Arthur Jeffrey

Before the end of World War II, Colonel Arthur Jeffrey could claim fourteen kills, and three damaged, as well as being the first Allied Pilot to shoot down an Me-163, Germany’s small rocket-powered interceptor. Like all our legends, Arthur Jeffrey made history, and it began with a boy born in Brewer, Arkansas on the 17th of November, 1919.

Arthur Jeffrey enlisted in the Army on August 18th, 1939, and two years later in September, he entered aviation cadet training and graduated at Kelly Field, Texas in April of 1942. For the next two years, he was assigned to various bases in California where he flew and instructed in P-38 Lightnings.

In 1939, Jeffrey was assigned to the newly-formed 479th Fighter Group flying P-38s, and after a training period, his group was sent to England to become a part of the 8th Air Force. The year was 1944, and eleven days after arrival, the group began flying operational missions.

At this point, Jeffrey was a captain in the 434th Fighter Squadron, and scored his first aerial victory over a Fw-200K heavy bomber downed over the Chateaubernard Airdrome near Cognac in July. In this same year, Jeffrey saw several other victories, one of which involved shooting down the Me-163 previously mentioned as well as an Me-109 and a Ju-52. At this time, Jeffrey was a major, and became an ace on October 7th, with the destruction of an Me-109 ten miles south of Leipzig. In a combat report, Jeffrey describes this particular incident:

“I was leading Newcross Yellow Section on an escort mission to Leipzig…As we approached the target area at 30,000 feet, Col. Zemke, Group Leader, called in E/A approaching the bombers in a gaggle from the North…I picked the nearest Me-109, split-essed down after him, and closed in on him from the rear at about 24,000 feet. Evidently sighting me, the German pulled into a sharp right turn, enabling me to get within range and fire a deflection shot. I observed many strikes on the fuselage from the cockpit to the engine. Apparently, his engine quit and the pilot must have been also been hit, for the E/A essed down into a gentle glide and I did not see the pilot make any attempt to bail out…I opened fire again, getting good strikes…part of the wing flew off, and flame poured from out of the engine. The E/A then rolled gently over on its back and dived into a cloud bank."

Within the next four months, Jeffrey was credited with nine more victories, including triple victories in one mission, on both the 5th and the 23rd of December.

Arthur Jeffrey ended his tour as a lieutenant colonel in command of the 434th Fighter Squadron, with a list of combat awards including the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Air Medal with 16 Oak Leaf Clusters.

Arthur Jeffrey remained in the Air Force after the war and retired from
the Air Force in September, 1968.