P-47D Thunderbolts, 42-7872 and 42-7898 of the 2906th Observation Group USAAF crashed on Cats Tor near Bollington on the 30th September 1943
|Malta L Stepp Jr (42-7872)||Captain||Pilot||Killed|
|Lynn R Morrison (42-7898)||Staff Sergeant||Pilot||Killed|
The two aircraft belonged to a unit which together with the 6th Fighter Wing were responsible for Operational Training at Atcham. They were combined and became the 495th Fighter Training Group during December 1943.
Captain Stepp was leading the flight to check S/Sgt Morrison’s formation flying ability, they took off from Atcham at 12:40. The weather at the time was fairly typical for the region with cloud down to 1500 feet, but with good visibility below the cloud.
At around 14:30 the two aircraft were head to flying over the Bollington area and shortly after a local farmer reported hearing an explosion. The two aircraft had flown directly into the side of the hill while in cloud.
The investigation concluded that Captain Stepp had possibly suffered radio failure as he was never heard requesting any guidance to safely return to Atcham.
Captain Malta Stepp had before being posted to the 2906th Ob. Grp. been a member of No.121 Squadron, RAF, one of the Eagle Squadrons. After the Eagle Squadrons were disbanded many of the personnel were transferred to the USAAF, he was posted to the 4th Fighter Group. Making Malta Stepp quite an experienced pilot, it just goes to show that even experienced pilots could fall prey to hills covered in clouds.
The sister ship of 42-7898, 42-7897 crashed near Llangollan in North Wales whilst being operated by the 6th Fighter Wing from Atcham 74 days earlier.
Staff Sergeant Morrison was buried at Cambridge American Cemetery while Captain Stepp was later buried at Golden Gate National Cemetery near San Francisco.