Ardennes American Cemetery
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  Name: Thomas Bradford Hilton Rank: Second Lieutenant, US Army Air Forces Service #: O-814901   338th Bomber Squadron, 96th Bomber Group, Heavy 8th Air Force Awards: Purple Heart  Date of Birth: November 3, 1918 Place of Birth Brooklyn, New York Date of Enlistment: March 5, 1943 Entered the Service from: Nashville, AC Facilities, Tennessee, US Serial Number (Enlistment): 12121297 Marital Status: Single Education: 4 years of College Trade: Civil Engineer Died: April 11, 1944 Cemetery: Ardennes American Cemetery (Neupré, Belgium) Cemetery Reference: Plt B, Row 25, Grave 14 The 58th name on the WWII list of the Yarmouth War Memorial Thomas Bradford Hilton was the son of Joseph Churchill Hilton (1872 - 1942) and Margaret Louise (Williams) Hilton.  He was the brother of Sylvia Hilton.  His parents were born in Yarmouth, NS, as was his sister Sylvia.  Both parents are buried in Mountain Cemetery, Yarmouth, NS.  At the time of his service his mother and his sister were living in Larchmont village within the Town of Mamaroneck in Westchester County, New York.   He completed his Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering at McGill University in 1940.  His father died January 29, 1942.  Prior to his air service, he was employed with the Anaconda Wire and Cable Company in Hastings-On-Hudson, NY, from June 11, 1940 to February 25, 1943. He earned his flying wings and commission at Turner Airfield in Albany, Georgia on or about November 15, 1943, completed crew training in Sioux City, Iowa, and was overseas as of March of 1944. On April 11, 1944, five hundred and eighty-five (585) B-17 bombers flew to targets in North Germany.  Fifty-two of the aircraft were lost on the mission.  Hilton B17 was known as “The Duchess”; also known as Wabash Cannonball.  The April 11th flight was Hilton’s third bombing mission. Hilton’s B17’s mission was a bombing raid on Poznan, Germany flying from RAF Station Snetterton Heath, south west of Attleborough, Norfolk, England.  While the United States Army Air Forces were stationed there it was known as USAAF Station 138.      It is reported that Thomas Hilton’s B17 bomber BX-X (42-29939) was attacked by enemy fighter aircraft and, at 1:30 PM, crashed somewhere into the Baltic Sea having left the bomber formation south of Bornholm Island, a Danish island south of Sweden.  It is not known exactly where the plane crashed, but Navigator, Second Lieutenant John Alfred Ashmead was initially buried in Korsor Cemetery in Zealand, Denmark on August 8, 1944.  On the same day Second Lieutenant Thomas Bradford Hilton washed ashore near Warnemünde, Germany, and was laid to rest in Rostock-Warnemünde New cemetery.  The pilot, Second Lieutenant Young, washed ashore at Bojendorff, Germany, and was buried at Ardennes National Cemetery. The sole survivor, Left Waist Gunner Sergeant Wilfred Albert Dennis advised that three other members of the crew bailed out, Sergeant Raymond Francis Ritz, Sergeant Burdette Lorenzo Borradaile and Sergeant Owen Lanier Cantrell.  A small German boat picked up Sergeant Dennis.  He was taken to the Captain of the boat and he requested that the Captain look around for the other three members who had parachuted out.  This the Captain would not do, saying he had to report back to the port officials immediately.  Sergeant Dennis became a prisoner of war in Germany at Stalag 17B Braunau Gneikendorf near Krems, Austria 48-15.  He was freed 13 months later by Allied Forces while on a forced march in Germany. The other four of the airmen disappeared into the sea and were also never found – Second Lieutenant Orville Leroy Hayes, Staff Sergeant Albertus Theodore Onsgard, Staff Sergeant Eugene Henry Ryan and Sergeant Ernest Weekes. After the war, with burial consolidation, Second Lieutenant John Ashmead and Second Lieutenant William Young were moved to Ardennes Cemetery (Plot B, Row 39 and Plot A, Row 33, Grave 15) along with Second Lieutenant Thomas Hilton. The Crew: Second Lieutenant John Alfred Ashmead Ardennes American Cemetery, Plot B Row 39 Grave 5 Navigator Service No. O-702356 Entered service from Minnesota Awarded the Air Medal, Purple Heart Sergeant Burdette Lorenzo Borradaile Tablets of the Missing, Cambridge American Cemetery Tail Gunner Service No. 15109595 Entered service from Indiana (Maybe born in Texas) Awarded the Air Medal, Purple Heart Sergeant Owen Lanier Cantrell Tablets of the Missing, Cambridge American Cemetery Ball Turret Gunner Service No. 18178931 Entered service from Texas Awarded the Air Medal, Purple Heart Sergeant Wilfred Albert Dennis POW, returned to American after WWII, died March 16, 2014 Left Waist Gunner Service No. 31254227 Entered service from Vermont Second Lieutenant Orville Leroy Hayes Tablets of the Missing, Cambridge American Cemetery Bombardier  Service No. O-757069 Entered service from Texas Awarded the Air Medal, Purple Heart Second Lieutenant Thomas Bradford Hilton Ardennes American Cemetery, Plot B Row 25 Grave 14 Co-pilot Service No. O-814901 Entered service from New York Awarded the Purple Heart Staff Sergeant Albertus Theodore Onsgard Tablets of the Missing, Cambridge American Cemetery Radio operator Gunner Service No. 17025130 Entered service from Minnesota Awarded the Air Medal, Purple Heart Staff Sergeant Raymond Francis Ritz Tablets of the Missing, Cambridge American Cemetery Left Waist Gunner Service No. 13127677 Entered service from Pennsylvania Awarded the Air Medal, Purple Heart Staff Sergeant Eugene Henry Ryan Tablets of the Missing, Cambridge American Cemetery Photographer Service No. 32465509 Entered service from New Jersey Awarded the Air Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart (* The US Battle Monuments Commission lists Ryan as serving with 413th Bomber Squadron so he may have had a last minute to Hilton’s aircraft on April 11, 1944) Sergeant Earnest Weekes Tablets of the Missing, Cambridge American Cemetery Top Turret Gunner Service No. 17098490 Entered service from Nebraska Awarded the Air Medal, Purple Heart Second Lieutenant William James Young Ardennes American Cemetery, Plot A Row 33 Grave 15 Pilot Service No. O-753266 Entered service from Washington Awarded the Purple Heart    
Thomas Bradford Hilton
Sources and Information: American Battle Monuments Commission Air War over Denmark  (Danish) Aviation Historical Review McGill Remembers, McGill University Archives  
42-22939, wrecked at Snetterton Heath, date unknown.  IWM (UPL 31378)
This model of the barque Abyssinia is in the collection of the Yarmouth County Museum and Archives. It was made by Thomas Bradford Hilton at age 13 (PH-62-Abyssinia-5, YCMA)