S/Sgt. Cleveland Mayfield

Cleveland Mayfield – Air Medal with Five Oak Leaf Clusters

Cleveland Mayfield and his family hailed from the small town of Ellijay, Georgia. After his Air Corps training he was sent to the ETO by the Southern Route. The crew for that flight is as follows;

5109-CZ-8P1st Lt. HENRY C. WOODRUM07421020Ap. No. 42-95917
Shopworn Angel Y5-J


ccT/Sgt Richard H. Backer16044031

RGPvt Cleveland G. Mayfield14141349
Lt. Woodrum was later shot down and rescued by the French Underground. He wrote about it in his excellent book “Walkout.”
Southern Route to the European Theater
Cleveland wrote while taking the Southern Ferry Route to the ETO. He mentions being in Brazil. He experienced the heat near the equator and saw the Amazon River. He told his folks that his fiance broke their engagement just before he left the states. He says that he wont get any “grey hairs” over it.

One of Mayfield’s earliest missions was on March 23, 1944. According the the 344th History by Lambert D. Austin, “The Creil Marshalling Yard again became the object of our attention on March 23, 1944. Thirty-seven planes flew the mission and dropped 288 X 500-pound bombs, dealing another “good” blow to this important rail point, striking the middle of the choke point, ruining engine sheds and destroying goods wagons and tracks over a considerable area.”

Piloted by Lt. Burris, Mayfield flew in Y5-D and known as Rum Buggy. They flew in position 1-3-3.
The target was a marshaling yard near Criel, France.
Pilot Burris reported dropping 8- 500lb bombs on the target as briefed. They experienced light and inaccurate flak. Ships were observed in the English Channel as well as a large aircraft that later sunk. Barges were spotted in the river, Oise. The crew complained about their breakfast.

Missions came almost daily. For example, Cleveland Mayfield flew a mission on April 11, 1944. Again according to 344th records, “The marshaling yard at Montignies-Sur-Sambre heard the roar of the “Silver Streaks” formation above it and felt the weight of its 532 X 250-pound General Purpose bombs on April 11, 1944. Photographic evidence of the results were obscured to a great extent by cloud coverage, but did show hits on a building on the south edge of the yards and near-hits on the engine shed.

About 11am the formation was over target and experienced broken clouds.
Although there is no formation diagram available, this load list shows Mayfield in position 2-2-1. The plane was Y5-A, known as Invictus and became the plane he used most often. The crew was;
Captain H.L. Burris, Pilot
2nd Lt. A.R. Hogan, Co-Pilot
S/Sgt. W.S. Hildebrand, Armorer/Gunner
S/Sgt. C.G. Mayfield, Radio/Gunner
S/Sgt. W.E. Davis, Engineer/Gunner
Pilot Burris reported dropping 16- 250 lb bombs on target.
Invictus Y5-A

On April 13, 1944 344th BG records state, “We were to attack gun installations at Le Havre, but though thirty-seven aircraft took off to this task, the cloud coverage over the target precluded bombing and all returned to base with their bomb loads. Moderate flak was encountered, damaging four planes slightly but none were shot down.”

Flying about the target at about 11,000 ft, the formation experienced solid clouds. They were menaced by radar controlled, accurate flak.
No formation diagram is available but this load list shows Burris, Mayfield and company in position 1-2-4. They were once again flying in Invictus. Take off time was 7:38 am with wheels down at 10:58 am.
Burris reports that he carried 4- 1000lb bombs. When they couldn’t be dropped on target due to lack of visibility, they were jettisoned into the English Channel.

On April 19, 1944, Cleveland had an exhausting day that included two missions. According to 344th “Silver Streaks,” “Two missions were flown April 19, 1944. The morning mission, to attack a coastal gun defense position at Fecamp, was doomed to be a failure, due to the dense cloud coverage over the target. The second mission, however, gave us excellent results when we dispatched forty planes to a construction site (Noball) at Cocove. A heavy concentration of 1000- pound bombs scored direct hits on Ski sites and buildings in the target area. Eighteen of the planes received accurate flak fire, but damage to them was slight. No casualties to personnel resulted.”

The map indicates that the formation flew at 11,500ft but experienced 9/10 – 10/10 cloud cover which precluded the dropping of bombs.
This load list indicates that Burris, Mayfield and crew flew in formation position 2-3-4 in Y5-A “Invictus.” Take-Off was 8:45 am. Landing was at 11:40.
Captain Burris reported that he had to return to base carrying 4- 1000lb bombs!

Mission two of April 19, 1944 was to a “NoBall” site. These were the locations were V-1 “Buzz bombs” were launched.

The mission map indicates that the visibility was unlimited. The formation experienced flak and rocket fire.
“Invictus,” carrying Burris, Mayfield and company, flew in position 2-3-4. 2nd Lt. Courtright was the Co-Pilot.
Burris reported “Very Good” results dropping his 8- 500lb bombs.

A “Noball” construction site near Siracourt, received a full concentration of bombs from our Marauders on the second mission of April 22, 1944.

Y5-A “Invictus,” carried Burris, Mayfield and crew in formation position 2-2-4. Wilson was the Co-Pilot of the day.
Note Burris written under the pilot’s window.
Captain Burris reported taking off at 6:30 pm and landing at 8:30 pm. 16-250lb bombs were dropped with very good results. Burris observed Capt. Kozlowski and crew being shot down. He said that the plane was on fire and eventually crashed. He observed two parachute emerging from the tail. He saw one more chute from the nose of the aircraft that failed to open. See a detailed report here.

A few days later, on April 28, 1944 Cleveland wrote a letter home.

Cleveland rights about things getting rough over there. He says he wouldn’t mind some rainy days (so that any missions would be scrubbed). He is proud to be awarded the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters. Airmen in the 344th received the air medal for every five sorties over enemy territory. After receiving the first medal, successive awards took the form of an oak leaf cluster to be pinned to the ribbon of the original medal. This would indicate credit for 15 missions over enemy territory. Cleveland tells his mother not to worry about Dot, presumably his girl back home. He talks about a “Red Head” he is dating.

He wrote another letter on May 15, 1944.

Mayfield wrote many letters home. He was not allowed to talk about certain information regarding missions. Cleveland mentioned being fatigued from battle and being away from home. He mentions a rumor about getting a furlough to the states after 50 missions. He obviously missed his family and looked forward to competing his mission quota. The only thing he asked for was a “harp.” Our guess is he meant a Jew’s Harp. Here’s a sample of what a skilled player can do with one.
Jew’s Harp

On the morning of May 20, 1944, Mayfield’s formation was sent to an airdrome in Cambrai-Epinoy. No attack was possible do to the weather.

The mission map for the morning mission of 5/20 indicates that they flew in complete overcast. Nevertheless, they believe that they flew a proper route at about 11,000 ft. At 11:30 am they reached the target but could not drop due to lack of visibility. No flak was encountered.
Although no formation diagram is available, Mayfield with Captain Burris flew in position 2-1-4 Invictus Y5-A was again their aircraft. They took off at 9:34 am. Since they could not drop their bombs, they returned them to the base when they landed at 1:04 pm.
In his debrief, Burris reports flying at 13,000 ft while carrying 8-500lb bombs. Because of complete overcast, the bombs were returned. Weak and inaccurate flak was encountered on route.

He wrote another letter date May 24, 1944.

On page 1, Cleveland mentions getting a letter from home and his happy to get them. He is tired and bored with life on the air base. He expects a seven day furlough.
On page 2, Cleveland again mentions the rumor of receiving a 21 day furlough at home after 50 missions. (The truth of the matter turned out that flyers were sent to the states after 65 missions.) Censorship was evident when Cleveland try to say how many missions he had completed. Answering his mother’s query, Cleveland states that people are pretty much the same overseas, but he misses home.
On page 3, Cleveland talks about Cleveland talked about his English, Redheaded, girlfriend. He says that she will be writing his mother soon. Mayfield also tries to allay his mother’s fears, saying that someone has to do his job. He also states that most of the flyers will be ok. It turns out that the B-26 Marauder aircraft he flew in ended up with the fewest losses of all types of bombers. Cleveland expected to be promoted to Staff Sergeant soon.

Some records show that on May 28, 1944, S/Sgt. Sgt. Cleveland Mayfield, watching on board another bomber of the 344th Bomber Group, observed a plane in difficulty. No load list has been located with Mayfield on board. 42-95920 7I-L Smilin’ Joy II took a direct flak hit in the right engine over Amiens on the May 28, 1944 mission to the Amiens Marshalling yards. Four parachutes were spotted before the aircraft crashed 1km SE of Mayenville, 8 km SW of Abbeville, France. The pilot was 1st Lt. James Foster Reynolds who was flying the aircraft after the regular pilot & crew were on an R & R break. He was killed by the Germans as he descended by parachute. Two of the crew evaded capture and made it back to allied lines, two were captured, and two were killed. This was the aircraft’s 41st and last mission.
Official MACR Summary Statement

On June 4 the bridge at Courcelles-sur Seine was assigned as a target with excellent results accomplished by the Silver Streaks. Seven planes were battle damaged and another crash landed in the United Kingdom and was destroyed. Fortunately no casualties resulted from this forced landing. One crewman was reported missing in action.

Only this load list is available at this time for the June 4th mission. Burris, Mayfield, and crew flew in position 1-1-4 which was near the front tip of the formation. Invictus Y5-A was their B-26 Marauder that day. Aiken was the co-pilot. They took off at 2:15 pm but could not drop their bombs and salvoed them into the English Channel. As usual, Mayfield flew as the radio operator and side gunner.

On June 7th, just eight days before his death, Cleveland wrote a letter home.

Cleveland talks about how happy he is to still “be ok.” He refers to the D-Day invasion as “big business. There is no record of Mayfield flying on either D-Day mission. About D-Day, he uses the expression, “This Is It.” We know from several sources that Colonel Witty used the expression to start the mission briefing that day. He hoped the invasion would move as quickly as “salts through a widow woman.”
After asking about farming, Cleveland asks about a package and for another harp to be sent because he never got the first one. He complains about the lack of letters from other acquaintances. Mayfield tells his mother that he will be increasing the amount of money he sends hoe each month.
Cleveland expects the “Red Head” to be writing to his parents soon. He is sending clippings from “The Stars and Stripes” newspaper for servicemen and if they like them, he will send more. As an afterthought, Cleveland announces his promotion to staff sergeant.
Cleveland Mayfield in flight gear.

According to 344th Bomb Group Silver Streaks, “On June 8, a small railway bridge and railway embankment at Lessay was the objective with good to excellent results accomplished. One ship only was battle damaged.

On June 8th the formation attacked a railway bridge in Lessay, France. Burris, with Mayfield as radio/gunner aboard flew near the lead in position 1-1-4.
Burris, Aiken, Gniffke, Lewman, Davis, Mayfield and Hildbrand flew in Feudin Wagin Y5-U in position 1-1-4. They took off at 7:17 am and landed 11:02 after dropping their bombs on target. One of the ground crew that kept Feudin Wagin flying was Corporal Santo Endrizzi. Note Santos name written on the plane (see photo).
Feudin Wagin 344th BG
The targets were bridges at Lessay, France at 9:13 am. Bombs dropped from roughly 8000 ft, due to a cloud layer at 9000 ft. 38 B-26 Marauders participated with the second box dropping first. The first box navigated by dead reckoning and flew too close to the city of Le Havre and experienced weak but accurate radar controlled flak. Note the wrong month written on the map.
Burris reports hitting the target with good results, dropping 8-500lb bombs. He experienced flak as the first box flew off course to avoid another bomb group. Other railroad spurs and harbor shipping were observed.

According to 344th Bomb Group Silver Streaks, “On June 10 two missions were flown to destroy choke points at Valognes and road junctions at St. Lo. The Valognes attack was successful but the enemy defenses against us were accurate. One plane of the 496th Squadron was destroyed and six crewmen were reported missing, one crewman wounded and five planes battle damaged.”

On June 10, 1944, the formation was sent to destroy road junctions near St. Lo. Burris and crew flew in position 2-1-4 in ship Y5-A.
The map shows the route taken on the bomb run to road junctions near St. Lo. Bombing commenced at 4:48 pm at 1800 ft. 30 planes participated, some having to make two runs before dropping their ordinance.
Mayfield, Capt. Burris and crew flew in position 2-1-4. They flew in old friend Invictus Y5-A. They took of at 2:59 pm and landed 5:59 pm after dropping their bombs on target.

According to 344th Bomb Group Silver Streaks, “On June 12, weather improved slightly from the previous day and the formation returned to Conde sur Noireau to strike the bridge at that point. Results were only fair. No injuries or losses resulted this date.”

Burris, Mayfield and crew flew near the front of the formation in position 1-1-4
The co-pilot was 2nd Lt. Harold Aiken that day. They took off at 5:12 am and landed at 8:17 after dropping bombs on target. Invictus Y%-A was once again their plane.
Unfortunately the debrief is illegible.

According to 344th Bomb Group Silver Streaks, “June 13 two missions were flown. The marshaling yards at Lissieux and Mezidon were struck with excellent results. In the afternoon a choke point at St. Pierre sur Dives with fair to good results. Eight planes were slightly damaged.”

Burris, Mayfield and crew flew in position 2-1-4 in Invictus Y5-A
The target was a choke point at St. Pierre Sur Dives. The bombs were not dropped when over the target at 8:54 pm from 8000 feet. 9/10 medium level clouds and with low clouds as well. Note wrong month on this map.
Burris, Aiken, Mayfield and crew were joined by another officer Capt. W.B. Granitir. The plane was Invictus Y5-A. Note the position, 1-1-4 differs from what is indicated on the formation diagram. The bombs were returned to base.
Burris reports that he flew in position 1-1-4 from 7:16 – 10:15 pm at 8000 ft. He id not drop his bombs because the lead plane did not drop. He returned his 8- 500lb bombs. They experienced moderate and accurate flak. Houses were seen in fields arranged in rows but no roads or paths were seen. A ship that appeared to be a LST was observed.

Cleveland Mayfield was to be given a furlough about this time. He made plans to visit his “Red Head” in London. Her name is not known, but she is pictured in this colorized photo below.

Cleveland’s “Red Head’

The story of Cleveland’s death is ironic.  After flying about 30 missions he was given a few days furlough around the 14th June, 1944. Records show that Cleveland and crew didn’t fly on the 14th. He went to London to see his girlfriend there that he referred to as the “Red Head.” 

Somehow he got off the train on the wrong side and was killed by an oncoming train.

London underground as it looked at wartime.
Underground in London as it appeared in wartime.

  Cleveland Mayfield was buried in Cambridge American Cemetery and remains there to this day.

On the 15th of June, the day Cleveland Mayfield died, his pilot flew with a different radio/gunner. The war continued.

VanOverberghe replaced Mayfield as radio/gunner on Burris’s crew.
Animated with AI. Sometimes this special effect can bring a subject to life.

Cleveland Mayfield was awarded the Air Medal with Five bronze Oak Leaf Clusters.

Members of the 344th bomb group received the air medal for every five sorties over enemy territory. After receiving the first medal, successive awards took the form of an oak leaf cluster to be pinned to the ribbon of the original medal. After every multiple of five a silver Oak Leaf Cluster (OLC) was given. Since Cleveland Mayfield flew 30 missions (perhaps a few more), he received 5 Oak Leaf Clusters (OLC) to go with his Air Medal.
Note this Air Medal, awarded to Frank Carrozza has two silver and two bronze OLC to indicate the completion of 65 missions.

Notes and correspondence between Claude Mayfield and webmaster Carl Carrozza.

An amazing coincidence was that Cleveland flew to Europe as radio operator/side gunner in a plane called the Shopworn Angel. The pilot of that flight, Hank Woodrum, named the plane. Later the Shopworn Angel became the plane my father flew most often. Since he was also radio/gunner, they sat in the same chair!

I am attaching documents regarding two missions; June 4 and June 8 1944
June 4 he flew in a plane named Invictus / Empire State Express
June 8 the plane was Feudin Wagin

Noticed the pilot was Burris both times. The rest of the crew was the same too.
The co-pilot, Aiken, piloted my father from the US, across the Atlantic to England also using the Southern Route.

One crew was:

Captain H.L. Burris, Pilot
2nd Lt. H.Y. Aiken, Co-Pilot
2nd Lt. L.D. Gniffke, Navigator
2nd Lt. R.E. Lewman, Bombardier
S/Sgt. W.S. Hildebrand, Armorer/Gunner
S/Sgt. C.G. Mayfield, Radio/Gunner
S/Sgt. W.E. Davis, Engineer/Gunner

He most commonly flew in Y5-A “Invictus”

As a more experienced pilot, Burris “broke in” several co-pilots who later were promoted to pilot in the 495th Bomb Squadron. One of these was Harold Aiken, the very pilot who flew the webmaster’s father, Frank P. Carrozza to the ETO from the states.

Do you know if Cleveland is one of the men in the crew picture?

Hi Carl , that is just amazing you could find all Cleveland’s missions.  He mentions expecting to get the air medal with two oak leaf clusters in his April 28, 1944 letter.  His comments about how many missions he’d flown were censored but he implies he was on his way to 50. Just don’t know how close he got.  I saw his medals long ago (before phone cameras) and am urging the cousins to find them and the dress uniform photo.  Will you be able to add photos and information after the webpage is published?  I feel closer to reliving Cleveland’s history than I ever dreamed possible and I and all Cleveland’s relatives can’t thank you enough.  

Best, Claude