LeRoy Ruder

364th Fighter Squadron

Information shared by Bill Ruder.

Town of Saint-Michel-en-Gréve close to where LeRoy died. The town's cemetery is where he was originally buried. Later he was brought to Nekoosa, WI where he rests today.

According to the French Historian of Saint-Michel-en-Grčve, LeRoy's P-51D was hit by one of the German Gun Batteries near a farm house. After he was hit, He flew for about 1 kilometer and crash landed close to (or into) some cattle. LeRoy was flying at a very low altitude in support of the Allied Ground Forces on D-Day. The cause of his death is unclear. The French historian thinks he was killed on impact, as he was severely wounded in the head. He also states a local Frenchman, Minister Theodore Ruvoen was first on scene. Merle Olmsted's book on the 357th states that he "crashed landed near Cherbourg and although he reported over the radio that he was safe, later records show that he was killed in action." It is unclear to me how he died. Read Mark Stepelton's account of LeRoy's loss on D-Day.

Farm house near Saint-Michel-en-Grčve where the Germans were in position to shoot him down. According to the French historian, the Germans had set up in three gun batteries near the farm house.

 One of the three gun positions was here near the farm house.

Another German gun position.

Field LeRoy crashed into after being hit.

 

Piece of LeRoy's Mustang found near his crash site.

 

Entries from LeRoy's Journal:

Monday March 6th (2 Credits 5:00 - Berlin )

Today we went to Berlin and what a day we had.  We contacted the bombers on the outskirts of Berlin and at the time there were Me110’s and Me109’s attacking them.  I was flying Carder’s wing and he immediately attacked a 110.  Carder overshot and I fired a burst from close range that blew the canopy to pieces and must have killed the pilot.  The plane went into a step dive from 20,000 ft and we followed it down to 5,000 ft where Capt O’Brien Fired at it until it burst into flames.  It continued in a dive and I think the pilot dead.  Carder said one engine was not running and we were just following it down when Capt O’Brien jumped it.  We are still putting a partial claim in on the ship.  Carder’s guns stopped firing and he only had one left so I took the lead.  I observed a Me109 attacking a B-17 at about 10,000 ft.  The men in the 17 were bailing out when I chased the 109 to the deck.  I did not observe strikes on this aircraft and make no claim on.  I did scare the hell out of it though.  I then heard Capt O’Brien calling for help because of a bad engine so I offered to escort him home.  We started limping along toward home when I sighted a Me110 getting in position to fire at the bombers with rockets.  I attacked from dead astern at about 200 to 150 yds and hit the left engine.  I next fired at the fuselage and right engine striking both of them.  I had only one gun firing at the time but it did the job.  Oil from the enemy aircraft covered my canopy and he started into a spin with both engines smoking badly.  We watched him go down and then headed for home.  My claims are 2 Me110s – One for certain and one disputed for by Capt O’Brien and myself.  Our Grp set a record in the E.T.O. today for we lost no aircraft and got 20 destroyed plus damaged and probables.  Maj. Hayes led the group

 

Tuesday May 2nd, 1944

Nothing doing today because of bad weather. We got five new pilots in today so in a few days we’ll have less of us flying so regularly. I took a picture of my plane today along with my crew chief, asst, and armorer. My plane, “Linda Lou” has 48 missions on her now and I’m planning on getting rid of her soon. I’ll get a new ship in her place so I might as well trade her out. It’s getting extremely hard to trim anyway.

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Saturday June 3rd, 1944

I left the hospital today but couldn’t fly. I still have a sore throat anyway. The boys – about 12 of them – escorted a lone B-17 over the French coast. Our Gp was requested by the headquarters to escort this lone B-17. We are becoming very well known in the E.T.O. now and when an important job comes along, we go on it. If we can keep going hot, we’ll make history over here, you can bet on that – Right now the Germans call us the “Yoxford Boys” and we get a raking over daily. We didn’t talk much but we sure as hell shoot down German planes as often as we find them.

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Final Entry...

Monday June 5th, 1944

The boys had a short mission today and all got back O.K. - not much excitement form what I heard. This afternoon we were released. I think the invasion is going to start in the morning for all of our planes are being painted black and white striped for recognition purposes. All ?? civilians working on the field cannot leave it tonight and all communications are out. No telephone calls can be made and no one – civilian or military – can get on or off the base. I think tomorrow morning is it. All of the boys are keyed up and waiting for they expect a real exciting day.

 

Many thanks LeRoy's relative, Bill Ruder, for sharing the photos and information. We will add more entries from LeRoy's Journal as they become available. 

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