2Lt Dorrance A White

2Lt Dorrance A White

Birth
Death 8 Jul 1944 (aged 22–23)
At Sea
Burial Florence, Città Metropolitana di Firenze, Toscana, Italy
Plot Tablets of the Missing at Florence American Cemetery
Memorial ID 56367349 · View Source
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Son of Arnold and Merlyn (Bartlett) White

At the time of his death, Dorrance was a Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Forces, 514th Bomber Squadron, 376th Bomber Group, Heavy

In his memoirs, Arnold White recalled how he and Merlyn learned of Dorrance's sacrifice:

From a Brazilian air field, headed for Morocco, all through the long dark hours of the night, the B-24 Liberator bomber flew alone by dead reckoning and the stars, with a crew of ten young men, only boys a few years ago. Their gas load did not allow for miscalculation or wind drift. They had already had a rendezvous with death when they flew in to Trinidad from West Palm Beach, finding a fog shrouded field and not enough gas left to circle and get their bearings. They landed down in that soup squarely on target! We learned the details of that trip from the ball turret gunner who had volunteered for other missions so was not aboard our son's plane on the day of the crash.

Soon letters from Italy which had been coming with reasonable regularity stopped coming. Perhaps they were transferred and letters could not get through as before, we thought. But as the days pass the suspense became ominous.

Then on July 26, three days from the anniversary of our marriage, a man in Western Union uniform met me out on the front lawn. Handing me an envelope, he hastened to assure me. "It is not the worst" he said. "MISSING OVER THE ADRIATIC, NORTH OF VIESTE" the telegram read.

The following day a letter from the wife of the pilot of our Dorrance's plane quoted from the bombardier naming each one he was sure was dead, including his pal "Whitie". The bombardier did not know what happened. He said there were two explosions and that he was holding on to a oxygen bottle, keeping afloat until an English coastal channel amphibian plane rescued him. He wrote from a hospital.

That fateful day, bound on a double mission to both the Ploesti Oil Fields and a target in Austria, the crew was assigned to a plane other than their reliable "Little Lulu" (the name blazoned on the body of the plane) which had brought them safely to their base in Italy and already carried them on several bombing missions.

We learned that Dorrance's plane in the lead of a V formation had suddenly lost momentum and altitude. Another plane ploughed into it and nineteen men went down into a watery grave. The last words of the engineer to the bombardier had been "Please do not smoke sir, we are transferring gas."

There was lovely Connie Hill whom Dorrance passed when at a USO, then turned back and asked if she would like to dance. Would she? He gave her the diamond but they did not marry. Who could tell if either of them would return from this Hell they were heading into. She was in training to become RMI/c in the Waves. We phoned her in Jacksonville as soon as we received the telegram.

It was like having a hunk cut out of one's being, the dreadful realization that our glorious lad wold never return. Neither of us or his sisters carried our grief in evidence before others. Life must go on and who were we, any different from other millions who have suffered a cruel stab of fate!

His 1936 green Ford coupe sat on blocks in the back yard awaiting his return. In the garage he had carefully stored his skis, snow shoes, skates, hunting rifle and canoe. I recall vividly standing one day in the garage surrounded by his possessions holding Merlyn tight against the terrible hurt. From a flood of tears that came from way down deep in the core of her life she cried, "If he is not coming back I don't want to go on living". But she did.

By the middle of January the war department officially laid to rest any possible hope we might have entertained.


Inscription

2 LT 514 BOMB SQ 376 BOMB GP(H) MASS

Gravesite Details Entered the service from Massachusetts.

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  • Maintained by: AuntieJ
  • Originally Created by: CWGC/ABMC
  • Added: 7 Aug 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 56367349
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for 2Lt Dorrance A White (1921–8 Jul 1944), Find A Grave Memorial no. 56367349, citing Florence American Cemetery and Memorial, Florence, Città Metropolitana di Firenze, Toscana, Italy ; Maintained by AuntieJ (contributor 47536069) .