CA - Gertrude Tompkins Silver, 32, Inglewood, 26 Oct 1944

Discussion in 'Pre-1960's Missing' started by Richard, Oct 8, 2005.

  1. Richard

    Richard New Member

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    Gertrude Vreeland Tompkins Silver
    Missing since October 26, 1944 from Inglewood, Los Angeles County, California.
    Classification: Endangered Missing

    Vital Statistics
    Age at Time of Disappearance: 32 years old
    Distinguishing Characteristics: White female. Brown hair; brown eyes.

    Circumstances of Disappearance
    Gertrude Tompkins Silver, was one of 1,074 Women's Air Force Service Pilots (WASPS) in World War II and the only WASP who disappeared without a trace. She had over 850 hours of flying time, 46 hours of those were in the P-51, and 17 of those were in the D model she was flying at the time of her disappearance.
    She was 32 and a bride of just one month when her warplane disappeared during World War II after takeoff from what is now Los Angeles International Airport. Because of a misplaced flight plan, Gertrude Tompkins Silver of the Women's Air Force Service Pilots (WASP) and the new P-51D Mustang she was ferrying in 1944 weren't even missed for three days.

    A search, including the scanning of Santa Monica Bay by military boat with new husband Henry Silver on board, failed to turn up any trace of the young pilot or the newly built single-seat pursuit plane she was to fly across the country for shipment overseas. Months and years passed without any trace of the plane's wreckage in the deserts or mountains along the flier's route to Tucson, the first leg of her assigned journey.
    So far, efforts to locate her or her aircraft have yielded no conclusive results.

    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact: Pat Macha
    714-846-9213 Or Ken Whittall-Scherfee 916-446-0955

    Source Information:
    Missing in Service
    Ongoing Search For Mrs. Gertrude Tompkins Silver
    The Doe Network: Case File 1453DFCA

    Link:
    http://www.doenetwork.us/cases/1453dfca.html
     
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  3. camracrazy

    camracrazy New Member

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  4. Richard

    Richard New Member

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    65 years after her WW II plane disappeared, a new search is underway...

    _____________________________________________________


    WASP Pilot Gertrude Tomkins Silver Crashed off California Coast in 1944

    By RUSSELL GOLDMAN
    Oct. 8, 2009

    The fog rolled in from Santa Monica Bay just after noon on Oct. 26, 1944, just three hours before Gertrude Tomkins Silver opened the hatch of her fighter plane, a P-51 Mustang.

    The plane left from a little strip called Mines Field, today known as the Los Angeles International Airport, bound for a three-day journey to New Jersey, where it would be placed on a cargo vessel and shipped to Great Britain to fight World War II's final battles in Europe.

    The pilot, Silver, a 34-year-old New Jersey native nicknamed Tommy, had spent more than 500 hours in the air and had a reputation for being able to handle fighters like the P-51s, some of the Army's fastest aircraft. It would be four days -- as the other two members of her squad landed in New Jersey -- before anyone realized Silver's plane went down somewhere off the coast of California just minutes after takeoff.

    On Tuesday, a crew of archeologists, divers, sonar technicians and volunteers began a search 65 years overdue, to find the wreckage of the plane that carried Silver, the only missing and unaccounted for member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs, an elite, all-female flight squadron formed at the height of World War II.

    "Of the 38 WASPs who lost their lives, she's the only one unaccounted for," said Pat Macha, a retired teacher-turned-aviation archaeologist who is leading the search, from aboard a search vessel in Santa Monica Bay. "That's a big motivator," he added. "These women played an important role in our history and their next of kin still want resolution."

    Three boats are searching for the downed fighter. One carries sophisticated sonar equipment. The others have teams of 10 divers. The sonar crew, helmed by Gene Ralston, who has conducted undersea searches for high-profile murder victims like Laci Peterson and Natalie Holloway, marks a spot on the surface with a buoy.


    Link to Search Begins for Last World War II Female Pilot Gertrude Tomkins Silver - ABC News:

    http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/world-war-ii-female-pilot-gertrude-tomkins-silver/story?id=8776928


    Updated Doenetwork Link:

    http://www.doenetwork.org/cases/1453dfca.html
     
  5. shadowangel

    shadowangel Black cats consider me unlucky.

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    Thanks, Richard, for updating this story. I've long had in interest (more to the truth, a love affair) with WWII aircraft. I knew little of the WASPs until I read your post and did some research. The history of the WASP program and the contribution to the war effort made by these brave women is truly fascinating and well worth the read.
     
  6. Richard

    Richard New Member

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    You might enjoy a book titled

    On Silver Wings: The Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II 1942-1944 by Marianne Verges with an intro by Senator Barry Goldwater. Copyright 1991.

    It is about the recruitment, unit formation, and training of the women who flew every type of US aircraft used in World War II. Many photos and individual stories as well as a memorial page dedicated to the many who lost their lives.

    The book mentions Gertrude "Tommy" Tompkins Silver and even has a photo of her. There are some details about her final flight, but strangely this book claims that her P-51D Mustang was found by hunters in the mountains in 1985 and that her body was recovered and positively identified. All other sources seem to refute this.
     
  7. shadowangel

    shadowangel Black cats consider me unlucky.

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    This link is to a website with articles by G Pat Macha, a California expert on aviation archaeology, who has been working with the family of Gertrude to locate the plane and determine what occured to her.
    I haven't been able, as of yet, to locate any information on a downed P-51 being located in '85 but obviously the book is incorrect in this instance.

    http://www.aircraftwrecks.com/gts/gts.htm

    Also an excellent picture of Gertrude, wearing her flight jacket showing the "Fifinella" logo. Fifinella was a female gremlin, designed by Walt Disney. The WASPs asked for and obtained permission to use Fifinella as their mascot.

    http://www.aircraftwrecks.com/images/gts/img544a.jpg
     
  8. MaryLiz

    MaryLiz New Member

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    Here is a wonderful article I saw today about female WWII aviators finally being honored. It's about time. It made me think of Gertrude Silver.

    Female WWII aviators honored with gold medal

    By KIMBERLY HEFLING (AP) – 55 minutes ago

    WASHINGTON — A long-overlooked group of women who flew aircraft during World War II were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal on Wednesday. Known as Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs, they were the first women to fly U.S. military planes.

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iMdYRUedjmyrD-nnbULYjPI5ALswD9EC069G0
     
  9. Richard

    Richard New Member

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    Thanks for the link! Today, Gertrude, or "Tommy" as she was called by her friends, was awarded the medal posthumusly and she was also remembered in a ceremony at the Air Force Memorial (which is adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery) along with all the other women pilots who died in service during World War II.
     
  10. SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

    SheWhoMustNotBeNamed Former Member

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    WASPs: Women Who Served

    There are records of women who have served our country down through the years; this is a story of the brave women who served in the United States forces piloting military aircraft during World War II.

    [snip]

    Gertrude Tompkins Silver was on a mission to Palm Springs on Oct. 26, 1944, and never arrived. She was the last WASP to be declared "Missing in Action." Search efforts to find her remains and the wreckage are still ongoing.

    http://www.greenevillesun.com/featu...cle_a0c56a13-a9aa-50cf-a0e3-6fd518184483.html
     
  11. Swamp Fox Trot

    Swamp Fox Trot New Member

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    The witness seems credible and the story about crashing into the water makes sense. But he didn't actually see the plane, and there was apparently only one witness. Another possibility is that the Nazis stole it; there was a Nazi spy ring in California at the time (see the new book Fetch the Devil.) that would have loved to get their hands on a new P-51D, the Allies' most advanced fighter. (Such a plot would not be without precedent. The British planned to drop a pilot into Paris to steal a Focke-Wulf FW-190, to study its vulnerabilities, before a defector miraculously flew one to England.)

    What do we know about this accountant Henry Silver, whom the pilot had just married? Did he have foreign connections?

    But yeah, my money's on a simple crash. Salute to a brave aviatrix.
     
  12. Richard

    Richard New Member

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    Missing for 72 years...
     

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