Great memories from the Great War 2 vets, 99 and 96, are honored

November 12, 1993|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Staff Writer

Seventy-five years ago, on Nov. 11, 1918, Westminster resident Paul W. Englar manned a radio a few hundred yards behind the front lines near Metz, France, taking messages from airplane pilots in Morse code to pass to gunners on the ground, to help them correct the aim of their howitzers.

About 3 a.m., a new sound came through his radio headset. For the first time, instead of dots and --es, Mr. Englar heard a human voice over the airwaves.

He and his parter removed their headsets. Each asked the other, "What did you say?"

Neither had said anything.

They put their headsets back on and listened -- as the voice rattled on in French, then in German, finally in English, with the news that the Great War would end with an armistice to be signed the next morning.

"We got excited, of course," Mr. Englar, now 99, said yesterday before a Veterans Day ceremony marking the opening of an exhibition on World War I at the Historical Society of Carroll County.

Mr. Englar and the county's only other known surviving World War I veteran, Derma Marie Williams, together cut a ribbon to open the exhibition "Carroll County and the Great War for Civilization," which is to run through March 31.

Seventy-five years ago yesterday, upon hearing the announcement of the armistice, Mr. Englar and a friend went out behind enemy lines to have a look at the countryside and the people they'd been shooting at.

"We actually saw a truck in the distance with some Germans," he said. "They were waving their hands at us.

"They were glad it was over, too."

During yesterday's ceremony, 6th District U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett presented Mr. Englar and Mrs. Williams with a new U.S. medal commemorating the 75th anniversary of the end of World War I, and honoring that war's survivors.

"A grateful nation remembers," reads the inscription on the back of the medal, along with the words, "They came on the wings of eagles."

Mrs. Williams, 96, was one of seven Carroll County women who enlisted as Navy yeomen. Mrs. Williams, whose maiden name was Yeiser, worked in a Navy personnel office in Washington during the war.

According to information compiled by Jay A. Graybeal, curator of the Historical Society, eight Carroll County women also donned their country's uniform as nurses in the Army Nurse Corps.

About 1,200 Carroll County residents served during World War I in the Army, Navy and Marine Corps. Thirteen were killed in action or died of wounds. Twenty died of disease or in accidents, and two committed suicide.

Mr. Graybeal wrote a companion book for the exhibition, "Carroll County and the Great War for Civilization: 1917-1919."

It includes many previously unpublished letters to and from service men and women during the war years. It also lists the military service records of county residents who served in the conflict.

The exhibition displays photos, posters, uniforms, equipment and weapons from World War I.

A 30-minute video of Mr. Englar's recollections of his war days is shown continually. In the video, Mr. Englar describes days spent during his radio training near Limoges, France, playing tennis and being entertained at the villa of the Haviland family, makers of Haviland china.

His unit, Battery F of the 58th Artillery, suffered only one casualty during the war. Just before the unit was shipped home, as the soldiers were removing their gear so they could be de-loused for the return voyage, a man who was taking off his bayonet was accidentally bumped by another man. The bayonet stabbed and killed a man standing next to him.

Mr. Englar went on to serve in World War II, where he volunteered on a security detail with the Coast Guard in Baltimore, inspecting ships entering the harbor.

The Great War exhibition will be open at the Historical Society Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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