A few days after Clabe and Leora Wilson got a telegram notifying them that their son Dale was Missing in Action in New Guinea, this letter from his squadron arrived at the Minburn farm:
“One of the saddest duties that I have been called on to perform during my Army service is to notify you that your son, 2nd Lieutenant DALE R. WILSON, has been missing in action since November 27, 1943. The aircraft in which he was Co-pilot was engaged by the enemy and forced down over enemy territory somewhere in the Southwest Pacific Area after having accomplished its Mission in an excellent manner. . . .
“You, no doubt will desire Dale’s effects. These have been inventoried and will be retained here for a period of ninety days, after which they will be sent to the Effects Quartermaster, Kansas City Quartermaster Depot, Kansas City, Missouri, for forwarding to you. For further information regarding his effects, you are advised to communicate directly with the Effects Quartermaster.”
Those “personal effects” were turned over the end of January 1944 to the Graves Registration Officer in New Guinea, for forwarding to the Kansas City Quartermaster Depot.
Finally that August, a carton containing Dale Wilson’s things arrived at the Quartermaster Depot, assigned to Warehouse Space 306X.
They contacted the Wilsons to fill out forms so they could distribute their son’s belongings from New Guinea. “Thank you for the information furnished the Army Effects Bureau to enable disposition of personal effects belonging to your son, Second Lieutenant Dale. R. Wilson.
“I am enclosing a will and power of attorney received here with your son’s effects. The reminder of the property is being forwarded and should reach you in the near future.”
This was necessary so Dale’s parents would act as “gratuitous bailee in caring for them, pending the return of the owner,” and asked them to sign and return a copy of a receipt, indicating they would act in that capacity.
After the Wilsons had moved to an acreage near Perry, they learned that son Danny was Missing in Action in early 1945. They received similar letters from the KCQM Depot. When the carton with Danny’s effects eventually arrived, they found clothes, his watch, a testament, and some souvenirs from Danny’s trip to the Army Air Force rest camp in Rome. And a small bell charm stamped “Capri” which his mother would wear it fastened to her watchband for decades.
Each person who served in the armed forces was given a New Testament. In the front is an inscription by President Roosevelt. The American flag is pictured on the opposite page. Danny had drawn an arrow pointing to the flag, and added in his neat bold handwriting, “I give everything for the country it stands for.”
At the end of 1940, Army Quartermaster activities formerly centered at the St. Louis Arsenal had been transferred to Kansas City. To this end the Government purchased a multi-story building at 601 Hardesty Avenue, Kansas City, Missouri. Formally opened on December 4, 1940, the Kansas City Quartermaster Depot purchased, inspected, and stored such standard Army Quartermaster supplies as clothing and foodstuffs.
It also served as a reception point for American war dead and operated an Effects Division, a Chemical Warfare Renovation Division, and an American Graves Registration Division.
I hunted for information about the KCQM Depot, without much luck. On a Kansas City history Facebook page, one person noted, “My grandmother worked there worked there, she was part of the team that would receive personal items and prepare them for return to the families. She said it was very depressing, but also very important that the items were cleaned and presentable, also that nothing that would cause embarrassment.”
The copy has faded this inventory, dated September 25, 1944, lists a leather file case with stationary and letters, underwear, swimsuit, khaki shorts, a tie, 2 trousers, raincoat, ____, handkerchiefs, caps with visor and cover, socks, Red Cross kit, toilet apron with articles, sewing kit, case with misc. articles, pair of wings, zipper bag with misc. articles, 1 billfold with cards, papers, identification folder, *1 diary (removed), briefcase with photos.
At the bottom is listed *1 Diary removed for duration.
Not listed was his Pilot’s Logbook. It was sent to his parents. If the officials had known that Dale had listed his combat missions in it, they likely would have also removed it “for the duration.”
An article about the Kansas City Quartermaster Depot
Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II
Very interesting information, especially the journal in which he logged his mission activities. I have also read that soldiers in the ETO were not supposed to keep journals of their activities, but many, including many high-ranking officers, ignored that regulation. Thankfully for historians and genealogists! My uncle wasn’t a writer, so I don’t have any such source for his activities. Still working on tracking his footprints in the war.
That was his pilots log book! They weren’t supposed to keep diaries but they did. Dale’s was pulled out, but one of the witnesses to their crash, another B-25 pilot, brought his home and photocopied it for me. He’d talked about missions, but also about the primitive conditions they lived in. Dennis, there are active Facebook pages for units in Europe, and one of the Millers who did the “Soldiers Stories” books leads trips over there for people who want to “follow in the footprints” of a relative. (Not so easy in New Guinea.)
This post struck me as incredibly sad.
Same here. I’m ambivalent about it, but they probably did the best they could. Just think how many things they had to deal with, and from so many foreign places, getting them to the right people.
It must have been very difficult work, with what each one of those cardboard boxes represented.
My Dad served in New Guinea in the war and he never talked about that time, but he came home and took over the care of three little kids that were not his own. He was my Mother’s love of her life and he was a wonderful man.
Bless him. Was he in the army? No wonder he didn’t talk about it. Dale Wilson was one of five brothers who served during WWII, and one of the three who never came home. They were my mother’s brothers.
Yes, he in the Army, a foot soldier. His job when he came home was working on the railroad, and would not take the foreman’s job when he was offered it. He was only about 5 ft 5 and was built like “John Henry!” And gentle as a lamb, unless you really tried hard to make him mad.
Lump in throat
So many memories.
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