Enlisted on April 15, 1942, in Camp Forrest, TN
Buried in the Normandy American Cemetery
Parents: Louis and Lena Francis
Siblings: Lucile Francis, Margaret Francis, Philip Francis, and Mary Francis
Brother Philip Francis was also lost during WW II at Camp Rucker, Alabama.
Cpl Francis was born December 9, 1921 in Knoxville, Knox County, Tennessee and was killed in action on June 15, 1944 during the airborne invasion of Normandy.
Cpl Francis is the son of Louis Francis Sr [b. 6/9/1881 in Mahoney City, Schuylkill, PA and died 1/19/1952 in Knoxville, TN] a coal mine operator and the son of Lena Duke Hawkins Francis [b.6/11/1889 in Frankfort, KY and died 11/9/1975 in Knoxville, TN].
The 1930 US Census for Knoxville, Knox County, TN shows Louis residing at # 1207 Broadway with his parents and 3 sisters, Lucille [b. 1911 in Pa] Margaret [b. 1913 in KY] and Mary B [b. 1919 in KY] and a brother Phillip [b. 1917 in Coxton, KY].
Cpl Francis enlisted in the Army on April 15, 1942 at Camp Forrest, TN His enlistment records states Louis had completed 4 years of high-school was 5’9’’, 152lbs and was single.
Cpl Francis was awarded the Purple Heart Medal and the Croix de Guerre Unit Citation [French], the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one Bronze Service Star and Arrowhead, World War II Victory Medal, WWII Honorable Service Lapel Button, Parachute Badge, Combat Infantryman Badge and the Presidential Distinguished Unit Emblem.
Cpl Francis is interred at the Normandy American Cemetery, Colleville-sur-Mer, France at Plot ‘F’ Row “24’ Grave ‘28’.
An excerpt from an article in the Knoxville News Sentinel by Don Whitehead: D-Day – June 6, 1944.
Published: 6 June 1993
“Most Girls play with dolls,” Says Lucille Dominick, sitting in her West Knoxville brick Rancher. “I had a living doll. I would dress him and put him in a doll buggy and he was mine.” Lucille was 17 when her brother Louis Francis Jr. was born: She was 39 when he went off to war.
“He was very optimistic, and had a good outlook on life. Everybody liked him. He wanted to come home and buy a new car.” He had girlfriends, although he had never gotten serious about them.
Lucille had forgotten many of the details of Louis’ life, and whatever the letters might have contained about him, long ago turned to ashes. “After he was killed I burned all his letters,” Said Dominick.
She had gone to Blytheville, Ark., to the graduation of a friend. I came back and said to my husband, “Have they heard from Louis? He said “Yes, he’s been killed.”
One brother had already died. Phillip had succumbed to sunstroke on June 17, 1943, while engaged in maneuvers at Fort Rucker, Ga. Phillip’s death had crushed her. It had seemed so meaningless, but the fact that Louis died in combat did not make it more meaningful.
“He was in the 507th (parachute) Infantry Division,” He had dropped behind German lines and dug in along with his comrades. “His friends wrote mother and said they were in the foxhole one day and he stood up and the Germans shot him.”
“Louis had said ‘If anything happens, I want to be buried with my buddies.’” And so he was.
Lucille has traveled to the cemeteries at St. Laurent in Normandy and stood among the assembled crosses. “It’s a beautiful emetery. It’s so well kept, it’s a consolation to go and see. You can look over and see the beach. Some of the landing craft were still there on the beach when I went in 1950.” The original wooden crosses still stood. Since then she has visited three more times, most recently in ‘91. “The highlight for me is always going to the cemetery.”
Looking back she sums up her feelings with a clenched fist and these words: “It’s a terrible thing to go through. I don’t want anymore wars, because someone’s going to get killed.”
(Lucille Francis Dominick 1910-2003. Passed away in Knoxville, Tennessee.)