Robert Oxley Barker

Military

Object Number - UPL 21115 - Lt. Col. Robert Oxley Barker, Commanding Officer, 456th Bombardment Squadron

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.

Connections

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Units served with

  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force Ninth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment

People

  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 323rd Bomb Group 456th Bomb Squadron
  • Highest Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
  • Role/Job: Bombardier
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 323rd Bomb Group 456th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: O-678576
  • Highest Rank: Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Bombardier, B-26 Marauder
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 323rd Bomb Group 456th Bomb Squadron
  • Highest Rank: Colonel
  • Role/Job: B-26 Marauder Pilot

Aircraft

  • Aircraft Type: B-26 Marauder
  • Nicknames: Buckeye Battle Cry
  • Unit: 323rd Bomb Group 456th Bomb Squadron

Events

Event Location Date Description

Born

London, Ohio, USA 1919-10-09

Died

Mesa, Arizona, USA area 2002-12-12

Buried

Athens County, Ohio, USA Union Cemetery

Revisions

Date29 Mar 2020 19:41:50
Contributorjmoore43
Sources

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

Date29 Mar 2020 19:38:50
Contributorjmoore43
Sources

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

Date29 Mar 2020 19:33:59
Contributorjmoore43
Sources

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

Date29 Mar 2020 19:20:59
Contributorjmoore43
Sources

Corrected another typo in the "Summary biography".

Date29 Mar 2020 19:18:29
Contributorjmoore43
Sources

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

Date14 May 2016 21:56:26
ContributorJMF
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JMF

Date28 Apr 2016 00:50:26
ContributorJMF
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JMF

Date28 Apr 2016 00:48:30
ContributorJMF
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JMF

Date28 Apr 2016 00:39:41
ContributorJMF
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JMF

Date28 Apr 2016 00:38:04
ContributorJMF
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JMF

Date7 Apr 2016 07:56:49
ContributorJMF
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jMF

Robert Oxley Barker: Gallery (5 items)