated to the Eighth Air Force in August 1942 as a potential bomber base. It was used briefly by the 3rd Photographic Group during the...

Events

Event Location Date
Promoted 23 March 1943

Promoted C/O 82nd FS, May 23, 1943.

Mid Air Collision Castle Camps, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire CB21, UK 27 April 1943

April 27, 1943 while with the 4th FG, the tail of Lt Wilkinson's P47 #416416 was sliced off in a midair collision with Archie Chatterley #416358, also of the 4th FG/ 334th FS. 5 miles Nth Castle Camps, Camb, Eng. Both returned to service, but Wilkinson fractured his spine in the bale out which kept him in the hospital for months.

Transferred November 1943

Transferred to 78th FG.

Died Llandovery, Llandovery, Carmarthenshire SA20, UK 4 June 1944

4th June 44, KIFA P-47 #4226256 crashed into a mountain in Wales on a practice strafing
flight. Llandovery/ 4 3/4mi NE.

Posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross & Silver Star Duxford 17 July 1944

Wilkinson's wife Frieda (Sutton) received the awards on his behalf

Entered service from Pennsylvania, USA
Buried

Cambridge American Cemetery, Cambridge, England, Plot F Row 2 Grave 113.

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
12 February 2018 12:20:55 decwriter Changes to awards
Sources

Air Medals confirmed via 82nd FS history reports.

Date Contributor Update
25 September 2017 12:03:35 Lucy May Changes to biography, events and media associations
Sources

Removed biographical details at the request of James W Wilkinson's son, James W Wilkinson Jr.

Date Contributor Update
01 March 2017 11:52:05 general ira snapsorter Changes to biography
Sources

Merged with duplicate entry to include details from:
- the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia;
- http://www.4thfightergroupassociation.org/pilots.html

Date Contributor Update
15 February 2016 11:33:42 Carl Changes to person associations
Sources

Connection between Eugene Carter and James Wilkinson established by James Wilkinson's son, via correspondence with Carter.

Date Contributor Update
15 February 2016 11:31:43 Carl Changes to nickname
Sources

Information from contact with James Wilkinson's son, following his correspondence with Eugene Carter, Captain Wilkinson's former Crew Chief. He explained that, though Wilkinson also had the nicknames 'Wilkie' (mainly used by his colleagues in the 4th Fighter Group); and 'Jim' (mainly used by his fellow 82nd Fighter Squadron pilots), he was affectionately known by the enlisted men of the 82nd Fighter Squadron as 'Big Wilkie'.

Date Contributor Update
19 October 2015 00:16:04 AReid Changes to biography
Sources

Delaware County Daily Times
2015 AAM Summer Residency Resource Packet

Date Contributor Update
18 October 2015 23:52:44 AReid Changes to events
Sources

Delaware County Daily Times

Date Contributor Update
18 October 2015 23:47:39 AReid Changes to events and media associations
Sources

Delaware County Daily Times

Date Contributor Update
18 October 2015 23:44:44 AReid Changes to events
Sources

Delaware County Daily Times

Date Contributor Update
18 October 2015 23:35:35 AReid Changes to events
Sources

Delaware County Daily Times

Date Contributor Update
18 October 2015 23:32:56 AReid Changes to events
Sources

Delaware County Times

Date Contributor Update
05 October 2015 16:45:30 Emily Changes to events and media associations
Sources

Duxford Diary, p 24 (see associated media)

Date Contributor Update
25 March 2015 11:19:11 Al_Skiff Changes to events
Sources

http://www.aviationarchaeology.com

Date Contributor Update
25 March 2015 11:11:17 Al_Skiff Changes to events
Sources

AAM Database.

Date Contributor Update
25 March 2015 10:44:31 Al_Skiff Changes to nickname, highest rank, biography, awards, events, unit associations and place associations
Sources

AAM Database / http://www.aviationarchaeology.com

Date Contributor Update
04 March 2015 21:32:48 apollo11 Changes to person associations
Sources

Personal research & 'Eighy-One Aces of the 4th fighter group' by Frank Speer.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:15:02 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

ABMC, Roll of Honor , Losses of the 8th and 9th AFs by Bishop and Hey p. 108 / Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / Ted Damick, VIII Fighter Command pilots list

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