Leiston Airfield (Station 373) and 357th & 358th Fighter Group Memorial
357th Fighter Group Roll of Honor
Kirby Monette Brown was born in Louisiana, probably in Clarks, Louisiana on March 30, 1924. His parents were Venice M. and Stella Brown. He was raised in Caldwell Parish, graduating from Columbia High School, Class of 1942.
He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in early 1943, went through the Aviation Cadet program, and then was assigned to the 357th Fighter Group, either just before or shortly after the unit deployed to England.
The unit was tasked with bomber escort and fighter sweep duties. On a mission on September 13, 1944, Lt. Brown was shot down by a German fighter or light flak. (The accounts vary on this point.) What is known is that he parachuted safely to the ground, while the P-51 crashed near Eberstein and was totally destroyed.
Lt. Brown was apprehended by two German civilians near the village of Schonau who placed him in a car, to be taken to the authorities in Burgwald for interrogation. An SA officer named Gebhard stopped the car, and took Lt. Brown out. He marched him a few steps away from the vehicle, and then shot him in the head. The SA officer returned to his office and instructed his secretary to write up a report stating all that had occurred, stating also that "I have now avenged my fallen brothers and I shot the Fighter Pilot."
Lt. Brown's body was brought to the hospital in Burgwald to certify the death. A funeral was held by the townspeople on September 16, and he was buried in the local cemetery.
In August of 1945, witnesses to the shooting, death, and burial related their stories to 2 American officers of the American Graves Registration Commission. The body was exhumed to again certify identity and cause of death. Although hints appear in some records of the war crimes trials, no specific report has been found concerning the fate of the SA officer. But because most stories of this nature were relentlessly pursued, it may be inferred that Gebhard was convicted and hanged.
Source of information: www.findagrave.com