Neil Entwistle and I started working together to research this crash in about 1998. At that time all we knew about this incident was general information that was quite widely known in the area and to enthusiasts in a wider area, which was “Towards the end of the second World War an American P-47 Republic Thunderbolt had crashed near Shepshed in the area of the Blackbrook Reservoir and that the pilot was killed.” It has taken some twenty years of careful research until we are now able to say we have uncovered most of the facts behind this tragic accident.
John Collier November 2018
In memory of Flight Officer Charles E. Burdick USAAF. Killed on 24th October 1944. When his Republic P47D-2RE Thunderbolt 42-8001. Crashed Near Shepshed, Leicestershire England.
This aircraft crashed on Tuesday 24th October 1944 in a field near Blackbrook reservoir Shepshed, Leicestershire, UK.
The aircraft was from Atcham in Shropshire (AAF Station 342), assigned to the 495th Fighter Training Group, 551st Fighter Training Squadron. Built at the Republic Aircraft Corporation’s Farmingdale Plant at Long Island New York, the aircraft was shipped from the US to Great Britain between 15th and 30th June 1943. Originally assigned to the 353rd Fighter Group, 350th Fighter Squadron, based at Metfield in Suffolk (AAF Station F-366), it was used in combat missions providing escort cover for USAAF bombers attacking targets in Western Europe.
During this time the aircraft survived a wheels-up landing (24th Oct 1943) at Metfield, and a serious mid-air collision (03rd Feb 1944) with another P-47 Thunderbolt (42-7940) whilst on a raid to Wilhelmshaven.
After being declared ‘War Weary’ it was transferred to Atcham as a fighter training aircraft. Approximately twelve weeks before the fatal crash in Shepshed, the aircraft had another mid-air collision, 3 miles east of Ludlow, Hertfordshire, clipping a tree with the starboard wing (28th Jul 1944), but managed to land safely back at Atcham.
On 24th October 1944, the aircraft impacted hard in a field near Blackbrook reservoir, Shepshed, Leicestershire, UK, and the pilot was killed instantly through major trauma. The recovery operation was performed by 4MRRS (4th Mobile Reclamation and Repair Squadron). A formal USAAF report for the fatal crash has never been located, despite extensive searches in the War Department-U S Army Air Forces, ‘Aircraft Accident and Incident Reports 1941 Thru 1948’.
The pilot was Flight Officer Charles Edward Burdick (T-125481) from New York, stationed at Atcham with the 495th Fighter Training Group, 551st Fighter Training Squadron. It is assumed that he was on a training flight when the accident occurred. Charles was one of five P-47 pilots to be killed in non-battle air-crashes with the 495th Fighter Training Group in October 1944. His body was temporarily interred at the American Battle Monuments Commission in Cambridge before being repatriated to New York after the war.
Wreckage and debris recovered from the crash site confirm the aircraft to be an early ‘Razorback’, P-47 Thunderbolt.