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Former Renville Boy Killed Aug. 17, Renville Star Farmer, 9-19-1918

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Sgt. James Gustaf Mattson
October 8, 1887 – August 17, 1918
Killed accidentally on duty in France while serving.

Sgt. Mattson Accidently Killed While on Duty With Marines in France – Graduated From High School Here.

Although one may expect casualties from the front in France, it was with a feeling of sadness that on Friday we received word that Gust Mattson had given his all, made the supreme sacrifice that the world should be safe for Democracy. He came here as a boy and made his home with his sister, Mrs. A. M. Erickson. Attended country school and being an apt student he soon finished there and came to Renville and entered high school from which he graduated as noted below. While in town he made his home with Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Brown. Being ambitious and industrious, he worked in this office after school and during vacations. It was here we learned the sterling worth of the boy. He was quick to learn and gave us very little trouble learning the trade. He took an active part in athletics and was a member of the football team. We are sure if he had been spared he would have earned promotion from time to time since he was and exceptionaly bright boy. Our heartfelt sympathy is extended to his parents and relatives.

The following is taken from the Winthrop News:

Sergt. James Mattson, son of Mr. and Mrs. Elias Mattson of this city, and one of five boys of this family who answered the call to the colors was accidently killed while on duty on Saturday Aug. 17th. In speaking of his death the commanding officer sends the following message which we quote in part:

“With deep regret I write you regarding the death of your son in France. The French military authorities took charge of the body and requested our assistance acting according to regulations, Monday, Aug. 19, 1918, at 9:00 A.M. Sergt. Mattson was buried in the Cemetery at Avord (Cher), France, with full military honors, French and American officers and soldiers participating. His grave will be carefully marked by us.

“The funeral was a dignified ceremony; it seems to me what a Father could wish for a brave soldier son who meet death serving his country in a foreign land. The coffin was borne on a gun carriage drawn by four horses and was decorated with a profusion of American and French flags set on standards on the carriage. Colonel Thionville of the French Army, Commanding Officer here attended as well as a detachment of American Officers of our Air Service. My Detachment also decorated the coffin with flowers, the armed escort fired three volleys over the grave and taps was blown by a bugler.

“Death is often among us as solders, dear Mr. Mattson, and although your brave son was not of this Command yet I assure you that all honors were paid to him by us, his comrades, with loving care. I found a picture of him among his papers which shows him as a splendid specimen of American manhood, a type of manhood that has made the United States Marine Corps world famous as an armed force. All of us appreciate your loss and grief, we give you sympathy from our hearts and we shall go on to the end that your son shall not have died in vain for the great cause to which our nation has given itself. I am glad that as Alvord is in the Intermediate Section, I can advise your at once of the resting place of your son.”

James Gustaf Mattson was born in Barnadotte October 8, 1887, being 30 years, 10 months and 9 days of age at the time of his death. At the age of six he made his home with Mr. and Mrs. A. M. Erickson who were then residents of Renville, with whom he had made his home ever since until four years ago, later enlisting in the U. S. Marine Corps to serve his county in the present crisis. He was a graduate of the Renville high school and took up an academic course at the state university.

Besides his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Elias Mattson, he leaves to mourn his loss five sisters, Mrs. A. M. Erickson of Winthrop, Mrs. Henry Tegner of New Sweden, Mrs. Helen Norman of Minneapolis, Mrs. Walter Green of Minneapolis, and Mrs. Erick Holmgren of Oklahoma City. Also six brothers, John, residence unknown, Martin of Redwood Falls, Bennie, Carl and Julius, Somewhere in France and Lincoln in the U.S. Navy. He was a member of the Winthrop Swedish Lutheran church.

Sergt. James Mattson is gone but his memory will be forever cherished. We cannot add any comment greater that the splendid words written and the American spirit

Exemplified by the beautiful message sent Mr. and Mrs. Mattson by the commanding officer.

A private letter to the editor from his sister, Mrs. A. M. Erickson of Winthrop gives further particulars as follows:

Winthrop, Minn. Sept 13.

Dear Mr. Reid:

We send you a paper, the Winthrop News and a cut from a picture of our brother and son James Gustaf Mattson who lost his life in France serving his country, due to accident when he was on a troop train standing on duty on the running board trying to save his men from danger when a passenger train came by which struck him in the night at 10:30. He was wounded some time in May, he had to spend 9 weeks in base hospital No. 30. He also lost his sea bag and all his clothes, he did not receive any mail for 4 months, when he wrote us the 12th of August and that was his last letter, so he had to go through a lot of hardship before he was through. We feel his departure from us deeply and there is no mistake about him because they sent some small pictures he had in his pocket of himself and others we know. He belonged to the 120th Co., 1st Replacement Battalion, U.S. Marines.