Wesley T. Holstlaw was born on April 9, 1912 in Illinois. He was the son of Daniel Ernest Holstlaw and Mary R. Holstlaw. Wesley served in the 9th Squadron, 63rd Troop Carrier Group as a Staff Sergeant and was the Engineer of the C-47 #43-30719 aircraft during World War II. On December 16, 1943, at 10:30 pm, the plane departed from Port Lyautey in French Morocco bound for RAF Station St. Eval in southwest England. The nine-and-half hour path took them mostly over open water, including the Bay of Biscay, where German aircraft frequently patrolled; as a result, Allied planes operated under strict radio silence. Prior to reaching this airspace, the C-47 was scheduled to change course at the halfway point near Cape Finisterre in northern Spain. But for reasons never fully explained, 43-30719 headed due north for Ireland and directly into the eye of a brutal winter storm.
At approximately 7:00 am on a cold, dark morning, the crew found themselves above County Kerry – home of the highest summits in the country. Lt. Scharf presumably dropped altitude in search of recognizable landmarks, unaware that they were flying dangerously low in an area of 3,000 ft. peaks. Heading southwards direction, the C-47 slammed into a north-facing ridge. All men were killed in the crash. The crew members were interred in the Lisnabreeny Former American Military Cemetery in England. The cemetery closed in 1948 and their remains were exhumed and transferred. SSGT Holstlaw is buried now in the Iuka Cemetery, Iuka, Marion County, Illinois, USA.
Source of information: www.findagrave.com, irishamerica.com
Source of photo: ww2irishaviation.com