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Barclay Boyd Beeby


Assigned to 560BS, 388BG, 8AF USAAF. Barclay Boyd Beeby was born in Alton and attended Alton schools, including Shurtleff College. Before joining the military, he was sales manager of the Alton Baking and Ice Cream Company (ABC Bakery). He joined the Air Force in 1942, and flew 25 x missions over German and Norway. Lt. Beeby, pilot of a B-17 bomber, and his crew of nine men, named their plane the “Piasa Bird,” and painted its image on their plane. As a boy, he was a member of the Piasa Bird Council of Boy Scouts, and the symbol carried special significance for him. He said, “The Piasa Bird is about the ugliest thing I know, and if it won’t scare Hitler, I don’t know what will.” In June 1943, he had the opportunity during a practice mission to fly over his parents’ home on Evergreen Street in Upper Alton, and the pilot saluted.

Lt. Beeby was wounded in action in 1943, when his plane was forced out of formation after the propeller of the engine blew off. The propeller went through the side of the plane and wounded Beeby. Rapidly losing altitude, the plane became vulnerable prey for German fighters. Lt. Beeby found an empty field in France, ordered the bombs dropped from the plane, and started back to England. Fire from a German fighter plane, which the Alton flier’s crew finally shot down, wounded the top turret gunner and Lt. Beeby. The plane, with only one of the four motors running, reached England. Lt. Beeby was hospitalized for a short time, but was soon back again at the controls of his plane, flying over Germany. He was later assigned to Puerto Rico for a month, at a B-29 Super Fortress training center. He returned to Upper Alton in March 1944 to give a speech at the Alton Rotary Club. He told of his plane, “Piasa Bird,” flying on one of four motors, and had lost so much altitude he was forced to skim along only a few feet above the ground. Skirting back through France, he flew up behind a peasant driving his wooden wheeled oxcart. He flew right down the road behind the cart, and the driver, suddenly hearing the approach, dove into a water-filled ditch alongside. “Even under the circumstances,” said Lt. Beeby, we couldn’t help laughing.”

On 30-Dec-44, at the age of 30, Lt. Barclay Beeby and 13 of his men were killed on a training mission.

Awards: SS, DFC, AM (3 OLC), PH, EAME (2 x Battle Stars).



  • Charles Albright

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Radio Operator | 388th Bomb Group

  • Douglas Anderson

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Waist Gunner | 388th Bomb Group

  • Wilson Blattert

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Waist Gunner | 388th Bomb Group

  • Joseph Carmody

    Military | First Lieutenant | Navigator | 388th Bomb Group

  • Melville Duff

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 388th Bomb Group

  • Frank Farmer

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Flight Engineer/Top Turret Gunner | 388th Bomb Group

  • Joseph Luke

    Military | Flight Officer | Co-Pilot | 388th Bomb Group

  • Peter Matura

    Military | Technical Sergeant (2nd Grade) | Radio Operator | 388th Bomb Group

  • Raymond Snow

    Military | First Lieutenant | Bombardier | 388th Bomb Group

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Units served with

  • 388th Bomb Group

    388th Bomb Group

    The 388th Bomb Group flew strategic bombing mission from Knettishall, Suffolk from June 1943 to the end of the war. During this time, though, detachments were sent to Fersfield, Norfolk to conduct Aphrodite missions. In these Aphrodite missions veteran...

  • 560th Bomb Squadron


  • 42-30421

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 29/5/43; Kearney 14/6/43; Dow Fd 29/6/43; Assigned 561BS/388BG Knettishall 5/7/43; Missing in Action Emden 2/10/43 with Joe Felece, Co-pilot: Don Wilson, Navigator: Joe Sullivan, Bombardier: Joe Kendall, Flight engineer/top turret...

  • 42-30640

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 3/7/43; Gr Isle 22/7/43; Walla Walla 1/8/43; Scott 9/8/43; Presque Is 17/8/43; Assigned 560BS/388BG Knettishall 20/8/43; on return from mission 31/12/43 with Barclay Beeby, rest unknown (10 Returned to Duty); crash landed St Mary on...

  • 42-30851 Little Boy Blue

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 7/8/43; Dalhart 17/8/43; Assigned 560BS/388BG [H] Knettishall 8/9/43; on assembly for Schweinfurt 19/7/44 with Walt Malaniak, Co-pilot: Aaron Brinkoeter, Navigator: Leo Ramos, Bombardier: Amos Force, Flight engineer/top turret gunner...

  • 42-3293 Slightly Dangerous

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 2/5/43; Dow Fd 15/6/43; Assigned 360BS/303BG Molesworth 12/8/43; transferred 560BS/388BG Knettishall 8/43; Missing in Action Stuttgart 6/9/43 with Demetrious Karnezis, Co-pilot: John George (2 evaded capture); Navigator: Bill Frazier,...

  • 42-37819

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Long Beach 10/9/43; Scott 7/10/43; Assigned 560BS/388BG Knettishall 25/10/43; Missing in Action Berlin 8/3/44 with Len Tobias, Co-pilot: Walt Yurkurtat, Navigator: Herb Gotha, Bombardier: Alf Hano (4 Killed in Action); Flight engineer/top...

  • 42-37878 Millie K

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 28/9/43; Grand Island 20/10/43; Assigned 560BS/388BG [S] Knettishall 2/11/43; Missing in Action Ludwigshafen 28/9/44 with Lester Frawley, Co-pilot: Ray Klinke, Navigator: Harry Bouten, Bombardier: Paul Kaufman, Flight engineer/top...

  • 42-5899 Sioux City Queen

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Long Beach 27/4/43; Sioux City 4/5/43; Smoky Hill 10/6/43; Dow Fd 15/6/43; Assigned 560BS/388BG Knettishall 17/6/43. Missing in Action Bordeaux 5 January 1944 with Pilot Norman P. Kempton, Navigator: Stanley A. Plytynski, Bombardier: William...


  • VIII Bomber Command 75

    24 July 1943
    Three targets in Norway are the primary targets for this first mission flown by 8th AIr Force to Norway. They are the nitrate works at Heroya and the port areas at Trondheim and Bergen. The first element is a combined force of 180 B-17s from: 91BG (22)...

  • VIII Bomber Command 77

    26 July 1943
    The German rubber industry at Hannover, Germany and the U-Boat shipyards at Hamburg, Germany are the primary focus of this mission. In addition, a German ship convoy and targets of opportunity at Wilhelmshaven and Wesermunde are bombed. The first...

  • VIII Bomber Command 78

    28 July 1943
    The German aircraft industry at Kassel (Fieseler works) and Oscherleben, Germany are the primary targets of this mission. 182 B-17s from: 91BG (20); 92BG (17); 303BG (20); 305BG (21); 306BG (24); 351BG (21); 379BG (19); 381BG (20); and 384BG (20) are...

  • VIII Bomber Command 81

    12 August 1943
    This mission is separated into two elements. The first element is a combined force of 183 B-17s from 1st Bomb Division: 91BG (22); 92BG (19); 303BG (20); 305BG (20); 306BG (20); 351BG (21); 379BG (21); 381BG (20); and 384BG (20) are dispatched to bomb...

  • VIII Bomber Command 82

    15 August 1943
    German airfields in Holland and France are the targets for this mission. All of the attacks were made late in the afternoon just prior to sunset. The mission is composed of two elements. The first element is a combined force of 180 B-17s from: 91BG (20...

  • VIII Bomber Command 83

    16 August 1943
    This mission consists of two elements of B-17s despatched to bomb the German airfields of Le Bourget (Paris), Poix and Abbeville, France. The first element is a combined force of 180 B-17s from: 91BG (21); 92BG (17); 303BG (20); 305BG (20); 306BG (20);...

  • VIII Bomber Command 87

    27 August 1943
    This mission is the first attack by the USAAF on suspected V-Weapon sites. The German development of pilotless winged aircraft was first divulged to the British just shortly after the beginning of World War II in two letters sent to the British embassy...

  • VIII Bomber Command 92

    7 September 1943
    Two German airfields, one at Brussels, Begium and the other at Bergen, Holland, and the V-Weapons sites around Watten, France are the primary targets for this mission. ...

  • VIII Bomber Command 94 OPERATION STARKEY

    9 September 1943
    This mission has been named OPERATION STARKEY. It is planned as a coordinated attack of multiple bomber elements upon multiple targets and incorporates fighter escort as a rehearsal of what may be required to support an invasion of the Continent. It is...

  • VIII Bomber Command 95

    15 September 1943
    This mission is composed of three elements. The first element is a formation of 93 B-17s from: (1BG (19); 305BG (18); 306BG (18); 351BG (19); and 381BG (19) despatched to bomb the German air deport at Romilly-sur-Seine, France. 87 aircraft are...

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Associated Place

  • Knettishall

    Military site : airfield
    Knettishall was built to Class A standard for an American Bomb Group that would be bringing up to forty heavy bombers with them in three or four Squadrons. The 388th Bomb Group, which stayed at Knettishall for their entire service in the ETO, flew B-17...


Event Location Date
Born Alton, Illinois 21 November 1914

Son of John J and Caroline B Beeby.

Enlisted Scott Field, IL 25 March 1942

Scott Field, Illinois

Based Knettishall 1943 – 1944

Assigned to 560BS, 388BG, 8AF USAAF.

Mission that earned Silver Star Paris, France 31 December 1943

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to First Lieutenant (Air Corps) Barclay B. Beeby (ASN: 0-735023), United States Army Air Forces, for gallantry in action, while serving as Pilot of a B-17 Heavy Bomber on a bombing mission over enemy occupied Europe, 31 December 1943. When one engine of his aircraft became disabled prior to reaching the target, Lieutenant Beeby endeavored to maintain his position in the formation but soon found this to be impossible. Shortly afterwards, the propeller on the disabled engine sheared off its shaft and tore through the nose compartment causing serious damage and injuring the bombardier. Following this, enemy fighters attacked and as a result the ball turret guns were knocked out, three members of the crew were wounded by exploding cannon shells, the oxygen system knocked out and a fire started in the cockpit. After extinguishing the fire, Lieutenant Beeby dove his plane to a low altitude and skillfully maneuvered his aircraft back to base.

Died Aguadilla Pueblo, Aguadilla, Puerto Rico 30 December 1944

MACR 15065 generated for the loss of B-29 42-24547 on 31 Dec 44, from Grand Island, that crashed at sea while on a training flight from Borinquen Field, Puerto Rico.
Pilot had 1 engine feathered and was coming in for an emergency landing. Was making final approach, left wing banked and aircraft crashed approximately 500 yards short of runway. Cause of accident undetermined.

Buried Arlington National Cemetery 21 April 1948

Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington, Virginia
Plot Sec: 12, Site: 900


Date Contributor Update
21 April 2022 11:37:33 Al_Skiff Changes to service number, biography, awards and events

Date Contributor Update
20 April 2022 22:32:14 jmoore43 Changes to biography and events

Added some punctuation in the "Summary biography" to aid readability.
Corrected a typo in the "Event description" - “the” was misspelled.

Date Contributor Update
04 June 2021 19:01:37 Al_Skiff Changes to biography, awards, events, unit associations and place associations

Date Contributor Update
04 December 2017 15:08:01 466thHistorian Changes to biography

Date Contributor Update
04 December 2017 15:07:12 466thHistorian Changes to awards and events

Date Contributor Update
04 December 2017 04:05:11 466thHistorian Changes to service number, events, person associations, place associations, aircraft associations and mission associations

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:04:18 AAM AAM ingest

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia /, Losses of the 8th & 9th AFs Vol. I, p. 459