AN American fighter pilot based in Burtonwood who died after flying his burning plane away from homes has been nominated for Wirral's highest civic honour.

The late Lieutenant Jay Frederick Simpson is set to be given the freedom of Wirral.

USAAF Second Lieutenant Jay Frederick Simpson died flying his burning plane away from homes in Saughall Massie in Wirral on January 9, 1944, aged just 27.

He is reported to have been test flying a Republic Thunderbolt P-47 which had taken off from Burtonwood and flew out to sea and on his return over Hoylake he reported that the plane was on fire.

Eyewitnesses at the time said that they believed the pilot steered away from residential areas before his plane crashed in a field.

Lieutenant Simpson was put forward to receive the award posthumously by Cllr Chris Blakeley, who has contacted the pilot's grandson and greatgrandchildren who all live in Montana, America.

Cllr Blakeley said: "Having nominated Lieutenant Simpson to posthumously receive the Freedom of the Borough, I have now traced his grandson, Pastor Jay Simpson who lives in Pryor, Montana and his eldest great grandchildren, Lachelle and James Simpson who both live in Billings, Montana.

"Lieutenant Simpson’s family will be watching the Council meeting via webcast as we vote to award Lieutenant Simpson the Freedom of the Borough of Wirral and a representative from the US Embassy has also been invited to attend.

"While Second Lieutenant Jay Frederick Simpson has been remembered locally and in his home town of Gillett Wisconsin, and is remembered on Armistice Day every year, given his reported heroic action in flying his stricken plane away from densely populated areas and therefore helping save human life I believe he would be a worthy recipient, albeit posthumously of the Freedom of the Borough of Wirral."