James Willard Wilkinson

Military ROLL OF HONOUR

Object Number - UPL 14162 - Lieutenant James "Wilkie" Wilkinson, from Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, in cockpit. Wilkinson flew with the 335th Fighter Squadron of the 4th Fighter...

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 the 82nd Fighter Squadron History reports, he transferred to the 78th FG on 11 Sep 1943 and was appointed acting commanding officer of the 82nd FS on 18 May, 1944 under squadron order number 7 in the absence of Majors J.J. Oberhansly and Norman D. Munson, both of whom were taking a well deserved 30 day leave in the United States. This lasted until his death on 4 June 1944.

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, without regard 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.

Awards: DSC, SS, DFC (4OLC), AM (3OLC), ACM, EAME w/service star, WW II Victory Medal

Connections

See how this entry relates to other items in the archive by exploring the connections below.

Units served with

People

  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 78th Fighter Group 82nd Fighter Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 18007172
  • Highest Rank: Staff Sergeant
  • Role/Job: Crew chief
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 82nd Fighter Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 18060813
  • Highest Rank: Technical Sergeant
  • Role/Job: Asst Crew Chief
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 4th Fighter Group 334th Fighter Squadron
  • Service Numbers: O-886418
  • Highest Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
  • Role/Job: Fighter pilot

Aircraft

  • Aircraft Type: P-47 Thunderbolt
  • Nicknames: California, bust
  • Unit: 4th Fighter Group 334th Fighter Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: P-47 Thunderbolt
  • Unit: 4th Fighter Group 334th Fighter Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: P-47 Thunderbolt
  • Unit: 78th Fighter Group 82nd Fighter Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: P-47 Thunderbolt
  • Nicknames: Pin Up Girl
  • Unit: 78th Fighter Group 82nd Fighter Squadron

Places

Line up of P-47 Thunderbolts of the 82nd Fighter Squadron, 78th Fighter Group, at Duxford air base. September 1944. Printed caption on reverse of print: '55432 AC - War Birds Home To Rest - Republic P-47 Thunderbolts lined up on an 8th Air Force field in England after a daylight sweep over Germany. Crews have finished inspections and refueling.'
  • Site type: Airfield
  • Known as: "Duckpond"

Events

Event Location Date Description

Born

Newark, OH 9 November 1916

Other

Entered service from

Pennsylvania, USA 25 November 1942 According to a FOIA request, but another source states on January 20, 1943 he transferred from the RAF to the 4th Fighter Group, USAAF, and was assigned to the 334th Fighter Squadron.

Other

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.

Other

Transferred

11 September 1943 Transferred to 82nd FS, 78th FG.

Other

Appointment

18 April 1944 Appointed acting C/O 82nd FS, May 18, 1944 until June 4, 1944.

Died

Killed in a Flying Accident (KIFA)

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.

Buried

5 June 1944 Cambridge American Cemetery, Cambridge, England, Plot F Row 2 Grave 113.

Other

Posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross & Silver Star

Duxford 17 July 1944 Wilkinson's wife Frieda (Sutton) received the awards on his behalf

Revisions

Date8 Feb 2022 02:18:14
Contributordecwriter
Sources

NARA FOIA request shows dates of service as November 25, 1942 to June 4 , 1944, yet other sources state on January 20, 1943 he transferred from the RAF to the 4th Fighter Group, USAAF, and was assigned to the 334th Fighter Squadron.
His Death was listed as Death Non Battle, so no Purple Heart was issued.
82nd FS history reports reflect his appointment as acting commanding officer on 18 May 1944.

Date12 Feb 2018 12:20:55
Contributordecwriter
Sources

Air Medals confirmed via 82nd FS history reports.

Date25 Sep 2017 12:03:35
ContributorLucy May
Sources

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

Date1 Mar 2017 11:52:05
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

Date15 Feb 2016 11:33:42
ContributorCarl
Sources

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

Date15 Feb 2016 11:31:43
ContributorCarl
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'.

Date19 Oct 2015 00:16:04
ContributorAReid
Sources

Delaware County Daily Times
2015 AAM Summer Residency Resource Packet

Date18 Oct 2015 23:52:44
ContributorAReid
Sources

Delaware County Daily Times

Date18 Oct 2015 23:47:39
ContributorAReid
Sources

Delaware County Daily Times

Date18 Oct 2015 23:44:44
ContributorAReid
Sources

Delaware County Daily Times

Date18 Oct 2015 23:35:35
ContributorAReid
Sources

Delaware County Daily Times

Date18 Oct 2015 23:32:56
ContributorAReid
Sources

Delaware County Times

Date5 Oct 2015 16:45:30
ContributorEmily
Sources

Duxford Diary, p 24 (see associated media)

Date25 Mar 2015 11:19:11
ContributorAl_Skiff
Date25 Mar 2015 11:11:17
ContributorAl_Skiff
Sources

AAM Database.

Date25 Mar 2015 10:44:31
ContributorAl_Skiff
Sources
Date4 Mar 2015 21:32:48
Contributorapollo11
Sources

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

Date27 Sep 2014 18:15:02
ContributorAAM
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

James Willard Wilkinson: Gallery (7 items)