Today we will take a look at one of the more remarkable fish and game stamp finds in recent years. Just over a month ago, I was contacted by Gary Boward of Virginia. He informed me that his father had passed away and while he and his wife, Jill, were going through his father’s possessions, they had come across a number of Maryland big game and trout stamps.
He told me they were conducting an internet search, attempting to find out more about the stamps and, of course, did they have any value? I get a lot of these calls and they usually do not amount to much, however, in talking to Gary I quickly sensed that this one may turn out differently.
To begin with, the Boward stamps were from the 1960s and the oversized Maryland stamps from this time period are all scarce to rare. Then I found out the stamps were nearly all in unused multiples, mostly blocks and complete panes. This is quite rare for the Maryland big game stamps and unheard of for the trout stamps, literally.
Gary sent me scans of all the items in the find and it was truly amazing. A few faults here and there but essentially the greatest find of Maryland trout stamps ever. In every case the find nearly equalled or surpassed the previous total number of unused examples recorded (see Figure 1).
As with many fish and game collectors, the Maryland stamps from the 1960s are among my favorites so I made an offer that was quickly accepted. In talking to Gary further, I learned his father was a war hero, much like Gilbert D. Cooper. For more on Gilbert, see The Maryland POW Fishing Stamps.
Like Gilbert, Gary’s father played a role in an important WWII European Theater battle. As the posts on Gilbert and his stamps were so well received, I asked Gary if he would be interested in helping me write a new series of posts about his father and the stamps that they found.
Not only did Gary respond favorably, but he sent me such a wonderful write-up about his father that I decided to co-author with him. Therefore, in many places, Gary tells us the story in his own words.
Eugene B. Boward was born in Leitersburg, Maryland, on March 2, 1921 to L. Preston Boward and Jessie Boward. His father was a salesman (and a WWI veteran) and his mother was a housewife. Eugene spent his early years hunting, fishing and trapping. Trapping turned out to be a good hobby since it also helped him earn extra cash during the depression.
Following graduation from Hagerstown (Maryland) High School in 1939, he began work as a draftsman in a local firm. A few months after the outbreak of WWII, Eugene enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corp. He attended flexible gunnery school and was eventually assigned to the 86th Squadron, 47th Bomb Group (Light), 12th Air Force in Italy.
During his tour, Staff Sergeant (SSGT) Boward flew 50 missions in the A-20 Havoc, a light attack bomber, in both the daylight bomber and night intruder roles. It was on one such mission that he was awarded the first of two Air Medals for meritorious service in the air.
Eugene would take part in the Battle of Anzio, one of the most important battles in WWII and subsequently popularized by the movie Anzio, starring Robert Mitchum, Peter Falk and Arthur Kennedy (see Figure 2).
The Battle of Anzio
On January 22, 1944 the allies launched an amphibious assault in the area of Anzio and Nettuno with the intent of outflanking the German Winter Line (see Figure 3). The overall success of the battle depended on surprise and the allies ability to move rapidly against the defenders.
Although initial surprise was achieved, the commander of the operation, Major General Lucas failed to take advantage of the situation and instead chose to consolidate his troops in preparation for a possible German counter-attack and also to better prepare his troops for their follow on advance.
As a result of this delay the German commander, Generalfieldmarschall Kesselring, moved every available unit into the area in an effort to encircle the Allies and destroy the enemy beachhead (see Figure 4). The battle dragged on for weeks with no side gaining an advantage.
Major General Lucas was relieved and replaced by Major General Truscott. It was Truscott who would oversee the the breakout of the Allies from the beachhead in May of 1944. All the while, the Germans continued to move troops into the area attempting to contain the breakout.
The Mission – Bastion’s Low Level Raid
On May 25, 1944, Captain Bastian, the 86th Squadron leader, received orders to lead an early morning flight of A-20s to conduct a daylight bombing mission on a long column of German vehicles. The vehicles were taking troops to reinforce the Anzio beachhead where the Americans had begun to “break out” (and would eventually capture Rome). He was ordered to fly the mission at no lower than 3,000 ft. altitude.
Shortly after arriving at A-20 (tail #59), SSGT Boward began his preparations as the bottom gunner on Lieutenant Schuck’s plane, Julie T’s Papa (see Figure 5). LT Schuck would fly as the wingman to the squadron leader on this mission.
Upon entering the plane, SSGT Boward found a camera in the fuselage of the aircraft. He would be both the bottom gunner and the photographer on this mission. The photographs would be important to assess bomb damage to the target.
Soon after take off, Captain Bastian spotted the advancing German reinforcements – it was the elite Herman Goring Division. He made a crucial decision to disobey orders and ordered LT Schuck to following him on a low level bombing and strafing run, never flying above a few hundred feet altitude.
Bastion and Schuck made a total of six such passes, destroying dozens of enemy vehicles and preventing the Goring Division from reinforcing the German line near Anzio. All during the raid, SSGT Boward snapped aerial photographs from his bottom gunner position (see Figure 6).
The mission was completed with great success and the aircraft returned to the base safely. At his debriefing, Captain Bastian informed U.S. Intelligence officers that it was necessary to fly low (against orders) due to low cloud cover. Unfortunately, the photographs taken by SSGT Boward clearly showed shadows – indicating there was, in fact, no cloud cover at all (see Figure 7).
Local Command was initially upset after viewing the photos. They confined Bastian to quarters and began to discuss court marshall proceedings. In the meantime, Boward’s photographs were sent to 12th Air Force Headquarters for further review and analysis.
The Air Medal
Headquarters had a very different take on the situation and were delighted with the results of Bastian’s Raid. They ordered fighters and bombers to continue to strafe and bomb Goring’s Division, ultimately destroying nearly 700 vehicles. This would prove to be a game changer and facilitate the capture of Rome in June.
As a result, not only was Bastian not court marshalled – he and his men were granted the following awards: Captain Bastian – The Silver Star (3rd highest U.S. award for Valor); Lieutenant Schuck – The Distinguished Flying Cross and SSGT Boward – The Air Medal (see Figure 8).
Lieutenant Schuck flew many more missions for the 86th and was considered to be one of the best pilots in the Squadron. On his last heroic mission, he completed a dangerous maneuver allowing his crew to safely bail out of their badly damaged A-20. Schuck, himself, was not so lucky and broke both his legs. His service in WWII was ended.
SSGT Boward would go on to complete many more missions. On his 51st – a night intruder raid north of the Po River on November 11, 1944 – he was shot down behind enemy lines.