In Memory of
U.S. Army Air Corps Lieutenant
William Harold Barnes
Virgil, South Dakota
Beadle County
May 5, 1920 – September 6, 1945
Killed in a Plane Crash in Bavaria, Germany

William Harold Barnes

William Harold Barnes was born on May 5, 1920, at Virgil, Beadle County, South Dakota, to David and Inger Barnes. He had two sisters: Dolores and Carol. William “Buster” Barnes was raised and educated in the Virgil community. After high school, he attended Huron College before transferring to National University, Washington, D.C. Before he entered the service, William was a classification specialist for the War Department in Washington. On November 9, 1942, William married Mary Love in Washington, D.C. The two had a son, William H. Barnes, Jr.

In 1941 William Harold joined the Engineering Corps and then transferred to the Air Cadet program in 1942. He received his wings and commission in October of 1943, at Craig Field in Alabama. Lt. Barnes then spent nine months as an instructor at Malden Army Air Field, Missouri.

Assigned to the 55th Fighter Group, Eighth Air Force, Lt. Barnes was sent overseas to a base in England on January 24, 1945, as a fighter pilot, flying the P-51 Mustang. Lt. Barnes was awarded the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters in a ceremony in England.

On September 6, 1945, Lieutenant William Harold Barnes was killed when his plane crashed in Bavaria, Germany. A letter from the War Department dated September 28, 1945, had these words: “The official casualty report states that your husband was killed in an airplane crash while on a training flight ten miles east of Kaufbeuren, Germany.” Several years after the war, his remains were returned to the United States and permanently buried with military honors.

Lt. Barnes was survived by his widow, Mary, and son, William, of Steubenville, Ohio, his parents, and siblings.

This entry was respectfully submitted by Kira Borkowski, Wolsey High School, Wolsey, South Dakota, Information for this entry was provided by Dolores Swartz, Wessington, SD, and an application for a SD veteran’s bonus payment.