Weekly Features

Historically Speaking–Patricia Harris

In Memory of Harry Thornton Freeman

PFC Harry Thornton Freeman’s name was missed during our Memorial Day article honoring Doddridge County’s fallen heroes.  I wanted to do right by him.  Thus, I would like to introduce all of you to young Harry Thornton Freeman who was only 25 years old when he laid down his precious young life for this country.

   PFC Harry Thornton Freeman was the son of Charles Jerry and Hattie Henning Freeman of Salem, Doddridge County.  He was born on January 18, 1920 in Doddridge County, WV. 

The handsome blue-eyed and brown-haired Harry had one brother, Charles, who lived in Salem, and four sisters, Mary Ann of West Union, Violet of Baltimore, MD.  Sisters Kathryn, and Audra June who were still living at home.  Harry enjoyed working on the family farm with his father and brother, Charles prior to enlisting in the U.S. Army.

Harry married Edith Madeline Reed of Baltimore, MD after his enlistment.  She became pregnant before his deployment and they had one child, daughter, Brenda Sue.  

   Harry was listed as a semiskilled worker in the building of aircraft before he was deployed to the European theater on January 3, 1945.  He trained at Camp Blanding, FL.  Before joining the military on August 7, 1944 at Huntington, WV, he was employed by the Glenn L Martin Company in Baltimore, MD.

    On February 13, 1945, Harry was wounded in battle in Germany while serving with the 22nd Inf. Div. of the 3rd Army.  He was treated for severe head wounds at the scene and was transferred to a military hospital in Wales as soon as possible.   He died of his wounds on March 17 at the military hospital where he was temporarily buried in the U.S. Military Cemetery in England before being returned home to his family.  He is now buried in the Wolverton Cemetery off U.S. Rt. 50, 5 miles west of Salem near West Union.  He was 25 years old.

   Colonel F.G. Norbury, who was the commanding officer of the Medical Corps, wrote a letter to Harry’s wife offering his confirmation of the news that her husband had indeed died of his battle wounds.  It is as follows:

“Mrs. Edith Freeman,

Dear Mrs. Freeman:

   This letter is to confirm the sad news that you have already received of the death of your husband, P.F.C. Harry T. Freeman 35781819 formerly Company B 22nd Infantry, 4th Division.  Which occurred in the hospital March 17.

   Your husband was wounded in action the 13th of February receiving a shell wound of the head of considerable severity.  He was treated in hospitals on the continent then brought to this hospital, which is in England the first of March.

   Our hospital is a center for head injuries with a staff especially experienced in the management of conditions such as your husband had.

   On admission it was evident that your husband had extensive trouble.

   He was placed on the serious ill list at once, as he was paralyzed on one side and had fever with signs of infection.  

   He received penicillin though out his stay but the infection progressed steadily.  His condition became worse.

   He passed away at three twenty P.M. on the above date, March 17, 1945.

   He was buried in a United States Military Cemetery in England with a   protestant Chaplin Conduction the services.

   I wish to extend our sympathy to you in the loss of your husband who gave his life for his country.


                          F.G. Norbury

                          Colonel M.C.

                          Commanding Officer.”

   May God bless the memory of P.F.C. Harry Thornton Freeman and God Bless all our soldiers who have given their all.  May God Bless all who have served and continue to serve. Grant that we might live our live in a manner worthy of them. 

Patricia Richards Harris

Doddridge County Historical Society