WILLIAM (BILL) J. DALLAS
Patriot, Chapter 1919
Air Force, WWII, Europe, POW
William J. Dallas was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma in 1922. He was called into
active duty in 1940 and then transferred to the Army Air Corps in 1942. He
went through flight training and after receiving his wings as an Army
Aviator Bill was assigned to the 303rd
Bomb Group (Heavy). The 303rd
Group flew B-17 “flying fortress” bombers and it was one of the early
arriving bombardment groups sent to England and assigned to the 8th
On March 26, 1944, the 303rd
Bomb Group sent 20 aircraft on a bombing mission over occupied France. That
was the 128th
combat mission for the group; they were to attack an Operation “Crossbow”
target, that being a special missile launching site that the Germans had
built at Wizernes, France in the Pas de Calais area.
Second Lieutenant Bill Dallas was co-pilot of aircraft #42-31929 in the
Bomb Squadron. That was the
plane, “Tennessee Hillbilly,”
commanded by pilot 1st
Lt. Charles W. Mars, and it would be the only plane lost during that
20-plane bombing mission. They went in at 21,000 feet and Bill Dallas’ plane
took several FLAK hits between the Initial Point (IP) and the target during
the bomb run. Eyewitnesses
reported during debriefings after the mission,
“The B-17 was hit just a few
seconds before “bombs away,” it peeled off to the right, passing under the
formation, and went into a shallow glide… Seven parachutes were seen to have
opened before the plane nosed down in a half-spin, made a three-quarter
turn, then exploded in mid-air about ten kilometers northeast of St. Omer.
Then an eighth parachute came out and opened after the blast. Although
aircraft parts were all around it the canopy did not appear to have been
Bill Dallas described what happened to
PATRIOT BULLETIN this way,
“We were nearly through
(the bomb run) when suddenly hit
by large caliber FLAK. A burst in front of the aircraft wounded me in the
arm and leg.
It also severed a
finger from the pilot (1Lt. Mars) whose hand was on the throttle when the
throttle assembly was hit. That same burst also wounded the Navigator in the
nose of the aircraft. The B-17 also sustained damage from other hits in the
rear and middle of the plane. Engines were on fire on both the left and
right wings when the crew bailed out just before the aircraft blew up in the
Although eyewitnesses observed a total of eight parachutes, nine airmen had
survived the loss of the
“Tennessee Hillbilly,” those being 1LT Charles Mars, 2LT William
Dallas, 2LT George Avanites, T/Sgt Conrad Kersch, S/Sgt Raymond Foster,
S/Sgt Eddie McGinnis, S/Sgt Charles Dunlap Jr., S/Sgt Albert Senechal, S/Sgt
Delbert Nivens and S/Sgt Vincent Angione. All of them were in this
accompanying photo that was taken two months earlier of Lt Mars’ crew of
T/Sgt Conrad Kersch alone among the crew successfully evaded capture. The
others, including 2LT Dallas, were taken prisoner by the Germans and they
spent the remainder of the war as POWs.
Bill described some of his experiences,
“I looked really beat up when
processed in and photographed as a Stalag prisoner. That was the beginning
of more than a year as a POW.
As the Soviet troops were nearing the Stalag at the end of the war, our
guards pulled out the day before they arrived and abandoned the camp. The
Gestapo office files had been left intact and I secured my file and photo.
The prisoners were milling around, uncertain what to do next.
Many of the men determined to wait where we were, others did not
trust the Russian Army to get us back into U.S. custody. I determined not to
wait, and with one other man started out walking west in the hope of running
into American or British troops.
We were on the road for days, but I don’t recall exactly how long it took
for us to pass through the Soviet controlled area. We encountered Russian
eyed us suspiciously, but fortunately none of them made any move to detain
us and we just kept going. We were easily recognizable as Americans and I do
remember being given food along the way by German civilians. That was
extraordinary generosity coming from people who didn’t have enough for
themselves and who were facing a far more uncertain future than we were at
the time. In one of the towns we passed through we were approached by
several very frightened girls asking us to protect them from Russian
soldiers. We agreed to this appeal to our gallantry, but unwisely so as it
turned out, because some soldiers came by almost immediately after that and
started to forcibly take the girls into a house. When I made a move to
intervene one of the Russian troops turned and pointed his automatic weapon
(a Soviet model that looked like a Thompson sub-machine gun) at my belly. He
didn’t say a word, but he didn’t need to. We beat it out of there, hustled
on out of town and continued on our way. That was the closest call we
experienced before eventually reaching safety.”
After returning to U.S. control and back for duty, Bill Dallas remained in
the Air Force and he continued on flying status. He served as pilot of
Search and Rescue aircraft and retired with the rank of Major at Carswell
Air Force Base at Fort Worth, Texas on November 30, 1960.
Upon retirement he enrolled at Texas A&M University and earned a Civil
Engineering degree in 1964. He then entered into a second career as an
engineer with the Texas Highway administration and retired there after 20
He was a member of the United Christian Church in Austin and he joined the
Military Order of the Purple Heart as a life member shortly after Chapter
1919 was chartered. Bill Dallas passed away at age 85 on April 25, 2008,
being survived by: a sister, Mary Smith; his wife, Allyne and their four
children, Suzanne, Cathy, Ric and Carye; four grandchildren, Diana, Sylvia,
Stephen and Ashlye; three great-grandchildren, numerous other relatives; and
a host of friends. This month,
PATRIOT BULLETIN renders reverent salute to the memory of Patriot William
“Bill” J. Dallas.
Charles. W. Mars And Crew, 427th Bomb Squadron
1944, Aircraft 42785
(L-R) Pilot 1Lt Charles W. Mars, Co-Pilot 2Lt William J. Dallas,
Navigator 2Lt James G. Clark Jr., 2Lt. Charles W. Webster.
Back Row (L-R) Engineer S/Sgt. A. Pappas, Waist Gunner Sgt. C.H.
Lunde, Radio Sgt. Eddie Mcginnis, Asst. Armorer Sgt Petrowski,
Tail Gunner Sgt. Chas W. Dunlap, Waist Gunner Sgt. Albert J.
Substitute Crewmen On Mission 26 March 1944.
Navigator 2Lt. George Arvanites, Gunner T/Sgt Conrad
J. Kersch, Waist Gunner S/Sgt. Delbert S. Nivens, Engineer
S/Sgt. Raymond L. Foster, Tail Gunner S/Sgt. Vincent A. Angione.
After Parachuting From The “Tennessee Hillbilly, T/Sgt. Conrad
J. Kersch Evaded Capture Working With The French Underground.
1Lt. Mars, 2lt Dallas, 2Lt. Arvanites, S/Sgt. Foster, S/Sgt.
Mcginnis, S/Sgt. Dunlap, S/Sgt. Senechal, S/Sgt. Nivens And
S/Sgt. Angione Were All Captured By The Enemy And Held Prisoner