By Pierre Kosmidis
Photos and documentation by Joy Kidney
“The Secretary of War desires me to express his regrets that your son second Lieutenant Dale R. Wilson has been reported missing in action since twenty seven November over New Guinea. . . .”
Leora Wilson received this penciled Western Union telegram on her December 4th birthday, in rural Dallas County, Iowa, near Minburn.
Dale flew a B-25 Mitchell Bomber and was assigned to the new 823rd Bomb Squadron of the 38th Bomb Group at 17-Mile Field, Port Moresby, New Guinea.
The mission of Dale’s crew on November 27, 1943, was an attack against the japanese airfields at Wewak and Boram. Their B-25 was hit by AA fire. Other pilots saw the plane hit the water and bounce, but didn’t see any of crew in the water.
The crew of the ill-fated B25 was:
Pilot 1st Lt. John M. Wieland, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Co-pilot 2nd Lt. Dale R. Wilson, age 22, Minburn, Iowa
Navigator 2nd Lt. John B. Stack, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Aer. Gunner S/Sgt. Irvin E. Wollenweber, Wheeling, W. Virginia
Rad. Gunner S/Sgt. Stanley W. Banko, Everson, Pennsylvania
Aer. Gunner S/Sgt. Willie T. Sharpton, Dacula, Georgia
The Wilsons received notes from people on the West Coast, who had heard short-wave broadcasts naming Dale Wilson and John Stack as POWs of the Japanese, but this was never confirmed by the government.
These six young Americans have never been found.
First Lieutenant Edward P. Poltrack in his mission report stated that “the plane struck the water with great violence, on a flat trajectory, ricocheting up to an altitude of approximately thirty feet. The impact of the blow tore pieces from the plane, in particular the left rudder.
I saw it strike the water for the second time with terrific impact. When the spray subsided all that remained of the plane to be seen was a small portion of the tail section sticking above the water.
I am under the impression that it would be impossible for anyone to have survived.”
Another report though, by Second Lieutenant Robert J. Toothman, dated 28 November 1943 mentioned the following:
“When I first saw the plane it struck the water 400 yards offshore of Cape Boram. The plane then climbed to 300 feet.
From my position the plane was silhouetted against the sky, the left aileron and adjacent wing section, left elevator and the left rudder were all completely torn off.
The plane turned 20 degrees to the left and made a controlled landing in the water approximately 1 1/4 miles from Cape Boram.”
The Wilson family mourned three brothers: Dale, Daniel, who is buried in France and Junior, just 20 years old, when he was killed at the very end of WW2, when his plane exploded during training.
Junior was the first of the family buried at Perry, in August of 1945. Only God knows where Dale’s remains lie and the search for closure is still on, over 7 decades since he was lost.
Mrs. Joy Kidney, the niece of Dale R. Wilson said to www.ww2wrecks.com: “I am still hoping someone will find the B25 and her crew. Dale Wilson’s twin sister is still living. A great granddaughter of Willie Ted Sharpton contacted me recently and I have been in contact with a relative of the navigator, John Stack“.
Researchers and underwater explorers can contact Mrs. Joy Kidney for additional details that may result in locating the crashed bomber and bring closure to the families of the KIA airmen, over 7 decades since they never returned to base.