William Thomas Whittaker


Object Number - UPL 6786 - William T Whittaker of the 351st Bomb Group. Signed 'Love Bill'.

William T Whittaker was a pilot with the 509th Bomb Squadron of the 351st Bomb Group. He flew 41 missions between 17 October 1944 and 26 March 1945.

His cousin Betty: "I have one of his stories I got a kick out of. Bill was shot down twice, the first time over Belgium. Bill was terrified of heights so he rode the plane down both times. A group of Belgium farmers found them. A member of Bill's crew could speak French so they were able to communicate a little. They were taken to a nearby Inn where they were hidden in the attic for 10 days."

"On the 10th day the Inn Keeper stuck his head up into the attic saying "British coming, British coming". Bill ran down to the middle of the road and flagged them down. When he was taken to the leader he explained who he was, what had happened, asked for a ride into Brussels and offered identification to prove who he was. The leader told him he didn't need any identification "only a crazy American would flag down an invading army and ask for a ride". It was a Canadian Army, not British as the Inn Keeper thought, so they were quite familiar with Americans. Sorry, I don't know what mission this happened on. Just remember how upset everyone was when Bill was reported MIA."

Bill stayed in the Air Force after the war ended until he retired in 1962. He then went back to school and after receiving his degree, he worked for NASA for a short time. He later returned to Texas and the air force base where he had completed his 20 years.

In his cousin Betty's words: "Bill was so proud of his service. Many years ago he was able to return to his old airbase for a reunion and it was the highlight of his life."

From a letter written by Colonel William H. Van Marter on 11 June 1963:
"Major William T Whittaker, USAF, AO-757350, served under my direct supervision from 15 December 1960 to 31 May 1963. I rate him among the top three percent of all officers I have known during twenty-two years of service."

"I found his character to be above reproach in all respects. He demonstrated a high degree of educability. He absorbs complex information quickly and possesses a remarkably retentive mind."


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Units served with

The insignia of the 351st Bomb Group.
  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment


  • Aircraft Type: B-17 Flying Fortress
  • Nicknames: Buckeye Babe
  • Unit: 351st Bomb Group 509th Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-17 Flying Fortress
  • Nicknames: Star Duster
  • Unit: 351st Bomb Group 509th Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-17 Flying Fortress
  • Nicknames: Transit Belle
  • Unit: 351st Bomb Group 509th Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-17 Flying Fortress
  • Nicknames: The Little One
  • Unit: 351st Bomb Group 510th Bomb Squadron 511th Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-17 Flying Fortress
  • Nicknames: Classy Chassis
  • Unit: 351st Bomb Group 509th Bomb Squadron


  • Date: 21 March 1945
  • Official Description: Mission 901: Preparatory air operations for the forthcoming (23 Mar) crossing of the lower Rhine River by Allied ground forces begin. 1,408 bombers and 806 fighters, in conjunction with Ninth Air Force and RAF aircraft, attack jet fighter bases; with...
A B-24 Liberator of the 467th Bomb Group flies over Berlin during a mission. 18 March 1945. Handwritten caption on reverse: '18/3/45 Berlin.'
  • Date: 18 March 1945
  • Date: 14 March 1945
  • Official Description: Mission 886: 1,262 bombers and 804 fighters are dispatched to hit oil, rail and industrial targets in Germany; they claim 17-0-1 Luftwaffe aircraft in the air; 3 B-17s and 2 fighters are lost: 1. 526 B-17s are sent to hit oil refineries at Nienhagen...
  • Date: 12 March 1945



Event Location Date Description


Ottawa, IL, USA 22 December 1923


Chicago, IL, USA 19 May 1942


Promoted to First Lieutenant

1 October 1943


New Braunfels, TX, USA 25 April 2003
East Lincoln Street, Seneca, IL 61360, USA


Graduated from Seneca High School

Seneca High School, 307 West Scott Street, Seneca, IL 61360, USA
Fort Worth, TX, USA


Graduated from Texas Wesleyan College

Texas Wesleyan University, 1201 Wesleyan Street, Fort Worth, TX 76105, USA Bachelor of Business Administration Degree in Management




Date21 Jan 2015 11:32:25
ContributorLucy May

Enlistment record: http://aad.archives.gov/aad/record-detail.jsp?dt=929&mtch=1&cat=all&tf=…

Documents sent through to the museum by William Whittaker's nephew, Gary Whittaker.

Date26 Nov 2014 12:11:00
ContributorLucy May

Story sent through to the museum by Bill's cousin, Betty.

Date14 Nov 2014 12:20:59
ContributorLucy May

Information sent through to the museum by Gary Whittaker, Bill's nephew. He received the loading list information from the 351st Bomb Group website: http://www.351st.org/loadlist/search.php

Date27 Sep 2014 18:28:49

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / www.351st.org/ken.harbour/

William Thomas Whittaker: Gallery (4 items)