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Obituaries

News Obituaries

David B. Dilworth, decorated veteran

David B. Dilworth, a highly decorated World War II veteran who fought at the Battle of the Bulge, died July 21 of renal failure at Oak Crest Village in Parkville. He was 90.

The son of David Burgan Dilworth, a farmer, and Florence Fitzpatrick "Flossie" Dilworth, a Black & Decker worker, David Burgan Dilworth was born in Fork and spent his early years in Harford County.

Mr. Dilworth was young when his father died and his family lost their farm during the Depression. For a time, family members said, they lived in the Harford County Almshouse before moving to Govans.

Drafted in 1943 after graduating from Polytechnic Institute, Mr. Dilworth completed his initial training at Fort Bragg, N.C., and received subsequent training at searchlight school in Verona, N.J., and at gunners school in Wilmington, N.C.

Mr. Dilworth served as a private with Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 87th and 346th Infantry Regiment in intelligence and reconnaissance. He eventually served as a member of an advance scout team in France, Belgium and Germany.

"In October 1944, we were told we were going overseas, but no mention where that might be," Mr. Dilworth wrote in an unpublished memoir of his war years. "We were not allowed to tell our parents, our mail was censored, and we were given an APO# New York."

Mr. Dilworth and his fellow soldiers shipped out in mid-October 1944 on the Queen Elizabeth, landing in Scotland after a five day trans-Atlantic crossing from New York.

In late November, Mr. Dilworth and his division left Southampton, England, and sailed aboard a landing ship tank in a convoy across the English Channel to Le Havre, France. A week later, they moved to Metz, France, and on Dec. 8, 1944, moved into the Saar River valley.

"We camped on a hillside just west of the Saar River. We all put up our tents not knowing what the night would bring," he wrote.

The next morning, in the cold and rain, they moved out and headed to Gros-Rederching, a small village in northeastern France.

"On the way into this close combat area, we passed soldiers of the 26th Division that we were relieving. As we passed them, some with bandages, we heard all sorts of comments such as 'You poor bastards,' " Mr. Dilworth wrote. "Going into the combat area was all together different than I expected."

His squad's first encounter with German forces occurred when their company commander was killed and Mr. Dilworth and his squad was ordered to retrieve the captain's body and return it and his personal effects to headquarters.

"He was a young 24-year-old, 6'-6'' tall former football player and gung ho," he wrote, adding that his squad "stood among numerous dead American soldiers with their weapons that were all armed."

They were able to retrieve the body.

"On Christmas Eve 1944, our squad cut a small pine and decorated it with odds and ends, and then we were told we were moving out" to Nancy, France, he wrote.

After attending Mass on Christmas Day, Mr. Dilworth wrote that there had been a "serious breakthrough Northwest of us in Belgium and that we would be going there to help drive the Germans out of Belgium."

Deep in the snows of the Ardennes during the Battle of the Bulge, he recalled leading a patrol on New Year's Eve that was to listen for any German activity.

"At midnight that night," he recalled, "we heard hundreds of aircraft overhead headed for German targets and the noise of bombs dropping and exploding in the distance."

Mr. Dilworth was promoted to squad leader. In February 1945, while on patrol near the German border, one of his men, Alphonse Lopez, was wounded beneath the left shoulder during enemy shelling.

As the shelling intensified, Mr. Dilworth and another squad member attempted to carry out the wounded soldier on a makeshift stretcher when it broke.

"I don't have any idea where I got the strength, but when the stretcher broke, I threw my rifle to my buddy and I picked up Lopez, hung him over my shoulder, and carried him to the barbed wire fence and dropped him over the fence," where he waited until a Red Cross jeep could retrieve the wounded soldier.

For his action in saving his fellow soldier, whom he carried for more than a mile, and risking his own life during heavy enemy fire, Mr. Dilworth was awarded the Silver Star. His comrade recovered from his wounds.

Later during the war, he was awarded the Bronze Star for his actions that led to the capture of a large number of German soldiers.

"He also recounted being part of an artillery spotting team that knocked a statue of Kaiser Wilhelm from its pedestal near the confluence of the Rhine and Mosel rivers near Koblenz," said a son, Mark B. Dilworth of Forest Hill.

After the war, Mr. Dilworth worked as a shipfitter at Bethlehem Steel Corp.'s Sparrows Point shipyard, a sign painter and a floor installer.

For more than 30 years, he produced mechanical drawings for Strescon Industries in Baltimore, which later became Old Castle Concrete. He retired in 2001.

The former longtime Forest Hill resident, who later lived in Fallston for 15 years, was an accomplished woodworker who enjoyed making furniture. He fashioned the altar at the old St. Mark's Roman Catholic Church in Fallston that was later moved to another location.

He liked playing golf, traveling, and spending time at a second home in Ocean City.

His wife of 19 years, the former Mary Mildred "Millie" Byrne, died in 1966.

Mr. Dilworth was a communicant of St. Mark Roman Catholic Church, 2407 Laurel Brook Road, Fallston, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at noon Saturday.

In addition to his son, Mr. Dilworth is survived by his wife of 46 years, the former Mary Yvonne Crook; another son, David P. Dilworth of Sparks; a sister, Roberta Dilworth "Bertsie" Bleinberger of Annapolis; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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