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Jack M Ilfrey


Captain Jack M Ilfrey from Houston, Texas first arrived in the UK in 1942 with the 1st Fighter Group initially based at Goxhill and Kirton-in-Lindsey in Lincolnshire as part of Operation Bolero, the build-up of an American strategic air force in Britain.
With the 1st Fighter Group, Ilfrey carried out fighter escort missions over France before moving to the Mediterranean Theatre of Operations to support the Allied invasion in North Africa as part of Operation Torch in November 1942. Ilfrey became an ace in the Mediterranean, shooting down five enemy aircraft and evading internment in Portugal.
In 1943 he was sent back to the US to train fighter pilots, but soon returned to the UK in March 1944 as a commander of the 79th Fighter Squadron at Kings Cliffe in Northamptonshire. Flying with the 20th Fighter Group, Ilfrey claimed two more enemy aircraft until, on 12 June 1944, he was shot down in France behind enemy lines.
Disguised as a deaf and mute French farmer Ilfrey once again evaded capture, hiding in hedgerows and cycling 150 miles to Allied lines in Normandy with the assistance of French civilians. Ilfrey returned to combat duty and during his two tours he completed an impressive 142 missions.
Overall Ilfrey spent a total of 548 combat hours in the air and shot down eight enemy fighters, all in P-38s.


Units served with

  • 1st Fighter Group

    1st Fighter Group

    The 1st Fighter Group were initially deployed to Britain in the summer of 1942 as part of Operation Bolero. After shuttling through a number of different bases in the UK, the Group was reassigned to the Twelfth Air Force in September 1942 and supported...

  • 20th Fighter Group

    20th Fighter Group

    In August 1943, the 20th Fighter Group arrived in Clyde, Scotland, before travelling to Kings Cliffe, Northamptonshire, which was to be their base for the rest of the war. The Group flew 312 missions before their last mission on 25 April 1945. The...

  • 79th Fighter Squadron
  • 94th Fighter Squadron

Associated Place

  • Goxhill

    Military site : airfield
    Goxhill opened in June 1941 as an RAF Bomber Command airfield, before being handed over to RAF Fighter Command in December. The Eighth Air Force took ownership in August 1942, and used the airfield, which they quickly dubbed 'Goat Hill' for operational...

  • Kings Cliffe

    Military site : airfield
    Kings Cliffe began as a satellite air base for the Group based at nearby Wittering. The 56th Fighter Group, however, were all based at Kings Cliffe and it was here that the pilots trained in P-47 Thunderbolts and flew their first missions in the...

  • Kirton-in-Lindsey

    Military site : airfield
    Used as an RFC and RAF Home Defence landing ground during the First World War, Kirton-in-Lindsey was built during 1938-40 as an RAF fighter station. It had two grass runways, 10 hardstandings, three grouped C hangars and four over-blister hangars....


Event Location Date
Born Houston, TX, USA 31 July 1920
Based Goxhill 1942

With 1st Fighter Group

Based Kirton-in-Lindsey 1942

With 1st Fighter Group.

72 missions & 208 combat hours flying with the 1st FG

1st shared Aerial Victory Tunisia 29 November 1942

1/2 Me110

1st & 2nd Full Aerial Victories Airport of Matmata (GAE), Gabes Sud، Gabès, Tunisia 2 December 1942

2 x Me109

3rd & 4th Aerial Victories Bizerte, Tunisia 26 December 1942

2 x Fw190

5th Aerial Victory El Aouina, Tunis, Tunisia 3 March 1943

1 x Me109

Achieved Ace Status

Based Kings Cliffe March 1944

As commander of 79th Fighter Squadron

6th & 7th full Aerial Victories Berlin, Germany 24 May 1944

2 x Me109

Shot Down/Evaded Angers, France 13 July 1944

Shot down while strafing a train. He successfully evaded and was back in England in 4 days.

End of 2nd tour King's Cliffe, Peterborough PE8, UK December 1944

Stopped combat flying after December 1944.

70 missions and 320 combat hours with the 20th FG

Lived in Houston, TX, USA


Date Contributor Update
02 June 2017 05:47:08 fugari Changes to media associations

JCook Photo Collection & Archives

Date Contributor Update
02 June 2017 05:45:56 fugari Changes to nickname

JCook Photo Collection & Archives

Date Contributor Update
02 June 2017 05:45:30 fugari Changes to service number, role, awards, unit associations and media associations

JCook Photo Collection & Archives

Date Contributor Update
16 July 2016 23:57:05 466thHistorian Changes to awards and events

Letters and information sent to Chris Brassfield from Jack Ilfrey - 6 July 1996 & 26 November 1997

Date Contributor Update
14 July 2015 09:54:28 jrugman Changes to biography and events

Page 87, The Mighty Eighth in Color, Roger Freeman.

Date Contributor Update
01 October 2014 10:59:15 Emily Changes to unit associations and place associations

Associated Group and Places from biography

Date Contributor Update
01 October 2014 10:57:21 Emily Created entry with surname, middlename, firstname, nationality, highest rank, role, biography, events and media associations

National Museum of the US Air Force, Factsheet: Jack Ilfrey,

Ace Pilots, Jack Ilfrey,