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Walter Casimir Drwall

Parsons Advocate, October 4, 1945

West Virginia Veterans Memorial


Walter Casimir Drwall

"I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat."

Winston Churchill

Walter Casimir Drwall was born on November 30, 1922, to Frank William and Mary Koziel Drwall, both natives of Poland, who would return to the United States sometime after his birth. During this era, it was common for a family of immigrants to return to their home country after saving enough to own and work land in said country, not succeeding in this case. Between the dates of September 1920 and July 1923, the Drwalls lived in Poland in an attempt to own land:failing in this endeavor:they would move back to the United States. Along with Walter, who was born in Wladyslaw, Poland, Frank and Mary had children Anna, Stanislaw, Helen, Edwin, and Evelyn Drwall in the United States.

Walter grew up in Douglas (P.O. Albert), West Virginia, which was primarily a poor coal mining town with the population in the hundreds consisting mostly of immigrant workers. His father and older brother Edwin were employed by West Virginia Cumberland Mine Company, also known as the Cumberland Coal and Coke Company:coal mining being one of the only viable occupations in Douglas, especially considering the effects of the Great Depression running rampant. Walter attended Thomas High School until graduation in 1939 and afterward was employed by Youngstown Pressed Steel in Warren, Ohio.
Thomas High School

Thomas High School (demolished in 1972). Courtesy West Virginia State Archives, Joseph Sagace Collection

Stanislaw Drwall

Stanislaw (Stanley) Drwall, Parsons Advocate, October 4, 1945

Stanislaw Drwall, commonly known as Stanley, Walter's older brother, had graduated from Thomas High School in 1936 as did Walter in 1939. After graduating, Stanislaw enlisted in the U.S. Navy on June 6, 1936, ultimately being assigned to the USS Oklahoma as a seaman first class. Stanislaw was killed in action during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, at the young age of 20:the very battle that would prompt U.S. entry into World War II and the consequent enrollment of his younger brother. Stanislaw had been on the Oklahoma for five years stationed in Hawaii before the attack. The attack was sudden:taking the entire crew by surprise. Five torpedoes hit and capsized the ship, killing the 429 men on board.

Walter, following in the grim footsteps of his sibling, enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve in Youngstown, Ohio, on June 9, 1942, and received training in the Great Lakes area and gunnery school in Chicago. After only minimal months of basic training, he was deployed in November 1942 to the U.S. Navy Armed Guard aboard the SS Coamo, earning the rank of seaman second class. Unfortunately, Walter's boat was not to fare any better fate than that of his brother.

Frank and Mary suffered through the death of their eldest son because of the war only to have Walter go off and fight to meet the same fate as Stanislaw (Walter and Stanislaw were the only ones in the family to fight in the war). Sadly, on December 2, 1942, Walter's ship was followed by German submarine U-604 for approximately ten hours before being fired on from 800 meters, hitting on the bridge and sinking 150 miles from the Irish coast in the Atlantic Ocean. It was the largest U.S. flag merchant crew lost:one including Walter, who was listed dead as of December 11, 1942:buried at sea with the rest of the SS Coamo. While Walter's remains could never be recovered, thankfully the remains of Stanislaw, though not individually identified, were recovered and placed with others among the missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

According to the American Battle Monuments Commission, Walter is listed on the Tablets of the Missing at the Cambridge American Cemetery in England. He was awarded the Purple Heart posthumously for his service. He was survived by his parents and siblings Edward, Anna, Helen, and Evelyn:Stanislaw having died during the war. Walter's memory lives on:his body being the only part of him buried beneath the churning tides.
Cambridge American Cemetery

The Tablets of the Missing at Cambridge American Cemetery include the names of more than 5,000 Americans who were considered Missing in Action or lost or buried at sea from World War II. Courtesy American Battle Monuments Commission


"Coamo: American Steam Passenger Ship.", accessed 30 April 2018,

"Drwall Brothers Killed in Action." Parsons Advocate. 4 October 1945.

"S2c Walter Casmier Drvall [sic]." Find A Grave (Memorial #56289335), accessed 30 April 2018,

Article prepared by Caroline McClung and Madeleine Swint, George Washington High School Advanced Placement U.S. History
April 2018


Walter Casimir Drwall

West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history.

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