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Walter Carl Beckham

Military

Walter C Beckham enlisted in April 1941. He flew his first missions over the Panama Canal and Ecuador from December 1941. He was assigned to the 353rd Fighter Group in mid 1943, and arrived in the UK in August 1943. Beckham became a successful P-47 Thunderbolt pilot and claimed his first kill in September 1943, by October that year he had become an Ace. Beckham was shot down during a strafing mission over Ostheim in February 1944, with 18 victories to his name, at the time he was the highest scoring Ace in the European Theatre.

Beckham was liberated in April 1945 and stayed with the US Air Force. He earned a PHD in Physics in 1962 and joined the Air Force Weapons Laboratory as chief scientist, working on nuclear weapons. He retired in 1969 as Colonel and continued to work as a nuclear scientist. He died in 1996.

Shot down by flak when strafing Ostheim airfield and crashed near Bergen-Neukirchen on 22 Feb 1944 in P-47D #42-75226 'Little Demon'. Prisoner of War (POW).

DSC, DFC (4 OLC), AM (5 OLC), Silver Star (3 OLC), POW, WWII Victory, EAME, Croix de Guerre(Belgian).

18 air-to-air confirmed

Service

People

  • Henry Bush

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Crew Chief | 353rd Fighter Group
    Assigned to 351FS, 353FFG, 8AF USAAF. Crew Chief to Lt Walter C Beckham. Awards: WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Charles McGraw

    Military | Major | Fighter pilot | 353rd Fighter Group
    Assigned to 351FS, 353FG, 8AF USAAF. 50+ combat missions. Credited with 3 x kills [Air], 2 destroyed [Grd] and 2 x damaged [Grd]. Awards: DFC, WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Horace Thompson

    Military | First Lieutenant | Fighter pilot | 353rd Fighter Group
    Assigned to 351FS, 353FG, 8AF USAAF. Ended Tour of Duty (ETD). Awards: WWII Victory, EAME.

Units served with

  • 8th Air Force

    8th Air Force

    Command

  • 353rd Fighter Group

    353rd Fighter Group

    Group
    The 353rd Fighter Group was assigned to the Eighth Air Force on 7 June 1943. The group flew P-47 Thunderbolts, and from October 1944, P-51 Mustangs, as escorts for bombing missions across occupied Europe and to strafe targets on the ground. Tactical...

  • 351st Fighter Squadron

Aircraft

  • 42-75226

    P-47 Thunderbolt

  • 42-8476 'Little Demon'

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    Assigned to 351FS, 353FG, 8AF USAAF. Personal aircraft of Major Walter C Beckham. Transferred to 78FS, 82FG, 8AF USAAF. Crashed Mar-44 - Lt Estel Ulerick severely burned on test flight. RAF Witchford. Cat 4 damage. Written Off.

Associated Place

  • Goxhill

    Military site : airfield
    Goxhill opened in June 1941 as an RAF Bomber Command airfield, before being handed over to RAF Fighter Command in December. The Eighth Air Force took ownership in August 1942, and used the airfield, which they quickly dubbed 'Goat Hill' for operational...

  • Metfield

    Military site : airfield
    Built during 1942-43 as an Eighth Air Force bomber base, Metfield had three concrete runways, 39 pan plus 15 loop hardstandings, and two dispersed T2 hangars. It was first occupied by the 353rd Fighter Group, equipped with P-47s, from August 1943 to...

  • Raydon

    Military site : airfield
    Although never used as such, Raydon was built during 1942-43 as an Eighth Air Force bomber base, with three concrete runways, 50 loop and one pan hardstandings, and two dispersed T2 hangars. Initially on loan to the Ninth Air Force, it was first...

Events

Event Location Date
Born Paxton, FL, USA 12 May 1916
Lived in DeFuniak Springs, FL, USA 1941
Assigned Ecuador 1941 – 1943

Assigned to 353FG.

Enlisted Fort Barrancas, 3182 Taylor Rd, Pensacola, FL 32508, USA 26 April 1941

Enlisted
Fort Barrancas
Florida

Commissioned Panama Canal, Panama December 1941
Crashed Millville, NJ 08332, USA 7 March 1943

Taxiing Accident due to Mechanical Failure Millville, NJ Cat 3 damage Lt Walter C Beckham, 7-Mar-43.

BT-14 40-1208 - 351FS 353FG.

Based Raydon 10 November 1943 – 22 February 1944

Re-assigned to 351FS, 353FG, 8AF USAAF.

Promotion Raydon, Ipswich IP7, UK 6 December 1943

Promoted to Major.

Prisoner of War (POW) Bergen-Neukirchen 22 February 1944 – April 1945

Shot down by flak on 57th Mission over Ostheim and taken POW after successfully bailing out.

Died Albuquerque, NM, USA 31 May 1996

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
18 October 2016 09:24:03 Al_Skiff Changes to service number, highest rank, role, biography, awards, events and unit associations
Sources

http://www.littlefriends.co.uk/search.php?searchString=Beckham+&Submit=S...
https://www.fold3.com/page/83944929_walter_c%20beckham/details/
http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/src/dbapi.asp?Pilot=Beckham%2C+Walter...
https://www.fold3.com/page/30777435_walter_c%20beckham/details/

Date Contributor Update
07 October 2014 11:15:42 Emily Changes to events
Sources

Added enlisted event

Date Contributor Update
07 October 2014 11:14:08 Emily Changes to middlename, highest rank, biography, awards, events and place associations
Sources

Freeman, The Mighty Eighth, p. 278.

Hess, America's Top Eighth Air Force Aces in Their Own Words, pp. 28-29.

http://acepilots.com/eto/beckham.html

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:26:48 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / MACR 2670 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database / Ted Damick, VIII Fighter Command pilots list / son in law, Lt. Col Robert L. Moore, US Army Ret.; Fighter Aces of the U. S. A. and Mustang Aces of the Eighth Air Force; Who's Who in the Eighth Air Force and/or Biographical Directory Command & Staff Officers Eighth Air Force 1942-45 MACR 2670

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