05 March 2011

Obituary--John G. Frens

My last World War One obituary of the week.  This is so sad because, even though he was "the first local boy to pay supreme sacrifice", nonetheless, his death came after the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.  Forgive me for being rather long, but I wanted to include the entire article, including letters.

From the 5 December 1918 Fremont TimesIndicator.....

First Local Boy to Pay Supreme Sacrifice in Active Service "Over There"
John E. Frens who lives two miles west of Fremont received a telegram from the War Department Friday conveying the sad news of the death of his son, John G, Frens, who died in France November 12 of wounds received in action October 15.  He was 22 years, 9 months and 25 days old. Mr. Frens is the first freomong boy to have given his life as a direct result of the contact with the enemy.
That Mr. Frens did not believe his wounds would prove fatal is evident from a letter dictated by him to a Red Cross nurse.  The letter follows:
American Red Cross
October 15, 1918
Dear Folks:  Just a line to let you know that I have been wounded and am getting along fine.  There is nothing to worry about and I will write very soon myself. I will be sent to a base hospital in a few days and will write you as soon as I can from there.
Best love to all, Your loving son, John.
Written by Rose Peabody,
Red Cross, Mobile Hospital No. 2
A. E. F
John G. Frens was born on the farm where his father still lives west of the city and grew to manhood in this community.  In August of 1917 he went to Platte, So. Dakota for his health and remained there about three months.  After spending a few weeks at home, he went west again in January of this year and remained there until called into the service May 29 when he went to Camp Custer.  He remained at Custer until July when he sailed for France with the 85th Division.
Besides his father and step-mother he is survived by three sisters, Mrs Gerben Bekkering of Denver, Col., Mrs Arie DeKuiper of Grand Rapids and Mrs. Herman D. Kolk of Fremont and one brother, Richard Frens, of Grand Rapids.  His step-sister and brothers are Miss Hattie Nieboer of Muskegon, Ed Nieboer with the colors in France, John Nieboer of Fremont and Gerrit Nieboer of Platte, So. Dakota. 
Mr. Frens was one of the fine young men of this community.  He was always especially solicitous for the the welfare of hsi parents and his one ambition was to alleviate their burdens.
Following is the last letter he wrote his parents before being wounded.
Somewhere in France
October 2, 1918
My Dear Folks at Home:
I suppose you folks I have forgotten you altogether but that is not the case at all.  I could have written a week ago but we could not get the mail out, so you don't want to worry if you don't hear from me for quite a while, because there is always some little reason.
I sure am feeling fine and I am in the best of health and hope you folks are all the same.
Well we have seen some of the real stuff by this time.  We were at the front for about eighteen days.  got along fine.  Do you folks ever hear from Ed?  I suppose he is over here some place, but where I don't know.  But no doubt he is getting along fine also.  Is he still in the Artillery?  I don't know if I wrote it before, but we were transferred into the 42nd Division quite a while ago.  Ed may have been transferred also.  It would not surprise me any if he was.
I have not had any mail yet but expect some most any day, as some of the boys that came over with me have received some already. 
I suppose by the time you get this letter the fall work will be about done.  I do hope you are getting along well with it.  Is Dick going to school again"  Well, father, you have got it pretty hard this year, but I hope and pray that things will be different next year.  From the way things look now, I think they will too.
I have written about all I can think of this time.  Will try and not wait so long with writing next time.
Your loving son and brother

Gone but not forgotten.

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