AN American airman killed in action over Saughall Massie during World War II has been posthumously nominated for Wirral's highest civic honour.

Councillors will vote on whether to grant US Army Air Force Pilot (USAAF) Second Lieutenant Jay Frederick Simpson Freedom of the Borough of Wirral award when full council meets next week.

On January 9, 1944 Lt Simpson was test flying a Republic Thunderbolt P-47 which had taken off from Burtonwood and flew out to sea.

On returning, he reported that the plane was on fire over Hoylake as circled over the RAF camp West Kirby. The plane lost height and flipped over before crashing into farmland at Saughall Massie. Lt Simpson was 27 years old.

A plaque honouring him was unveiled near the crash site in March 2005.

Eyewitness reports at the time said the pilot steered away from residential areas before his plane crashed in a field close to the Arrowe Brook, thereby ensuring lives were saved.

Pieces of the wreckage were dug up in 1974 and on show at the War Plane Wreck Investigation Group at Fort Perch Rock.

Lt Simpson's Gold Class Signet Ring was found in the wreckage and was presented to his cousin, Rose Neil Godfrey who gave it to the Krause Simpson Legion Post in his home town of Gillett Wisconsin. Sadly the ring was later stolen.

Moreton West & Saughall Conservative councillor Chris Blakeley has nominated Lt Simpson for the award.

He has managed to trace Lt Simpson's family, who will be watching the council meeting on Monday.

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 on October 14 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."

Lt Simpson was born on August 26, 1916 in Gillett, Oconto County, Wisconsin USA.

He enlisted as an air cadet on June 1, 1942 and was first stationed at Santa Ana, California, and then at Oxnard, California, where he received his primary flight training.

He then went to Gardner Field California and later to Yuma, Arizona, where he graduated and was commissioned as a pilot on May 20, 1943.

After graduation he was sent to Patterson Field, Fairfield, Ohio, where he was a test pilot until he left for overseas on November 1, 1943 and was stationed in England.

Outlining his reasons for nominating Lt Simpson, Cllr Blakeley said: "On March 21, 2005 I was privileged to attend and speak at a commemoration event for Second Lieutenant Simpson, held on the bridge of the new Saughall Massie Bypass, close to the crash site which was also attended by clergy, many local people as well as a Military Attaché from the US Embassy in London, Lt Col Ben Coffey.

"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."