669th BS Patch

416th Bombardment Group (L)

S/Sgt. Joseph John Shields

Gunner,  13099665

Killed In Action - Apr 24, 1944

669th Bombardment Squadron (L)


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  Born: 1922, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania

Entered Military Service: Date: 14-Aug-1942 At: Philadelphia, PA From: Delaware County, Pennsylvania
NARA Enlistment Record: Enlisted Serial # 13099665

Buried: Cambridge American Cemetery, Cambridge, United Kingdom, Plot E Row 3 Grave 63

On-line Memorials:
National World War II Registry     Overseas American Cemeteries
American Battle Monuments Commission

County Fliers Killed in Raids Over Europe

The War Department disclosed today that three Delaware County airmen have been killed in action while performing missions over occupied Europe and in the Mediterranean theatre of operations.

Reported dead were Staff Sgt. Joseph J. Shields, of Collingdale; First Lieut. Paul A. Simon, of Upper Derby, and Sgt. James F. Fallon, of Yeadon, who had been awarded four medals during his two years in the service.

Staff Stg. Shields, only son of Mr. and Mrs. John J. Shields, of 604 Beechwood avenue, Collingdale, was killed in action on April 24, while on a mission over France, the War Department revealed today.

Arriving in England only three months before he was reported killed, the 22-year-old gunner on an A-20 light bomber, had many missions over France. He often wrote home saying, "If you could see the big fires from my turret which are scorching France, you would realize how devastating this war really is."

On April 23, Shields wrote, "I'm working long, hard days and nights. Often we don't get 'home' until well after 10 p. m. I'm tired now and have to rest as we have a big mission tomorrow. I'll write you again when I get back."

The next day, he was killed before he had the chance to write.

He entered the Army Air Forces on Aug. 1, 1942, and received his training in St. Petersburg, Fla., Salt Lake City, Utah, Denver, Colo., and Laurel, Miss. He embarked from this country during January, 1944.

Sergeant Shields attended Collingdale public schools and was employed by the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company prior to his enlistment.

Extracted from Newspapers.com

ON APRIL 24, 1944, the Douglas A-20 Havocs of the 669th Bomb Squadron, part of the 416th Bomb Group, USAAF, took off on a bombing mission against a target in France. However, before they reached the coast, the mission was recalled due to bad weather. At the controls of A-20G, 43-9941 (coded 2A-U) was 2nd Lt Arthur A McDonald. His crew that day were Joseph J Shields, and Leroy Barnard. Exactly what happened as the 669th Bomb Squadron returned to its base in Essex, no-one knows. According to the unit record, 2nd Lt McDonald lost control of the Havoc as he flew through the overcast sky. During the subsequent dive, the Havoc lost part of a wing. The unit record states 2nd Lt McDonald managed to pull the Havoc out of its dive and "before he hit the ground, he manoeuvred his plane in a last heroic effort to avoid crashing in the midst of a crowded city district. The plane struck the only open area in the vicinity". All three crewmen lost their lives.Arthur McDonald, Joseph J Shields, and Leroy Barnard were buried in the American Military Cemetery, at Madingley, near Cambridge. Only Joseph is still buried there.

If anyone has any information regarding the incident, email geoff@gkennell.freeserve.co.uk

The above information published by Geoff Kennell, Rydal Drive, Bexleyheath UK in the Borehamwood and Elstree Times.

Nature of Accident: "Pilot crashed after attempting to ascend through an overcast." Cause of Accident: "Unknown."

While going through the overcast 2nd Lt. Arthur A. McDonald, lost control of his plane for some reason unknown. In the dive he lost a wing. He did manage to pull the plane out of the dive, and before he hit the ground, he maneuvered his plane in a last heroic effort to avoid crashing in the midst of a crowded city district. The plane struck in the only open area in the vicinity, exploding when the bombs hit the ground. The crew, Lt. MacDonald, S/Sgt. Leroy (NMI) Barnard, and S/Sgt. Joseph J. Shields, were killed. Their remains have been interred in the American Military Cemetery at Cambridge, England.
(416th BG History 1944)

See also AAR 44-4-24-513

Photos and Documents
Delaware County Daily Times (Chester, Pennsylvania) 2 Jun 1944, Fri Page 1
Headstone Inscription and Interment Record
WW II Service Compensation Application
WW II Service Compensation Application
WW II Service Compensation Application
Rosters Of WW II Dead
WW II Army and Army Air Force Casualty List
National World War II Memorial Registry
National World War II Memorial Registry

Source information can be viewed at WWII Military Service Fatalities Sources

"Goin' Home" courtesy of the U.S. Air Force Band