In Their Own Words:
Letters of Robert H. Wilds, Jr.

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Robert Henry Wilds, Jr.
May 11, 1941

Gentlemen :

In reference to your advertisement in "The Philadelphia Inquirer" of To-day's date, I should like to submit my application and the following resumé of my background and experience:

I am a graduate of Phillips-Andover Academy and have attended college for four years, and at Harvard Univ., and at the Univ. of Colorado, and two at the Univ. of North Carolina. My studies have been mainly along academic lines.

My first business experience was obtained with a cotton textile commission house in New York City, Wellington-Sears Co., where I was employed for eight months as a mail room boy, and, later, floor boy and clerk. I then entered the employ of W. R. Bull and Co., Investment Brokers, formerly of 40 Exchange Pl., N.Y.C. There I was successively runner, cage clerk, trader, and assistant cashier. At the end of a year's service in the above capacities, I was transferred to an associate company, W. R. Management Co., where I assisted for a period of eighteen months in statistical and analytical work in connection with the management of two investment trusts. Finally, I spent a recent summer, between college terms, with the publicity department of Marine Studies at Marineland, Florida. There my duties consisted of operating and announcing over a local broadcasting system.

I shall be twenty-five years old this month. I am married, but have no children. A resident of Aiken, South Carolina, and the son of a medical doctor – a former colonel in the U.S. Army. I have just recently come to Philadelphia in search of an opportunity such as you have outlined. I shall therefore appreciate any consideration you may extend to this application.

Very truly yours,[penciled notes in shorthand]

Robert H. Wilds, Jr.

c/o Frank Wyman
1231 Locust St.
Phila., Pa.

Tel.: Kin. 9088
fen 7660
Lincoln Hotel

[letter to Mrs. H. J. Ray, Aiken, South Carolina -- she was a friend of Bob's parents]

C.A.A.F. Columbus, Miss.

Dec. 9th, 1943

Dear Miss Elise –

I wonder if this communication will surprise you! Julia tells me that you have been kind enough to ask about me from time to time – and since I too often think of you, I decided to seize the opportune moment while resting up in the infirmary with a cold and write you myself.

I have long regretted that our fathers have not met more frequently in recent years; for I have always felt that both you and "little Elise" were my staunchest friends – And I know that the times we have spent together in Aiken and Cedar are amongst my happiest recollections. I can but hope for a kinder future.

I am just beginning at this post my advanced aeronautical training – the final phase of the program, which has already stretched out over ten months. If all continues to go well, I will receive those coveted "Wings" early in February, as well as a short leave – which will be my first. You may be sure that I plan to visit Aiken then.

It is a hard life, this flying. I am probably the oldest man in my class and do not seem to have become adapted to the air quickly as the younger boys. But my additional sanity, shall I say, will probably prove an advantage in the end. At any rate, I do get a "kick" out of what I am doing. There are many good things in army life – and flying is not exactly prosaic and when this business is at length all over, it will be satisfying to look back upon ones association with this air corps.

Irene is a "Wave", stationed in Washington. She finds that life interesting, but irksome. The class distinction between enlisted and commissioned personnel seems to bother her most of all. That situation is difficult, I know. Irene and I are still very good friends and sometimes consider getting together again in the future. But that future is all too distant and nebulous to consider seriously right now.

Meantime I do hope that life for you and Elise will be as pleasant and comfortable as possible – and may the Christmas season at any rate be a very merry, happy one.

With love to you both – Bob

[letter to his sister]

June 8, 1944

Dear Julia –

I could not get rooms for you at the Francis Marion or Charleston Hotels. I did succeed in getting two adjoining doubles with a connecting bath ($9.00 for the works) at the St. John. They are engaged under Norman's name – So I suggest you go straight there upon arrival and I can meet you there.

I am very glad you are coming with the kids – for I think we can all have a lot of fun and believe the kids will enjoy it particularly. I will show you the Air Field and we can of course to the Beach – I prefer Isle of Palms, don't you? Folly is like Coney Island – cheap, crowded, & dirty.

I hope you get this before you leave. Meantime

Lots of love

P.S. Hope the rooms are satisfactory – you don't have much choice these days.

July 31, ‘44

Dear Julia –

This is a magnificent land from the air – a land of age old mountains carved by water filled gorges and litterally [sic] riddled with lakes. It is one vast wilderness of tangled spruce and birch. You could walk for days and never find a town, never see a soul.

I walked through the countryside yesterday to explore the local flora. There was a wealth of mosses and ferns along the rocky streams – but few flowers. Even the birds disdain this cold terrain and only a noisy Canadian Jay and a pair of timid sparrows were revealed to me.

The post itself is interesting but very limited as compared to what I have lately known. It is a man's world, an Allied world. The few civilian girls run at the sight of a transient (I hear permanent party men make out better). The traditions here are British, the currency local and Canadian Facilities are rather [french?]: [illegible] already I have met spam, more spam, and bully beef. I feel like a veteran after that.

We have no duties temporarily. We sleep til noon and fill the day somehow. Shortly after dark, around midnight, we retire again to the sack. I wouldn't want to be stationed here – or even stay here long. The winter must be fierce – it is cold enough now. I am still clinging to my [illegible], but I represent a slim minority. It is just that I don't want to dig out my O.D.s from the bottom of the plane.

If fishing tackle were available, we could fish.

[Letter is unsigned – it is possible that there was another sheet]

Sept. 17, 1944

Dearest Bob

I am a skunk for not writing you more often, especially when mail from home must mean so much to you. I haven't written Louis at all, but I don't feel guilt so badly about him as Paddy probably writes him every day, but I must write him too. Daddy & Marni received a letter from him yesterday which they weren't too pleased over. It was rather a complaining letter – said he didn't get along with most of his junior officers or his senior officer. That he wasn't one to be kicked around. Said he was tired of the whole business of war. Said he didn't care about being a hero & all he wanted to do was to get home to Paddy and that 40 months over seas duty for him was enough. Lord, if he were going through what some of men are doing, he might have something to complain about. Oh well, I know it is hard for him to be away from Paddy but at least he could be a good sport about it. He ought to be darn glad he's not living in a fox hole.

Your letter to Daddy arrived the same time Louis' did & what a difference in attitude! And such a nice letter it was, as all your letters have been, and so interesting too. You should keep a diary & where you get old you can sit your grandchildren on your knees & read them all about your fascinating experiences.

We were talking today at lunch of what you & Louis would like most for Xmas. Marni wants to get a box of things from all of us off to you soon so you'll receive it in plenty of time of Xmas. Try to think of some things you most need & would enjoy & send me a list right away. There must be dozens of things you need & can't get, & it is not so easy for us to know just what those things are.

Daddy is still sick in bed. He is better but I believe he will have to have an operation before he will be well. He dreads it & of course keeps putting it off. If he does decide, it will have to be done in New York or Baltimore or somewhere where there are really good doctors.

Ted has joined the army recently & is now at Fort Bragg. He is to be sent somewhere else for training right away but we don't know where yet. Lea was home from Mississippi for a few days vacation last week. He is really a very attractive boy. He's got a lot of personality, far more than Ted.

Claudia goes to boarding school in a couple of days. Wish you could see how she has grown. She's an inch or more taller than I & only 13 years old! When she leaves, we are going to have Tarcole (the black cocker). When Claudia is away there is no one to pay any attention to him & he roams all over town because he gets lonesome. We had a great Dane for a while but gave him away. He wasn't any too gentle & we didn't think it safe to keep him. The man we gave him to kept him a week & then one morning he found him lying on the ground, unable to get up & foaming at the month, so he shot him. Norman ran over our kitten & killed it not long ago. The other day a dog or something got hold of a mother cat & crippled her in the hind legs. We haven't seen her in 2 days so something must have finished her for good. I hope we have better luck with Tarcole.

Eleanor started school on the 13th. She wanted to go back to the Public School instead of to the Convent so that's were [sic] she's going, as she missed school all last year on account of her health. She is in the 4th grade again.

Norman starts back to the Prep School on Oct 4th. He has four more years there & then I don't know where he'll go, but that's too far in the future to plan.

I wrote you that we are selling the Ashley Cottage for $3,500. At last the map has been made of that section of the property, showing that lot, the corner lot, & the lot behind next to the Owen's Bros place. Surveying (?) is very expensive. It costs $48.00 – Daddy wanted a few changes made on it so I suppose it will be even more. Norman has drawn up the papers & is going to send them to Paddy to sign tomorrow for herself & Louis. Then they have to be sent to Irene. Maybe by the time Paddy sends them back you devorce [sic] will be granted & Irene won't to sign. When in October is it supposed to be final? My, won't you be glad to be a free man again?

What do you hear from Barbara & does she write often?

Nona is in Florida at present putting Betty in a convent in Tampa. She returns Tues. Then she has the job of finding a sanatarium & putting her mother in it. Then by Nov. 1st she expects to go to New York & find a job.

The Rays are back from the Mts. & are getting their house ready to rent. I think they would both like to go north for a while but every time they mention leaving Aunt Addie throws a fit & says she doesn't want to be left alone. I think they are finding living with her very difficult. Elise's Earl has just left N. Africa & is in England now. It would have been nice if you culd have run into him. He is so nice & more darn fun.

Excuse the change in paper, but that was the last sheet of air mail stationery I had.

I've got to start fall house cleaning tomorrow – What a job! Thank heavens I have Gladys to help. She works for me 5 days a week – does the laundry & cleaning a part of it & I do the cooking, bed making straightening etc. It is a blessing to have some help but I cross my fingers as to how long it will last.

We haven't had a yard man in 6 weeks & the place looks awful. I do wish Norman would cut the lawn or something, but most of all I wish he'd dig me a new garbage hole! I never saw such a man, he won't do a lick of work of any kind outside the office. He is getting such a big stomach too & it would really be good for his figure if do a little yard work each day. He doesn't seem to care what the place looks like.

Maybe when the war is over, yard men will come begging – I hope so! I am still busily working at the hospital & find I learn more each time I go. I work Monday afternoons & Friday mornings now & sometimes ofterner if I'm needed. I thoroughly enjoy it.

Olivia Garvin asked about you & Louis the other day. She is really wonderful. Lonnie has overseas at least 2 ½ years but has been back & forth until about a year ago, but he never was home for more than a few days at a time when his ship was in port. For months Olivia didn't have a servant & she's lived all along in her house alone with four children, ages 7, 5, & twins 1 ½ old. Lonnie was in England during the time the Robots [?] were so bad & she was worried to death but every time I've seen her she's always cheerful & never complains. I really admire her.

Bob can I send you anything? (I don't mean Xmas now) If there is anything at all you want let me know.

Please excuse this uninteresting letter. I don't seem to know how to write letters any more.

I think of you every day & will try to write more often.

The children said to tell you hello. Norman sends his best & says he will write you too, shortly –

Loads of love from me, Julia.


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


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.

[undated -- seems to be part of the previous letter]

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!


[Eleanor and Norman are Julia's children]

October 1, 1944

Dearest Bob

My last letter to you was written two weeks ago, so by now you must have it. The one written before that you probably received a long time ago. It is terrible of me not to write you more often & I'm really going to do better.

Your letter to Marni arrived yesterday and we all enjoyed it so much. Your post war plans for your future are not only interesting but extremely wise. You've always been interested in tropical plants and fish and I think in some way you should be able to make a living doing something with them. I certainly think you should make your life's work doing what keenly interests you. It would make you far happier than plugging along at an office job which you don't like. Making money as a botonist [sic] will probably be slow to start with and it may be some time before you'll be able to own your dream house of the future but it would be something to work toward. At least you know what you want and that is more than most people do. When you get home you won't be one of thousands floundering around, not knowing what they want to do. The life you have mapped out for yourself sounds terribly interesting. I am going to try to find some magazines on botony [sic] , nature study or something along those lines & have it sent to you each month. I don't know of one but I'll enquire. Maybe you know of one you'd like to have. If so, let me know.

By now you know of Barbara's engagement. We were all very surprised & somewhat shocked when she phoned the family telling the news. It must be pretty hard for you to take but I do hope it isn't upsetting you too much. Did you know that she was in love with this man or did she lead you to beleive it was you she was most interested in? If so, then I just can't make her out. I am so sorry Bob. I don't know just what to say on the subject because I'm not sure just what your feelings were toward her just before you left. Maybe her engagement isn't such a surprise to you afterall. You didn't even mention her in your letter to me written from New Foundland [sic]. It's funny but I've been wondering all along if you & Barbara would have been happy together for any length of time. From what I've heard about her think she must have grown quite sophistocated [sic] & citified. I don't believe that is the type of girl for you to marry Bob. You'd be happier with someone who is simple and sweet. The sophistocated [sic] glamorous type do not make the best wives & if you don't make a darn good living, they soon become disatisfied [sic]. Now when you come home you will be free to go anywhere & start the kind of life you've been talking about without having to worry about supporting a wife at the same time. Then when you're more or less on you [sic] feet, with your fish hatchery or whatever, that right girl is sure to turn up – They usually do & believe me, there are plenty of sweet attractive girls. Barbara isn't the only one. Chances are, if you came back & married her, you'd have to settle in N.Y. City with a stupid desk job. For a while you'd be so much in love you wouldn't care, but after a while you'd hate it. You should travel some when you get back & find just the spot where you'd like to settle & you'd be free to do as you please. I am enclosing an article from The Reader's Digest. Doesn't this sound like a dream place? I'd love to got there myself or to some place like it. Don't come home & burden yourself with a wife & family before you are settled in just the place where you want to live & are doing just the job that you'd be interested in & that would bring you the most happiness.

We are having lovely autumn weather now, a bit warm in the middle of the day, but cool evenings and early mornings. I dread winter with not enough fuel oil and it very expensive anyway. We have loads of wood to burn from the trees we had cut down after the fire in the woods last summer (a year ago) but it seems unpossible [sic] to find a man to cut it up. I haven't even been able to cut find one to mow the lawn & it is so high I'm afraid of snakes. We've killed two rattle snakes in the last week. One was a baby & we discovered him on the porch of all places!

Eleanor started in at the public school this year and she seems to enjoy it. Norman begins school on Wednesday, the 4th. I'll be so glad & so will he as there is not much for him to do all day long.

The family gave the black cocker Tarco to us. He has always looked half sick to me so I took him to McClean who discovered he had hook worm, heart worm, sore ears & a spot of exema [sic]. He is being treated for everything but I don't leave him at the vet's. He is a sweet dog, so obedient. However his great fault is that he likes to wander & every time I let him out I have to go out with him or he makes traight [sic] for the high way. Then he starts howling about 7 o'clock every morning to be let out. That's not so bad on week days when I have to get up early anyway, but it is most annoying on Sunday morning when I like to sleep until 8:30 anyway.

Daddy is still in bed but gets up for supper. He seems better but since he won't have an operation this trouble is likely to occur again after he does get back to work.

I guess Marni wrote you about the terrible storm along the North Atlantic seaboard. Seventy Five percent of all the trees on Oyster Harbors were blown down and many houses were badly damaged. The family's house stood it pretty well, but the top of the windmill was blown off and a number of other things damaged. Water was up to the second floor of the boat house & it is so badly battered that Marni is thinking of having it torn down altogether. Boats & debris are strewn all over the place & most of the trees are down. In other words it is pretty much of a mess.

This is all I can think of to write you this time. We are just about to start out for the usual Sunday lunch at the family's. It certainly is a help not to have to cook on Sunday.

Take care of yourself and let us hear your news again soon. Your letters are tremendously interesting. Let me know if the letter I wrote you two weeks ago reached you.

Norman sends you his best & the kids said to be sure to tell you hello.
Loads of love,

[Barbara Bull was a long-time sweetheart of Bob's. After his marriage to Irene failed, the family had great hopes for his renewed interest in Barbara, but she chose to marry another. 'Norman' in this instance is Julia's husband]


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, 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 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 [sic] accompaniment of a piccicato played with warmth by the masters of string. Ah, she was pretty 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, 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 one 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 leisuret 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.

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


Oct. 30 ‘44

Dearest Julia –

Your two letters of Sept. 17th and Oct. 1st came almost together this week. Since I wrote you Sept. 25th and Oct. 9th our letters have crossed each time. It seems that if a letter does not catch a place overseas first night – then it must come over by boat. That is the only way I can figure it. Occasionally we get mail as recent as one week – but another letter written the same time may take four or five weeks. It doesn't really matter as a rule; new news, however old, is still news. Sometimes it does matter of course. Barbara's letter took six weeks, partly because it had to be forwarded. But, then, did this delay really matter in the greater scheme of things? There is one other angle to these mail delays, however: by the time you have received a reply to your own letters, you have often forgotten what you said and the references to your old letter are sometimes puzzling. Oh, well –

I wrote you a long letter last night, but did not mail it to-day because I was feeling sort of sunk last night and there is no good in conveying these moods. We all get ‘em, and we all recover from them, generally. Therefore I shall continue with you to-night, rewording my work of last evening.

I have read you nice letters over several times enjoying them each time anew. Only you can give me a certain slant on doings back home. Such things mean right now more than I can tell you. After two weeks of censoring enlisted men's mail, I know that their morale is directly proportional to the amount of mail they are receiving from home. Whenever you move around and there is a consequent cessation in the flow of mail, there is hell to pay. Everyone goes around with his chin below his arches and is ready to fight the other man at the slightest provocation. Of course some mail can be worse that no mail – and that is bad news, about which one is able to do absolutely nothing from this distance. That gives you a maddening sense of helplessness. You wonder wi how the person back at home can be so cruelly inconsiderate, if this bad news was of their own making. You would think that a sense of decency alone would compel them to restrain their own selfish little desires for the time while those concerned over here are struggling for life itself each day. When maters at home are well, life here is never too bad; when matters there are all wrong, this is a living hell. But I started all this with "mail", didn't I? It looks as though I had slipped right back into last night's temper. I guess I am not a very good sport. You already know whereof I speak. I might as well let such matters sleep. What's done is done. The fact that I would not have handled matters so has little to do with the fact. Life is real, and I was fooled and that's just too bad. It looks as though I will have suffered all the hard knocks before I find my girl – and then she will have lost half her value – because I will not need her so much then – although I guess she will prefer it that way – a ready made man with a ready made wife.

Thanks for the "Report on Paradise". Guatemala would be nice – if ever I felt like traveling again. But such happiness, I know now, is not outside one. Right now, under the proper conditions, I would settle for the same four walls, any four walls, under the right conditions.

About the magazine subscription, thanks loads, but I doubt if it would be practical. I will be moving around this next year, and periodicals are seldom forwarded before they are lost or chewed up or just out of date. I would like to receive any nature or botanical magazines (I can get Reader's Digest over here), but couldn't you just mail them from time to time, first class perhaps. You can consider this a request.

I have not sent any gifts home for Christmas. There just is nothing to buy here in Italy. I know that you & Marni have a box coming for me and hope you did not go to too much trouble, although I admit that I look forward to it keenly. Uncle Bill Boulton wrote that he and Frannie (Bull) had gotten one off themselves. I would do that much and yet she has never written me. In fact the whole clan there in New York have hushed up like clams, as if someone were being buried, not married. Uncle Bill, by the way, has proven a staunch friend. I do believe that he was genuinely disappointed over "the episode".

I still have not heard from Irene about the divorce. Maybe I'm married, maybe I'm not. What's the difference! Did she ever return the cottage papers? She's a nice little girl, I will think, only all screwed up psychologically. I ran across a picture of us lately, taken five years ago at the World's Fair where we became engaged. It gave me a funny feeling. That whole affair is definitely a part of the dear dead past, but being so, you feel as you do about all dead things. There is a certain twinge of melancholy attached.

Did Barbara ever send you & Marni certain pictures of me? If not, I suggest you write and ask her for them. She has a veritable museum of such stuff.

You flatter me when you tell me that my letters are interesting. This will be one at least that you can't include in that category. But if you are not amused, you have helped me to pass another evening. My candlelight is burning low and I have work ahead to rest up for. I look forward to your letters – and leave you for the moment with

Lots of love


P.S. The enclosed shot taken at Charleston should give you a laugh!?

Nov. 9, 1944

Dear Julia,

Your beautiful long letter came this week, when for once I hit the jack pot, receiving eight letters in two days – yours, Marni's, Daddy's finally, two from Paddy, Irene, Aunt Ko, + Uncle Bill Boulton. They were all very gratifying, especially yours.

Now about that money – it was certainly not intended for war bonds – and I have already said that if the pool was impractical (as it certainly seems to be) then I wanted you to buy whatever you would like. I will build the pool myself someday (believe it or not!) And then it will be done right. ‘Tis winter now anyway and not the best time for such an endeavor.

I am looking forward to receiving the "Forever Amber" book. Thank you for thinking of me. Despite what I said about novels I do read them of course and do enjoy them. Like moving pictures they have their place in life; what I disapprove is devoting ones free hours exclusively to such tonics. I had not heard of this book reallyf it is realy being ranked with "Gone with the Wind", I shall probably toss all my principles and read it until I have finished it.

It is nice of you to tell me that I write well – and I can not say that I have not in the past considered writing seriously. I have often – who had not? But it is an art will for which I hold no illusions. You have got to be too darned good at it these days to get anywhere – not that that is any reason for abandoning the attempt. But for the present I can derive sufficient satisfaction through my letters. Letters are not so exacting. If you succeed in reaching a high in one paragraph, it does not matter if you lapse back into the ordinary after that. I believe that I do express myself fairly well and perhaps somewhat originally, but subject matter has ever been my nemesis. Occasionally I feel sufficiently inspired by some little scene or incident to work it over, and then the words do flow easily. But more often than not, if I sit down to write deliberately, nothing happens, except that my page becomes covered with what I think they call "doodles". You know, those weird little images that take to telephone pads like shavings to a magnet. Also, I am not one to delineate character or personality. My observations and perceptions along those lines appear to be shallow indeed (witness my own experience with people – I'm what you might call a "sucker"!) I am unquestionably dominated by an introvert nature, and it has been said that this is imperative to "writing". I don't know. I am rather inclined to believe that a successful writer, the novelist at least, must be more of a sociable fellow.

Nevertheless, I am one of those eccentrics who actually enjoys writing. There are at times long days when I do not fly at all – and then I go on writing orgies (this is obviously one of them!). I just revel in bottles of ink and reams of paper. Maybe that is because I do miss my old friends, the old life, despite my hardened and somewhat senile character. For the more comfortable pursuance of this pastime I have assembled what is to me, in the midst of otherwise bleak and barren surroundings, my pride and joy. It is something that I look upon as a shrine to law and order, to the peace of calm reflection; for here I sit by the hour, and I am far from the clash of war and all such diabolical contrivances of man. I speak, of course, of my desk. But it is not an ordinary desk; it is a lovely desk. It consists of an old shell case, raised to a convenient level. The surface is a fine sheet of sleek glossy plywood, superimposed on the rougher wood, and where these two surfaces meet at the sides there are neat stripes of khaki colored G. I. Towel to upholster these edges and frame the whole. Within easy reach on the wall above the desk itself is a cabinet with sliding doors. This was contructed [sic] in accordance with my design by a local Italian for the price of a few packs of cigarettes (‘Tis wonderful what tobacco can do!). The cabinet has two compartments, each with shelves. One contains my precious collection of books, and the other an array of stationery, cigarettes, scissors, tape, string, nails, all the inevitable little accoutriments and encumberances [sic] of civilized living. On each sliding panel (hinges are a luxury not to be had!) In a coronet picture in color – a California garden and a cocker spaniel. A light card hangs to one side with its improved shade of siamese kittens (again through the courtesy of Coronet). At night their eyes gleam with true feline intensity. A calendar, sunken ash tray, pipe, box of candy complete the scene, all except for a little Florentine picture frame – and this is subject to frequent change!

Thus do I take up my pen. Thus do I turn to you now. And I wonder if you are still there?

Paddy sent me two pictures of her dog and I am in turn passing them along to you. My comments to Paddy were somewhat as follows: The pup (Jiggs is his name), if you like Boxers, is lovely! Now, you take a cocker spaniel – there you've got an animal. But of course you wanted a beast, and I can't deny that in this respect Louis was smart, although I pack that a packi of Danes might have been more the point. That is one of the disadvantages of my cockers; I left a wife with one once – and I haven't seen hide nor hair of either since. They are too darned friendly – those cockers! But they surely can hunt! But to do justice to Jiggs – why don't you wrap him up and send him along as mascot to the "fighting 885th ". There is definitely a place for him in the K9 corp, for with his very ugliness he might easily shorten the war. Please be sure to include full handling instructions.

But enough of this foolishness. Again I've ranted and raved too much.

I was interested in your Ashville [sic] trip. It sounded fun – a beautiful autumn trip. Write some more when you can.

With love to you & all your family –

['Aunt Ko' was Cornelia Withers Wilds , sister of Robert H. Wilds, Sr. 'Uncle Bill Boulton' was a long-time family friend]

Office of the Commanding General
A.P.O. 520

14 December 1944

Dr. Robert H. Wilds
Hayne Avenue
Aiken, South Carolina

Dear Mr. Wilds:

You are not doubt desirous of obtaining the facts, however meager, on the last flight of your son, Second Lieutenant Robert H. Wilds, Jr., 0-825349, who has been missing in action since November 21, 1944, when the Liberator on which he was co-pilot failed to return from a daylight bombing mission to Blechhammer, Germany.

We have no way of knowing the full details of the missing plane as the mission was made in operational secrecy and a radio silence was maintained through the flight. However, it is believed the bomber was struck by flak in the target area and went down in the immediate vicinity. I can do little for the present but assure you that any other information will be forwarded to you by the War Department immediately.

Bob's personal belongings will be sent to the Effects Quartermaster, Kansas City, Missouri, who will forward them to the designated beneficiary.

In recognition of his outstanding performance on hazardous operations your son has been awarded the Air Medal and two Oak Leaf Clusters. I sincerely hope that your prayers for his safety will be answered.

Very sincerely yours,

N F Twining

N. F. Twining
Major General, USA

[list enclosed with previous letter]

2nd Lt. Jerold E. Rubinton Mr. Sol J. Rubinton, (Father)
1647 Glenwood Road,
Brooklyn, New York.

2nd Lt. Robert H. Wilds, Jr. Mr. Robert Henry Wilds, (Father)
Aiken, South Carolina.

2nd Lt. John T. Colfer Mrs. Mary R. Colfer, (Mother)
106 Northeast 3rd Street,
Galva, Illinois.

F/O Jacob G. Bolz, Jr. Mr. Jacob Bolz Sr., (Father)
32 Irving Avenue,
Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.

S/Sgt. Joseph A. Darin Mr. Martin Darin, (Father)
Box 406,
Montreal, Wisconsin.

S/Sgt. Albert Huffman Mrs. Vera B. Huffman, (Wife)
Rural Delivery One,
Scottdale, Pennsylvania.

S/Sgt. Thomas B. Greene Miss Ruth Angell, (Friend)
202 Beach Street,
Quincy, Massachusetts.

Sgt. Edward C. Hastings Mrs. Edith L. Hastings, (Mother)
Route Number One
Kernersville, North Carolina.

Sgt. Joseph C. Croushore Mrs. Mary A. Sisley, (Mother)
Fayette City, Pennsylvania.


AAF 201 - (9953) Wilds, Robert H., Jr.

December 22, 1944.

Mr. Robert Henry Wilds,
Aiken, South Carolina.

Dear Mr. Wilds:

I am writing you with reference to your son, Second Lieutenant Robert H. Wilds, Jr., who was reported by The Adjutant General as missing in action over Yugoslavia since November 21st.

Further information has been received indicating that Lieutenant Wilds was a crew member of a B-24 (Liberator) bomber which departed from Italy on a combat mission to Yugoslavia on November 21st. The report indicates that during this mission at about 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 the 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.

Due to necessity for military security, it is regretted that the names of those who were in the plan and the names and addresses of their next of kin may not be furnished at the present time.

Please be assured that a continuing search by land, sea, and air is being made to discover the whereabouts of our missing personnel. As our armies advance over enemy occupied territory, special troops are assigned to this task, and all agencies of our government and allies frequently send in details which aid us in bringing additional information to you.

Very sincerely,
E A Bradunas

Major, Air Corps,
Chief, Notification Branch,
Personal Affairs Division,
Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Personnel

[Letter from Katherine de B. Parsons, one of Eleanor P. Wilds' closest friends, unmarried, and about the same age. She lived in Aiken, but also had a home in New York]


29 Dec 44

Dear Harry

I was stunned yesterday when I received El's letter & heard the news that Bob was missing.

There is little I can say that will ease the anxiety & heartache but I want you to know that I am thinking of you & feeling for you.

So many boys I know have landed safely – even though reported missing.

I do hope & pray that you will soon hear good news of Bob – and that 1945 will bring Peace & the safe return home of those we love.

With best wishes
Katherine & A.P.


Saturday – Dec. 30th 1944.

Dr. Robert H. Wilds –

My dear Doctor –

By way of introduction, I am the father of Jerold E., who was the Pilot on the plane with your son known to me as "Oscar" tho I do not think that was his name.

We received our bad news by way of telephone on Dec 7th. The navigators folks got theirs on the 9th. I am in communication with them and we have an arrangement to immediately transmit any news we may receive.

I did not have your address but in again going thru the old letters from Jerry. I did find some. This accounts for my not writing sooner.

I have some snap photo of "Oscar" in a group picture and then a shot of him in the cock pit taken in Italy. Should you want them I will gladly send them on.

Thru a friend on the General Staff at Washington I may receive a message about our Boys sooner than thru regular channels. If and when I do I will promptly notify you.

I'm very I can only enter the New Year by fervently praying with you that Our Boys may be spared.

Yours very truly,
S. Rubinton

Miss Josephine C. Darin
1543 So 80th St
Milwaukee 14 Wis

Feb 9 / 1945

Mr. Robert Henry Wilds Sr
Aiken, South Carolina

Dear Mr Wilds

I am S/Sgt Joseph A Darin's sister. He is in your son's crew, along with the missing. So far we have had no news from Joe himself have you heard from your son, 2nd Lt Robert Wilds

Gee I hope someone hear's soon if I should hear from Joe I will write to you at once. Joe and I were always very close So I'll be [illegible] to hear from him I am sure of that Good Luck God Bless you all.

And the h. with the Japs.

Miss Josephine Davis.

Jo C Darin
1543 So 80th St
West Allis 14, Wis

March 8 1945

Dear Mrs. Wilds

Got your letter to day. Thanks a lot and I will write to you as soon as I hear from some one about the boys.

I got a address of a boy who went to school with my brother Joe in Flight school. And he is in Italy at the Base. So I wrote to him yesterday. I hope there is something he can find out for me over there. And that will take all of about 4 or 5 weeks. But as soon as I hear I will write to you. Air Mail will always mean good news from me Mrs. Wilds.

Well I am on my way to work I am a war worker in a machine shop in Milwaukee Wisconsin.

Thanks Loads.
Sincerely Yours


In Reply Refer To 314041

May 28, 1945

Mr. Robert H. Wilds
Aiken, South Carolina

Dear Mr. Wilds:

I am inclosing a check for $5.05 representing fund of your son, Second Lieutenant Robert H. Wilds, Jr.

No other property belonging to him has been received at the Army Effects Bureau to date.

My action in forwarding these funds does not, of itself, vest title in you. The money is transmitted in order that you may safely keep it on behalf of the owner, pending his return. In the event he later is reported as a casualty, the funds should be distributed according to the laws of the state of his legal residence. I sincerely hope that such distribution will not be necessary.

Please acknowledge receipt of the check by signing one copy of this letter in the space provided below and returning that copy to this Bureau. For your convenience, there is inclosed an addressed envelope which needs no postage.

All War Department agencies have instructions to forward the personal effects of military personnel to this Bureau for disposition. Money, as a rule, is converted to a check and sent, by mail, in advance of other property. Any of his property received here will be forwarded promptly. Therefore, I ask that you please notify this Bureau in the event of a change in your address.

Yours very truly,
[unsigned copy]

1st Lt. Q.M.C.
Asst. Chief, Admin. Division

Incls– 2

Receipt acknowledged:

R.H. Wilds, MD
(Signature of Bailee)


Eff. QM Form 201 (8 May 45)

Kernersville NC
June 5, 1945

Dear Mrs Wilds.

I have been wondering if you have heard anything of your boy. It has been over six months since our boys was reportered [sic] missing. It looks like we should have heard something by now. I would like to hear from you. I havent received my boys personal things yet. have you? I am still hoping and praying that they will be found some time I just cant give up. If you should happen to come through our town I would like for you to come to see me or call me up my telephone no. is 7F22 Kernersvill NC.

I am hoping to hear something soon.
Very Sincerely Yours,
Mrs C. D. Hastings
R.I. Kernersville NC

August 11, 1945

Dear Dr. and Mrs. Wilds,

I find it in my heart to send you a note today to ask if any further word has been heard of your son, although, I know I should have heard from you if there had been any change.

I still pray that he and the others missing in action may still be alive to share the joy of peace so near to us now. It is a joy tempered with the sadness of the loss of those who brought about this peace. If he is dead he died for those he loved. We know that when the realities of life and death faced him he handled them better than we would have. It will always be my bitter defeat that I was unable to bring happiness to the sadness of his life. But I like to think that those days in the Air Corps brought him the happiness that self assurance and self respect bring a man.

I have started a new life now and I have found someone else with whom I hope to have all the things I dreamed for with Bob – but never got. Bob tried, which was what made it so heart breaking, he tried, but couldn't. Some men are not made for marriage.

I have several of his possessions which I know you or Julia would like to have and I will send them to you as soon as I can get the time to go to New York, unpack them and ship them to you. But it may be several months – maybe not until I am discharged.

I trust that Louis had his leave and is now back on duty somewhere. I'm glad for his wife and for you that his may all be over soon.

My very best wishes to you both,

[This letter appears to have been written to Bob's widow Irene, but addressed to his home in Aiken, SC. General Arnold's staff may have been confused by the similar names of Bob's ex-wife and his mother.]


December 4, 1945

My dear Mrs. Wilds:

With greatest regret I have learned that an official determination has been made of the death of your husband, First Lieutenant Robert Henry Wilds, Jr., who has been missing in action since November 21, 1944, in Europe.

My attention has been called to the praiseworthy training record attained by Lieutenant Wilds at Columbus Army Air Field, and to the capable manner in which he fulfilled his assignments as a pilot. He was a responsible officer and could be relied upon to perform his duties in accordance with the high standards of this command. Comrades feel that this organization has lost a loyal airman, and your sadness is shared by the host of friends he had won.

It is my hope that the memory of your courageous husband's contribution to our cause will give you lasting solace and pride. My heartfelt sympathy is offered to you and other members of the family.

Very sincerely,

H H Arnold
Commanding General, Army Air Forces.

Mrs. Robert H. Wilds, Jr.
Aiken, South Carolina

December 31, 1945

Dear Dr. Wilds,

I am enclosing some letters sent to me and the forwarding to you under separate cover the Purple Heart awarded to Bob. I thought you would like to have them.

I hope you all have a happy New Year. I'm going out to Los Angeles pretty soon to see how I like that part of the country.

Best wishes to all of you,




April 23rd [1946]

Dear Harry,

As [illegible] is still in the Navy, his copy of the "Phillips Bulletin" came here last evening and both Grace and I were deeply shocked to read of Bob's loss in the B24 in Nov. 1944. This was the first we had known of his tragic loss and I am sending these few lines on this very late date to convey to you and to Eleanor our love and deepest sympathy. I am sure that those of us who had sons in the service, (and we had 3, two of whom were overseas), are able to appreciate deeply what a few sons death means to you all and especially as we had seen so much of Bob when he was on the Cape and had known him so well. Words at any time Harry, are small comfort but we both wanted you to know how we feel for you.

We hope some day, you will be coming here to the Cape, and until then, with love for you both in which Grace joins,

Faithfully yours,
J. W. Horner.

J. E. ROGERS, District Manager
1518 Walnut Street Building

September 30, 1946

Mrs. Robert H. Wilds
Aiken, South Carolina

Dear Mrs. Wilds: –

Our Company is going to print a Memorial Honor Rool [sic] Book as a permanent record of all of those who left Procter & Gamble for the Service, and those who gave their lives in World War II. It will be a handsome book, printed by one of America's leading printers, and will be given to all veterans and all other Company personnel.

Naturally, we want to make this service record as complete as possible, and it is a tremendous job – collecting and organizing several thousand photographs and service records in an indexed book form. The value of the finished book depends entirely upon the cooperation we receive.

I know that Bob's friends would appreciate very much having him included in this book, and would appreciate your filling in the attached questionnaire as completely as possible.

We should also like to have you send a head-and-shoulders photograph of him, preferably in uniform, and carefully identified on the back, using a cardboard stiffener when there is any danger of the photograph being damaged in mailing. We are attaching a self-addressed envelope for returning the information as quickly as possible.

Thanking you very much for your co-operation, we remain

Yours very truly,


P.S. We will be very glad to return the photograph.


31 August 1949

Wilds, Robert H., Jr.
SN 0 825 349

Mr. Robert H. Wilds, Senior
Aiken, South Carolina

Dear Mr. Wilds:

We are desirous that you be furnished information concerning the resting place of the remains of your son, the late First Lieutenant Robert H. Wilds, Junior.

The official report of burial has been received and discloses that the remains of your son were originally buried in an isolated grave located at Kolibe Bos Brod, Yugoslavia, but were later disinterred by our American Graves Registration Personnel, properly identified, and reinterred in Plot A, Row 10, Grave 110, in the United States Military Cemetery Belgrade, located at Belgrade, Yugoslavia.

The report further indicates that these remains have now been casketed and are being held at the United States Military Cemetery Florence, Italy, pending disposition instructions from the next of kin, either for return to the United States or for permanent burial in an overseas cemetery.

There are inclosed informational pamphlets regarding the Return of World War II Dead Program, including a Disposition Form on which you may indicate your desires in this matter. Upon receipt of the properly completed form, you may be assured that the Department of the Army will attempt to comply with your instructions as indicated thereon.

In order that this office may take immediate action toward the final disposition of the remains of your son, it is urged that you complete the inclosed form, "Request for Disposition of Remains", and mail it to this office, without delay, in the inclosed self-addressed envelope which requires no postage.

May I extend my sincere sympathy in your great loss.

Sincerely yours,
W E Campbell
Lt. Colonel, QMC
Memorial Division



1st Lt. Robert H. Wilds, Jr., ASN 0 825 349
Plot A, Row 4, Grave 46
Headstone: Cross
Florence (Italy) U.S. Military Cemetery

Mr. Louis T. Wilds
Hayne Avenue
Aiken, South Carolina

Dear Mr. Wilds:

This is to inform you that the remains of your loved one have been permanently interred, as recorded above, side by side with comrades who also gave their lives for their country. Customary military funeral services were conducted over the grave at the time of burial.

After the Department of the Army has completed all final interments, the cemetery will be transferred, as authorized by Congress, to the care and supervision of the American Battle Monuments Commission. The Commission also will have the responsibility for permanent construction and beautification of the cemetery, including erection of the permanent headstone. The headstone will be inscribed with the name exactly as recorded above, the rank or rating as appropriate, organization, State, and date of death. Any inquiries relative to the type of headstone or the spelling of the name to be inscribed thereon, should be addressed to the American Battle Monuments Commission, Washington 25, D.C. Your letter should include the full name, rank, serial number, grave location, and name of the cemetery.

While interments are in progress, the cemetery will not be open to visitors. You may rest assured that this final interment was conducted with fitting dignity and solemnity and that the grave-site will be carefully and conscientiously maintained in perpetuity by the United States Government.

Sincerely yours,

H A Feldman

Major General
The Quartermaster General

Copyright © 2011 Ellen Wilds, all rights reserved. Redistribution and/or reuse terms of license. Disclaimer for this document: "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."

[The following letters were provided by Bob's widow Irene]

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 21 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

Office of the Quartermaster General
Washington 25, D.C.

In Reply Refer To
Wilds, Robert H., Jr.
SN 0 825 349

Address Reply to
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

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, 1944 ]

...... 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.

Copyright © 2011 Ellen Wilds, all rights reserved. Redistribution and/or reuse terms of license. Disclaimer for this document: "Official Letters on Robert H. Wilds, Jr. are published here with the permission of Irene Clark Wilds Tiikkanen and transcribed by Ellen S. 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."
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