A New Memorial for the Yoxford Boys
The date is 13 September, 1944, the mission for the 357th Fighter Group was the usual, Penetration, Target and Withdrawal Support. 48 P-51s, led by Major John Storch, departed home base at 0853, and returned about 5.5 hours later - a long mission. There were several violent encounters with enemy fighters, resulting in claims for 15 enemy aircraft shot down. Five P-51s did not return. Lt Johnson bailed out near Brussels and returned to his Squadron. Lt Robert Goldsworthy bailed into the channel and was rescued by the Air Sea Rescue service. Lts. Valkwitch, Marion Burnett, and Kirby Brown were all shot down and none survived.
In the 1980s, this writer was in contact with a German historian, Konrad Rudolph, who passed details of Brown's death, which I used in my 1972 book, The 357th Over Europe.
Subsequently, Rudolph discovered that the information he had provided was not correct, and He (Rudolph) and another German historian, Stefan Sander, were able to ascertain the true facts behind the death of Kirby Brown.
Brown had been shot down ear the village of Schonau, and had bailed out successfully. He was captured by a German farmer, who took him to the mayor of Schonau. the latter intended to notify German military authorities, but was prevented from doing so by the arrival of a local SA officer, who shot and killed Brown.
Kirby Brown was buried in the local cemetery, and after the war, U.S. Army authorities removed his remains, which were returned to his father in Louisiana in 1950.
Recently, historians Sander and Rudolph, along with a Mr. Steincke, and several other local people, have installed a beautiful memorial stone at the site of Brown's murder.
We of the 357th Fighter Group are grateful for the wonderful memorial erected by the sons of our former enemies, to one of our own, who died in the line of duty almost 60 years ago.
By Merle Olmsted, September 2003
Kirby Brown Memorial