Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Roy Love Berkshire WWI Veteran Part 2

On October 12, 1918, Roy Berkshire, Co. C, 49th Engineers, sent a letter to his parents from Nantes, France during WWI.  If his mother hadn’t worried before, she would be after reading this letter.

  Dear Father and Mother:  Will drop you a few lines today to let you know that I am getting along fine after my operation for appendicitis. Am walking around a little bit. I received a letter from Lawrence and Ella (Berkshire) yesterday. I am just a little homesick today, guess it is the Victrola. We sure have some nice pieces which make you have daydreams.

 I got the Christmas card today to send to you so you can send me a Christmas package. Although they can't be very large they help one along considerable. Wish we could get nice boxes of eats like we did back there but we can't expect them. We want to get back soon ourselves.

 Well, I will close for this time, so write real often and make your letters longer. I got a letter from Eddie Piper, the other day, and was certainly glad to get it. Tell him just to keep on writing. Bushels of love to you all, my address is 49th Detachment T. C. A.P.O. 767 A.E.F.

 The Historical Society has no record of Berkshire’s military service other than these two letters. We do know he was married in Vincennes to Miss Ethel L. Cook, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. B. Cook of Lawrenceville on August 19, 1920. If she was “his girl” that he mentioned in his letters, we have no way of knowing.

 Berkshire continued to work for the Refinery as a welder when he returned from France and even had a welding shop at his home of 115 South 8th Street in Lawrenceville. On January 29, 1925, he was seriously injured when a gasoline tank which he was welding exploded with terrific force.

The explosion was so loud that it was heard uptown in Lawrenceville.  After working his shift at the refinery, Berkshire moved his welding outfit to the alley behind his shop to begin work on a gasoline tank from a tank wagon that had been brought in for him to work on.  He had been told that the tank had been carefully cleaned out and steamed but when he threw the hot flame from the welding torch on the tank, it exploded blowing the end of the tank out and sending it nearly a block up the street.  Luckily, the end of the tank missed him or he would been killed instantly. As it was, Berkshire was burned about the face, arms, and on the upper part of the body from his waist up. Fortunately, he had his goggles on and this saved his eyesight. So bad were the burns on his face and hands that the flesh on his nose and fingers split open. He survived though and lived a productive life.

 Roy Berkshire died March 2, 1979, at the age of 83 and was buried in Bridgeport Cemetery.