Stratford, CT – February 15, 1942

Stratford, Connecticut – February 15, 1942


P-39 Aircobra - U.S. Air Force Photo

P-39 Aircobra – U.S. Air Force Photo

     At 10:45 a.m., on February 15, 1942, 2nd Lt. Harry L. Mathews, 24, took off from Bridgeport Municipal Airport in a Bell P-39C, (Ser. No. 40-2972), for an aerobatic training flight over the area.  After circling the field once he called for landing instructions and was given instructions to land on the east-west runway from the east.   After completing another half-circle of the airport the plane fell about one-and-a-half miles from the airport coming down in an area known as Lordship marshes, in the Lordship Village section of Stratford. 

     The first to arrive at the crash site were members of the Lordship Volunteer Fire Department, who raced from their fire station about a quarter of a mile away.   There they found Lt. Mathews had been killed in the crash.  

     A woman who witnessed the crash from her home at 491 Washington Parkway, Lordship, told reporters that the plane’s engine was sputtering, and as it was in a left turn about 100 feet above the ground it suddenly fell to the marsh landing on its left wing and nose.  There was no fire afterward.   

     The accident was blamed on mechanical failure with the aircraft’s engine.  

     Lt. Mathews, of Gates, North Carolina, was survived by his wife, Mary, whom he had married only two months earlier on December 18, 1941.  Prior to entering the Air Corps in April of 1941, he graduated Wake Forest College, and had been a school teacher.  He received his basic flight training at Randolph Field, Texas, and  graduated from Pursuit Training School at Victoria, Texas, December 12, 1941.  At the time of his death he was assigned to the 61st Pursuit Squadron.


     U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #42-2-15-2

     Unknown Newspaper, “Flier Killed In Stratford”, unknown date.


Stratford, CT – March 26, 1942

Stratford, Connecticut – March 26, 1942


P-39 Aircobra - U.S. Air Force Photo

P-39 Aircobra – U.S. Air Force Photo

      Shortly before 10:30 a.m. on the morning of March 26, 1942, 2nd Lt. Edward G. Armstrong was flying a P-39 single-seat fighter aircraft (Ser. No. 40-36) on a training flight over the Stratford, Connecticut, area in which he was going through aerobatic maneuvers with the aircraft.   According to witnesses, the aircraft’s engine suddenly quit while at 500 feet, and the plane went into a spin from which it did not recover.  It crashed in St. Michael’s Cemetery, only a few feet from Bruce Brook, which boarders one side of the cemetery.  There was no fire, but the plane was demolished, and Lt. Armstrong was killed instantly. 

     The cemetery is located at 2205 Stratford Ave., in Stratford.  It is surrounded by a densely populated area, and it’s possible that Lt. Armstrong remained with his aircraft to avoid having it crash into nearby homes.   

     Lt. Armstrong was assigned to the 61st Pursuit Squadron in Bridgeport, Ct.  He received his pilots rating December 12, 1941.

     According to a newspaper article in the Bridgeport Herald, Lt. Armstrong was the second fatality in his squadron since it came to the Bridgeport area.  On February 15, 1942, Lieutenant Harry L. Mathews, 24, of North Carolina, was killed when his P-39C (40-2972,) crashed near the Bridgeport Municipal Airport while on a training flight.  For more information, see the page about Lt. Mathews on this website – New England Aviation History       


     U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #42-3-26-7

     Bridgeport Herald, “Plane Crash In Stratford Kills Second Army Flyer”, March 26, 1942 


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