17 April 2012

Tombestone Tuesday--A Family Soldier from WWII

My Great-Grandfather, after his first wife died, married her sister, who by that time had also lost her first husband.  I find that happening a lot in my family.  Anyway Great-Grand Aunt/Grandma Delia had several children, including Paul Davis. 
 Delia is buried in the Chase Cemetery, in Lake county, Michigan, beside her first husband Monroe and her two sons. 
 There is also a Davis family stone.
 But the one that intrigued me was Paul.  I remember watching a film about D-Day and the European theatre of World War II  with my family when my mom and Uncle mentioned Paul.  Of course back then I wasn't yet bit by the genealogy bug, and let it slide.
Later as I started researching my family, and history in general, Paul became a focus point.  Was he really part of the D-Day invasion?  Did he die in the Battle of the Bulge?  I was coming up blank on records.  Although his mother and stepfather lived in nearby Muskegon, Michigan, I could find no obituaries or records of him in the newspaper archives there.
Finally, one of those serendipitous discoveries of a distance cousin helped solve the mystery.
Paul had so admired Great Grandpa Roy that he had taken his last name when he enlisted, and was no longer Paul Davis, but Paul Davis Gilbert. 
With that information I found news clipping about when in 1948 his body was returned to Michigan.  It states he died of his wounds while part of General Pattons drive to Germany.  The stone itself lists that he died in France and was in Company L, 11th Infantry.  I also discovered that he had been serving in several countries, and was sent to France in 1944.
So I still don't know if he was on the shores at D-Day or now.  But at least I know enough to try both names.
PS--I noticed this was not a military stone, but one that matches his mother and father's stones, as well as the family stone.  His brother Milo, buried nearby who survived the war, does have a military stone.  Same size and color, but different design.

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