Skip to main content
Edit entry 

Robert Oxley Barker

Military

Born on October 9, 1919 in London, Ohio, Lt. Col. Barker was graduated from Ohio State University ("OSU"). He earned his "wings" at "The West Point of the Air" at Randolph Field, Texas. He was part of the original Myrtle Beach, SC group that comprised the 456th BS. The original Barker crew was made up of Capt. Barker-P, Lt. Paul E. Warf-N, Lt. Robert Covarrubias-B, S/Sgt. Fredrick C. Butcher, S/Sgt. David Fefer, and M/Sgt. William J. Garrick. Barker eventually became the Commanding Officer of the 456th BS.

On the last mission of the day on June 6, 1944, the Barker crew, flying in WT-O "Buckeye Battle Cry" named after the OSU fight song, led the group of 36 323rd B-26 Marauders to Caen Road Juncitons C-1 and C-2 over the Orne River. The group attacked the target in three groups of 12 aircraft flying in groups of four aircraft per flight. The formation reduced its altitude to just under 4,000 feet to get under the cloud cover by dong two 360 degree spiral turns off the French Coast. After crossing into France, the formation made a right turn at Mezidon to fly further inland and attack the target by flying parallel to the Orne toward the Atlantic coast. A Luftwaffe light flak battery positioned at the Mezidon Marshalling Yard must have been caught preoccupied or off guard as Box I, let by Barker, flew over. Box II encountered little flak. The Box III lead and the 11 aircraft following that crew were not as fortunate. Maj. Paul Stach and crew were shot down near Mezidon. It was dark when the formation, minus the Stach crew, returned to base at Earls Colne, England.

On July 18, 1944, Lt. Col Barker, now flying in WT-O "Buckeye Battle Cry"with Lt. Al Allision-N and Lt. Walt Foster-B, led 36 323rd BG aircraft to the Demouville Defended Area just east of Caen. The bombing of Demouville has been described as the largest bombing effort of the Second World War. The 323rd was the tenth of eleven 9th Bomb Command groups over the target. Although none of the other 9th AF groups had been able to get their bombs in the target area (all employing an area or carpet bombing simultaneous release technique), all bombs dropped by the Box led by the Barker crew fell within the target area, despite the cloud of smoke and dust in the target area. In return, the group had to sustain significant battle damage to a significant percentage of its aircraft.

Lt. Col. Barker again flying in "Buckeye Battle Cry" with Lts. Allison, Foster and Burgmeier as GEE Navigator, led agroup of 36 323rd aircraft in the first mission flown by the 9th Bomb Command off of French soil from the airfield near Lessay (where Charles Lindburgh had landed in his cross Atlantioc flight) to a bridge near Rouen. Footage of this historic mission is at National Archives in College Park,Maryland.

On September 9/10, 1944, Lt. Col. Barker flying again in "Buckeye Battle Cry" with Lts. Allison and Foster, appears to have flown his last mission with the 323rd, leading a group of 36 aircraft to Fort du Haye Supply Post from an airfield near Chartes in a highly successful mission. This was also Lt. Allison's last mission with the 323rd. 323rd combat crews regarded night missions as "the worst" they had to fly. The aircraft flew in boxes of 9 in single file to the target without their lights on, increasing the risk of getting lost (and possibly straying over a Luftwaffe heavy flak gun) and colliding midair with another aircraft.

Lt. Foster indicated after the war that he had a great deal of respect for LT. Col. Barker, who held the lead crew members to exacting standards to ensure the success of the mission. Both Lts. Walt Foster and Frank Burgmeier, a lead navigoator for the 456th, indicated they very much enjoyed flying with Lt. Col. Barker, who treated his crew members very well. He exhibited grit and leadership, leading the group on missions to very heavily defended targets undeterred by the barrages of flak encountered in and out of the target areas.

Col. Barker passed away on December 12, 2002 in the Mesa, Arizona area. He was survived by his wife of 60 year, Maxine, and three children and several grandchildren.

Service

People

  • Walter Foster

    Military | Lieutenant Colonel | Bombardier | 323rd Bomb Group
    Lt. Walt Foster was a navigator and bombardier from Upstate New York who served with the 456th BS during the Second World War. His first combat mission was flown from Earls Colne Airfield on February 3, 1944 to the Ruisseville "No Balls” secret weapon...

  • Leo Rush

    Military | Lieutenant | Bombardier, B-26 Marauder | 323rd Bomb Group
    Dale Rush served with the 456th BS as a bombardier. He was killed on May 20, 1944 on a mission to Dieppe when "Ole 33 Gal" WT-A Serial No. 41-35033, flying in the Box II, Flight 3 lead position, took a direct hit of heavy flak that shattered the...

  • John Stirling

    Military | Colonel | B-26 Marauder Pilot | 323rd Bomb Group
    Maj. Stirling served as a B-26 Marauder pilot with the 456th Bomb Squadron, 323rd Bomb Group, and 9th Air Force during the Second World War. He was part of the original Myrtle Beach, South Carolina group that first comprised the 456th Bomb Squadron....

Show more

Units served with

  • 323rd Bomb Group

    323rd Bomb Group

    Group
    The 323rd Bombardment Group operated with B-26 Marauders, American medium bombers. They were the first Eighth Air Force Group to fly a medium level bombing mission with this aircraft on 16 July 1943. After flying a total of 33 missions with the Eighth,...

  • 456th Bomb Squadron

    456th Bomb Squadron

    Squadron
    Selected Bibliography of Publications: ...

Aircraft

Events

Event Location Date
Born London, Ohio, USA 9 October 1919
Died Mesa, Arizona, USA area 12 December 2002
Buried Athens County, Ohio, USA

Union Cemetery

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
29 March 2020 19:41:50 jmoore43 Changes to biography
Sources

Corrected a misspelled word ("fling - flying") in the "Summary biography".

Date Contributor Update
29 March 2020 19:38:50 jmoore43 Changes to aircraft associations
Sources

Added a connection to A/C #41-31820 listed in the "Summary biography".

Date Contributor Update
29 March 2020 19:33:59 jmoore43 Changes to events
Sources

Added Born, Died and Buried events per Find-a-grave Memorial ID 119350737.

Date Contributor Update
29 March 2020 19:20:59 jmoore43 Changes to biography
Sources

Corrected another typo in the "Summary biography".

Date Contributor Update
29 March 2020 19:18:29 jmoore43 Changes to biography
Sources

Corrected several typos and punctuation errors in the "Summary biography".

Date Contributor Update
14 May 2016 21:56:26 JMF Changes to biography
Sources

JMF

Date Contributor Update
28 April 2016 00:50:26 JMF Changes to nationality
Sources

JMF

Date Contributor Update
28 April 2016 00:48:30 JMF Changes to biography
Sources

JMF

Date Contributor Update
28 April 2016 00:39:41 JMF Changes to person associations
Sources

JMF

Date Contributor Update
28 April 2016 00:38:04 JMF Changes to biography
Sources

JMF

Date Contributor Update
07 April 2016 07:56:49 JMF Created entry with surname, middlename, firstname, nickname, highest rank, role, unit associations and media associations
Sources

jMF

Share