War dead    | Male  Born 30/11/1919  Died 10/9/1944

William James Daley

Categories: War Memorial WW2

Countries: USA

Lieutenant Colonel William James Daley, DFC, was, according to the American Air Museum in Britain website, born on 30 November 1919 in Hemphill, Sabine County, Texas, USA. However, other sources claim that his date of birth was 19 October 1921. He was the third of the eight children of William James Daley (1881-1946) and Zola R. Daley née Roberts (1899-1975). His father was a railway conductor.

He attempted to enlist in the US Army Aviation Cadet programme in Amarillo, Texas but was rejected. He then went to the Clayton-Knight Committee and learned to fly at the 3rd British Flying Training School in Miami, Oklahoma and subsequently the Spartan College of Aeronautics at Tulsa, Oklahoma. Having nearly 200 hours of flying time, he was accepted for the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve as a Pilot Officer on 27 June 1941.

On 9 July 1941 he arrived in Glasgow, Scotland, and was sent to No.56 Operational Training Unit at Sutton Bridge, Spalding, Lincolnshire. Upon completion of his training on 1 September 1941, he was assigned to No.121 (Eagle) Squadron at RAF Debden, Saffon Walden, Essex, flying Hawker Hurricane aeroplanes, soon transferring to Supermarine Spitfires. He seldom encountered the Luftwaffe in their normal duties of convoy patrol and fighter sweeps. However, on 24 April 1942 he shared in the destruction of a Junkers JU52 aeroplane. He soon downed a Focke-Wulf Fw 190 aeroplane, and on 27 May 1942 he sank a minesweeper and destroyed another Focke-Wulf Fw 190. In June 1942 he became an acting Flight Lieutenant.

On 29 September 1942, upon transfer to the United States Army Air Force, he was promoted to Major and became Commanding Officer of 335th Fighter Squadron. In late 1942 he returned to the USA and in July 1943 he married Rosalie Cousins (1919-2003) in Amarillo, Texas. He was subsequently assigned as Deputy Commander of the Ninth Air Force, 371st Fighter-Bomber Group with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

On 9 September 1944, at Voisins-le-Bretonneux, France, he was involved in a landing accident with another pilot from the 404th Fighter Squadron. After landing successfully his Republic P-47D Thunderbolt aeroplane, serial number 42-28426, it was struck from behind while taxiing by an out of control Republic P-47D Thunderbolt aeroplane, serial number 42-26294, that was landing and he was seriously injured. He died from his wounds the next day in the 217th General Hospital at the age 24 years. He was buried in Plot B, Row 25, Grave 65 at the Epinal American Cemetery, 385 Rue de la Rondenolle, 88000 Dinozé, France.

He had eight air victories with the RAF and the 9th Air Force and was awarded both the British and the American Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with 8 oak leaf clusters (1 silver, 3 bronze), the American Campaign Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, the Purple Heart with 1 oak leaf cluster and the World War II Victory Medal.

Credit for this entry to: Andrew Behan.

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