Title: Marine Corps Staff Sergeant, World War II
Birthdate: September 28, 1919
Death Date: March 24, 1944
Plot Location: Section K, Range 1, Lot 15
The Bretherick family lived in the boroughs of Darby and Colwyn in the first half of the 20th century. Both boroughs are just south of Yeadon and southwest of Mount Moriah. Bill’s grandfather had worked at Baldwin Locomotive Works. His father, James, made a career there as a draftsman.
Bill’s dad was also a veteran. He joined the Pennsylvania National Guard in 1914 and served a short time during the Mexican Emergency of 1916. (President Wilson had called for Guard units from each state to secure the Mexican border.) James married Helen Lewis in 1917 and their first son, James, was born in 1918.
Six more boys and one girl were added to the family. Bill arrived 16 months after James. After the next son, John, was born, this family photo was taken in 1922. Bill is in the lower right corner. He appears sad that he is no longer the baby of the family, but there would be five more after John. The Brethericks moved to Colwyn by 1930, probably for more room, then to Darby again by 1942.
Bill didn’t finish high school, choosing instead to join the Marines one week before his 20th birthday. The 1940 census shows he was stationed at Newport, Rhode Island and he remained stateside in “domestic service” until January of 1944.
He was assigned to the Service & Supply Company, 4th Service Battalion of the 4th Marine Division. After intense training in late 1943, they arrived in January on the island of Maui in Hawaii. (It was counted as “foreign service” since Hawaii was not yet a state.)
He died two months later from what the Marine records showed as “casualty type: poison” but there are no other details. The 4th Marine Division went on to capture the Mariana Islands and Iwo Jima.
Bill’s coffin came home four years later and his mother applied for this military headstone. The beneficiaries of his $500 death benefit were his parents but by 1950 they were divorced, so Helen only received $250. She moved with three sons to live with her daughter’s family near Hershey.
Other Bretherick brothers also served in World War II. James became a Marine and John joined the Navy. The youngest son, Bernard, served with the Army in Korea. Their Veteran father died in 1959 and was buried here on the Yeadon side in Section 147.
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