Marshall, Earl H

Earl H. Marshall was born in 1924 to Harrison and Laura Ash Marshall who lived in Spring City, Pennsylvania. Earl was one of two children.

Earl graduated in 1941 from Spring City High School where he received a sports award for varsity football his senior year. After school, Earl worked as a book keeper at the Royersford Brick Works.

Earl enlisted in the Army Air Corps on June 3, 1942 and entered service on November 11th. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in August, 1943 receiving his wings as a fighter pilot at Spence Field Georgia. Earl was transferred to Shaw Field in Sumter, South Carolina, where he served as an instructor for six months. In May, 1944, he married Lucille Beard from Columbia, South Carolina.

Earl was transferred overseas to the European Theater of Operations on September 18, 1944. He was attached to the 353rd Fighter Squadron, 354th Fighter Group of the 9th Air Force - the first American Fighter Group to receive the famous P-51 Mustang, albeit the “B” version, before the “bubble canopy” of the “D” versions which is most remembered. They later transitioned to the P-47 Thunderbolt for ground support, then back to the P-51 Mustang, but this time the improved P-51D.
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Historian Peter Randell contributes:

The 9th AF was only in North Africa for a short time, mainly during operation "Torch". It then became part of the ETO (European Theater of Operations), initially based in the United Kingdom and then "mobile" on the continent after D-Day, as it was mainly a tactical air force in support of the ground troops; whereas the 8th was a strategic air force, tasked with the attacking of strategic targets in the occupied countries and the German homeland.
The 354th Fighter Group was initially based at Greenham Common, United Kingdom for just over a week between 2 and 13 November 1943, moving to Boxted in Essex until 17 April 1944.  They then moved to Lashenden (Headcorn) Kent until 22 June 1944 after which they started their journey across France and Germany as they followed the ground war.

Gene Lamar, historian of the 354th Fighter Group contributes:

Cobra Squadron InsigniaOn January 16th and 20th of 1945 a couple of groups of pilots entered the 354th Fighter Group.  Most of these pilots were going to the 353rd and 356th fighter squadrons.  Lt. Earl Marshall went to the 353rd Fighter Squadron, known as "The Cobras".  As they entered the group several tour expired pilots returned home that month.  This time period was still during the Bastogne campaign "The Battle of the Bulge" and they were still flying P-47's because there mission was one where the low altitude flying (very low cloud ceilings) and bombing missions were more suitable to this radial engined fighter plane.  My Dad proved this as did many pilots that were shot down as this plane could take a licking and still fly with some of its cylinders shot out or oil leaking everywhere.  They were flying out of Rosieres en Haye near Nancy, France and the base designation was A-98.

The fighter group moved as the frontlines moved and would eventually wind up in Germany using captured German airfields for their bases.  This day they had not moved the squadron to this base, they just used the captured field as a staging area for a couple of missions.  The 353rd Fighter Squadron wound up flying some missions out of a newly captured airfield near Frankfurt, Germany in Eschborn designated Y-74. 

It was on the missions from this field in early April 1945 around the 4th of April that Lt. Earl Marshall went down from what was called friendly fire from allied armored vehicles.  Lt. Marshall was flying "White 2" in the afternoon mission when they ran into a formation of ME 109's and FW 190's (Messerschmitt and Focke Wulf German Fighters) near Naumberg.  On the return trip home the squadron was flying low because of the low cloud ceiling and came across a formation of allied armored vehicles on the road below The 353rd squadron was mistaken for German planes.  Four of the squadron’s planes were hit and Lt. Marshall reported to his flight leader, Loyd Overfield, he was still following him but he had been hit.  When the squadron rendezvoused above the cloud formation Lt. Marshall did not appear and could not be raised on the radio.  He was later reported to have been killed.  Lt. Cary Salter, on that same mission, believed that this was the first fighter mission to originate east of the Rhine.

The fighter group moved as the frontlines moved and would eventually wind up in Germany using captured German airfields for their bases.  This day they had not moved the squadron to this base, they just used the captured field as a staging area for a couple of missions.  The 353rd Fighter Squadron wound up flying some missions out of a newly captured airfield near Frankfurt, Germany in Eschborn designated Y-74. 

It was on the missions from this field in early April 1945 around the 4th of April that Lt. Earl Marshall went down from what was called friendly fire from allied armored vehicles.  Lt. Marshall was flying "White 2" in the afternoon mission when they ran into a formation of ME 109's and FW 190's (Messerschmitt and Focke Wulf German Fighters) near Naumberg.  On the return trip home the squadron was flying low because of the low cloud ceiling and came across a formation of allied armored vehicles on the road below The 353rd squadron was mistaken for German planes.  Four of the squadron’s planes were hit and Lt. Marshall reported to his flight leader, Loyd Overfield, he was still following him but he had been hit.  When the squadron rendezvoused above the cloud formation Lt. Marshall did not appear and could not be raised on the radio.  He was later reported to have been killed.  Lt. Cary Salter, on that same mission, believed that this was the first fighter mission to originate east of the Rhine.

Most of this information has come from a book about the 354th Fighter group written by author Steve Blake who spent many years researching and gathering information on the group, "The Pioneer Mustang Group, The 354th Fighter Group in World war II".

During this mission Earl was flying a P-51D Mustang, serial # 44-63732 coded FT-T and named "Thana Topsis", the assigned a/c of Lt. Robert G Hall.

Second Lieutenant Earl H. Marshall was Killed In Action on April 4, 1945 on a mission over Kreuvenburg, Germany. He was interred in the Margraten cemetery in Holland.

After the war his remains were returned for burial in his home country aboard the transport Barney Kirschbaum along with the remains of heroes Joseph Kacanda and Fred Manship. Funeral services were conducted at the Nelson funeral home. Interment was at the St. Vincent’s Reformed Cemetery.

Earl was awarded the Air Medal with an Oak Leaf Cluster and the Purple Heart posthumously.
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Credits


Research by Don Wambold, WCMSC