The memorial you can see below is just a few hundred metres from where I grew up. Although it’s close to junction 14 of the M6 there are beautiful farm fields, spinneys and streams nearby. I ran and hid and splashed in these fields, punctured tyres, suffered nettle rashes, all the usual.
What I didn’t know was that on 4 July 1944 a Mustang P-51D had crashed into a wheat-field here, close to Home Farm and the brilliantly named Sleeper’s Spinney.
USAAF pilot Captain Perrin – an ‘ace’ fighter who had shot down five German aircraft – was delivering the Mustang to Cambridgeshire when something went wrong and the plane was seen to catch fire. Heroically Capt. Perrin did not eject and stayed at his controls to avoid crashing into the populated North End of Stafford, avoiding schools, houses and a hospital.
Sadly, the New Jersey-born pilot died in the crash. What a sacrifice, such a long way from home.
I had no idea this had happened and the land has since been developed, perhaps inevitably given its location alongside the M6, for warehouses and logistics businesses.
The memorial is signposted from the M6 and A34, but many people are unaware of it despite the great efforts of Creswell Parish Council and others to set it up and mark the courage and bravery of this local hero.
The estate road is named Mustang Drive. You can read more here at the parish council’s website