Sunday, September 28, 1975

SGT Peter William Smallwood

courtesy of JMB
SGT Peter William Smallwood was born 19 Nov 1922 in Weyers Cave, Virginia. He was the 6th child of Robert Franklin and Edna Christine (Hagedorn) Smallwood.  Peter was the first of the couple's 8 children to survive to the age of 18. His father was a farm laborer and the family lived for many years in the Weyers Cave area. His mother, Edna, died in 1930 and his father remarried in 1932. His only older surviving sibling, Hobart, died of typhoid fever that same year. At the time of the 1940 census, Peter was farming for and living with Mr. H. F. Meyer near Weyers Cave. He sometimes found work in Lancaster, Pennsylvania area and in 1942 was working at the Armstrong Linoleum plant there. While there he met and in 1943 married Violet Waid who was already the mother of one daughter who he apparently adopted. Whether he married before or after he was drafted is unclear.

Peter was drafted in April 1943. After his basic military training he was sent to England in July 1943 and assigned to F Company 116th Infantry. He then trained with the unit for the amphibious landing that was a planned element of the invasion and liberation of Nazi occupied France. PFC Smallwood took part in that landing serving with his unit until wounded on D+1, 7 Jun 1944, and evacuated to  hospital. He was dropped from unit rolls and never returned to any 116th Infantry unit.

However, the military life must have appealed because Peter stayed in service when he could have accepted a discharge. His father died in May 1946 at the age of 56 after a long illness. This was soon followed by another tragedy. Brother, Roy Samuel Smallwood, was still serving in the Navy and presumably home on leave when he was in an automobile accident on US Route 250 east of Staunton, Virginia and killed. Roy had served aboard the USS Intrepid (CV-11) at the Battle of Leyte Gulf but was stationed at the Philadelphia Navy Yard at the time of his death. When Roy died, Peter was a T3. In 1947 his step-mother died at age 35 of tuberculosis.

Peter and Violet had a daughter in 1949 but the marriage must have already been in trouble because when he applied for his Pennsylvania Veteran's bonus in 1950 they were already divorced. Peter married again in May 1953, this time to Eleanor Louise "Betty" Tankersley Brown of Staunton, Virginia. He was still serving in the Army, more than 10-years after being drafted. However, fate intervened and the marriage was not to last.

SGT Smallwood died 20 years ago today while stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He was on a log cutting detail when he made the ill-advised decision to ride the log carriage from which he fell into the spinning sawmill blade and was killed.

Peter now rests forever in Thornrose Cemetery in Staunton, Virginia alongside his 2nd wife, Betty.

Great-grandfather, Richard James Johnson, enlisted in Company H, Virginia 7th Cavalry Regiment on 25 Mar 1862, mustered out on 21 Jun 1862. Transferred to Company C, Virginia 17th Cavalry Battalion on 21 Jun 1862. Mustered out on 05 Feb 1863. Transferred to Company C, Virginia 11th Cavalry Regiment on 05 Feb 1863.

No comments:

Post a Comment