S.C. Hall of Fame: Lt. William Farrow (1918-1942)

Aug 4, 2017

Crew 16 of the Doolittle Raiders. Left to right: Lt George Barr, Lt William G. Farrow, Sgt Harold A. Spatz, Lt Robert L. Hite, and Cpl Jacob D. DeShazer.
Credit USAF

William G. Farrow was born in 1918 in Darlington. He trained to be a pilot at the Hawthorne Aviation School where he received his commission and the silver wings of an Army Aviator in 1941 before joining the 17 Bombardment Group.

In January 1942, Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle asked for volunteers from the 17 Bombardment Group for a secret, hazardous mission, and in April, the crew and B-25s were loaded aboard the USS Hornet headed for an unknown destination on a mission now known as the Doolittle Raid story.  

Lt. Billy Farrow’s plane over Nagoya, where he released bombs from 500 feet destroying an oil storage tank and inflicting damage on the Mitsubishi Aircraft Factory. Sixteen hours after leaving the USS Hornet, the B-25s engines sputtered out of gas, and Lt. Farrow and crew were forced to bail after crossing the south coast of Hanchung, China—Japanese held territory.

The crew was captured and tortured by the Japanese, who tried to force them to sign guilty confessions of war crimes. In October, the Emperor altered the death sentence of five airmen, but upheld the executions of Farrow and two others, who were killed at dawn on October 14, 1942.

American investigators found their cremated ashes in 1945 in a Japanese mortuary. Farrow’s remains came home in 1946, and were buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He was awarded decorations posthumously, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart and Chinese Breast Order of Pao Ting.