Author Roundtable: Memories of Those Who Served in WWI

On November 11, 1918, Germany signed an armistice agreement with the Allies that ended World War I. That means that this Sunday, it will be 100 years since the end of the Great War. We asked our authors to share the stories of family members who served to commemorate the centennial.

For more stories, be sure to take a look at the Imperial War Museum’s website and the tribute video they have there.

“My great-grandfather, Ernest Richardson, was a POW in World War I. He was in the army and stationed out of St. Nazaire in France. When the war was over, he returned home to Georgia and became a sharecropper before marrying my great-grandmother. One of the mementos of his time in the war is a matchbook cover made from a soup can and engraved by a fellow prisoner to commemorate the war and his role in it.”—Kristi Ann Hunter, author of A Defense of Honor


“My great-grandfather, Homer Crownover, was drafted off his Oklahoma farm into WWI in early 1918, when he was twenty-three years old. He arrived in France in September of that year just as the war was winding down. Thus, he didn’t see any action. He returned home, was honorably discharged, and married in April of 1919. The wedding band he gave his bride, Mary, is the one I wear on my ring finger to this day. Nine months after their wedding, Homer and Mary welcomed their first child—my grandmother. He was a wonderful man! Mellow, quiet, kind. He once worked a full day splitting wood in order to buy my grandmother a coat.”—Becky Wade, author of Falling for You


“My maternal grandfather, Robert. B. Gerdts, was attending Washington & Jefferson College when his course work was interrupted because of the war. He entered service in the United States Army Air Force and was discharged after the war with the rank of Lieutenant. He then finished his degree at Washington & Jefferson and began studying law at the University of Pittsburgh, receiving his law degree in 1921. I don’t recall any stories about his time in the war, although I distinctly remember a picture of him, which I can’t find, where he’s standing in front of the biplane he flew, goggles on his head and wearing a leather bomber jacket. I think the reason I don’t know any stories is because, unfortunately, in 1934, when my mother was only four, he contracted a blood infection from a small cut on his head and was dead within a week. Penicillin was released to the public the next year, which would have saved his life, a circumstance I find tragic to this day.”—Jen Turano, author of Caught by Surprise


“My grandfather Joe worked at a bank in Milwaukee in 1917 when he and his brother John both volunteered for the draft. My grandfather got the lucky draw: he ended up serving as a typist in a North Carolina army training camp, but John went to France where he was badly gassed and sent back home. John recovered, but was never quite the same either physically or mentally. Joe looked after John the rest of his life, considering it a small price to pay.”—Elizabeth Camden, author of A Daring Venture

Do you have a WWI family story to share? Tell us in the comments!

2 thoughts on “Author Roundtable: Memories of Those Who Served in WWI

  1. When the U.S.A. implimented the draft for WW1, they set it up with certain parameters. A major one was that if you were the sole income earner for your family, then you wouldn’t be drafted. You had to go to a Draft Office with proof, then you were supposed to be removed from the draft role.

    My Grandpa Elry Jones, was a young farmer, supporting his Mom, & 2 younger sisters. He went in & proved that to the Draft Board, right after the Draft was implimented in 1917. But somehow, his name did not get taken off the Draft Roll, as it was supposed to. My Granddad was informed he’d been drafted in October of 1918. This shocked him, to say the least.

    He was sowing his winter wheat, right then. He’d been weather delayed until then. So hw didn’t have the time, to go to the Draft Office, which was a 2 day trip away using his horses & wagon. But he made trip there, again bringing his proof too. Turns out it was some kind of Burocratic mix up. But he was told he’d have to report to Basic Training anyway, until they could get it all straightened up.

    He was very angry at what he was going to have to do. But after much prayer on his trip home, he resolved to do as he was told. When he got home, the whole family went to their neighbors & begged them to come help my Grandfather finish sowing his winter wheat before he had to leave. All the neighbors came & helped my Grandpa, he was able to get a week’s worth of plowing/sowing done in 2 days.

    As he was preparing to leave home, news of the Armistice swept the nation on 11/11/1918. I’m sharing this story, because yes my Grandpa was drafted, when he shouldn’t have been. But the war ended, before he had to enter the Army. Also to show that the Government workers in 1918-1918 made mistakes, that took a lot of time & effort to resolve…..just like they do today!

  2. I don’t remember any directly with WWI. My mother was born in China in 1917 to missionary parents. I know they must have been impacted. But my grandfather and his brother were traded back and forth by the Japanese during the Boxer Rebellion.
    Lots of relatives served in WWII. I guess I’ll have to do more research.

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