UK Auctioneer To Sell Relic Of U.S. Airplane That Crashed Into Cheshire River As the UK prepares to remember the fallen of two world wars, a UK auctioneer is to sell a relic from a U.S. fighter plane whose pilot steered away from a Cheshire town, saving countless lives.
News-Antique.com - Oct 25,2012 - As the UK prepares to unite for Remembrance Day, Nantwich, Cheshire, fine art auctioneers Peter Wilson announce a sale that will bring added poignancy to this year's ceremony in the Cheshire town.
Included in an auction three days after Remembrance Sunday is a small but iconic piece of the wreckage of a fighter plane whose heroic American pilot steered away from houses before it crashed into the River Weaver.
Each year wreaths of poppies are laid at the memorial to 23-year-old 1st Lieutenant Arthur L. Brown of the U.S. Army Air Force on the banks of the river behind houses on Shrewbridge Road.
It was there, on January 14, 1944, that the Republic P-47D Thunderbolt flown by Lt. Brown, from New York, crashed and sank into quicksand. It is thought the plane developed engine trouble but rather than bail out, heroically he stayed at the controls to avoid plunging into the town centre where it would invariably have caused untold damage and loss of life.
Neither Lt. Brown's body nor the main structure of the plane was ever recovered. However, among the small amount of wreckage at the scene was what is believed to be a valve rocker arm from the plane's engine, which was recovered by Mr Harold Forster, then living in Station View. It has remained in Mr Forster's family until now.
Said auctioneer Chris Large: "The story of how an American pilot deliberately steered his stricken plane away from town has intrigued me ever since I was a young boy. I thought it was terribly sad that this young man should lose his life like that and his body be so far from his home.
"My father and I visit the memorial every year, usually on Christmas Day, to pay our respects and it is very moving when wreaths are laid on Remembrance Sunday. Whilst I have read about the incident, I would love to meet anyone who knows more about what happened that day. I remain fascinated by the story and would love to learn more about it.
"The relic is a piece of metal less than six inches long. It is stamped 'Made in USA' and having researched the numbers stamped on it, we know it came from the plane's Pratt & Whitney R-2800 double wasp engine. I think it might sell for around £100, but its significance is far greater than its monetary value."
In his book "Cheshire Airfield in the Second World War, author Aldon Ferguson points out that there were many aircraft incidents over Cheshire during the conflict, with many airmen losing their lives.
There were nine airfields in the county causing a density of air traffic with virtually no radar. Many pilots were trainees with little experience to deal with navigation, bad weather, poor visibility and balloon barrages over Crewe, which was a major manufacturing centre of war supplies and a key railway town.
It is not known where Lt. Brown was stationed, but he was attached to the Royal Canadian