Sons of Men - Evansville's War Record
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Coxswain William A. Wells
U.S.S. Iowa, United States Navy
August 13, 1892 - January 30, 1918

   "It is a war against all nations. American ships have been sunk,
American lives taken, in ways which it has stirred us very deeply to
learn of, but the ships and people of other neutral and friendly
nations have been sunk and overwhelmed in the same way. There has
been no discrimination." This was the appeal President Wilson made
to Congress to declare war against brutality of Prussian militarism.

   William A. Wells heard this appeal to American humanitarianism
He heard the agonizing cries of the helpless victims of the Arabic,
Laconia and Lusitania, calling for justice.  On that historic day he
entered the navy to vindicate the rights of the world against the
German submarine policy.

   William A. Wells was born August 13, 1892. Me completed the
eighth grade at the Carpenter School in 1907, and attended the
Evansville High School for a year and a half. When he left school be
worked for three years in the E. & T. H. Auditing department. When
the office was moved to Chicago he was employed as a reporter for
the Evansville Courier.  He later worked for several years at the
Hercules Buggy Company.

   He went to Detroit, Michigan, and there joined the navy,
April 2, 1917.  A week later he went to Philadelphia, where he was
assigned to U. S. S. Iowa, April 12, 1917. His first promotion came on
June 2, 1917, when he was made assistant coxwain. On June 22, he
was made coxwain.

   While performing his duty death came suddenly to William A.
Wells. On January 30, 1918, he was a member of an eight-inch turret
crew on the vessel. After the usual morning drill period he walked
over to the outboard side of the turret. He accidentally lost his balance
or slipped, and fell overboard. The weather was cold and stormy,
and he was bundled up in winter clothing.  Two of his shipmates
risked their lives to rescue him but failed. Life buoys were immediately
lowered.  They came within a close distance of him, but for
some reason he did not succeed in availing himself of the aid given
him.  Two boats went to his rescue. but could not reach him.  His
body has never been recovered.

   As a tribute to his memory, a savings society at the Carpenter
School was named after him.  He was a member of the White Oak
Camp, Woodmen of the World, and St. John's Evangelical Church.

Sons of Men: Evansville's War Record,
Compiled by Heiman Blatt,
Published by Abe P. Madison, 1920
October 25, 1998