Last Known Activity
William E. Baldwin, Jr. was born in San Diego, California on June 25, 1922. His parents were William E., Sr. and Florence Baldwin. The US Censuses of 1930 and 1940 list the family living in San Diego.
It is not known when Baldwin first entered the military, but judging from age, experience, and rank, 1942 would be reasonable guess. The first mention of him in military records located is as a co-pilot on the original crew of Lt Robert C. Fletcher in March, 1945, in England, newly-arrived.
The crew flew its first combat mission on March 18, 1945, over Berlin, Germany. Lt Fletcher was wounded in action, and removed from the crew. Lt Baldwin took over as pilot. Lt Beedle, from the original crew of Lt Ellis, became co-pilot. Also, SSgt Weber joined the crew as radar controller.
The crew continued to fly missions against German targets. On April 3, 1945, they were sent to attack the submarine pens at Kiel, Germany. While returning from a successful mission, as the formation passed over the Friesian Islands off the Dutch coast, flak batteries opened up.
The aircraft of Baldwin was hit by flak knocking out two engines and starting an interior fire. The crew attempted to bail out, but the aircraft exploded. Wreckage fell on the island of Texel, off the coast of Holland.
Two of the crew were captured. Two bodies were identified, and two were not. All 4 were recovered from the wreckage, and were buried in Den Burg, Texel Island.In December, 1945, these bodies were recovered by Allied troops and moved to Margraten Cemetery. Body parts of two men were put into one coffin and buried in Den Burg. (Later, it was shown these remains were Buckley and Davis.) In 1946, bodies were re-inspected and all identified.
No other bodies were found, and after the war, Baldwin was moved to where he lies today - in the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, California in Section H. Site 604.
US Census 1930
US Census 1940
California Birth Records
Lt William E. Baldwin, Jr. was performing duties as First Pilot on B-17G # 43-38992, unnamed, assigned to the 351st Bomb Squadron.
To account for this loss, Missing Air Crew Report 13717 was issued. Personnel and crew files show the crew on board were:
2 Lt William E. Baldwin, Jr p
2 Lt Francis G. Beedle c-p
F/O John H. Buckley nav
Sgt Leslie O. Davis tog
Sgt Kenneth E. Wright eng/tt gun
Sgt Kermit E. Jones r/o
Sgt Randolph A. Goodwin btg
Sgt Alfred Mantopoli wg
Sgt Ogden W. Barron tail gun
SSgt Howard O. Weber rad cont
Ranks and grades as of mission date.
Sgts Jones and Weber were captured. All others were killed.
In the crew photo shown, Baldwin is in the back row, 3rd from left.
Service photo source: