Saturday, May 27, 2017

Pvt. Roy B. Tickel's homecoming

Approximately 116,000 U.S. troops gave up their lives while in service to their country during World War I, more than 80,000 of them in the European theater of operations. Of the total, some 53,000 were killed in combat; the balance felled by disease and other causes.

Lucas County's Roy B. Tickel, a private in Co. C, 59th Infantry, was among the latter. One of 11 children of John and Luella (Hodson) Tickel, he died of influenza on Nov. 26, 1918, in France, and was buried nearby, at Clermont-Ferrand. Born in Liberty Township, he was 28 and had been working as a farm hand for his father before he was drafted. This tiny and badly faded photograph from the Lucas County Historical Society collection is among the few reminders of him. There is no indication of when or where it was taken.

Today, Roy's remains rest in the Newbern Cemetery, where he shares a tombstone with two brothers, Charles F. and Theodore M., both of whom died in Lucas County during 1920, many months before his remains were brought home to join theirs during December of 1921, more than three years after his death.

Roy's parents had been notified of his death by telegram, then some months later the following form letter arrived at their home, giving a few details about the disposition of his remains.

After the war was over, work began in France to register the graves of all the U.S. fallen and to relocate the remains of those buried hurriedly near where they fell to newly established American cemeteries. 

During October of 1919, the U.S. War Department announced that it would offer families of the fallen the option of having the remains of their loved ones returned to the United States for burial and "ballots" were sent to the families of the 80,000 whose remains had been located, so that they could choose.

Although this was what the people of the United States wanted, it was not a popular decision among U.S. allies. The British, with more than 700,000 dead to deal with, were appalled. The French, who considered the prospect ghoulish, placed a three-year ban on the removal of bodies.

During late 1920, however, the French lifted their ban and work began. Approximately 46,000 American families had opted for repatriation while some 30,000 had expressed their wishes that the remains of loved ones be interred in one of the new American cemeteries in France.

At some point during the later stages of repatriation, the Tickels received this small folder which contains a snapshot of Roy's original grave in France and the name of the cemetery, Newbern, where his remains were to be reinterred.

Roy's remains arrived at the depot in Chariton during late December and they were buried in the Newbern Cemetery on Dec. 21, 1921.

Roy's mother was present for the homecoming, along with eight surviving siblings. John Tickel, however, had died on Aug. 9, 1920. Luella died a year later at her home in Chariton on Nov. 5, 1922, and joined her husband and sons in the Newbern Cemetery.

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