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Did a World War II plane crash near Masonboro Church in 1944?

Cece Nunn
Dauntless Dive Bomber

The Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bomber. (From the website http://www.boeing.com/history/mdc/dauntless.htm)

An Army airplane crashed on Masonboro Island in 1944, said Emerson Willard, 89, a Wilmington resident.

Willard, an aviator in the Navy during World War II, saw the crash as he was standing outside a seafood restaurant on Whiskey Creek. The plane was what those in the Navy called a Douglas Dauntless dive bomber, Willard said.

“After this crash, another person and myself took a little boat and went over there, but the army had already flown in with a small plane and evacuated one of the pilots. I think the other man they took out by boat. But one of them died in the crash,” Willard said. “They used to have gunnery practice over there [around Masonboro Island] quite a lot. I don’t know whether many people even know about that at this point, but they did.”

Willard is quoted about the accident on page 81 of the book, “A Sentimental Journey: Memoirs of a Wartime Boomtown” by historian, author and Wilmington resident Wilbur D. Jones Jr. In a section on Wilmington’s Bluethenthal Army Air Base, the local army-controlled airport, Jones writes, “By my count at least 21 planes crashed and 14 pilots died” in and near Wilmington during World War II.

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6 Responses to “ Did a World War II plane crash near Masonboro Church in 1944?”

  1. On May 22, 2011 at 11:29 pm colin wrote:

    I found part of a propeller and other airplane parts in my yard. My neighbor also found serial plates and pieces of a R2800 in his yard in Dawning Creek. Just dig in your yard and you’ll find history here.

  2. On May 22, 2011 at 11:37 pm Terry Upton wrote:

    We were clearing brush on our property off Masonboro Sound Rd and found landing gear from a C46 plane. It was buried under about 12inches of soil and weeds. My cousin who lives next door pulled pieces of aluminum from the same type aircraft. Our houses are apprx 400ft apart. Must have been alot of wartime activity

  3. On May 23, 2011 at 10:53 am frank wrote:

    About 20years ago we were fishing in a area called BigBay and got our anchor snagged on something. When we pulled it up it was the tail section of a P-38. It was too heavy to put in the boat so we got it unsnagged and left it in the water.

  4. On May 25, 2011 at 11:44 pm harold wrote:

    I was stationed here in 1943 and helped rescue a pilot of a fighter called a P 40 warhawk that went down around silver lake rd area. the pilot was ok just shook up. I want to know if anyone ever heard of the german submarine that fired at the Dow plant near carolina beach. We returned fire on it from fort fisher coastal artillery. check into that

  5. On May 26, 2011 at 10:06 am Jim Ware wrote:

    You can read more about the Ethyl-Dow Plant and reports of a submarine attack here: http://www.myreporter.com/?p=1280

  6. On June 3, 2011 at 10:46 am Kurt Girillo wrote:

    Today, I went to the beachfront with my children. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is totally off topic but I had to tell someone!

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