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by Kenneth Breaux

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Courtesies of the Heart is a compelling account of the 11 September 1944 mission to Ruhland and the 58-year search for one of the two MIA's from that mission. The story is revealed in eyewitness accounts from 55th Fighter Group pilot encounter reports, 100th Bomb Group crew survivors, and German civilians.

On 11 September 1944, US Army Air Corps Lt William Lewis departed for a combat mission over Germany. Sometime during that mission, he vanished and was presumed dead. His disappearance remained a mystery for 58 years. Courtesies of the Heart is the story of the mission and the long and finally successful search for Lt Lewis. Complete with personal letters, official correspondence and bureaucratic tangles, this is an intensely personal account of the grief of a young widow and the mother of the fallen airman.

The modern story began in 2001, initiated by the daughter he saw only once before departing for combat. It reveals the details of an investigation that takes place in three countries, by different groups of people, all of which eventually lead to a successful recovery and the solution to a mystery that spanned six decades. It involves a confidential file recently discovered in the archives of a US military base in Germany, reports of the East German secret police, and the remarkable discovery of an old German man with a beautiful sense of honor. It details how the Internet acted as a bridge and facilitator for the searchers as they attempted to piece the puzzle parts into a coherent whole. Finally, it is about the closure of a long-suffering daughter.



1) Examples of documents from the "old trunk discovery"

William and Eleanor Lewis (photo by Sharon Cross collection published on page 9)

Telegram received by Eleanor Lewis, informing that her husband is Missing In Action since 11th September 1944
(document by Sharon Cross collection published on page 94)


2) Preview of colored maps and charts published in the book as b/w

Page 60
8th USAAF mission No. 623 - 11th September 1944
Page 61
Ruhland mission - 13th Combat Wing / 11th September 1944 + battle areas
Page 51
38th FS element assigments for the September 11, 1944 mission
Page 60
bombers track and areas of both phases of the battle - eastern Thüringerwald and western Ore Mountains
Page 84
55th FG and JG 4 losses in the Oberhof combat area, September 11, 1944



Copyright note:

All maps, charts and photos published
on this page are under copyright
of Jan Zdiarsky and can´t be
published without written
permission of Ken Breaux
or Jan Zdiarsky! Printing for
reader´s private use allowed.

Page 56
Structures of the units engaged in the Air battle

Page 183
Map of the Oberhof area - July 2002

Page 197
Forensic archeology plan of the Oberhof Recovery Mission July - August 2002

3) The cross...

The wooden cross made by Adalbert Wolf as was discovered
on the site in March 2001 (photo published on page 211)

The same cross now displayed on the memorial wall
in Sharon & Villere Cross home

Silver replica of the same cross given in 2002 by Sharon Cross
to four friends related to search for her father - to her husband
Villere, Ken Breaux, Petr Frank and Jan Zdiarsky
(photo published on page 211)

4) Some of the articles published as reaction on search for Bill Lewis

- article by Freies Wort, 5. July 2002 (in German language) - article (jpg)
- article by Freies Wort, 8. July 2002 (in German language) - part 1, part 2 (jpg)
- article by Freies Wort, July 2002 (in German language) - article (jpg)
- article by Lucie Husarova, August 2002  (Instinkt / in Czech language) - part 1, part 2, part 3 (jpg)
- article by Esther Schrader, 2. Nov. 2002 (Los Angeles Times / in English) - article (jpg)

- article by Bruce Nichols, 5. Jan. 2003 (Dallas Morning News / in English) - part 1, part2 (jpg)
- article
by Ota Schnepp, 27. May 2004 (Denik Chomutovska / in Czech)  - article (MS Word)
- article by Charlie Cole, Summer 2004 (100th BG website at www.100thbg.com)  - article (MS Word)
- article by Charlie Cole, Summer 2004 (Splasher Six / in English) - article (jpg)
- article
by Janelle Scully, 11. Nov. 2004 (Santa Maria Times / in English)  - article (MS Word)
- article by Marsha Sills, 31. July 2005 (The Daily Advertiser / in English)  - article (MS Word)

5) Photos from the first discovery of Bill Lewis´s crashsite
by Petr Frank and Jan Zdiarsky, 31. March 2001

global view upside to the "Alte Tambacher Strasse" wrom where Petr and Jan fist spotted the wreckage pile

the wreckage pile downslope from the impact crater (photo published on page 141) some pieces from the P-51s nose with the 55th FG identification marking - yellow-green checkerboard the shoe sole found by Petr and Jan during their first visit to the crashsite (photo published on page 160) the cross fashioned by Adalbert Wolf. It remained here until its discovery in March 2001

Although Petr and Jan were sure they found the exact place of Bill Lewis´s crash, his name was still
on the Wall of Missing of the US cemetery in Luxembourg (photos published on page 114)

6) Photos from Ken and Claire Breaux visit to Prague and Oberhof (April 2001)

the train station at Oberursel. Most allied flyers came through this station for interrogation and later transfer to POW camps (photo from Ken Breaux published on page 137) Claire Breaux on the foggy morning of April 2001when we visited the cemetery in Oberhof. Pilots of the JG 4 lost in combat with the 55th FG on September 11, 1944 rest here today (photo from Ken Breaux published on page 146) Crawinkel forstamt Klaus-Rolland Müller and Claire Breaux examine the wreckage (photo from Ken Breaux published on page 149) First piece of Bill´s P-51 that was sent in April 2001 by Petr and Jan through Ken to Sharon Cross
- small part from the wing with the white star from the US national insignia


7) Photos from Sharon Cross visit of Kovarska and Oberhof, 8. - 9. June 2002

Museum Kovarska, 8. June 2002 - Sharon Cross and her first look at the showcase dedicated to her father. Museum Kovarska,
8. June 2002 - Sharon Cross looks on name of her dad on the wall listing of all the casualties of the battle.
Oberhof, Germany - 9. June 2002 - Sharon places a flag and white roses at the crashsite. (photo published on page 179) Sharon alone with her thoughts at the end of a day of discovery and emotions. (photo published on page 181) Casey Cross, Villere and Sharon examine 0.50 cal. ammunition found in the crash crater (photo published on page 180)


8) Photos from the CILHI recovery mission, July 2002

Composite U.S. and Czech-German team on the recovery mission in Oberhof, July 2002.
Mission leader Capt. Octave V. MacDonald stands second from the right.

Every stone, every piece of dirt was carefully moved from the impact crater, filled into buckets and sent to screens. (photo published on page 187) On screens the dirt was separated from stones, airplane wreckage and everything what might be possible human remains - for following supervision by anthropologist, Dr. Leney Tent erected over the impact crater sometimes preserved the site before bad weather. Instructions break - Team Sergeant Andy Garate (far left) gives instructions for following search. Then stands Petr Frank, Ronaldo Garcia and Dennis Shields. (photo published on page 196) The farewell was sad - when someone from the Czech team leaved the team due to personal duties. Martin Kohout ans Dennis Shields on the front.

CILHI army coin "For Excellence" presented to some Museum members of the recovery team


9) Some important wreckage from the P-51D and Bill Lewis
personal equipment found on the site during the CILHI mission, July 2002

British made survival compass found in the wreckage. Here in hands of Andy Garate soon after the recovery (photo of the same item - after cleaning is published on page 199) Pieces of Bill´s clothing  and flying suite were foung in the crater. All three left wing machine guns were recovered at the west edge of the impact crater. The radio call plate found in the crashsite. It was indeniable proof that this was indeed Bill´s airplane. (The worked-out hand on the photo is Mac´s) (photo published on page 200) The propeller spinner in the same position as it was recovered from the deepest part of the crater (photo published on page 199)

The CILHI Certificate of Appreciation" given to each of the Czech and German
members of the recovery team, to the Museum as organization
and to the city of Kovarska


10) Photos from Bill Lewis´s burial - Tulsa, Oklahoma - 28. May 2004

Bill´s casket is brought to the chapel by the honor guard - (US Army photo, published on page 215) Sharon delivered the eulogy for her father - (US Army photo, published on page 215) From across the Atlantic, then the Pacific, Bill Lewis is finally laid to rest in Oklahoma soil - (US Army photo, published on page 216) Veterans of the 100th Bomb Group came to honor their "Little Friend" Bill for his sacrifice whiel escorting their mission. (photo published on page 219) Sharon receives the flag that covered the father´s casket (photo published on page 220)

T-6 flyover in the "Missing Man Formation"
(photo from Charlie Cole, published on page 220)


11) The Museum area dedicated to Bill Lewis, containing wreckage
of his P-51D, personal equipment, photos and documents

the area in Museum dedicated to Bill Lewis - general look,
as was rebuilded in September 2004 (photo published on page 223)

wreckage of the propeller reducer, parts of engine and rests of the right wing machine guns. left area of the showcase - contains yelow-green checkerboard, propeller piece and wrecks of the airplane systems central area of the showcase - contains mostly Bill´s personal equipment items found on the crashsite. right area of the showcase - contains cockpit and canopy items rudder pedals wrecks and main wheel wrecks. detail of the some cockpit pieces. (photo published on page 224)


12) ... and the best at the end... direct contact to the author of the
"Courtesies of the Heart" Kenneth Breaux here...
...Ken is also able to forward your message to Sharon Cross...


See the original Museum showcase (2001 - 2004) dedicated to Bill Lewis:
museum virtual tour / Section Oberhof (before it was rebuild into new design in September 2004as shown above)

Check for more info on this website:
About the 55th FG see more at: 55th Fighter Group Color Scheme reconstruction Project
- 55th FG history on the museum website




"Courtesies of the Heart" are available through Trafford Publishing at their web site http://www.trafford.com

toll-free at 1-866-638-6884 or mail to:

Trafford Publishing

Suite 6E, 2333 Government Street
Victoria, BC Canada
V8T 4P4



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Breaux, Kenneth, 1943-
Courtesies of the heart / Kenneth Breaux. -- Victoria, B.C.: Trafford, c2004.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 1-4120-1165-5

I. Title.

D811 L425 2004 940.54'8173 0401





e-mail to Jan Zdiarsky


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