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!