The 406th Occupier
F or the 513th squadron and the entire Group, August 19, 1944 was considered a very sorrowful day.
On that day a mission was flown to Mantes-Gassicourt to destroy barges on the Seine River. The mission had been completed, five barges destroyed and others damaged. Gas and ammunition were running low as the squadron headed for home.
Just 10 miles northwest of Paris, Major Henry W. Shurld's flight was bounced by a series of two, four, six and lastly three more ME 109's. The Germans played a clever game, throwing in new planes to attack the flight at every level. In the fight that ensued Lt. Raymond R. Stewart's plane was hit and on fire. Hew jettisoned the canopy and prepared to bail out, but suddenly the fire was extinguished and Lt. Stewart continued on his flight, later accounting for a 109 destroyed as the enemy plane forgot to skid around a tree while chasing the Raider pilot.
Lt. Roddey Ellis accounted for one ME-109 also in a similar manner when the enemy plane sighted too low and plunged into the Seine River.
But the enemy took his toll, too, that day. Major Shurlds, holder of the DFC, the Air Medal and 12 Oak Leaf clusters as well as a record as one of the greatest tank busters of the war together with two enemy kills in the air, went down in flames.
The sky was full of enemy aircraft that day, and another pilot, Lt. Robert O'Neill was reported missing at the end of the mission and during the encounter with enemy planes. However, Lt. O'Neill returned to the Group base on September 11, 1944, with an interesting story of his evasion. He lived for 11 days with a French family and during that time succeeded in capturing two Jerries. Lt. O'Neill also claimed one enemy plane destroyed during the aerial battle.
In another aerial battle that followed on the 22nd of August, the 513th pilots had another big day. During a fight waged at 25,000 feet, Capt. R.V. Walsh claimed four damaged, Lt. Col. G.W. Fowler claimed two probables, Capt. W.D. Brady was credited with one destroyed, Lt. C.H. Purcell claimed one probable and one damaged and Lt. H.M. Park claimed one destroyed and one damaged.