IN HONOR OF MEMORIAL DAY: WILLIAM HENRY SOMERS - A YOUNG WWI SOLDIER'S STORY
|William Henry Somers|
By Angela Somers-Wittman
My grandfather entered the Army at the young age of 23 years. He had been born in Tuckerman, Arkansas in 1894 and spent his childhood on the family farm in Stringtown, Butler County, Missouri. He was the oldest child of Henry Francis and Cotna Lisbeth (Cole) Somers.
One can only imagine the feelings of excitement mixed with loneliness for family and loved ones he felt as he left his small hometown for military service in Europe. But Grandfather was already a man, one who had matured at a young age when his father was killed in a work accident. He knew how to shoot, hunt for food and possessed a good amount of common sense. He was used to rough conditions and hard work from the years spent on the family farm. Little did he know when he joined the Army and was sent to the frontline of the conflict in Europe that those skills would prove to be valuable and help save his life.
After being deployed to France with the US Armed Forces and engaging in heavy fighting, William became separated from his platoon and was listed as MIA. It was presumed he had been killed and his body unidentified; but the Hand of Providence preserved my grandfather's life. William found himself behind enemy lines and took refuge in a barn. He was eventually discovered by a farmer and while grandfather must have thought he would be turned over to the Germans as a prisoner of war, the farmer instead put William in the safe care of the French Resistance. He was eventually reunited with the American Forces, but not until after his mother had suffered much grief thinking her son had more than likely been killed in action.
Grandfather received an Honorable Discharge at the end of the war, returned to Butler County, Missouri and began his civilian life with marriage to my grandmother, Lillian Mae Weaver; together they had 12 children and many grandchildren to carry on his legacy. Grandfather passed away at age 81 years of age and grandmother’s death soon followed.
William Henry Somers was truly a hero and will always be remembered by his loved ones. He was a tough man, but I think we would all agree that he had a tender heart toward his loved ones which he fought to defend, along with his country.
May the good Lord preserve Grandfather’s memory and may we honor him by living lives that would meet his approval. In Lord Jesus Name I pray, amen.
“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12 KJV
For more on the Somers family history, please visit my blog Tracing Our Christian Heritage. Thank you!