The First WWII American Ace Pilot Earned The Title Before America Officially Entered The War

 December 16, 2021

At the beginning of World War II, much of America did not want to get involved in the conflict. However, some young American men went to Canada to join their military and fight.

Fighting For Canada

William Dunn was one of the young men who crossed the border and became the first ace of World War II. Dunn was an infantryman with the U.S. Army in 1934. However, he was honorably discharged in 1935. As things got hairier in Europe, he joined the Canadian Army in 1939.

By 1940, Dunn was already a Sgt. Maj. and became a RAF's No. 71 Eagle Squadron member. The Eagles were three RAF squadrons comprised of volunteers from the United States.

Since the RAF had lower requirements for age, visions, and education than the U.S. Army Air Corps, many Americans joined. He quickly began racking up kills. He reached four, one away from ace in his Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire Mark II.

German Messerschmitt Bf 109s jumped the No. 71 Squadron while accompanying British Blenheim bombers over the channel to France. A dogfight began, and a bullet hit Dunn's skull.

Becoming An Ace

Dunn also had gunshot wounds on his right calf and foot, partially severed. He continued to fight, shooting down an enemy plane and achieving ace.

Four Bf 109s attacked Dunn, and he limped back to England, barely making it. After landing at Hawkinge airfield, he was transported to the hospital.

Unfortunately, American Gregory Daymond was named the first American ace while Dunn was hospitalized. However, that was incorrect and eventually was corrected, but it took many years.

After Dunn left the hospital, he was an instructor for the Royal Canadian Air Force before going into the U.S. Army Air Force on June 15, 1943. No. 71 Squadron became the 334th Fighter Squadron in the AAF.

Record Corrected

Dunn's organization helped correct the record and recognized him as the first American ace of WWII. In 1965, the National Museum of the United States Air Force asked for memorabilia and artifacts.

Dunn had everything. He turned over his RAF uniform, photos, and his logbook.

“Dunn was very organized. He kept a detailed record of all his [flights] in his logbook, and that’s what really helped him get recognized as the true first American ace of World War II.”

Capt. Timothy Anderson, 334th FS director of staff

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4 comments on “The First WWII American Ace Pilot Earned The Title Before America Officially Entered The War”

  1. Excellent article and indicative of American Soldiers of the "Greatest Generation" during WWII, even if he attained the recognition in service for Canada. Helped them out then came back home to help U. S. forces.
    Thanks to Meg Swinney for working up this great article.

  2. So how were the men who helped Canada and Britain possibly traitors? Isn't that was the byline "American Ace Pilot Switched Teams - Traitor Or Hero?" asks?

    Was it that they opposed the Nazis? In both WW 1 & 2, Americans fought against the Germans while America dithered. Maybe the real traitors were those communists in the FDR administration. Maybe the real traitors were our leaders who were Chamberlains and refused to address the risks early on. Maybe our traitors were virulent racist leaders who forged egregiously unfair treaties. Just maybe, it was as today, the progressives, socialists, and communists who were the traitors.

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