Tuesday, August 30, 2016

PVT Whitnell William Lawrence

PVT Whitnell William Lawrence, "Whit" was the son of Marshall Lee Lawrence and Druesilla Woodside, both of Illinois. Whit's father died in 1920 leaving his mother Druesilla to raise their large family on her own. Whit received his public school education in Desha County, Arkansas.

On 14 Feb 1938, Valentine's Day, Whit married Bessie Jo Roswell in Desha County, Arkansas.

Whit enlisted in the United States Army for the duration of the war on 4 Dec 1943 at Little Rock, Arkansas. After basic training was completed, he was assigned to the 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division. He participated in the amphibious landing at Omaha Beach, Normandy, the Battle at St. Lo and the battle of Hill 219. Whit and his comrades were then trucked up to Brest, France, and began the siege and eventual capture of this great port city. The regiment commenced their attack on 24 Aug 1944, and the battle with the German garrison lasted nearly a month, until the last defenders finally surrendered on September 18. However, Whit was not there for the victory as he had been killed in action during this battle on 30 Aug 1944.

Private Whitnell W. Lawrence, Sn #38600528, earned the following badges/decorations during his service during World War II:
- Combat Infantryman's Badge
- Bronze Star Medal
- Purple Heart Medal
- Army Good Conduct Medal
- European Theater of Operations Campaign Medal with two battle/campaign stars and assault arrowhead device
- World War II Victory Medal
- Presidential Unit Citation ribbon
- Normandy Commemorative Medal

Whit was survived by his mother Dreusilla, his wife Bessie and their two children who resided in McGehee, and several brothers and sisters in Arkansas and Illinois. Whit's younger brother, William K. Lawrence, Sr, served in the Army in World War II as well. He received the Silver Star Medal for valor (Headquarters, 90th Infantry Division, General Orders No. 199 {1944}). William is buried in the McGehee Cemetery in Desha County, Arkansas, as are his wife Frances and his parents.

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