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Archive Report: US Forces
1941 - 1945

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.

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86th Fighter Group
86th Fighter Bomber group Apache A-36A 42-83976 Fl/Off. Gossett T-190429

Operation: Tactical Support

Date: 27th September 1943

Unit: No. 86th Fighter Bomber group. 12th Air Force.

Type: Apache A-36A

Serial: 42-83976

Base: USAAF base at Sele, Italy.

Location: Mount Accellica, Italy

Pilot: Fl/Off. Dewey L. Gossett T-190429 USAAF Age 23. Missing


We are pleased to place details as supplied by Matteo Pierro of the Association Salerno 1943 to us in November 2014. Any further details please pass these onto us in order that we can update these researchers with their fine research. Please support them by clicking onto link in credits section.


REASON FOR LOSS:

After more than 71 years the remains of Dewey L. Gossett will  have a decent burial. Researchers from the Italian Association Salerno 1943 in collaboration with the government department Protezione Civile of the city of Acerno, identified some remains that may belong to the American aviator crashed on Mount Accellica September 27th, 1943.

It's been since long time that the volunteers of "Salerno 1943"  identified the spot where the A-36 of Gossett fell; The volunteers were contacted by Joshua Frank, Italy's agent of DPMO, the office of Department Of Defense of United States For Prisoners of War And Missing in action. 

Joshua asked the members of the association to do everything possible to identify the burial of the remains of the unfortunate aviator Gossett can be returned to family members in the United States. The members, who have already collaborated on other occasions with the DPMO , swiftly becoming their representative for the south of Italy, were promptly put to work by checking if they could find around the  point of impact a burial, without being able to locate any evidence. Obviously, the first civilians on the scene, probably in the spring of 1944, they found only the wreckage of the aircraft and they could not find the remains of the unfortunate aviator who probably had been torn apart by the wild animals living in the forest.

This made the search much more complicated. The President of Salerno, 1943, Luigi Fortunato says: "It is not possible through the metal detectors at our disposal to find the bones. When we found human remains, as was the case for the 4 soldiers (2 Germans and 2 British) that we found around the Battlefield of Operation Avalanche, it has been possible thanks to the fact that the soldiers were carrying metal objects like ammunition, accoutrements, etc. We then continued to explore the area of the crash, paying attention to any metal object. 

Above and below, just a small selection of pieces recovered by the group. The problem now is a positive identification of the pilot.

Our focus has been  in the area where on previous occasions we had found the metal elements of the parachute and  the flight uniform. At one point near a metal buckle that was used to support the harness of the parachute appeared small bone fragments and then what appeared to be part of a human jaw. We therefore interrupted the research and informed the military authorities. In this regard, I wish to express our appreciation for the gracious help shown by the Carabinieri in the person of Lieutenant Colonel Pasquale De Luca, Captain Giuseppe Costa and chief marshal Pasqualino Fisichella who promptly initiated the proceedings of the case. We also warned Joshua Frank as the DPMO is in contact with the granddaughter of Gossett, thanks to whom, it will be possible to start the DNA comparison. We are not doctors but the bones might be human, and if the DNA investigation will prove that they are, they for sure belong to Dewey because they were among the fragments of the aircraft in an inaccessible and difficult to access area, not usually frequented by people.

              

L-R: Daniele Gioiello, Luigi Fortunato,Italo Cappetta e Aniello Sansone

I want especially thanks to our friends that help us for this hard research: Aniello Sansone, Italo Cappetta , Pietro Di Martino, Daniele Gioiello, Pierpaolo Irpino, Valerio Lai, Rosalino Margagnoni, Matteo Pierro e Matteo Ragone”.

Dewey L. Gossett, was born on 28 February 1920 at Arcadia in South Carolina by William Cleveland and Sarah Hughes Gossett. At the outbreak of World War II he enlisted in American aviation  and was later assigned to the 86th Fighter Group which fought in Italy. On September 11, 1943 he participated in the attack in Troina during the Sicilian campaign. The Airplane he piloted was an A-36, nicknamed Apache or Invader, a dive bomber, ground-attack version of the P-51 Mustang but far more vulnerable. His aircraft was hit by a bullet in the anti-aircraft tail plane and Dewey managed thanks to a big effort, to return safely to base. A photo taken on his return portrays the damage and was being used by the Newspapers and being titled "Take it and come back safely" 

Gossett's A-36 was not so lucky on September 27, 1943. His squadron was taken off from the airport that the Americans had built at the mouth of the river Sele in the days immediately following the landing. The task of the day was to provide tactical support to US forces who pursued the retreating Germans to the north along the streets of Irpinia. Nearby Acerno, the Air squadron Leader  realised to be too close to the cliffs of Mount Accellica that were partially hidden by low clouds and then ordered his men to gain altitude. Once they passed the clouds they  realised they had no sight of Dewey. For some time they flew over the area, but they could not get a visual of his aircraft. In the meantime the rain started to fall heavily and they could not continue the search.

Volunteers of Salerno 1943 hope their discovery could finally allow Gossett's family members to to have a tomb in which to remember their loved one. Their hope is that USA authorities can investigate crash site to find other remains of unlucky airman.

Burial details: 

None - yet. Commemorated on various memorials - including the USAAF Cambridge Cemetery, England. Once remains are identified - a proper burial will be taking place thanks to our friends in Italy, Matteo Pierro of the Association Salerno 1943.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Matteo Pierro of the Association Salerno 1943.

Acknowledgments: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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Last Modified: 10 November 2014, 20:30