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Bill

Casualty report for 16th Infantry Regiment, June 6, 1944. 
I am at the point of this blog where I really can't proceed with telling you about Bill, the soldier Lauren is researching. We spent the day at the National Archives facility in College Park, a facility known as Archives II. The very last document we found is the one that told us the least new information. You'll find it above. If you look closely, you'll see a "1" entered in the row for Company E and the column for KIA - Officers. That number represents First Lieutenant Edmund William Duckworth. From what we know, he was most commonly known as Bill to his family and friends.

Lauren's research has uncovered a great many details about Bill's life and service, and I'll quickly summarize it here. Later this summer, Lauren will author a website that will be much more comprehensive. I'm offering a biographical sketch here to acquaint you with the fallen hero Lauren will be eulogizing on Tuesday.

Bill grew up in Lancaster County, PA. He graduated from Manheim Township High School in 1939 and completed one semester at Elizabethtown College. He enlisted in the Army in February 1941. After rising to the rank of sergeant, he graduated Officer Candidate School and reported to the 1st Infantry Division, 16th Infantry Regiment in the fall of 1942.

Bill was a decorated combat veteran, seeing battle in North Africa and Sicily before the Normandy Invasion. Bill's unit trained in England and was stationed near Bridport over the winter of 1943-44. Somewhere along the way, he met an English woman named Audrey Travers. They married on June 1, 1944. Bill died on June 6, 1944. Audrey gave birth to Bill's son, Patrick, on November 21, 1944.

Bill died as a result of enemy fire, though there is some dispute over the exact nature of his death. Most evidence we have encountered suggested that he died as a result of sniper fire. Accounts by two of his comrades indicate he was felled by a bullet to the head while the unit was pinned down on Omaha Beach.

Lauren has the honor of delivering a eulogy at Bill's grave in Normandy next week, and I get the honor of helping her when she needs it. Lauren is a very good researcher, though, so the labor has been primarily hers. She has been working through many sources to better understand Bill's life, and we've learned it was a rich one. I would have liked to have known him for he sounds like a real character. He was certainly a respected leader among his men.

Today we had a chance to fill in some missing pieces at the archives. More about that journey next.

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