Lt Wilford John Willy

Photo added by geoffrey gillon

Lt Wilford John Willy

Birth
Newark, Essex County, New Jersey, USA
Death 12 Aug 1944 (aged 35)
Blythburgh, Suffolk Coastal District, Suffolk, England
Burial Coton, South Cambridgeshire District, Cambridgeshire, England
Plot Tablets of the Missing.
Memorial ID 56295618 · View Source
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Wilford was a Lieutenant in the United States Navy.

Service # O-137078.

He entered the Service from New Jersey.

Missing in Action

Awards: Navy Cross [Posthumous]

He was killed with Lieutenant Joseph Patrick Kennedy,Jr * in Operation Aphrodite which employed unmanned, explosive–laden Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator bombers. These aircraft were deliberately crashed into their targets under radio control. They could not take off on their own, so a crew of two would fly to 2,000 feet before activating the remote control system, arming the detonators and parachuting from the aircraft.
After U.S. Army Air Forces operation missions were drawn up on July 23, 1944, Kennedy and Lieutenant Wilford John Willy were designated as the first Navy flight crew. Willy had "pulled rank" over Ensign James Simpson (who was Kennedy's regular co-pilot) to be on the mission. They flew a BQ-8 "robot" aircraft (a converted B-24 Liberator) for the U.S. Navy's first Aphrodite mission. Two Lockheed Ventura mother planes and a Boeing B-17 navigation plane took off from RAF Fersfield at 1800 on 12 August 1944. Then the BQ-8 aircraft, loaded with 21,170 lb of Torpex, took off. It was to be used against the Fortress of Mimoyecques,a hillside German munitions site in northern France, housing their V3 supergun.Following behind them in a USAAF F-8 Mosquito to film the mission were pilot Lieutenant Robert A. Tunnel and combat camera man Lieutenant David J. McCarthy who filmed the event from the perspex nose. As planned, Kennedy and Willy remained aboard as the BQ-8 completed its first remote-controlled turn at 2,000 feet near the North Sea coast. Kennedy and Willy removed the safety pin arming the explosive package and Kennedy radioed the agreed code "Spade Flush", his last words.Two minutes later (and well before the planned crew bailout, near RAF Manston in Kent), the Torpex explosive detonated prematurely and destroyed the Liberator, killing Kennedy and Willy instantly. Wreckage landed near the village of Blythburgh in Suffolk, England, causing widespread damage and small fires, but no injuries on the ground. According to one report, a total of 59 buildings were damaged in a nearby coastal town.

* U.S. Navy ~ United States Naval Reserve;
Service # O-116667
[Navy Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal]


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  • Maintained by: Martin Douglas Packer
  • Originally Created by: CWGC/ABMC
  • Added: 6 Aug 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 56295618
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Lt Wilford John Willy (13 May 1909–12 Aug 1944), Find A Grave Memorial no. 56295618, citing Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial, Coton, South Cambridgeshire District, Cambridgeshire, England ; Maintained by Martin Douglas Packer (contributor 47912178) .