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"We Remember"
by Dwayne O'Brien

2nd Lt. Robert Henry Wilds Jr.
723rd Squadron
All information on this page is courtesy of Webmouse Publications
Robert Henry Wilds, Jr. Born:
May 28, 1916

Father:
Robert Henry Wilds (1883-1949)

Mother:
Annabelle Ashley  (1880-1922)

Married:
Irene H. Clark in 1939

Children:
None

Died:  November 21, 1944

Gravestone:
Florence, Italy
Robert & Irene

Photo from Eleanor Studley and published with her permission.


Purple Heart    War Record

Robert H. Wilds, Jr.

723rd Bomber Squadron

450th Bomber

First Lieutenant

Inducted from Pennsylvania
DOD     Nov. 21, 1944
BURIED:    Florence, Italy
AWARDS:    Purple Heart, Air Medal, additional army medals

[Online Database: World War II and Korean Conflict Veterans Interred Overseas]



D.O.D. Letters
WAR DEPARTMENT
Office of the Adjutant General
Washington 25, D.C.

In Reply Refer To
AG 201 Wilds, Robert H., Jr.
PC 0 322054

27 November 1946

Mrs. Irene Clark Wilds
Aiken, South Carolina


Dear Mrs. Wilds:
I am writing you relative to the previous letter from this office in which you were regretfully informed that a Finding of Death had been made in the case of your husband, First Lieutenant Robert H. Wilds, Jr., 0825349, Air Corps, and that the presumptive date of his death had been established as 22 November 1945.

Since that time a revision has been made in the Missing Persons Act, which enables the War Department to fix an actual date and issue an official report of death in any case where circumstances lead to no other logical conclusion. Your husband was one of a crew of nine on board a B-24 (Liberator) bomber which left Brindisi, Italy, on 2 1 November 1944 on a combat mission to Sanski Most Area, Yugoslavia. Since the flight was to be made in operational secrecy, and no contact was expected to be made until the aircraft left the target area, unless an emergency occurred, it was presumed that the aircraft was lost in the target area. Translation of letters written by Mr. Gabro Kozul, Donje Lolibe Bos Brod, Yugoslavia, indicates that he witnessed the destruction of your husband's aircraft and found the bodies of the nine crew members in the wreckage and listing the number of the plane as that on which your husband was a crew member. In view of these facts, the records of the War Department have been amended to show that Lieutenant Wilds was killed in action 21 November 1944 near Bosna, Yugoslavia, when his plane was destroyed by enemy cannon shell.

Pursuant to the provisions of Public Law 490, 77th Congress, 7 March 1942 as amended, official reports will now be issued by the War Department which will indicate the actual date of his death as that shown above. The issuance of this office Report of Death will not affect any payment or settlement of accounts which has been made on the basis of the Finding of Death.

My continued sympathy is with you in the great loss you have sustained.

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



WAR DEPARTMENT
Office of the Quartermaster General
Washington 25, D.C.
In Reply Refer To
QMGMR 293
Wilds, Robert H., Jr.
SN 0 825 349

Address Reply to
THE QUARTERMASTER GENERAL
Attention: Memorial Division

24 March 1947

Mrs. Irene Clark Tikanen
2123 4th Street
Boulder, Colorado

Dear Mrs. Tikanen:

Your letter to the Adjutant General concerning the late Second Lieutenant Robert H. Wilds, Junior, has been referred to this office.

It is with regret that you are advised that up to the present time information pertaining to the burial location of the late Second Lieutenant Robert H. Wilds, Junior, or other members of his crew has not been received. However, an investigation is currently being conducted to secure this information. When a report of burial is received, the next of kin will be informed without delay.

Sincerely yours,
James L. Prenn
James L. Prenn
Major, QMC
Memorial Division



WAR DEPARTMENT
Office of the Adjutant General
Washington 25, D.C.

In Reply Refer To
AGPO-P 201 Wilds, Robert H., Jr.
(26 Aug 48)

26 August 1948

Mrs. Irene Clark Wilds
Aiken, South Carolina


Dear Mrs. Wilds:
I am writing you relative to a posthumous promotion for your husband, the late Second Lieutenant Robert Henry Wilds, Jr., 0825349, Army of the United States.

The records of this office show that your husband was promoted to the grade of first lieutenant on 11 December 1944. As this promotion was announced subsequent to the date of your husband's death, it is without effect. However, under the provisions of Public Law 680, 77th Congress, copy inclosed, the Department of the Army is authorized to effect his promotion posthumously, subject to the provisions of Section 5 of the cited statute which states that no increased pay or gratuities will be derived from such a promotion. A formal commission and promotion orders evidencing the appointment of your husband as first lieutenant, Army of the United States, effective 20 November 1944, are inclosed.

It is requested that you acknowledge receipt of the commission on the attached card (WD AGO Form 0836) which requires no postage.

Again I wish to extend my deepest sympathy on your great loss.

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

4 Incls.



[The following excerpt appears to be from a letter sent to RHW's parents in a letter from Hdqters, AAF, Washington, dated Dec. 22nd, 1994 ]

...... Further information has been received indicating that Lt. Wilds was a crew member of a B-24 (Liberator) bomber which departed from Italy on a combat mission to Yugoslavia on Nov. 21st. The report indicates that during this mission at 9:15 a.m., over Brindisi, Italy, our planes were subjected to enemy antiaircraft fire, and it is believed that your son's bomber sustained damage. At about 11:00 a.m., a pilot and crew of one of the accompanying planes sighted an aircraft descending rapidly; however, due to cloud coverage, the crew was unable to determine whether this was your son's craft. It is regretted that no further details relative to the loss of this plane are obtainable in this Headquarters. ... ... Please be assured that a continuing search is being made.



Letters from Irene Clark Wilds Tikanen, transcribed by Ellen Wilds, and published with their permission



Letters Home



Robert Henry Wilds, Jr.












Robert Henry Wilds, Jr.












Robert Henry Wilds, Jr.


Photo from Irene Clark Wilds Tikanen; now in the possession of Robert Studley, Jr. and published with their permission.
   R. H. Wilds, Jr.
to his sister Julia

AIR FORCES
UNITED STATES ARMY

Italy
Sept. 25, '44

Dearest Julia --

I have your Aug. 1st letter before me and agree that this is a fine time to be answering it. There is so little that I can talk about over here, however, that it would be repetition to write both you and the family and of course I intend for my letters to Marni to be shared with you.

I find myself at this point near where I was before when I was up this way. I also find myself living in a rather leaky old tent without the comforts I have had of late. But such things don't really matter anymore. All any of us cares about seriously is getting back home one day. We take a keen interest in the menu at mealtime, we sleep a lot, read, and putter around in general. I located a watermelon yesterday, and cut it with great ceremony. As often as possible we go hitchhiking off in various directions, both for the enjoyment of the ride through the countryside and also in quest of friends at other camps. Actually I don't know what has become of most of the boys I knew at Charleston.

My one complaint at the moment is mail. It first has not been coming through -- and now I don't know when it will catch up with me. I did receive Marni's V-mails (the last dated Sept. 10th), but that is all I have received in more than a month. Barbara's past letter, for instance, was written Aug. 11th! She could be dead -- or married -- for all I know!

When I was in Africa, I dated a French gal a couple of times. She didn't speak much English and my school boy French is not very good - But we made out all right. I like those little girls. They have good coloring, nice complexions, even features, admirable figures, and they are vivacious as the devil. The Italian girls are different. I have not seen any that I consider even pretty. Perhaps it is different in Northern Italy, where I find there are more high class people. While I am here this time I hope to visit Rome and Naples. The boys who have been up to Rome have had a very good time. If I ever get a rest vacation, I am going to try to get to Cairo -- which is said to be the best city nowadays East of new York.

I think I wrote you that I want my mortgage paid off in full if the cottage is eventually sold. The last address I had for Irene was H214 California Hall Wave Quarters E. Arlington Farms, Virginia.

I trust that all continues to go well with you. I often try to picture you all out at the house. I can see the details very well, the porch, the rooms inside, and the garden without -- and the thought makes me homesick. It seems so very peaceful, clean, and friendly. Why anyone should ever want to leave such an atmosphere I can't imagine.

Lots of love

Bob

P.S. Please remember me to Miss Elise and Elise and the Woolseys when you see them -- also Tom & doddy [?] - and give my love to Nona.

This is an after thought to this particular letter -- but not exactly a new thought. I have been wanting for a long time to show my appreciation somehow for your many kindnesses in recent years. There is not much I can do that would be adequate. But perhaps you and the kids could have fun with this idea --

Remember the pool I was once going to build you? Well, how about having someone build it in my absence? I have in mind something like the one Miss Elise built -- a fairly good sized lily, goldfish pool. You could use those rough brown stones, like the ones lining the driveways at home, for a border. Maybe Daddy can give you some. The sides and bottom should be concrete, I imagine. Make it deep enough so that it would freeze solid (Then the fish will survive over winter). There must be a screened drain (and that should not be difficult to arrange if the pool is located near a slope. I imagine you would place it somewhere in view of the porch, where there is the slope. If it is not too expensive, you could have an inlet of water too. But a hose would do for filling.

Cost is the main thing. For the concrete should be laid so that it won't crack in cold weather. Perhaps there should be a base of gravel. Talk to Miss Elise or someone who has such a pool.

You could buy a few plants -- or collect them yourself from a pond. There are lots of attractive "wild" water plants. Later you could arrange for a rock garden about the pool. I suggest you select the location with that in mind. Here again the slope would be useful -- and also partial shade.

The materials and little bit of piping should not be very expensive. You know better than I about labor -- surely you can find someone competent to do the job. I wish I were there to do it myself, but you & little Norman can supervise yourselves. I am enclosing a check for thirty dollars to cover the costs. I hope this will do a good job. Please get busy on it and tell me how it progresses.

If there is enough money for the running water, I recommend it, for water dripping into a pool is nice, and the resultant outlet would provide a moist area for the growth of ferns, especially if is near on a shaded slope.

If you possibly don't like my idea, then use the check for something you do want!

Bob


Italy
October 9, '44

Dearest Julia --

I received your Aug 18th letter just the other day and was very glad as always to hear the news of your family and the doings about Aiken. Do continue to write as often as possible.

Your life sounds very pleasant, with the kids growing and thriving, and with your circle of friends once more assembled. I am pleased that little Norman took to his camp this year. I recall those priceless letters of homesickness he wrote last summer. I trust he has become a good woodsman and lover of nature. Your account of the Dane with his insatiable appetite for red meat (and dark) interested me greatly. I rather hope you can keep the brute; he would make a fine watchdog and pet for the family. Of course I might change my mind if he didn't recognize me, upon a visit, as being numbered amongst that family!

It is a nice mild morning, all of 9:00 A.M., and after twelve hours sleep and a good breakfast, I feel more cheerful than I have for several days. The news of Barbara didn't help the frame of mind any,

2./   but I am becoming more & more resigned to these little ironies of life. I wrote Marni my reaction on this score; so there is no need for further emotionalism. What I feel now will eventually became buried in the limbo of all unhappily memories, which leave but perhaps a certain wistfulness. I came with too little, too late. Someday it will be otherwise.

Did I ever write you about Algiers? It was a lovely place, a City of charming villas, parks, and hanging gardens, a city of tiers and terraces, built about the sides of great hills which embrace a fine harbour in their encirclement. It was, of course, a city of the French, captured by them one hundred and thirty-four years ago and founded by others one thousand years back. We had a club for officers there, a great broad terrace, high on one hill, shaded with pines. At night, you could look clearly across to the rest of the City lying opposite and its white stone walls gleamed farther out of their greenery in the moonlight

3./   the waters below sparkled through the tracings of the pines rocking its ships and tapping idly at the shore. There was music, the sensual sway of slender forms, the quiet laughter of pretty women. And one breathed the intoxication of flowers that bloom in the night, the atmosphere of strange, far-away lands, mysterious and enchanting.

I spent several evenings with one of these pretty women, if seventeen admits to adulthood. She was a girl from the Isle of Corsica, and her name was Marinnette, and looking at her and hearing this name I saw a little doll, fashioned with Parisian artistry, whose every movement might have been in accord with those invisible strings of the miniature stage. She had that dusky olive complexion with its translucent quality, the finely cut features of peoples of ancient lineage, as though nature has striven with the years to perfect its symmetry and in its maturity has reached achievement. The lithesome figure, ample here, graceful there, was gayly clad, and when it moved it was to the vivaceous accompaniment of a piccicato played with warmth by the masters of string. Ah, she was pretty

4./  and gay, this little Marinnette!

Our discourse had its limits in the differences of speech. I marshalled up my school-boy French -- and she understood the mood if not the words. We laughed and played, and now she is gone with the Algerian night. There lingers but the gentle remembrance of one of those rare moments that becomes suspended in time, apart from earthly space. Thus that moment lives on, secure in the knowledge that it was lived true to the fullness of its full capacity.

Perhaps you will forgive my fanciful romanticism. It amuses me to indulge in it, and I hope you also may be amused.

To return to life that is more real, if more grim, there is my work, about which I can say so little. My missions are adding up slowly, at a rate which would entitle me to return to a leave in the states sometime next spring or summer. But with so many uncertainties in the picture, I can not look on that with any seriousness. Thus far I have flown approximately 15% of the required number of missions and have accordingly won the air medal,

5./  although it has not yet been awarded me. The war is still very much an earnest affair, and I can only laugh at the overly optimistic predictions which I hear emanating form the typewriter analysts at home. I personally do not trust that the fall of Germany can be likened to the fall of France, and I take little stock in that chatter of imminent victory and V-day talk. After Germany there will still be Japan anyway. That will surely take time, that situation, to resolve itself, which is so much time more for the soldier away from civilian life. Fortunately o ne grows accustomed to the expectancy of war, and the goal of peacetime living remains but a faint, distant hope. The imminence of victory itself does not remove the necessity of day to day living. We go on doing our job and look only to the rest and liesure between times. I am not saying that it is so bad. There are many tense, uncomfortable moments, true, but they are well spaced. I, for one, consider myself lucky compared to the boy on the ground at the front. But strangely enough the ones I know pity us. SO, there you are, and it is fortunate all around.

6./ I have been thinking about the pool idea and I feel the money I sent you wouldn't cover the project I have in mind. Therefore I am enclosing this additional check. Now, if the idea does not really appeal to you, please get whatever you want. Please don't hesitate to take it for I want you to have a little present. I can't spend money and am saving two hundred dollars a month -- so I can certainly afford it. You can at least buy your family a little Christmas present of some sort.

And that just about winds me up (or winds me down, as Marni would say). Let me hear from you soon -- My best to Norman & the kids.

Lots of love

Bob





"Letters of Robert H. Wilds are published here with the permission of Eleanor Cullum Studley and transcribed by Ellen Wilds. The materials published here are presented "as is", without warranty of any kind to the extent permitted by applicable law, and without any promise of validity and/or accuracy."

[Bob Wilds was shot down over Yugoslavia on November 24, 1944. The entire crew of nine died.]

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