Adams County

Pfc. Ernest L. Dewees


Dewees, Rider, Watts Reported
Killed In North Africa Battle

Relatives Notified By War Department

The horrors and sorrows of war were again brought inertly home to Adams county people this week when the War Department officially announced the death of three more soldiers from this community, all three having been killed in action in North Africa.

The latest casualties are Pfc. Ernest L. Dewees, son of Charles Dewees of Corning; Sgt. Albert Rider, son of Mr. and Mrs. L. W. Rider of Nodaway; and, Sgt. Gordon Watts of Villisca, but well known in the Nodaway community. This brings to nine the Adams county men who have paid the supreme sacrifice in World War II. Five have been listed in the North Africa campaign, one in the Pearl Harbor attack, on in South America and two met death in accidents in line of duty in this country.

Killed May 3

Mrs. Bertha Edwards of Corning last Saturday received a telegram from the War Department in Washington stating that her brother, Pvt. Ernest L. Dewees, was killed in action on May 3 in the North Africa war area. At this time, no further information regarding the casualty has been received.

Ernest, the son of Charles Dewees of Corning, entered the service May 8, 1941, and before leaving, was an employee of the Pattison Pool Hall in Corning. Ernest is the first Corning boy to give his life in front light action on a foreign battle field in World War II and the second from Corning killed in the line of duty. John Turner was the first from here, killed while in service in the present war.

Ernest, better known to friends and acquaintances here as “Red” Duncan, was among the first Americans to be sent- to the North African area.  [illegible] Dewees, was in World War one and in [illegible] due to shell shock [illegible] [Page 4] [illegible]

Member Co. F

Tuesday, Mr. and Mrs. L. W. Rider were notified by the War Department that their son, Sgt. Albert Rider was killed in action in the North Africa war at [illegible] on April 28. Sgt Rider was a member of Co. F, the Villisca National Guard unit, one of the first to go overseas. Mrs. Albert Rider, the former Marie Hair, is a member of the WAACs at Ft. Riley, Kansas.

Sgt. Rider was raised in the Nodaway community were he is well and popularly known. He was born March 11, 1917. He is a brother of Mrs. Walter Brown of Corning. His parents received a letter from him May 2, which was written April 15.

The third death reported this week was that of S. Sgt. George Watts [illegible] reported killed in action in the North Africa war zone on April 27. Sgt. Watts was with Co. F of Villisca and his next of kin is a brother, Verne Watts of Hepburn, Iowa, who received the official notice from the War Department.

Gordon’s parents are deceased and he was never married. Prior to his enlistment he was engaged in farming near Nodaway. A nephew of Gordon Watts, Sgt. Howard Watts, also with Co. F, was wounded on the same day Gordon was killed. The following is from the Villisca Review and tells of the wounding of Howard Watts:

“Mr. and Mrs. Verle C. Watts of southeast of Villisca received a letter Monday from their son, Sgt. Howard Watts, in North Africa in which he states he was at that time in the hospital, wounded in the fighting in Tunisia April 27. Ironically it was a German gift to him on his twenty-first birthday.

“Sgt. Watts is a member of Co. F of Villisca and has been overseas two years. In a letter written home to his parents April 23, he stated he was at the time in a quiet sector and was not anticipating trouble. However, four days later he was wounded.”

Source: Adams County Free Press, Corning, Iowa, Thursday, May 27, 1943, Pages 1 & 4

News About Adams County
Men and Women in the Service

Charles Dewees of Corning has received a letter from the War Department confirming their recent telegram sent to Mrs. Betha Edwards stating that Pvt. Ernest L. Dewees was killed in action May 2 in the North African area [“Hill 609” near Sidi Nair]. The letter stated that Ernest died as a result of enemy action in the defense of his country and that the date and place of burial has not yet been made known to the War Department in Washington.

Mrs. Edwards also received a note of condolence from the Army Chief of Staff. The note said, “I realize that there is little that can be said to alleviate your grief, but I hope that you will derive some consolation in the knowledge that Ernest L. Dewees served with honor in the United States Army and died in the best traditions of the service.” The last letter received by relatives from Ernest was written April 17.

Source: Adams County Free Press, Corning, Iowa, Thursday, June 10, 1943, Page 4

Rider, Watts, Dewees,
Awarded Purple Heart

Mr. and Mrs. L. W. Rider of Nodaway, have officially received from the War Department the certificate and emblem of the Purple Heart, which was awarded to their son, Sgt. Albert L. Rider, who was killed in North Africa, April 28. Also, relatives of Sgt. Gordon Watts, formerly of Nodaway, have received a similar communication. Sgt. Watts was also killed in North Africa about the same date. Chas. Dewees of Corning has also received the Purple Heart certificate and pendant awarded his son, Pfc. Ernest L. Dewees, who was killed in North Africa May 2.

Mr. and Mrs. Rider have also received letters from Nodaway boys who were serving with Sgt. Rider, stating that they had visited his grave, and giving other details in so far as censorship would allow. To Sgt. Milo L. Green fell the duty of assisting in the burial of his comrades.

Source: Adams County Free Press, Corning, Iowa, Thursday, July 01, 1943, Page 1



At the request of relatives and friends, there is presented below a short sketch of the life of Pfc. Ernest L. Dewees of Corning, who was killed in battle in defense of his country in North Africa, May 2, 1943. Ernest was among the first of the American troops to take part in overseas fighting and he lost his life with the 168th Infantry charged and drove the Germans out of the famous flat-toppled “Hill 609” near Sidi Nair. The battle continued five days before the American troops were victorious.

Ernest L. Dewees, youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Dewees, was born in Corning, January 29, 1914, and at the time of his death was aged 29 years. He spent practically all of his life in this community where he attended the Corning schools and grew to manhood.

Ernest is survived by his 82-year-old father, Charles Dewees of Corning, who was greatly saddened when the news of his son’s death was announced by the War Department. He has three living brothers, George of Corning; Ralph of Kansas city, Missouri; and Clarence M., who is in the Veteran’s hospital at Knoxville, Iowa, suffering from permanent injuries and handicaps from gas and shrapnel in battles of World War I.

Ernest is also survived by four sisters. Florence Birkens and Gladys Cloutter, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Velma Cretors, Des Moines, and Bertha Edwards, Corning, Iowa. Three sisters, Ida, Phoebe and Amy Angeline are deceased. Four half-brothers and one half-sister also survive, and are as follows: Harry, Corning; Harve, Creston; Lewis Voorhees, Washington, D. C.; Roscoe Voorhees, Denver Colorado; and Mae Scott, Tulsa, Oklahoma. His mother died February 27, 1928.

Ernest was married in December, 1936 to Ruby Preeo of Clarinda. He was a member of the Baptist church. Ernest had previous military training as a first class private for four years in Co. “K” local National Guard unit. He also served thirteen months in a CCC camp at Oskaloosa in 1934 and 1935.

Source: Adams County Free Press, Corning, Iowa, Thursday, July 22, 1943, Page 6



Pvt 1st class Ernest Laverne Dewees, youngest son of Charles and Mamie Thompson Dewees, was born at Corning, Iowa, January 29th, 1914, and died May 2, 1943, in enemy action in North Africa, at the age of 29 years, 3 months and 3 days.

Ernest spent most of his life in Corning, attending Corning grade school. He enlisted in
the CCC camp in 1933 and served 13 months. He was a member of the National Guard for six years with Co. K of Corning. He was united in marriage at Maryville, Mo., to Ruby Pres of Clarinda, but no children were born to this union. He was called May 20, 1941 to serve his country and gallantly accepted his position.

His mother passed away February 27, 1928, and since his passing, Ernest’s father has also gone to rest [March 20, 1947].

The ones left to mourn the passing of this loving, devoted brother, are four sisters and three brothers. They are Mrs. Florence Birkenes, Minneapolis; Mrs. Gladys Clouiter, also of Minneapolis; Mrs. Velma Cretors, Des Moines; Bertha Simmons, Corning; Clarence M. Dewees, Knoxville, Ia.; Ralph, Kansas City, Mo.; and George of Corning. Also four half-brothers and one half-sister, Harry Dewees of Corning, Harvey Dewees of Creston, Lewis Voohees, Washington, D. C., and Rosco Voohees of Denver, Colo., and Mrs. Mae Scott, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

He fought for us and in the end,
He lay down his life.
He was a friend.
He rests in peace, his battle won.
He did his best, his job well done.

Memorial services for Pvt. Dewees were held Sunday afternoon at 2 o’clock in the Boyd Roland Funeral Home in Corning, conducted by Rev. R. T. White. Music was furnished by John Riegel, with Mrs. Lyle Posten, pianist. Pall bearers were Earl Reed, Carl Devore, Francis Murphy, Walter Pattison, Harold Richards and Arthur Amons.

Out of town relatives who attended the funeral were Mr. and Mrs. O. M. Birkenes, and Mrs. E. J. Cloutier of Minneapolis, Minn., and Mr. and Mrs. A. B. Cretors of Des Moines.

Source: Adams County Free Press, Corning, Iowa, Thursday, March 17, 1949, Page 14