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Republic P-47C 41-6628 near Leek
03 October 1944. American pilot Second Lieutenant Quentin J Sella was flying in formation with 3 other P-47s from RAF Atcham near Shrewsbury, when he lost control and nose dived into the ground at Thorncliffe near Leek, Staffordshire.
The flight was to practice battle formation flying, and in close formation the three pilots copied the leader, or in the case of 2nd Lt Sella, copied the airman copying the leader, watching his starboard wingtip, mimicking every move.
However the four Thunderbolts entered dense cloud and upon losing visual contact with the aircraft he was formated on, 2nd Lt Sella appears to have become disoriented in the cloud and lost control, putting the P-47 into a dive from which he could not recover. It is quite possible that he thought he was climbing rather than diving, until breaking the cloud base and realising his error.
2nd Lt Sella tried to bale out, the canopy being found some distance away. But the forces upon him prevented escape, and the Thunderbolt buried itself so deeply into the soft ground that recovery was impossible, and his body remains there today with the wreck of his aircraft.
A cross marks the spot. On it are words alluding to what Cunningham refers to as a “dubiously authorised excavation of the site”;
IN MEMORY OF
2nd Lt Quentin J Sella
KILLED 3rd OCTOBER 1944
Disturbed 1st September 1990
May He Now