Last Known Activity
William Wyatt Patton, according to one source, was born in Sella, Missouri in 1918. He graduated from Stells High School in 1934. He attempted to enlist in the military in 1934 when he was 16, but was rejected because of underweight. According to a newspaper, he returned home and gorged himself on bananas and hamburgers, and 3 months later, made the requirements and joined the service.
He served 11 years in the military and then was selected for aviation cadet status sometime in his enlistment, and received his wings in 1943 and a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant. His first assignment was to Hickam Field, Hawaii. He was probably assigned to the 5th Bomb Group as they were the unit flying B-18 Bolos and later B-17s from the field at the time Pearl Harbor was attacked.
One interesting but puzzling item in the article states he participated in the Battle of Midway (June, 1942) and shot down three planes. It was more likely that he was flying a B-17 and gunners on his aircraft shot down the enemy planes as several planes and gunners were credited with aerial victories over the course of the battle. The only fighter unit stationed at Hickam Field was the 318th Fighter Group which did not arrive until October 1942. (It has been established from family-provided information that Patton was a SSgt and a tail gunner on a B-17 during this tour.)
Evidently Patton continued flying on B-17s in the Pacific until he completed his combat tour. In May 1944, he was assigned to the 560th Bomb Squadron of the 388th Bomb Group in England. The unit was stationed at Knettishall Air Station, and Patton flew 24 missions over Germany as a B-17 pilot. He was in the hospital when another crew took his aircraft on what would have been his 25th mission - it never returned.
After completing this combat tour, he was accepted into the 3rd Scouting Force, an internal unit within the 560th Bomb Squadron. This unit was equipped with P-51 aircraft, and their mission was to scout targets prior to the arrival of the bomber stream to relay information concerning visibility, weather, and target conditions. They also reported on flak concentrations.
On January 15, 1945, Lt. Patton was on his 60th mission with 3rd Scouting Force when the flight encountered dense fog. Patton reported his instruments had malfunctioned and he could not see. Then, his radio went silent. Weather was so bad the flight leader called "Recall,' but Patton could not hear him. Evidently, he lost his way in the fog and crashed near the village of Longueville, France.
The area he crashed in was a bog, similar to quicksand. The aircraft quickly sank and could not be located. Lt. Patton was declared MIA in February 1945. On February 22, 2001 (56 years later) a Frenchman drained the swamp, and found the aircraft. Human remains, along with a flying suit, flight jacket, and ID tags belonging to Patton were recovered. Dental X-rays and DNA matching confirmed the identity of the pilot as Patton.
On January 15, 2003 a special remembrance ceremony and the erection of a monument to Patton were held in Lomgueville. A room at Fort Leveau in Feignes holds parts of the aircraft, and 21 pieces of the aircraft are on display at the American Military Museum of the Ozarks.
Lt. William Wyatt Patton was buried at Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial at Nueville-en-Condroz, Belguim. Evidently, according to family sources, he was transferred to the National Cemetery in Missouri. The American Battlefield Commission still lists him as being buried in Belgium.
Lt Patton was said to have been close to his mother and frequently wrote her letters. He wrote her a letter on the day before his last mission in which he stated he was to be married soon and he would write about it after the war. His fiancee was never identified.
Lt. William W. Patton was flying P-51 # 44-15331, unnamed, on his last mission.
The aircraft carried the colors of the 3rd Scouting Force, two bands of yellow and green checkerboards circling nose and nacelle, along with rear half of rudder assembly painted in red and white checkerboard pattern. Squadron codes were CL.
Missing Air Crew Report 11919 applies to this incident.
This profile updated on August 19th and 20th, 2013 with information received from family member.