Here’s a little something for Memorial Day. Our name at the Forsyth County Public Library might be the North Carolina Room, but we are an international operation.
Many already know that there are thousands of US soldiers buried in dozens of overseas cemeteries. What they might not know is that almost all of those graves have been adopted by thankful local citizens, who see to it that they are neatly maintained and frequently visited. Next Monday, there will be almost as many Europeans visiting American graves in Europe as there will be Americans visiting American graves in the USA.
Over the years, we have helped many of those folks by supplying pictures and information about their adopted heroes. A couple of years ago, I did a blog post on one of them, Bill Simmons, a Reynolds High School graduate who was so eager to fight the Nazis that long before Pearl Harbor he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and by his 21st birthday was the aircraft commander of a Wellington bomber flying missions over Germany. See his story here: https://northcarolinaroom.wordpress.com/2014/06/07/the-last-flight-of-stirling-oj-h/
This week we got a request for information from Stan Derkx, who works at Frissen International Transport and as a volunteer firefighter in Berg en Terblijt, the Netherlands, who has just adopted the grave of Glenn Elmer Williams, who died liberating that village on September 19, 1944. Glenn is buried, along with about 7,800 other US GIs, at the Henri-Chapelle US Cemetery, about 20 miles from Berg en Terblijt, just across the Belgian border. Stan sent us a pic of himself, his wife Kim, their son Ticho (age 10) and daughter Lena (age 6) at Glenn’s grave in Belgium:
Today I found them some basic stuff from census and other records. Glenn was born in Guilford County in 1918, but before his second birthday, his family was living on Urban Street on the south side of Winston-Salem. By 1940, Glenn was working at RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company as a sub-foreman. In March, 1941, he was drafted into the US Army along with 78 other young men from Forsyth County. He wound up being assigned to the 117th Infantry Regiment of the 30th Division (Old Hickory), the division that won World War I by breaking the German Hindenburg Line on September 29, 1918, with a legion of NC boys in attendance, including the entirety of our local militia, the Forsyth Rifles, who, as engineers, played a significant role.
But this is going to be a tough one, because what the Derkz really want is two things:
1. A picture of Glenn
2. An opportunity to assure his family that his grave is being well tended
The problem is that Glenn never had time to marry, so has no direct descendants. He had several brothers, but even if any of them were still living, the youngest would be 92. I will be looking at the brothers, to see if we can find any of their descendants. But that is a very time consuming task. Meanwhile, others could help if they recognize any of the following names associated with Glenn Elmer Williams:
Lucy Williams (b ca 1868), Glenn’s grandmother, who worked as an inspector at RJ Reynolds in the 1920s-30s
James Arthur Williams (b ca 1893), Glenn’s father, who worked as a carpenter
Minnie Williams (b ca 1894), Glenn’s mother
Luther Williams (b ca 1897), Glenn’s uncle, who worked in a textile mill, possibly Hanes Hosiery
James R. Williams (b ca 1915), Glenn’s brother
Hubert B. Williams (b ca 1917), Glenn’s brother
Victor W. Williams (b ca 1920), Glenn’s brother
Paul E. Williams (b ca 1923), Glenn’s brother
If you have any information about any of these folks, skip the “reply” or “comment” stuff and just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks. Here are the two sides of Glenn’s draft registration card:
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