Arthur Dale Starkey, sometimes referred to as Archie, was born on 4 October 1916, in Mount Vernon, Illinois. His parents were Clyde W. and Lola Bell Yearwood Starkey. When Arthur was born, his parents had been married for 10 years and already had a son Leroy and two daughters—Mildred and Helen. Arthur’s father, Clyde, was born in Indiana while Arthur’s mother was born in Jefferson county, Illinois. After their marriage, Clyde and his wife Lola seemed to live for some time in Rochelle and in Mount Vernon, Illinois. But they eventually settled in Peru, Illinois, prior to 1918. In Peru, Clyde worked as a machinist at the National Sheet Metal Company.
When Arthur was born, his four grandparents were still alive. But of all of them, he was most likely closest to his paternal grandmother since she and his grandfather, George Starkey, moved to Peru along with their son Ezra and his family prior to 1920. Arthur probably didn’t remember his grandfather though because when Arthur was only 3, his paternal grandfather George Starkey passed away on 16 May 1920, at age 70. Arthur’s maternal grandparents seemed to remain in Mount Vernon for their entire lives. As Mount Vernon would have been a four-and-a-half-hour drive from Peru, Arthur may not have been able to visit with them much.
Growing up, Arthur attended the public grade school in Peru and spent Freshman year at LaSalle-Peru Township High School. During his teenage years, the country was going through a depression and many young men and women quit high school to begin working to help support their family. Perhaps this was why Arthur left high school and by 1935 was working as a clerk. Three years later he was working at Westclox, a local clock factory.
During this same time, his two older sisters married. Mildred married Terrence Brooker about 1930, and Helen married George O’Byrne on 7 October 1933, in Rockford. Sometime before 1940, Arthur’s older brother LeRoy also married.
In 1940, Arthur was still working at Westclox and living with his parents at 417 Peoria street in Peru. His sister Mildred was also living there with her husband Terrence and their three children. Later that year both he and his brother Leroy registered for the draft on 16 October 1940. At the time Arthur was 5 feet 9 ½ inches tall weighting 140 pounds with hazel eyes and brown hair.
In the summer of 1942, Arthur left Westclox to study aeronautics at the Vogel Flying school. However, Arthur must have been flying prior to this. In December 1941, an article in the local paper noted that he and three other pilots from the area had been allowed to start flying again after a temporary grounding of private flights due to the start of war with Japan. In August 1942, Arthur enlisted in the Air Corps Reserves and according to a local article “was assigned to New Leckrone Field, Salem, to study as an army instructor.”
Eventually Arthur was moved to Cape Girardeau, Missouri, to teach and then was made Flight Officer with the Army Transport Command. He traveled to Dallas, Texas, to wait for an overseas assignment. On his 28th birthday—4 October 1944—Arthur wrote his parents to let them know he was in Maine and part of a crew of a C-47 transport plane. A few days later Arthur was piloting Flight 42-48778 with four other crew members and two passengers. They took off from Dow Field in Bangor, Maine, and were scheduled to fly to Prestwick, Scotland. On October 9th after stopping and taking off again from Meeks Field in Iceland, a distress call from the plane was received. Reports indicated F/O Arthur Starkey as pilot may have had to ditch the plane at sea southeast of Iceland possibly due to exhaustion of their fuel supply.
The day after the flight went missing a dinghy carrying one person was sighted in the area, but weather prevented any chance of rescue. Eventually after weeks of searching for the missing plane and crew, the decision was made to declare a date of death of 26 October 1944, for the crew. Their deaths were considered non-battle but in line of duty. Following is a list of men who also perished on that flight:
- 2nd Lt. Walter Nowicki, O-713811, Co-pilot
- 2nd Lt. John J. Wilson, O-797112, Navigator
- F/O Edward A Rowan, T133468, Passenger/Copilot
- M/Sgt. Clyal W. Gilbert, 6823579, Engineer
- PFC Donald T. Bindley, 16186394, Radio Operator
- PVT Carl B. Bradley, 36856195, Passenger/Radio Operator
Arthur’s parents received a telegram in November informing them that their son was considered to have died in October in the European area. He was memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing in Cambridge American Cemetery. For his service, F/O Arthur Starkey earned the World War II Victory medal, the American Campaign Medal, the Army Good conduct Medal, and the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign medal.
This story is part of the Stories Behind the Stars project (see www.storiesbehindthestars.org). This is a national effort of volunteers to write the stories of all 421,000+ of the US WWII fallen saved on Together We Served and Fold3. Can you help write these stories? These stories will be accessible via smartphone app at any war memorial or cemetery.
If you noticed anything erroneous in this profile or have additional information to contribute to it, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
SBTS Historian: Pam Broviak
You can also access this story at the following sites:
1880 U.S. Census, Geo. M. Starkey, Ancestry.
1920 U.S. Census, Clyde W. Starkey, Ancestry.
1920 U.S. Census, George M. Starkey, Ancestry.
1930 U.S. Census, Clyde W. Starkey, Ancestry.
1930 U.S. Census, Samuel Yearwood, Ancestry.
1940 U.S. Census, Bill Linsinby, Ancestry.
1940 U.S. Census, Clyde W. Starkey, Ancestry.
“Indiana Marriages, 1811–2019,” Gibson, 1906–190 Vol. 2, Starkey to Earwood, 1906, FamilySearch.
Indiana, U.S., Birth Certificates, 1907-1944, LeRoy Starkey, 1908, Ancestry.
U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995, LaSalle, 1935, p. 211, Ancestry.
U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995, LaSalle, 1938, p. 208, Ancestry.
U.S., Newspapers.com Marriage Index, 1800s-current, Midred M. Starkey to Terrence Brooker, Ancestry.
“U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” Clyde Washington Starkey, Ancestry.
U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947, Arthur Dale Starkey, Ancestry.
U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, Clyde Washington Starkey, Ancestry.
U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947, LeRoy Starkey, Ancestry.
U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942, Clyde W. Starkey, Ancestry.
Illinois, U.S., Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947, George Starkey, Ancestry.
“Art Starkey Listed as War Fatality,” DePue Leader, 14 November 1944, p. 1, NewspaperArchive.
“Four Local Pilots are Reinstated,” DePue Leader, 19 December 1941, p. 1, NewspaperArchive.
Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs) of the U.S. Army Air Forces, 1942-1947, Report 8911, Fold3.