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.”