January 1946

The New Year of 1946 brought devastating news to Clabe and Leora Wilson.Their oldest son Delbert and his family, including toddler Leora Darlene and baby Donna, were living with them then in the little house south of Perry. 

From the Adjutant General’s Office in the War Department, Washington 25 D.C.

15 January 1946

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Wilson,

     Since your son, Second Lieutenant Dale R. Wilson, Air Corps, was reported missing in action 27 November 1943, the War Department has entertained the hope that he survived and that information would be revealed dispelling the uncertainty surrounding his absence. However, as in many cases, the conditions of warfare deny us such information.

     Public Law 490, 77th Congress, as amended, provided for a review and determination of the status of each person who has been missing in action for twelve months. Accordingly, your son’s case was reviewed and he was continued in the status of missing in action as of November 1944. The law further provides that a subsequent review shall be made whenever warranted. Upon such subsequent review the making of a finding of death is authorized. 

     All available records and reports concerning the absence of your son have been carefully investigated and are deemed to warrant a subsequent review of his case. Information in the hands of the War Department indicates that your son was a crew member of a B-25 (Mitchell) bomber which participated in a strike mission to Wewak, New Guinea on 27 November 1943. The plane was hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire and was seen to crash in the water one and a half miles off the shore of Cape Boram, New. Guinea. After crashing into the water, the plane disintegrated, and the wreckage remained afloat but a short time before sinking. Observers from other planes failed to see any survivors emerge from the wreckage.

     Since no information has been received which would support a presumption of his continued survival, the War Department must now terminate your son’s absence by a presumptive finding of death. Accordingly, an official finding of death has been recorded. The finding does not establish an actual or probable date of death; however, as required by law, it includes a presumptive date of death for the purpose of termination of pay and allowances, settlement of accounts and payment of death gratuities. In the case of your son, this date has been set as 15 January 1946.

     I regret the necessity for this message but trust that the ending of a long period of uncertainty may give at least some small measure of consolation. An appraisal of the sacrifice made by your son in the service of his country compels in us feelings of humility and respect. May Providence grant a measure of relief from the anguish and anxiety you have experienced during these many months.

Edward F. Witsell, Major General, Acting the Adjutant General of the Army

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WASHINGTON DC, JAN. 22, 1946 CLABE D. WILSON, MINBURN, IOWA. THE SECRETARY OF WAR HAS ASKED ME TO EXPRESS HIS DEEP REGRET THAT YOUR SON 2ND LT DANIEL S WILSON WAS KILLED IN ACTION OVER AUSTRIA 19 FEBRUARY 1945. HE WAS PREVIOUSLY REPORTED MISSING IN ACTION. I REGRET THAT OFFICIAL REPORT RECEIVED ESTABLISHES HIS DEATH. CONFIRMING FOLLOWS E.F. WITSELL, ACTING ADJUTANT GENERAL

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From the Adjutant General’s Office in the War Department, Washington 25, D.C.

23 January 1946

Dear Mr. Wilson,

     It is with deep regret that I am writing to confirm the recent telegram informing you of the death of your son, Second Lieutenant Daniel S. Wilson, Air Corps.

     Your son was reported missing in action since 19 February 1945 over Austria. It has now been officially established from reports received in the War Department that he was killed in action on 19 February 1945 in an airplane crash in Schwanberg, Deutschlandsberg County, Austria. 

     I know the sorrow this message has brought you and it is my hope that in time the knowledge of his heroic sacrifice in the service of his country may be of sustaining comfort to you.

     I extend to you my deepest sympathy.

Edward F. Witsell, Major General, Acting The Adjutant General of the Army


 The Perry Daily Chief

February 6, 1946

Three Brothers Pay Supreme Sacrifice

     Mr. and Mrs. Clabe Wilson, who live two miles southeast of Perry, are entitled to have a service flag in their window with five stars on it—three of them gold.

     One of the hardest hit local families by the war, Mr. and Mrs. Wilson lost three sons during the recent world conflict. Another son was recently discharged from the navy and a fifth is still in the service. 

     Flight Officer Claiborne Junior Wilson, 20, youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Wilson, was killed in a plane accident August 9 last year, at Aloe Field, Victoria, Texas.

     Word has been received from the War Department that Lt. Dale R. Wilson, 24, who has been reported missing in action since Nov. 27, 1943, is now presumed dead. He was on a mission to New Guinea. [Dale was 22 when his plane was shot down.]

     Dale received his wings at Roswell, New Mexico in Feb. 1943 and left for overseas in July of the same year. He served with the Fifth Air Force and was stationed at Port Moresby, New Guinea.

     The War Department has notified the Wilsons that their son. Lt. Daniel S. Wilson, 22, who was previously reported as missing in action Feb. 19, 1945, is now reported killed in action on that date in a plane crash over Schwanberg, Austria. [Dan was 21.]

     Daniel received his wings at Williams Field, Chandler, Arizona. He left for overseas in Oct. 1944 and was based with the 15th Air Force in Italy.

     Two other sons of Mr. and Mrs. Wilson also served with the armed forces.

     Delbert Wilson, 30, who had the rating of electrician’s mate first class in the navy, is now home discharged after being in the service four years. Previous to his second enlistment he had served in the navy four years.

     Chief Electrician Donald Wilson, 29, who has been in the navy 12 years, is now stationed in Seattle, Wash. 


The Wilson brothers are featured on the Dallas County Freedom Rock at Minburn, Iowa. All five served. Only two came home. Their story is told in  Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II

5 comments

  1. It must have been so heartbreaking to receive these messages subsequent to the earlier notice of their missing in action. So similar to the losses incurred by the “Bedford Boys.” Thank you for continuing to share these stories of the Greatest Generation.

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