1/Lt. William H. Lewis


(Robert M. Littlefield)

1/Lt. William H. Lewis

38th FS - 07 July 1944 - 10 August 1944 (Evaded)

Assigned Aircraft

P-51D 44-13973

Mission History

Not Known

Mission List
55th FG Mission # Date Target
203 10 August 1944 Rail-roads - Châlons-sur-Marne , France
Air Scores
Destroyed  
Probable  
Damaged  
Ground Scores
Destroyed  
Damaged  
Notes ASN - O-725323
07 July 1944 - Joined the 38th Fighter Squadron
10 August 1944 - Bailed out of aircraft over France
02 September 1944 - Returned to Unit
Awards
Memories MACR No. 07772
2/Lt. William M. Lewis, Jr. reported: "I was flying wingman for 1/Lt. Wm. H. Lewis and we had been strafing trains, etc. We pulled up from a pass on a tower which was a water tower so I didn't fire on it. We were in the neighborhood of the place where Lt. Elliott bailed out. After watching Lt. Elliott leave his plane and open his chute OK I looked at Lt. Lewis who was climbing ahead of me. There was a light smoke coming from his plane and I called him and told him same. After a few seconds it ceased and I told him that it had and he replied that he didn't have any oil pressure. We set course for home immediately which was 320 degrees from target area. We had flown approximately 5 to 10 minutes on above course when he began to slow down. He made motions that he was going to jump and jettisoned his canopy. He rode it a while longer and we dropped from 6000' to 5000' and then he jumped and the plane nosed over immediately and just missed a small town. It blew up on contact. His parachute opened at two or three thousand feet and he drifted over this small village and I left just as he was about to land in an open field."
"There were woods nearby so he might have escaped into them. I waited for a moment and there were no cars, trucks or motorcycles in sight. No one was stirring in the village either. I left so I wouldn't be there to point the way for the enemy. I believe the time would have been between 1830 and 1900. I don't know what hit him or what caused his trouble. I didn't notice much flak at all around the last pass. But others say there was a lot of light flak in the area."

After returning to London Lt. Lewis related the following during an intelligence debriefing: "As I bailed out of my burning plane on 10 August, I caught my leg and fractured the knee cap. I landed on the edge of a forest northwest of Beauvardes. Some Frenchmen tried to put a splint on my leg, then carried me to a hiding place in the woods.  Armed Germans on motorcycles were searching for me so I remained hidden until 0130 when the Frenchmen returned with a stretcher. They carried me several miles to a shack where I stayed with a young boy of 18 who was known as Raymond. A doctor visited me several times.
I could not walk for about 2 weeks but after that time I managed to get around a little on the farm.  The DeBois family fed me for over two weeks and treated me as a son.  There was M. DeBois, his sister, her son, and several farm workers.  I remained here until American troops came into the vicinity.  Many of the villagers had come to visit me and someone informed the troops of my location.  On the 30th, or 31st, some members of Troop B, 87th Cav. Rgn. Sq., Mechanized, 7th Armored Div., came to the farm and took me to their bivouac area where I received elastic bandages."
Lt. Lewis was returned to England by air on 2 September 1944.
(Reproduced with the kind permission of Mr. Robert M. Littlefield, from the author's book, Double Nickel, Double Trouble.)

"This is a confirmation of the account of Lt. William H Lewis' evasion of the German Army at Beauvardes around August 10, 1944.
The story was told to me several times by my parents, Andre´ and Catherine de Saint-Rat, both of whom were in the war. My father grew up in Chateau-Thierry and often visited the the farm of Pierre Dubois, the farmer's son in the story. The farm has a great oak by the pond dating back to the time of King Louis IX.
After Lt. Lewis' plane was shot down, the farmers hastily buried his parachute in a newly overturned field. My father said Lt. Lewis was kept in a hunting shack in the woods. Here is an interesting detail. A German officer (Major or Captain) had seen the action in the sky from a nearby town. He had had a bit to drink and when he came upon the plane which was guarded by a German private, demanded to see it. The private refused and said he had orders to shoot. The officer persisted and was shot for his troubles. The Gestapo investigated the death of the officer and that took some of the heat off of the German search for the pilot." Mark de Saint-Rat - Nov 2005

   

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