No letter from René today, so here’s an excerpt from the journal of Dr. Philip Westdahl commenting about what happened on May 23, 1944. Because of Army regulations, René can’t mention this news in correspondence to his parents until June 13.



            On May 23rd, Bill Drew left this world suddenly and tragically. One of the most likeable, capable and popular young fellows I ever hope to know, his death was profoundly shocking to us and we all felt his loss very keenly. Even as I write this account it is almost unbelievable that he is no longer with us.

            I felt quite close to Bill, having known him since high school days, and was grateful to act as an honorary pall bearer at his funeral. The services were held in a Catholic Church in Palermo, and the presence of the American flag covering Bill’s coffin seemed a fine and fitting tribute to a fine fellow.

          At the military cemetery in Palermo, Bill was given the three gun salute of a military burial. Although I like to think of Bill as he was during life, my last memory of him shall be associated with the flag and salute with which he parted from our presence.

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Watch for René’s next letter on
June 5, 1944

Dr. William F. Drew, known as Bill — shown as Dr. Westdahl wanted to remember him.

This is what Gertrude Brazil remembered about the untimely death of Dr. Bill Drew: “He was getting up at five or six o’clock in the morning to go do calisthenics. Part of the place the doctors were living was bombed out. The staircase was bombed and I guess he fell off and was injured and died.”

René will tell his parents more details in his June 13th letter.

Gravesite for Captain William F. Drew at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial in Nettuno, Italy (near Rome).

Photo by John “Jack” Richter