Monday, February 20, 2017

Willis Hembre Wilson Obituary

This news clipping is part of a private collection.  It is in a photo album that belonged to Helen Spencer Barnum McCoy Carson (maiden name Wilson)  This is a direct transcription of the obituary for Willis Hembre Wilson.  It will be followed with a photo and some more information.  I don't know the paper it was taken from, since it is only a clipping from the news paper.  My gg grandmother subscribed to the Redondo Reflex, so it may be from the Redondo Reflex.    

Saturday, March 20, 1
Willis H. Wilson,
Redondo, Killed
In North Africa

Another Redondo Beach family
felt the grim hand of war today
with the announcement that
Willis Hembree Wilson, 27, son
of Mr. and Mrs. Robert H. Wil-
son, 214 South Helberta, was
killed at sea while in the line of
duty.  Wilson was a member of
the U.S. salvage forces in African
    His death came as a great shock
for he was widely known through-
out the entire South Bay district.
Most of his life was spent in this
area, while he also attended the
local grammar schools and Re-
dondo Union High School.
    According to a government
cablegram to the Wilson family,
death came on March 10.
    Wilson joined the salvage serv-
ice after being rejected by the
army, navy, and marine corps be-
cause of defective eyesight. He
volunteered his services in the
most hazardous corps of them all
and then gave his life doing even
more than his country asked of
    His twin sister, Mrs. Winnie
Freeman, has left for New York
to meet her husband, who is slated
to return soon from the African
According to family, Willis H. Wilson was serving in So. Africa with Dobbin Freeman, his brother in law.  This article seems to corroborate that.  It was Dobbin's opinion that Willis was murdered.  My grandmother Willis's neice said she was told his body was found hidden under a boat.

On I found a document titled Reports of Deaths of Americans Citizens Abroad, 1835 - 1974.   Below is portions of the document excerpted.
Source, and citation information will be at the very bottom of this post.

Dated April 10, 1943, from James Orr Denby, American Consul, at Cape Town South Africa, on the subject of Transmitting the Report of Death of Willis Hembre Wilson, American Seaman.

Willis Hembre Wilson   Occupation: Oiler
of 214 S. Helberta Avenue, Redondo Beach, Califonia
Date of Death: Unkown - Presumed Feb 26, 1943
Place of Death: Victoria Basin, Cape Town Harbor, Cape Town, South Africa

Cause of Death: Unofficially stated to be "accidental drowning"
Buried:  March 12, 1943 in Grave No. 97048C.  Woltemade Cemetery, No 4, Cape Town South Africa.

Local law as to disinterring remains: In case of death from other than infectious disease, local authorities refuse permission to disinter before expiration of two years.

Disposition of the effects:  Returned to Johnson, Drake and Piper Inc.;  86 Trinity Place, New York City

Informed by Telegram
Johnson, Drake, and Piper, employer
Orpha Wilson, mother

Remarks:  Mr. Wilson disappeared  Feb 26, 1943, and his body was discovered in Victoria Basin March 10, 1943 no evidence suggesting foul play was discovered, and it was presumed by the authorities to have been the result of an accident.

*****I called Pacific Crest in Redondo Beach, and asked if he was interred beneath his head stone.  He is, but his body finally arrived in 1949.  I have no idea if his employer, the government, of my gg grandparents paid for those expenses.*****
Title: Transcription / image of  Willis H. Wilson, Redondo, Killed in North Africa unidentified newspaper clipping, and image of photo of Willis H. Wilson
Transcriber / photographer: Heather Wells

The original sources of images shown here are part of a private family collection in Redondo Beach.  Please consult me before reproducing / publishing any of the images published here.

Title: Deaths of American Citizens Abroad, 1835 - 1974
Publisher: operations Inc.
Publisher Date: 2010
Publisher Location: Provo, Utah

Detail: National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.;General Records of the Department of State; Record Group: RG59-Entry 205; Box Number 1156; Box Description 1940 - 1944 British South Africa D - Z

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