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Kenneth B. Duckworth First World War correspondence

 Collection — Box: WWI 3, Folder: 21, Folder: 1
Identifier: 2017-472-w-r

Content Description

This collection contains seven correspondence from Sgt. Kenneth B. Duckworth, USA and one from Raymond Duckworth during the First World War. Also included is one card with a color painting of a shepherd and sheep that says "Handkerchiefs."

Kenneth wrote to Mimi or "Meem", addressed to Mrs. W.E. Duckworth and it is unclear her relation to him. His first letter describes a horrible typhoon while aboard USAT Thomas en route from Manila, Philippines to Nagasaki, Japan. The typhoon lasted four days and blew them off course 800 miles. One man died and ten to twelve were badly injured. The Thomas also towed another vessel caught in the storm that suffered more casualties.

In July 1918, he began writing from Camp Fremont, California and earned a horse head emblem under his chevrons denoting his charge over the unit's horses. These letters abound with rumors and skepticism, though light hearted, at when they will enter the war. This is coupled with boredom and a sense that "this 'play soldier' is getting on the nerves."

In October 1918, he lands in England and tells Mimi "We are 'over' at last." He saw Bill and spent some time with him, both of them agreeing that they and a majority of the soldiers would love to go home but not until it is over, which may happen soon (and of course did). In December he left Beaune, France for Brest and more rumors continued about when they would head home. He tells Mimi, "glad you folks have missed the Spanish Flu and guess we can consider ourselves pretty lucky." He also says that there is "quite a bit of it here," but the company is all well so far, except a few left behind with the mumps.

Kenneth's final letter is written to "Doc" and describes the arrival and reception at the Commonwealth pier in Devons-Boston-Mass [sic]. He arrived on the USS Nebraska and explained to Doc that he is a hero because the Boston Post said "heros will disembark from the Nebraska." That letter is signed "Pongo."

The letter from Raymond is dated March 13, 1919 and informs his wife "I'm Out!" from Chicago as he was discharged from the service.


  • 1918 July 10 - 1919 March 18

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on the use of this material except where previously copyrighted material is concerned. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain all permissions.

Biographical / Historical

Sergeant Kenneth B. Duckworth, United States Army (4/14/1893 - 3/7/1945) was born in Salinas Mont, California to Belizario E. Duckworth and Lillian Underwood. He served with the United States Marine Corps for two years, in China and the Philippines and having docked in Japan, before his draft registration for the First World War on January 17, 1918. He entered the service with the American Expeditionary Forces on Febrary 26, trained at Camp Fremont in California and served in England and France with E Company, 319th Engineers. He returned from overseas duty around March 17, 1919 and was discharged on March 25.

Sgt. Duckworth had two brothers who also served overseas, including Raymond E. Duckworth (b. 6/1890). According to the 1900 census, Raymond, Kenneth, and Chas U. were living with a man named Andrew Brown as "boarders" at ages 3, 7, and 9 years old respectively. In the 1910 census, they were living with their father Belizario and his then wife, Amelia B., of Mexican birth.

It is unclear his relationship to some of the people he mentions in the letters, including Mimi to whom he is writing. She is addressed Mrs. W.E. Duckworth, which may be the wife of Bill (W. for William), whom he refers to at once "Billiam." "Doc" may be Raymond (in the last letter, Kenneth refers to himself as Doc's brother).


0.08 Linear feet (1 folder)

Language of Materials



This collection contains correspondence from Sgt. Kenneth B. Duckworth, USA and Raymond Duckworth during the First World War.


This collection is arranged chronologically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Dayna Duckworth Schilling.

Finding Aid for the Kenneth B. Duckworth First World War correspondence
Andrew Harman
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Center for American War Letters Archives Repository

Leatherby Libraries
Chapman University
Orange CA 92866 United States