06.09.1944 84th Fighter Squadron P-47D 44-19569 ‘Okie II’ Maj. Quince L. Brown Jr.
Operation: Strafing in Gemünd area (Mission #607), Germany
Date: 6th September 1944 (Wednesday)
Unit: 78rd Fighter Group, 84th Fighter Squadron, 65th Fighter Wing, 8th Air Force
Type: P-47D Okie II
Base: Duxford airfield (Station #357), Cambridgeshire, England
Location: West of Schleiden, Germany
Pilot: Maj. Quince Lucien Brown Jr., Silver Star, DFC, O-412502 AAF Age 26. Survived/Murdered
1st Lt. Quince L. Brown with P-47 Thunderbolt (WZ-J, serial number 42-74753) probably at Duxford air base. 1943-1944. (Credit of the American Air Museum-Roger Freeman Collection)
Printed caption on reverse of the photograph: 50203 USAF - Europe - First man in the European theatre to destroy four German planes on one day while flying a Republic P-47 Thunderbolt fighter is 1st Lt. Quince L. Brown, Jr. of Bristow, OK. He is pictured here with his dog, right next to his plane insignia "OKIE III". For 19 long months a flight instructor at Randolph and Kelly Fields, in Texas, Brown has now shot down 10 Jerries since beginning his combat tour in England, five of them in the past two days. On Thursday, 16 March (1944), he destroyed two Bf-109s and a Fw-190 in a terrific air battle, and set a Ju- 88 blazing on the ground. The previous day he had "warmed up" his guns by destroying a Bf-109. On Thursday's mission he also damaged two unidentified planes on the ground. Also to his combat credit are a locomotive and a flak tower. He holds the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, and the DFC with one cluster.
Maj. Brown’s final tally as a Fighter Ace was 12 aircraft destroyed, a 1/3 share of a probable and 2 aircraft destroyed on the ground.
PULLIN PROP THRU . . . Preparatory to starting engine of P-47 Thunderbolt piloted by Capt. Quince L. Brown, leading fighter pilot with 13 kills to his credit, Crew chief T/Sgt. Bill C. Jensen (left) and assistant crew chief Cpl. Thomas W Stoker. (Credi of the American Air Museum)
Maj. Quince L. Brown, 84th Fighter Squadron. P-47D 42-74753 WZ-J “Okie”. Crew Chief T/Sgt. Bill C Jensen. (Credit of the American Air Museum)
REASON FOR LOSS:
Witness statement by 1st Lt. Richard L. Baron, O-702744:
“I was flying Number Three for Major Brown. Major Brown sighted Vogelsand [sic] airfield. He called and said he was going to go over it and investigate. He made a steep turn and we (the Flight) ended up in string. He went over first and I saw tracers going at him, so I hit low for the deck. I looked up and saw several strikes into his ship. He pulled up sharply as we got across and I pulled up alongside. I saw his plane shake and his canopy came off. He then bailed out at about 1,200 feet. His ‘chute opened and I saw him land in a field. He then ran and lay down in some tall grass. I circled once and made sure no one was after him, and then left. I came back later and both ‘chute and Major Brown were gone.”
Vogelsang airfield (Vogelsang-Wollseifen) was located 30 km SSE of Aachen and 3 km NE of Dreiborn. On the 6th September 1944 a low-level attack by P-47 Thunderbolts was reported. The airfield was well defended by flak at the time. (Luftwaffe Airfields 1935-45 Germany (1937 Borders) - Henry L. deZeng IV).
Col. Mario Cremer’s research has determined that the Vogelsang airfield flak batteries were responsible for shooting down Maj. Brown’s aircraft. Eyewitness reports stated that there were also flak batteries located on the heights above Schleiden and Scheuren which may have contributed to the shooting down.
Col. Cremer believes that these flak positions were also responsible for shooting down 410th Bomb Squadron (L) A-20G Havoc 43-10170 ‘Sad Sack’.
The flak guns, believed to be 20mm triplet guns (originally intended for submarines), were manned by very keen Flakhelfer (part-time soldiers).
The aircraft was reported to have crashed near Weiermühle which was about 2 km west of Schleiden (now Kreis Euskirchen), Germany. The actual location has been researched by Col. Cremer and was determined to be about 520 metres east of Weiermühle and 1½ km due west of the centre of Schleiden, and between the creek (named Dieffenbach) to the south of the road and the road itself.
Weiermühle appears to be the name of a feature, which existed until the 1950s. The location is adjacent to a "Weier" (pond). It is very possible that near this pond there was a "Mühle" (mill) in earlier times which might have been named "Weiermühle", thus giving the name to this location.
Crash site of P-47D 42-74753 WZ-J “Okie” depicted on a map circa pre 1950
The circumstances leading to Maj. Brown’s death were unknown until a Landgericht (District Court) was convened in Aachen during December 1953. Two German nationals were charged with the mistreatment and shooting of a bailed-out American pilot.
One of the accused was SS-Sturmbannführer (Maj) Rudolf Seidel stationed with the Sicherheitspolizei (Security police) in Düsseldorf, and the other was the Bürgermeister (mayor) of Blumenthal, SS-Sturmbannführer Wilhelm Fischer, who was also head of the Sicherheitsdienst (SD = Security service of the SS) in the district of Schleiden.
The proceedings established that Maj. Brown had been injured during his bail out and was captured when he landed behind Scheuren Hill. The garrison commander of Schleiden ordered that he should be taken to a local doctor, thought to be a Dr. Beißel. After Maj. Brown had been treated he was to remain in Gemünd prison until picked up by military personnel from the Bonn-Hangelar airbase which was about 52 km to the NE.
However, on the way to the doctor, a large crowd of agitated people gathered around the airman. Although it was alleged that the crowd comprised soldiers, men from an unidentified Baltic SS unit, civilians and also some children, contemporary witnesses were only sure that amongst the large crowd were two men dressed in black SS uniforms who were identified as the accused.
Anecdotally it was reported that there was a great deal of anger over the deaths of German civilians after a recent American raid on the railway facilities at Gemünd and Schleiden. However, from contemporary witnesses it was later established that a number of Hitler Youth boys were also killed when a convoy of vehicles was strafed by American aircraft that day.
En route to the doctor's house, near the crossing of Bahnhofstraße (today: Blumenthaler Straße) and Holgenbach, Seidel and Fischer pushed through the crowd and began to punch the airman in the face and about the head knocking him down. They then proceeded to kick him whilst he was on the ground.
It was alleged that Fischer then left the scene and returned to his car. Seidel remained and drew his pistol and shot Maj. Brown twice in the neck killing him. Seidel claimed that this was an act of mercy.
The recall of a number of contemporary witnesses, most of whom were 16 years and younger, was different in a number of aspects to that considered by the court. Although a witness identified two SS men in black uniforms as those that assaulted Maj. Brown only Fischer was positively identified as one of the two. No witnesses could identify Fischer or Seidel as the uniformed SS men who had shot the American airman. The day after the killing the story being circulated was that Fischer had killed the airman. One further witness added another degree of uncertainty by introducing an unidentified uniformed SNCO who had shot Maj. Brown twice after the first shot and after the two SS men who had already left the scene.
The court acquitted Fischer of the charge and Seidel was sentenced to 1 year imprisonment. It appears that the German court sentenced him for the category of “less severe manslaughter” and not “murder”.
The German penal code had then, and still has today, different paragraphs for “murder”, “manslaughter”, “less severe manslaughter”, and “involuntary manslaughter”.
The case of SS-Sturmbannführer Seidel and his lenient punishment was mentioned in a debate in the German Bundestag, on the 18th June 1954.
The Bundestag was discussing a Government proposal of an amnesty law in which it was said that under certain circumstances persons would be given amnesty if sentenced to less than three years in prison.
The opposition party (Social Democratic Party, (SPD)) wanted to have this changed to one year, thus making sure that people sentenced to more than one year in prison would not be given amnesty. The MP speaking for this amendment mentioned several criminal cases and sentences in his speech, among which was the Maj. Brown murder.
"A second group which seems to me to be typical concerns the so-called Lynch Justice. In December 1944 in the Eifel region, SS-Sturmbannführer Seidel shoots to death a US pilot who baled out with his parachute after being shot down. Sentenced by the Aachen court in December 1953 to one year in prison. I am mentioning this case on purpose, to show that this would still be covered by the amnesty even if our amendment went through."
In the end, the SPD amendment did not become law and the three year limit was agreed. Irrespective of the amendment being accepted passing the three year limit meant that Seidel would not have served his already lenient sentence.
Contemporary witnesses described that three Polish forced labour workers dug a grave in Schleiden Cemetery in the PoW section on the same day. Four Wehrmacht soldiers were seen carrying the dead airman on their shoulders to the cemetery. Maj. Brown was initially buried as an Unknown airman in grave 1 and a rifle salute was heard to be fired.
He was later reinterred at the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery before finally being laid to rest in Oklahoma.
It was reported by a local German newspaper that a memorial plaque remembering Maj. Brown‘s murder was installed at the Schleiden Castle in 2015.
Assumed permission - OkieBran-FindAGrave (No contact details available)
Maj. Quince Lucien Brown Jr. Silver Star, DFC (4 Oak Leaf Clusters), Air Medal (5 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. He was repatriated and buried at the Magnolia Memorial Cemetery, Bristow, Creek County, Oklahoma. Born on the 7th December 1917 at Bristow Creek, Oklahoma. Son of Quince L. and Pearl Belvia (née Bond) Brown of Bristow, Creek County, Oklahoma, USA.
Researched by Ralph Snape and Traugott Vitz for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with additional thanks to Traugott for his work on the ‘VitzArchive’. Thanks also to Col. Mario Cremer for sharing his information and expertise.
1. Horchem, Hans Josef, Kinder im Krieg: Hamburg-Berlin-Bonn; 2000, page number 206.
2. Lüttgens, Karl J. (ed.), Als der Krieg in die Nordeifel kam. Zivilisten und Soldaten berichten über die Zeit von 1939 bis 1945 im Kreis Schleiden und in seinen Nachbarregionen, 2nd extended edition, 2013.