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.
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.
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.