Parent Asks Hull to Save Flier Doomed by Rebels
By The United Press - CHAMPAIGN, Ill. 3 Sept. 1937 — A mother whose aviator son, Harold E. Dahl, reportedly has been doomed to die by Gen. Francisco Franco's insurgent forces in Spain, has appealed to Secretary of State Cordell Hull to intercede for his release.
Captured in July
Married to Singer
State Department May Not Intervene
WASHINGTON, 3 Sept. 1937 – (UP) – State Department officials instructed Ambassador Claude Bowers and American consuls in Spain to investigate reports that Harold Dahl, Champaign, Ill., had been condemned to death following his capture by the Rebels.
Ambassador Hopeful Of Saving Aviator
SAINT JEAN DE LUZ, Franco-Spanish Frontier, 3 Sept. 1937 (UP) — United States Ambassador Claude G. Bowers said that he was "most optimistic" over the chances of saving the life of Harold E. (Whitey) Dahl, young American sentenced to death by Spanish Insurgents.
SPAIN'S PRISONERS TO BE FREE SOON
SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain, 16 Aug. 1939 - (AP) - Plans for freeing more than a score of American prisoners of the Spanish civil war, including Harold (Whitey) Dahl, aviator captured by the nationalists in 1937, have advanced to the point of working on a schedule for their release. However, no dates have yet been fixed.
Edith Dahl Returns; Seeks Aid For Flier
Hitler Won't Get Picture
Camp Borden, September 23, 1940 - (Staff) - The
Dahls held a family reunion here tonight when Edith Rogers Dahl
paid a flying visit to the Royal Canadian Air Force camp and served
notice on her sergeant-pilot husband that she isn't carrying around
any autographed pictures of herself, just in case "Whitey"
should some day fall into the hands of Hitler and a peace offering
might be needed.
Belleville, Ont, 2 Aug. 1941 - (UP) - Harold (Whitey) Dahl, American flier of fortune, who was under sentence of death in Spain in 1937, was not married to Actress Edith Rogers, the woman who obtained his release from an insurgent prison, it was revealed today.
Dahl, who flew for the Spanish Republic during the Spanish civil war, was married to Eleanor Roblin Bone here on July 26, according to Rev. W. J. Walker, of St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, who performed the ceremony.
"I know about the Spanish incident," Rev. Walker said, "but according to the information given me by Dahl, and shown on the marriage certificate, he was not previously married."
The flyer, who joined the Royal Canadian Air Force last year, and now holds the rank of Flying Officer, was forced to bail out of his machine while fighting against Franco's air force in Spain. He was captured and sentenced to death, but later released after blonde Edith Rogers wrote to General Franco and pleaded for his life. The generalissimo acceded to her request and permitted Dahl to return to the U. S. in March 1940.
Dahl is the son of the late M. J. Dahl, of Urbana, ILL.
Urbana, ILL. Aug. 2 (UP) — Mrs. C. W. Harmison, mother of Flier Harold (Whitey) Dahl said tonight that so far as she knew her son and Dancer Edith Rogers Dahl were married. She added, however, that she heard from neither in recent months.
Belleville, August 3, 1941- (CP) - Edith Rogers, the
blond actress who saved Flier Harold (Whitey) Dahl, now a member of the
Royal Canadian Air Force, from a Spanish Nationalist firing squad in 1937,
was never married to the airman, it was learned here yesterday when news
of his marriage, July 26, to Eleanor Bone, was disclosed.
When Dahl was in prison in Spain awaiting execution at the hands of the Nationalists for the part he had taken in the Spanish Civil War, Miss Rogers, posing as his wife, sent repeated pleas to General Francisco France to spare her "husband's" life. Dahl was finally released Feb. 22, 1940.
At the time of his release, Miss Rogers was appearing in a Philadelphia night club under the billing "She Stopped the Firing Squad."
Rev. W.J. Walker, who conducted the marriage ceremonies of Dahl and Miss Bone here a week ago Saturday, said today that Dahl had not been married previously. “I knew about the Spanish affair and understand it was a publicity hoax," he said.
"I would never have been able to get permission of the R.C.A.F. to marry Miss Bone if I had been married before," Dahl said. "I was done a very big favor by Miss Rogers and I'm very grateful for it.”
Dahl's bride also said that Dahl had not been married to Miss Rogers. "He was in danger of being shot and there would have been no way out had she not impressed General Franco with her picture," she said.
"My husband liked this girl very much," she added, "and Miss Rogers sent her picture to General Franco and pleaded for his life with the best of intentions. But the affair built up into such a story that neither of them cared to say anything about it while he was in Spain, or perhaps he would have been shot because of the hoax.”
"When he came back to New York, he decided not to say that they weren't married. He thought he would appear a sort of rotter. People would have said: ‘Well, that's a fine thing. A woman saves a man's life, and then he makes it awkward for her, in that way."'
Dahl, who is 31, is the son of the late M.J. Dahl of Urbana, Ill., came to Canada in June, 1940, to join the Royal Canadian Air Force as a sergeant-pilot. He is now a flying officer, stationed at Trenton Air Station. He was in the United Stares Army Air Force from 1931 to 1936, later flying in Mexico and then in the Spanish campaign.
Edith Rogers came to Canada during a vaudeville tour last year and visited Dahl at Camp Borden, where he was then stationed. She told reporters then that she did not think that Hitler would be taken in by the "female nonsense" that had influenced Franco. Dahl's bride is the daughter of Jamieson Bone, former Mayor of Belleville, Dahl has returned to his post at Trenton following a brief honeymoon.
On the plea of blonde, admirably curved Edith Rogers Dahl, Generalissimo Francisco Franco four years ago reprieved her check-bouncing, pilot-of-fortune husband, Harold ("Whitey") Dahl, from the death sentence passed on him for flying for the Loyalists. Overcome by her tear-jerking letter, her eye-filling photo, the General wrote her promising to spare her husband, signed his letter with the polite Spanish Q.b.s.p.—"who kisses your feet."
Last week staunchly Catholic Caudillo Franco learned to his chagrin that he had kissed an unwed foot. Dahl, now an instructor for the Royal Canadian Air Force, had married again, reporting himself unmarried.
Miss Rogers, who greeted Dahl with limited affection when he returned from Spain last year, admitted that the Mexican civil ceremony he once went through with her was, for some reason, no legal marriage.
At a Salt Lake City vaudeville house where she was billed as "The Blonde Who Spiked the Guns of General Franco's Firing Squad," Miss Rogers commented: "I knew the lid was going to blow off this thing some day. . . . I'm the best damned woman violinist in show business, and I don't need Dahl to sell a violin solo."
Dunnville, July 10, 1942 (Staff Special) Hamilton East Air Cadets, in training at number 6 Service Flying Training school RCAF at Dunnville, yesterday met flight Lieutenant H.E. ‘Whitey’ Dahl, the man who was three times court-martialed and sentenced to death by General Franco during the Civil War in Spain a few years ago and was saved from death by a letter written to Franco by an American actress.
Flew Big Aircraft
Flight Lieutenant Dahl, now stationed at the Central Flying School of the RCAF, at Trenton, arrived at Dunnville on official business yesterday flying a big plane of the type the lads had not previously seen. Grouped about this officer, the young cadets asked all kinds of questions, not about his aircraft but about his own harrowing experiences. This is the story that he told:
In 1936 he was technical adviser on the purchase of aircraft for the Spanish Republican government in Mexico. Sent to Spain, he was soon in the air fighting. He had seven months in the air and during that time was officially credited with shooting down five planes. He shot down four others but their destruction was not confirmed. On July 12, 1937 he tore a wing off his plane and was forced to bail out. He landed between the fighting lines and was taken captive by a party of Moors who turned him over to Franco. He spent the next five months in solitary confinement in an old convent, there being no sanitary arrangements of any kind in his cell. Then he got his first court-martial together with four Spaniards and two Russians. All seven were sentenced to be shot. The sentence of the court was carried out on the four Spaniards with the Russians later being exchanged. A young American actress Miss Edith Rogers, of Seattle, then visiting in France, heard of Dahl’s plight and wrote a letter to General Franco in which she claimed to be Dahl’s wife. Copies of the letter were given to the press and were played up to such an extent throughout the world that Franco ordered a new trial for Dahl. Again he was sentenced to the firing squad, but his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. A third trial was ordered and once more the sentence of death was passed. By this time the United States State Department was active and managed to secure his release on February 22, 1940. Returning home through Morocco in Africa, he landed in New York on March 17. Then he came to Canada to join the RCAF and was enlisted in September, 1940. Promotion has been fast and he now holds the rank of Flight Lieutenant at the Central Flying School, in Trenton.
There are exactly 100 young Hamilton cadets in the group at Dunnville and they have had “the time of their lives” during this week. So far as they are concerned, no favors are asked or given by station officers and personnel. They have attended lectures on meteorology, navigation, armament, aerial photography, signals, etc., and have been given every opportunity to see the inside workings of the RCAF from every angle. While not allowed to have flights, they have been taken to the flying fields and shown every phase of aircraft work. The link trainer provided one great thrill and the Browning gun, which they were allowed to fire, gave another. In maintenance flight they were allowed to watch mechanics stripping down and repairing aircraft and motors. Drill was held every morning as well as physical exercise. Sports were arranged and this evening a field meet is being held for them at which medals and prizes will be awarded.
Officers of the station from Wing Commander V.H. Patriarch down our loud in their praise of the way the lads have conducted themselves and the very keen interest they have shown in everything. Squadron leader J.V. Sorsoleil, chief ground instructor, is in charge of their training. Cadet Flight Lieutenant T.M. Thompson and cadets FO. John Sloan are the Cadet officers in charge. On Saturday afternoon, at the invitation of Dunnville Lions club, the cadets, headed by their own trumpet band, will parade through Dunnville streets.
This morning they lined up with the station personnel for the commanding officers weekly inspection and on Saturday morning they will have an inspection of their own by the OC.
Their days schedule during the week was; up at 6:30, PT at 6:45, breakfast 7:30, cleanup and wash up to 8:30. Then from 8:30 to 9, drill. From 9 to 12 was taken up by lectures and instruction. Following the dinner hour, they spent afternoons at lectures and instructions, the period from 3 to 5:30 being given to Link trainer after air crew were through for the day.
-- A FEW YEARS LATER --
Montreal, January 8, 1945 - (CP) - A court-martial will
open here January 15 to judge Sqdn. Ldr. Harold (Whitey) Dahl, RCAF, on
undisclosed charges arising out of investigations in Canada, the United
States and Brazil, it was learned today. The court will be presided over
by Group Capt. M.P. Fraser.
Sqdn. Ldr. Dahl, who came to Canada in June, 1940, from Urbana, Ill., to join the RCAF, had previously fought with the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War. Captured by the Spanish Fascists in 1937, he was saved from a firing squad when Edith Rogers, a vaudeville player, posed as his wife and sent her photograph to Gen. Francisco Franco. He was finally released from his Spanish jail in February, 1940.
The hoax played by Miss Rogers and Dahl on Franco was disclosed when, on July 26, 1941, he married Eleanor Bone of Belleville, Ont.
Prior to his fighting with the Spanish Republican Air Force, Dahl had been in the United States Army Air Force from 1931 to 1936. He also did some flying in Mexico.
Montreal, January 15, 1945 - (CP) - Sqdn.-Ldr. Harold (Whitey) Dahl, who has served in the air forces of four countries and who once was saved from a Spanish firing squad by the picture of a New York vaudeville performer, today faced a Canadian court-martial on undisclosed charges. The charges —to be made public after they are read at the opening of the court-martial—arose out of investigations in Canada, Brazil and the United States.
Adjourn to Brazil
The inquiry is being conducted by the R.C.A.F., the service to which Dahl is attached although he has been operating with the R.A.F. Transport Command. After preliminary evidence is taken at Dorval airport, it is expected the court will adjourn to Brazil and then to the United States.
Squadron-Ldr. Dahl, who came to Canada in 1940 from Urbana, Illinois, to join the R.C.A.F., fought with the Loyalists in the Spanish civil war. Shot down by General Franco's forces, he was court-martialed and sentenced to be shot but was saved when Edith Rogers sent her picture to Franco with a plea that he spare Dahl's life.
Miss Rogers told Franco in her appeal that she was Dahl's wife, and the hoax was not revealed until the following year when he married Eleanor Bone, of Belleville, Ont., following his entry into the R.C.A.F. Franco stayed the execution as a result of the appeal and eventually Dahl was released after Miss Rogers had appealed to the U.S. state department.
His flying experience in Spain was not the first for Dahl. Before he went to Spain he had served with the United States Army Air Force from 1931 to 1936 after doing some flying in Mexico.
Squadron-Ldr. Dahl was stationed as an instructor in Canada after entry into the R.C.A.F., and served at Camp Borden, Ont., and Moncton, N.B., before he was posted to the R.A.F.T.C. Subsequently he was stationed at the transport command station at Belem, Brazil, where the court is expected to reconvene after completing the Dorval phase of its inquiry. Evidence will be taken at more than one place because of the distances separating various witnesses, with officials deciding that it would be better for the court to go to the witnesses than to bring all the witnesses to the court.
Group Capt. M.P. Fraser is presiding at the court-martial, and other members of the court are Wing-Cmdr. Paul G. Rodier, Wing-Cmdr. E. Labelle, Squadron-Ldr. Don Grant and Squadron-Ldr. I. Gililland. Squadron-Ldr. T. Bence is judge advocate, with Wing-Cmdr. H. Norris as waiting member. Squadron-Ldr. W. Cotton is conducting the prosecution with Wing-Cmdr. V. Lynch-Stanton as defence officer.
Montreal, January 15, 1945 - (CP) - Sqdn. Ldr. Harold
(Whitey) Dahl faced an RCAF court-martial today on 14 charges of improper
disposal of Government-owned property ranging from a vacuum cleaner to
the scrap remains of damaged aircraft.
The charges dealt mostly with alleged transactions undertaken when Dahl was officer commanding the RAF Transport Command station at Belem, Brazil, and the time of the transactions claimed by the Crown ranged from Oct. 1, 1943, to April 30, 1944.
Dahl, who has served in the United States, Spanish and Canadian Air Forces at various times since 1931, was a member of the RCAF, attached to the RAFTC, while he was stationed at Belem.
Several of the charges were alternative counts. In all, 10 different transactions were mentioned in the formal charge, most of them connected with the Brazilian Sociedale General de Exportacao Limitada, to whom the Crown claims Dahl sold various pieces of equipment without authority.
Many Items Involved
The vacuum cleaner was mentioned in the first charge, which claimed that Dahl had “improperly delivered possession" of it to an unknown person while it was "the property of the public."
Other charges dealt with the disposal of damaged aircraft, radio transmitters, an astral compass, signal cartridge pistol, emergency, life raft assemblies and a motorcycle. The value of things mentioned in the various charges was given as ranging from about $80 to about $1,500.
Dahl, who once was saved from a Spanish firing squad by the photograph of a New York vaudeville performer, sat quietly through the legal preliminaries and while each charge was read to him. He pleaded not guilty to each charge in turn.
Montreal, Jan. 16 (CP) — Indications that the Montreal
part of the court-martial of Sqdn. Ldr. Harold (whitey) Dahl would be
completed tomorrow were seen today as several witnesses gave their testimony
as to the disposition made of various pieces of equipment at Belem, Brazil—with
a vacuum cleaner and a motorcycle still drawing most attention.
Dahl is charged on 14 counts of having improperly disposed of Government property while he was officer commanding the RAF transport station at Belem. The court-martial conducted by the RCAF, the service to which Dahl belongs, will move to Belem for further hearings after evidence available here is completed.
FO. James R. England, RAF, code and cipher officer at Belem while Dahl was commanding officer, testified today that in June, 1944, he saw a reconditioned motorcycle in the scrap yard in Belem and had identified it as one which had disappeared from the RAF station some months before, after remaining on the airfield in an unserviceable condition for some time.
Saw Dahl's Signature
He said that he had identified the motorcycle definitely by its serial dumber and that he recognized Dahl's signature on a document which the Brazilian dealer had in connection with the motorcycle. The defense however, produced a statement from the dealer saying that the vehicle was in such poor shape when he got it that he had taken it apart and sold the parts separately.
England said that while at the scrap yard he had seen parts of a crashed plane and that Dahl had informed him the scrap had been given to a group of Brazilians. He said Dahl had mentioned that he had received "a nominal sum" to facilitate removal of the wrecked aircraft and that Dahl had said once that the sum was five milreis or cruzerios (about 25 cents) and later that it was $5. He testified that Dahl had not turned the nominal sum over to him, and that such should have been done as he was in charge of accounts.
England said he was under the impression that the nominal sum had been paid Dahl in order that the Brazilians could remove the crashed plane, and that Dahl was in reality giving the wreckage away without any real monetary advantage to himself.
Other witnesses during the day testified that no authority had been issued to write off the unserviceable motorcycle, nor a vacuum cleaner which was missing from the station,
Flt. Lt. K.H. Widgery, RAF Signals Officer who took over from Dahl, said that he had asked Dahl about the vacuum cleaner and that Dahl had told him he had hoped to use it to get money to provide lockers in the station barracks. He said Dahl had told him that he was trying to replace the vacuum privately but that no replacement had arrived.
Pilfering Was Common
Widgery told of visiting a Belem warehouse and finding various aircraft equipment including a transmitter, a receiver, an astral compass, signal pistols and lamps and a raft assembly. Under cross-examination by the defense he said that such equipment was not a normal part of the equipment of the station but was carried by aircraft coming into the station.
He said under further cross-examination that most of the equipment he had seen in the warehouse was new or slightly used as though it night have come from aircraft. The defense brought out testimony regarding a number of aircraft which had crashed in the vicinity during the time Dahl was officer commanding.
The defense also produced a letter from a Brazilian resident saying that Belem was "full" of parts of aircraft and that there was a good deal of pilfering from the air station. Widgery said he believed there was considerable pilfering. He said that there was no effective guard over crashed aircraft from which parts were being salvaged.
Montreal, Feb. 1, 1945 —(CP)— The court-martial
of Sqdn.-Ldr. Harold (Whitey) Dahl, famed international war flyer who
now is a member of the R.C.A.F., neared its conclusion today. It was back
at its starting point after 10,000 miles of travel, with the defence claiming
"a net has been spread for the accused with every possible thing
that he might have done made out in the charges in the hope that somewhere
he might be trapped.
Summing up the defence against 14 charges of illegal disposal of Government property, Dahl's defence officer, Wing-Cmdr. V. Lynch Staunton, claimed the flyer had been a victim of a Brazilian, junk dealer who had him sign various documents so that the dealer could avoid payment of taxes and duties on pieces of aircraft equipment which came into his possession.
Dealing with documents signed by Dahl and mentioning sums of money said to have been paid for the scrap remains of aircraft which had crashed at Belem, Brazil, the defence claimed Dahl had been urged by officers of the United States army air forces to clear the field of the crashed planes. New in command of the R.A.F. transport command station on the R.A.F. field at Belem, Dahl had approached the junk dealer solely with a view to making the best possible arrangements to get rid of the wrecks.
The dealer, the defence said, had asked for documents showing title to the salvage from the aircraft and Dahl had signed such documents, written in a foreign language, in the belief that the dealer was negotiating honestly with him. Various sums of money mentioned, it was claimed, were represented to Dahl as necessary formalities to make the proof of ownership legal, while the true purpose of the insertion of the mention of sums of money was to clear the dealer from payment of various taxes.
The prosecution replied that the court would not be able to believe that a man newly-arrived in a strange country would enter into agreement with strangers and sign documents without having a clear understanding of what he was signing.
Montreal, Feb. 1 (CP) — Sqdn. Ldr. Harold (Whitey)
Dahl, internationally known flyer, was acquitted on 10 of 14 charges by
a RCAF court martial late today, with the courts announcing that its findings
on the other four counts would be announced later.
The acquittal on a majority of the charges was announced after a three-hour period, during which the court was closed, while it considered its decision. Twice during that time, proceedings were re-opened while part of the testimony of witnesses heard at Dorval and at Belem, Brazil, was read back to members of the court martial.
Dahl, who escaped death by a Spanish firing squad in the Spanish Civil War when Edith Rogers, an American night club entertainer, sent her picture to Gen. Franco and claimed she was his wife, had been charged with improperly disposing of various pieces of Government property while he was station commander of an RAF Transport Command unit at Belem.
All of the charges, except one, on which acquittal was announced, had to do with the disposal of the remains of crashed aircraft which had been declared irreparable. The other acquittal was on a charge of disposal of an unserviceable motorcycle.
Charges on which decision will be announced later dealt with the disposal of a vacuum cleaner, a radio transmitter and receiver, an astro compass, signal lamps, and emergency life rafts.
The sum of money which the charges claimed had been paid Dahl by Brazilian merchants totaled 13,600 cruzieries (about $620) in the charges on which no decision was announced.
The findings of the court in these cases will be submitted to the Judge Advocate-General at Ottawa, and subsequently will be announced there.
Wing Cmdr. V. Lynch-Staunton, summing up the defense plea, claimed Dahl had been the victim of a Brazilian junk dealer, who had sought to avoid payment of taxes and duties on pieces of aircraft equipment which came into his possession by having Dahl sign various documents.
The defense claimed Dahl had been approached by American officers to clear the field of crashed planes and Dahl had approached the junk dealer to make the best possible arrangements to get rid of the wreckage. He had been asked to sign documents in a foreign language, while the sums of money listed in the documents had been represented as necessary to make the proof of ownership legal.
It contended that natives had stolen equipment, such as life rafts, signal lamps and radio equipment, and had sold them to the dealer who found Dahl would easily put his signature on documents without question, and had used him as a means of gaining clear title to the goods.
The prosecution replied that the court would be unable to believe that a man would enter into agreement with strangers and sign documents without having a clear understanding of what he was signing.
Montreal, Feb. 2 (CP) — Testimony that Sqdn. Ldr.
Harold (Whitey) Dahl had "a clean service record in all particulars"
was given today at a brief resumption of the court martial which tried
him on 14 charges and has already acquitted him on 10 of them.
The charges dealt with alleged improper disposal of Government equipment while the internationally known flier was station commander of an RAF Transport Command unit at Brazil.
At today's brief session, Prosecuting Officer Sqdn. Ldr. W.R. Cotton, RAF, was sworn in as a witness and testified before the RCAF court martial that Dahl had a clean service record. Today's evidence was given in connection with the four charges remaining against Dahl, on which a decision will be announced later from Ottawa.
Ottawa, April 11, 1945 - (CP) - Sqdn. Leader Harold E. (Whitey) Dahl, United States veteran of the Loyalist forces in Spain and early war recruit in the RCAF, has been convicted of four charges in connection with improper disposal of about $680 worth of aircraft equipment and other articles, and sentenced to dismissal from the air force, it was announced tonight.
Dahl, released in 1939 from a Spanish prison by Gen. Franco after an American torch singer pleaded direct to the general that whitey was her husband, had been commanding officer of a Royal Air Force Transport Command station at Belem, Brazil, where the improper disposal was alleged to have taken place.
-- A FEW MORE YEARS LATER --
By ROBERT AHIER, PARIS, 6 Dec. 1953 - (UP) - An American pilot seized for a daring airborne gold robbery admitted Wednesday he is the famed "soldier of fortune" Harold E. "Whitey" Dahl, who was saved from a Spanish Civil War firing squad when his beautiful, blond wife sent her picture to Gen. Francisco Franco.
Dahl, 44, of Sidney, ILL, was arrested here Saturday in a luxurious Ritz Hotel suite after $28,000 in gold disappeared from a Swiss airliner he had piloted from Paris to Switzerland Oct. 7. Arrested with him was a shapely former Swiss Air stewardess.
The adventurer-flier, who flew for Emperor Haile Selassie in Ethiopia and for the Spanish Loyalists in the Civil War in the 1930s, was contacted by U.S. embassy officials in Fresnes Prison, near Paris. He had been held incommunicado four days.
"Sure, look at my identity bracelet," he said. "It bore the engraving, 'Spanish Air Force 1936'."
Dahl denied any connection with the gold theft. But when he was informed that Swiss authorities were seeking his extradition to stand trial in the gold theft, he commented:
"It suits me fine if they want to try me in Geneva or anywhere."
Dahl told embassy officials he was "quite comfortable" in jail.
"You needn't bother to give me a lawyer," he said. "I've got plenty of money in London. I'm not worried."
French legal authorities have agreed to extradite Dahl to Switzerland but a formal extradition hearing must be held first.
Dahl bounced back into the news 17 years after he hired out to the Spanish Loyalist air force at a reported salary of $1,500 a month plus a $1,000 bonus for every Nationalist plane he shot down.
"Whitey" Dahl was shot down behind Spanish Nationalist lines in 1937, court-martialed by Franco's forces and sentenced to death before a firing squad.
But his platinum blond bride, singer Edith Rogers Dahl, sent Franco a letter, begging him "not to take away the only happiness I have ever known." She enclosed a close-up photograph.
Franco pardoned Dahl. When he returned to the United States his wife disclosed their Mexico City marriage had no legal standing in the United States and Dahl married another girl, Eleanor Roblin Bone, in 1941. Dahl flew for the Royal Canadian Air Force in World War II.
The vanished gold was in one of 13 cases shipped to Swiss banks by a French banking firm aboard the airliner piloted by Dahl.
Associated Press, Paris, 10 Dec. 1953 — Paris police say an American pilot arrested here last week on charges of stealing $34,285 worth of gold is the Harold E. (Whitey) Dahl, whose wife's appeal to Generalissimo Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War got him out of a death sentence.
The 44 year old Illinois-born adventurer, a pilot for Swiss Air for the past year, was accused in connection with the disappearance of 59 pounds of gold bullion from a Swiss Air plane he piloted from Paris to Geneva Oct. 5.
Paris police said last night they had been told Swiss authorities plan to ask Dahl's extradition to Switzerland for trial there, indicating Swiss and French police have agreed the alleged theft occurred in Switzerland.
French police said Dahl had been under suspicion in connection with the missing gold for some time because he had been touring European countries with a former Swiss Air Hostess, spending money on a big scale.
In Zurich, Swiss Air officials said Dahl had been dismissed shortly after the theft for "irregularities." They added that the hostess was fired about the same time.
Dahl is a native of Sidney, Ill. After his Spanish adventure, he was divorced from the wife who interceded with Franco. He married again and French authorities said his present wife and three children have been living in Zurich
PARIS, 14 Dec. 1953 - (AP) - American pilot Harold (Whitey) Dahl, jailed here in connection with the theft of $34,385 worth of gold bullion, maintained today he was innocent. He said through his lawyer that he did not even know the gold was in a Swiss plane he piloted.
Dahl's French attorney, Mrs. Louba Schirman, said Dahl believed the gold was taken from unguarded baggage rooms either at Paris or Geneva.
The cold disappeared while being shipped via Swiss Air lines between Paris and Geneva on October 6.
Geneva, Switzerland, 26 Nov. 1954 (AP) — Harold Whitey Dahl told a Swiss criminal court today large winnings at the Monte Carlo casino financed four days of high living with his girl friend at the famed gambling resort in November 1953.
Dahl, 45, an American pilot and soldier of fortune originally from Illinois, is being tried on charges of stealing gold valued at about $35,000 from a Swissair plane under his command during a Paris-Geneva flight on Oct. 6, 1953.
Dahl was arrested two months later after a Geneva taxi driver testified that Dahl carried "a heavy package" when he drove him from Geneva airport to his apartment on the day of the theft.
Dahl claimed that the package contained two bottles of cognac, which he had smuggled through the Swiss customs. On this admission, he was summarily dismissed by the airline. He was released on bail early this year while awaiting trial.
Ella Eppenberger, a former Swissair hostess, was taken into custody with Dahl. Later she was released and no charges were filed against her.
She told the court today that she spent four days in Monte Carlo with Dahl in November 1953, and that he won "a large sum" at roulette. Dahl claimed to have won about $10,000 at that time. The prosecution claimed that jewelry and other gifts he bought for Miss Eppenberger, and luxury hotel suites he occupied with her, were paid for with the proceeds of the missing gold.
A Monte Carlo police inspector told the jury of five women and one man that Dahl could not have won such a large sum without being noticed.
Geneva, Switzerland, Nov. 26, 1954 (UP) — Thirty witnesses begin their testimony before a jury of five Swiss housewives and one man today in an effort to prove that Harold (Whitey) Dahl, American soldier of fortune, stole $34,385 of gold bullion.
Dahl, a pilot who was once sentenced to death during the Spanish Civil War, has pleaded not guilty. He said huge sums of money found in his possession were won gambling and that a friend had repaid a loan of $2,600.
The gold, weighing 59½ pounds, disappeared on a Swiss air flight from Paris to Geneva on Oct. 6, 1953. Dahl and Etta Eppenberger, a former Swiss airline hostess, were arrested last Dec. 5 and extradited to Switzerland for trial.
Dahl seemed calm when he appeared here yesterday for the first time in the court room while a big crowd of spectators, mostly women, listened to the romantic tale of luxury hotels, gambling casinos, war and the flying that make up his life.
Dahl, 45, a native of Sidney, Ill., was captured and sentenced to death while flying for the Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War. His former wife interceded with Gen. Francisco Franco, sending her picture to him, and Dahl was reprieved. The State Department later won his release.
Defendant Chews Gum
Dahl chewed gum throughout yesterday's court session. He took notes on the proceedings as they were translated to him from French. His voice was loud and clear as he replied "not guilty" to the charges.
Inspector M. Fernet of the French police was the first witness against him. He termed him an "adventurer, playboy and flirt" and said the American was used to spending "enormous amounts of cash."
The inspector said when he first questioned Dahl at the Ritz Hotel in Paris the airman was spending 8,800 francs a day for a room, had 1,000,000 francs in his possession and 1,500 pounds in a London bank.
Geneva, Switzerland, 27 Nov. 1954 — Harold (Whitey) Dahl, 45-year-old American flier and soldier of fortune, was convicted today of stealing $33,000 worth of gold in order to finance a gay time with his mistress at Monte Carlo. He was sentenced to two years in prison,
Dahl was found guilty by a jury of five women and a man of taking the gold from a Swissair plane he was piloting from Paris to Geneva in October 1953.
In addition to the Jail sentence, Dahl was ordered expelled from Switzerland for 10 years and ordered to pay the costs of the trial. The three months and three weeks which Dahl spent in Jail while the case was being investigated will be deducted from the Jail term and the presiding judge said that with good behavior Dahl could be released in 13 months.
The Jury said Dahl "carried the gold from the plane and deposited it in the apartment of his mistress." The jury referred to Dahl's Swiss girl friend, Miss Ella Eppenberger, a former Swissair hostess. She was arrested with Dahl in December 1953, but later was released.
After theft of the gold was discovered, police who kept Dahl under surveillance, said the flier and Miss Eppenberger traveled to Germany. Italy, Britain and France, staying in expensive hotels, making expensive purchases and gambling heavily.
The prosecution charged Dahl used part of the gold to finance four days of high living at Monte Carlo with Miss Eppenberger. Dahl claimed he won $10,000 from the gaming tables at the famed Riviera gambling resort and used that to take the tab for their stay, Miss Eppenberger testified also that Dahl won large sums playing roulette.
Dahl has clung steadfastly to his claim that he is innocent and that the package he was seen carrying from the plane contained only two bottles of cognac.
In a faltering voice after hearing the verdict, he said.
"I am simply amazed at this example of justice in Switzerland, a country that is supposed to be famous for its justice."
It was a low ebb in the career of Dahl, who sprang into international prominence during the Spanish revolution which put Gen. Francisco Franco into power.
Dahl flew for the Republican forces but was shot down by Franco's men. He was sentenced to death, then given a reprieve. His beautiful blonde wife, through appeals to Franco, finally won a pardon for him. Dahl has since been divorced and remarried. He is said to have a wife and three children living in Canada. He is a native of Sidney, Ill.
In accord with Swiss criminal law, only a majority of the jury was needed to convict.
German Pochon, president of the court, announced the verdict, then retired with members of the jury to consider a sentence.
No Mitigating Factors
The prosecutor had asked for 2 years in prison and a stipulation that Dahl could not return to Switzerland for 10 years after that. The defense pleaded for a suspended sentence for one year. The jury announced it found no mitigating circumstances.
Judge Pochon said after the trial Dahl could be released for good behavior after serving 13 months of his sentence. "That doesn’t seem a very harsh penalty for a box of gold," the judge added.
Two unintentional slips by Dahl's young defense attorney, Roger Canonica, appeared to tell on the five Geneva housewives who served on the jury. Referring, in his final speech, to Dahl's affairs with women, Canonica said:
"Dahl has confidence in women. That is why he agreed to be judged by five women at this trial."
The jurywomen took disapprovingly to being apparently numbered among Dahl's women friends.
Makes Another Slip
Shortly afterward, Canonica recalled Dahl's explanation of evidence that he rummaged on the floor of the freight compartment during the flight,
"I was rolling up two bottles of cognac in my raincoat," Dahl had told the court.
"You will recall," Canonica told the jury, "that Dahl testified that he was rolling up his box of gold."
Canonica immediately corrected his slip of the tongue, but not before members of the jury glanced at each other and nodded.
Miss Eppenberger sat at the back of the courtroom with tears in her eyes as Dahl was taken away after being sentenced.
GENEVA, Switzerland, 4 March 1955 - (AP) - Harold "Whitey" Dahl, adventure loving American pilot, won a new trial yesterday on appeal from a conviction last November on charges of stealing $33,000 worth of gold from a Swiss passenger plane which he piloted, Dahl's attorneys alleged judicial error in the November trial, contending he should have been tried on a charge of abuse of confidence rather than theft of the gold. The Geneva Court of Appeals accepted this contention and ordered a new trial. The court's ruling will be appealed to the Federal Court of Appeals by the prosecution.
Dahl was sentenced to two years in prison and will remain there pending the ruling of the Federal Court of Appeals.
LAUSANNE, Switzerland, 21 July 1955 — The Federal Court of Appeals has granted American flyer Harold Whitey Dahl a new trial on gold-stealing charges.
Dahl, who is at liberty on bail, was convicted last year of having stolen $30,000 worth of gold from a Swiss air plane which he had piloted from Paris to Geneva.
MONTREAL, 16 Feb. 1956 - (CP) - Famed flier Whitey Dahl is missing aboard a plane that vanished Tuesday in the sub-Arctic, a spokesman for Dorval Air Transport Company said today.
The spokesman said that Dahl "came to us more than a year ago." The missing plane carried two or three other persons.
"Dahl was due for some leave and he undertook to ferry this plane out in his time off. He had no radio and the plane had recently been damaged.
"We don't know what could have gone wrong."
The spokesman said that the plane had changed ownership several times recently since it had been damaged. "It wasn't one of ours."
First reports said it was a Miami-owned DC-3.
It took off Tuesday for the 400-mile hop from Frobisher Bay, Baffin Island, to Fort Chimo, Que. The trip should have taken about 3½ hours, much of it over Hudson Strait.
Whitey Dahl Missing
MONTREAL, 18 Feb. 1956 (AP) — The end came in the snowy northern Quebec wilderness last Tuesday for Whitey Dahl, aerial soldier of fortune.
He died piloting an old beaten up DC3 on a ferrying job in his spare time. Wreckage of the plane, which carried no radio, was found yesterday.
Whitey was Harold E. Dahl, now a baldy of 47, who had survived a death sentence in the Spanish Civil War and seemingly endless aerial escapades.
A ski shod Canadian search plane spotted the wreckage yesterday and picked up one survivor and two bodies.
The survivor was identified as Eric Pearson, 42, of Miami, co-owner of the plane piloted by Dahl.
Air Force sources said the man killed with Dahl was Walt Givens, an aircraft mechanic. Also believed to be from Miami.
Monday, Feb. 27, 1956 - "...Never at a loss for work, Pilot Dahl barnstormed around South America after the war until he landed a good spot with Swissair on the run from Geneva to Paris. That lasted until one night in 1953, when Dahl was seen leaving his plane with a heavy package—and $35,000 in gold bullion was missing from the baggage hold. Whitey was found guilty, sentenced to two years in prison, but was freed pending appeal.
While waiting for the new hearing, Dahl went back to Canada and got a job with a Quebec bush airline, flying supplies to the Arctic radar sites. At Frobisher Bay on Baffin Island last week, the owner of a beat-up DC-3 propositioned him to ferry the plane with two passengers to the mainland. The aircraft had no operational radio equipment, but it was flyable—and bush pilots earn their extra dollars by taking risks. Dahl took the job and was only minutes away from his destination when the old bucket gave up the battle and went down in the Quebec wilderness. One man survived the crash [due, no doubt, to Dahl's skill as a pilot], but Whitey Dahl, all luck spent at last, was found dead at the controls."
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On these pages I use Hugh Halliday's extensive research which includes info from numerous sources, newspaper articles via the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation (CMCC) as well as other sources both published and private