Families touched by WWII exhibit
CENTREVILLE — The World War II exhibit at the Queen Anne’s Museum of Eastern Shore Life has had an impact on local families and individuals who lived in Queen Anne’s County during the war and are still living in the area today. Many families and individuals in the area have provided photos of their relatives who served in the military during WWII. Some have provided artifacts and items of memorabilia from that war. Many of these folks have visited the museum to see the exhibit and talk about their relatives who served during the war.
The museum’s WWII exhibit includes a feature recognizing and honoring the three dozen county residents who died in combat during the war. Perhaps the most renowned incident of a local person becoming a casualty during the war involved Henry Lewis of Centreville. Lewis was a lieutenant and a pilot in the U. S. Army Air Corps, flying a B-24 Liberator bomber out of England. Lewis was killed when his plane went down in eastern France while returning from a bombing mission in Germany in December 1944.
The plane crashed in a forested area near the German border but the location of the crash site was unknown to American and English officials so no rescue or recovery effort was possible at that time.
The cause of the crash was never known.
In 1999, the crash site was discovered by local citizens and reported to the local authorities. Minuscule remnants of the remains of the crew were found, still with their dog tags and other pieces of personal identification. Henry Lewis’ remains and dog tags were subsequently returned to his family in Centreville and Henry’s remains were interred in the Chesterfield Cemeter y in Centreville.
Henry and his wife, Kitty, had a daughter, Nancy, who was born in 1943. Henry and Nancy were able to spend a little time together when Nancy was less than a year old. She was too young to be able to remember being with him but there are several photographs of them together. Kitty was pregnant with their second child when Henry left for his duty in Europe in late 1943. Their second daughter, Sandy, was born in 1944 after Henry had departed, so Henr y and Sandy never met.
Nancy and Sandy made a visit to the museum last month to see the exhibit and discuss their dad’s story. They each have one of his dog tags. Sandy was wearing hers when she visited the museum.
The museum will be open to visitors from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 6. The museum also will be open to visitors on Saturday, Nov. 3, and Sunday, Nov. 11, in special recognition of the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day which ended World War I in 1918.
There is no admission charge though donations are always sincerely appreciated.
The museum is located at the Queen Anne’s County 4-H Park (county fairgrounds) located on state Route 18 at Dulin Clark Road between Centreville and Queenstown.
Sisters Nancy Lewis, left, and Sandy Lewis Metz visited the Queen Anne’s Museum of Eastern Shore Life on Sept. 1 to see the WWII exhibit, especially the part featuring their father Henry Lewis, who was a U. S. Army Air Corps pilot who was killed when his plane crashed during a return flight from a bombing mission over Germany in December 1944. They are standing in front of a photo of their dad taken in Centreville in 1943. Sandy is wearing one of Henry’s dog tags. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO