Last Known Activity
Robert J. Barrat was born in Chicopee, Massachusetts on February 14, 1924 as a son to Joseph and Ida M. Barrat. The US Censuses 1930 shows the family in Massachusetts while the 1940 place the family as living in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.
Barrat enlisted in the military on November 24, 1942 at Providence, Rhode Island. His enlistment documents state he had completed 1 year of college (unnamed,) and was employed as a Foreman.
He received pilot training and was awarded his commission and wings. In October, 1944, he was given a crew and became first pilot on a B-17 in England. He flew 20 missions with this crew, the first mission occurring on December 9, 1944.
On February 9, 1945, the target was the synthetic oil plants located at
Lutzkendorf, Germany. As the aircraft made the last turn onto the bomb run, it was struck by another B-17, shearing the tail assembly off from the waist gunner position to the tail. Somehow, the tail gunner got free and made a successful parachute landing, only to be captured by German civilians and turned over to authorities.
As the stricken ship was about to crash in the middle of the village of Eisenberg, somehow the pilot and co-pilot regained enough control to level out the bomber and head it at an empty field. The bomb load was successfully salvoed, and only one building was hit. The bomber hit the ground and exploded.
German records reveal that eight bodies were recovered from the wreckage; two were unidentifiable. All were buried in the Eisenberg Cemetery in grave rows 8 to 11. After the war ended, these bodies were recovered and returned to the U.S. to be buried in a mass common grave.
Lt. Robert J. Barrat and 5 of his crew members lie today in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri at Section 82, Site 93D.
In 1995, the townspeople of Eisenberg erected a monument to this crew and its heroic deeds. In 1991, more human remains were found as did rings belonging to Barrat and the navigator.
US Schoolbooks 1880-1902, 1941 senior play
US Census 1930
US Census 1940
NARA Enlistment Records
Lt Robert J. Barrat was the assigned pilot of B-17G # 43-39149, no name , assigned to the 427th Bomb Squadron.
Missing Air Crew Report 12229 documents this event. Mission loading lists show the crew consisted of:
2 Lt Robert J. Barrat p
2 Lt Dean Harvey c-p
F/O Shirl P. Best nav
Sgt William t. Karp tog
Sgt Raymond F. Reiss eng/tt gun
Sgt Matthew Lazarowicz r/o
Sgt Louis N. Linhart btg
Sgt Herbert D. Link wg
Sgt George H. Emerson tail gun
Ranks and grades as of mission date.
Emerson was the only survivor.
In the crew photo of November, 1944, Barrat is in the back row, 3rd from left.
Service photo source: