Republic P-47C 41-6628

‹ Return to

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”;

2nd Lt Quentin J Sella
Disturbed 1st September 1990
May He Now

22 comments on “Republic P-47C 41-6628
  1. P.A.B. says:

    Very sombre story and shot. Part of me thinks it’s a shame he couldn’t be retrieved and interred properly. But who knows perhaps 2nd Lt Sella would, or his family did, feel differently..

  2. andyholmfirth says:

    Pretty grim reading this one Ian.WHat’s the story behind the "excavation " ?

  3. C J Paul (chris) says:

    great picture and info ian.
    like the image very much with the mist coming down.
    gives something more to the story and info ture feeling here……
    brilliant picture of the p-47

  4. pasujoba says:

    This is superb , particuarily on black ……must agree Ian , it requires a proper monument .
    Andy … Apparently the site was ‘dug’ in 1990 with the landowner present along with an aircraft archeaology group !, since then ,or perhaps at the time drains were laid , but with little success as the ground remains quite boggy .
    The US authorities have been in touch with the experts on such matters and they have released all info they have .
    We can only hope that the correct action is taken in this case .

  5. gastephen says:

    Very poignant.

  6. Tony-H says:

    A very atmospheric image that complements the sad and sombre piece of history ….

  7. **Hazel** says:

    Another amazing story! The weather is no friend to aeroplanes at times. Very sad!
    Brilliant photo Ian!

  8. mick cooke says:

    great story and a touching photo to go with it , well done ian

  9. RodtheRhodie says:

    Lovely shot, great tragedy

    Seen in my contacts’ photos. (?)

  10. Highy says:

    It’s a wonderful shot, great contrasts.
    Great shame that the site was disturbed, hope the site is afforded the dignity it deserves in future.

  11. Tech Owl says:

    A suitably atmospheric shot – good find Ian

  12. Mike J Chapman says:

    The same strict rules covering the excavation of aircrash sites that are in place now were in effect in 1990. See

    "It is an offence under this act to tamper with, damage, move or unearth any items at such sites, unless the Ministry of Defence has issued a licence authorizing such activity…" + "A licence will not be issued if human remains are likely to be found at the site…"

    I guess the question here is whether the rules were followed.

  13. jr55 (John Richardson) says:

    Atmospheric shot and a tragic story.

  14. cgullz says:

    very tragic tale, wonderfully captured image with the dark surrounds and the memorial cross so striking. ‘sensory illusions’ they call them: all due to the wee hairs in your inner ear, and the fluid in yr semi-circular canals – they work perfectly in 2 planes of movement [walking on the ground] [unless yr pissed] .. but in 3 planes, well the human body isn’t designed for it really. fascinating stuff, but when yr not taught to fly in cloud or are doing so with very little instrumentation, bugger that i say: recipe for disaster.

  15. Martin says:

    I own the land with this crash site on & am looking to make a better memorial on this site. I made the original cross when my father owned the ground & after we had realised what had gone on up there, with the site being dug under a supposed licence ref pilot Alvin J Foster in 1990, not 2nd lt Sella.
    I have most of the info I need, but who or where would I contact to find out Quentin’s age or date of birth ?? any ideas please !!

    • Alan Tomkinson says:

      Martin, If you google the pilots name : Quentin J Sella it should direct you to web site “Find a Grave Memorial” where you can find his details.

  16. Amanda says:

    Hi Ian,

    Do you have an update on this site. Would be happy to help to try and find a date of birth for 2LT Sella. Would like to visit the site if that is possible. Do you know if it’s accessible or on private land?

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Amanda, there is a footpath which goes right past this place but it is on private land. I’m afraid I have no more info about it but I have marked it with the grid reference (SK 02095 57789) on this map if you want to visit. I think you can park on the road?



      • Amanda Cockcroft says:

        Hi Ian, thank you for your reply. Do you have any contact information for the land owner? Would like to help this pilot get a permanent memorial.

        • Ian D B says:

          Hi Amanda, how ignorant am I? Just saw the comment above by Martin, he is the land owner looking at doing the same, he may have more up to date information?

          • Martin says:

            Hi Ian / Amanda, its Martin the land owner. Last year I had a granite plaque made & hoped to have it on the site for the 75th anniversary of Quentins death. Unfortunately the weather had other plans!! I now hope to mount this plaque on a dry stone memorial this summer to mark the end of the war!! You can contact me on if you would like to meet up & visit the site to discuss the memorial. Cheers.

          • Ian D B says:

            Great stuff, will do, thanks Martin!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *