On 28th January the museum was presented with wreckage from a second world war aircraft, a P-51 Mustang of the 436th Fighter Sqn, 479th Fighter Gp, Wattisham. The aircraft was nicknamed 'Ellie May'. Piloted by Lt Robert C Young, an experienced B-17 bomber pilot who had recently converted to fighters, the aircraft crashed at Rackheath airfield in Norfolk, on 22nd April 1945, just days before VE Day. Lt Young had been on a familiarisation flight when he came across a flying display being given by his own Group from Wattisham over Rackheath airfield. He decided to join in the display which involved various low level manoeuvres, some as low as 50 feet! Unfortunately our young pilot lost control of his P-51, and dived inverted onto Rackheath airfield, killing him instantly.
The display being given to Rackheath by Wattisham's 479th was most likely to be because their P-51 Mustangs flew with Rackheaths B-24 Liberators in the role of fighter escort, the 479th supported the 2nd Air Division in this way, Rackheath belonging to the 2nd Air Division.
Chris Collins (pictured) instigated the recovery of the remains of Ellie May. He learned that a housing development was due to take place, and felt he had to recover what remained for the family of the pilot, the history of the 479th Wattisham and also of course Rackheath. Chris enlisted the professional assistance of the archaeology department, Oxford University, subsequently a thorough dig was carried out. The items have been on display at Rackheath, but now most of the items along with the story and photographs will go on display at Ellie May's 'home' at Wattisham 72 years after she took off from here. This is a permanent loan.
With sincere thanks to Chris, his wife Tahlia and daughter Eulalie who were instrumental in chronicling all the items, including part of the pilots flying shades which he was wearing.