“True and Faithful to His Calling”: Private Homer T. Clements
July 25, 2018
In October 1921, Marie Bankhead Owen, director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, received a small package from Robert A. Clements. The Enterprise, Alabama, merchant was responding to Owen's request for information about his son, Homer T. Clements, who died during the Great War. Written in pencil in a steady, beautiful hand, the four-page “biographical memoranda” returned to the Archives offers a heartfelt remembrance of a fallen soldier.
Homer Treadwell Clements was born on July 22, 1899, in Geneva County to Robert and Katherine (Gunter) Clements. Before his first birthday, the family relocated to Enterprise in neighboring Coffee County. At twelve years old, Homer left public school to work in his father’s store. At fifteen, he took a position as a clerk in an Enterprise drug store. Homer was an active member in the local Missionary Baptist Church. His father noted that he was a member of the choir and a leader in the Baptist Youth assembly, “often leading prayer and conducting services.” Like his father, he was a member of the Woodsmen of the World.
“He entered the fight as a private, and was true and faithful to his calling,” his father remembered. Assigned to Company A of the 167th Regiment, 42nd Division, Clements was part of fierce fighting in the Aisne-Marne Offensive. On July 30, 1918, Clements and a group of four soldiers were hit by shrapnel from an exploding mortar shell. The others were instantly killed; Clements, mortally wounded, died within the hour. Robert Clements, who had spoken with several of his son’s comrades, related Homer’s final moments to Marie Owen: “When discovered by some [soldiers], they stopped and asked him if they could be of assistance to him. He replied ‘No boys, don’t bother with me. I’m alright, go ahead.’ He continued to fire at the enemy until he got so weak that his gun slipped from his hands.” They found in his breast pocket a small bundle of letters from his parents and an image of a young unnamed, dark-haired sweetheart.
Homer T. Clements died one week after his nineteenth birthday. His photograph is included in the Archives’ permanent exhibit of Gold Star soldiers displayed on the second floor.