Last Known Activity
Wilbur R. Barnhill was born in Natchitoches, Louisiana in 1922, according to his NARA enlistment record. The 1930 US Census shows him living in Natchitoches with his parents, William E. and Mary L. Barnhill.
He enlisted on March 28, 1942 as a private in the Army Air Corps. His enlistment form shows he had completed 2 years of college (unnamed), and was employed as a semi-skilled inspector.
He was selected for navigator training, and when this course was completed, he was commissioned and assigned to the 303rd Bomb Group, located in Molesworth, England. He was further assigned to the combat crew led by Lt. A. A. Cote in April, 1943.
He flew 18 credited combat missions, 15 with Lt. Cote and the others with the Lipe crew and the Campbell crew. On November 26, 1943, he flew with the Cote crew on a raid on the city center of Bremen, Germany.
Just after bomb release, the aircraft fell out of formation, and was last seen west of Trexel Island, Holland. It was seemingly under control, not being attacked, with no visible damage, and observers state it crashed into the North Sea off Den Helder, Holland. The entire crew was killed, with only one body being recovered.
Lt. Barnhill is remembered on the Walls of the Missing at the American Cemetery at Margraten, Holland.
US Census 1930
NARA Enlistment Records
Lt Wilbur R. Barnhill was navigator on B-17F # 42-29955, named "Mr. 5 by 5," assigned to the 427th Bomb Squadron.
Missing Air Crew Report 1324 was issued to cover this loss, and mission lists agree that the crew on board was:
1 Lt Addell A. Cote p
1 Lt Clarence C. Bixler c-p
1 Lt Wilbur R. Barnhill nav
1 Lt John W. Hull bomb
TSgt John R. Arter eng/tt gun
TSgt Vaughn Reaves r/o
SSgt Cecil M. May btg
SSgt John M. Micek lwg
SSgt Theadore Gomes rwg
SSgt Paul Gunsauls tail gun
In the crew photo, Lt Barnhill is in the back row, 3rd from left.