F/O ARCHIE F. (SONNY) DANIELS MEMORIAL PROJECT
The following article, reproduced here as printed, was published in a local paper following Archie's death:
LANDING CRASH CAUSED DEATH OF HILLSBORO PILOT
LEARN DETAILS IN FATAL ACCIDENT OF SONNY DANIELS
Details of the death of Flight Officer Arch F. "Sonny" Daniels, 23, who was killed in England on February 11, were received today by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Arch "Monte" Daniels of Hillsboro, in a letter from Miss Dorothy Hesketh of Newtown, Wigan, Lancastershire, England. Miss Hesketh and Flight Officer Daniels were to have been married on March 1.
As was previously published, Flight Officer Daniels was pilot of a Thunderbolt fighter plane of which the pilot is sole occupant with the Eighth American Air Force stationed in England, and he had numerous missions over enemy territory to his credit. He was known by the flight officers of his squadron and other friends as "Danny" Daniels.
Burial near Cambridge
In her letter Miss Hesketh said in part:
"On Saturday morning the 12th of February I received a telegram from Maj. Gilbert, the squadron commander, telling me that Danny had been killed on Friday afternoon. I immediately called him and learned that Danny was to be buried in the American Military cemetery near Cambridge and I obtained permission to go to his fighter station. The American Army Chaplain who was to have assisted in our wedding, took me there.
I went to the camp and found out just what happened. Maj. Gilbert said I could write this because the American authorities are not permitted to send details.
His plane in trouble
"Danny was going out on a mission. He had trouble with his plane, just what the difficulty was, they will never know, because the flyers, while on a mission, are not permitted to break radio communication silence. Danny didn't break the silence - instead he broke formation and flew toward a fighter station to make an emergency belly landing. He must have had to put his plane down before he reached the 'drome. The ground had an uneven incline and he crashed. There was a dispatch rider, who dashed straight over, but Danny was dead when he got there. The impact killed him instantly, that I do know is the truth. He could have known nothing [at] all about it, because from his plane, the ground would appear level and he apparently thought that he would be able to put his plane down without trouble. There was an official investigation Saturday morning but no more than I have told you was revealed.
What his 'C. O.' said
"The commanding officer and the boys of Danny's squadron were all very kind to me. They took me to the pilots' room where the squadron is briefed before missions and they told me of their fondness for Danny. The flight commander told me that Danny was a great favorite with others of the squadron and to use his own words he said "Dorothy, you should be proud of him, he was a damn fine pilot, one of the best, he loved flying and he was doing a good job and doing it well!" You have had other letters from Danny mentioning Eddie, his room-mate. I think of all the boys in the squadron, Eddie is going to miss Danny the most. Because Danny did look after Eddie and Eddie said to me: "I don't know who is going to look after me now that Danny is gone!"
Hillsboro Friend At Funeral
"The flight commander asked me if I knew of any of Danny's friends stationed elsewhere whom they could bring over for the funeral and I told them of Lt. Raymond Clotfelter of Hillsboro, one of Danny's best friends. He was present for the funeral which was held Tuesday afternoon at 3 o'clock. Danny was buried in full funeral.
The American Cemetery
"The American Cemetery is a new one just about two miles outside of Cambridge and there are only a few graves in it. It is set in what must be one of the loveliest spots in England. It is surrounded on three sides by trees and it is on a small hillside, facing a clear uninterrupted view of a lovely valley of the River Cam, and away over on the other side, the hills rise again to the sky. The afternoon was cold, clear and brilliantly sunny.
Mass Squadron Funeral
"It was a mass squadron funeral, and there were other boys from the squadrons and other stations buried there at the same time. The chaplains representing each boy stood before the caskets, each of which was draped with the Stars and Stripes. The men from the squadron were lined up in military formation with the firing party at their head. The squadron commander, Eddie, Ray Clotfelter and a number of other pilots from Danny's squadron were there. The officer in charge of the cemetery permitted me to stand before Danny's casket. Each of the chaplains stepped forward in turn, said prayers and read a verse from the New Testament, then the firing squad fired three volleys and the buglar stepped forward before the whole assembly and sounded taps. Just as we were leaving the grave, two Thunderbolts flew over and dipped their wings over Danny's grave. I wanted to take a picture of the grave for you, but military regulations would not permit it. At the end of the war when the regulations are removed, I will be able to do that for you. I was not permitted to have flowers on the grave because of a military funeral, but I arranged to have flowers placed there the next day from you folks and from me. Chaplain Plumley, who took me to the funeral has arranged with the chaplain of Danny's squadron to put flowers on the grave regularly for you and me.
Danny's commanding officer told me his personal belongings and his log book are to be sent to you.
I hope the knowledge that he was happy, that he loved you all deeply with a very special corner of his heart reserved for you, will...
Unfortunately, at this point the copy of the newspaper article is cut short.
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