World War I Soldiers Remembered: William Marion Childs

9 Mar
William Marion Childs 03

William Marion Childs on left, unknown soldier on right.

William (Willie) Marion Childs was born July 31, 1888 in Fife, Virginia. He was a 28-year old Station Lineman with the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad when he was drafted on May 27, 1918 and sent to Camp Lee. According to his Registration Card, we know he was single, tall and had gray eyes and brown hair. Willie’s father was William Wood Childs and his mother was Martha Catherine Tankersley, both born in Richmond, Virginia.

He was inducted into service on June 12, 1918 and sent to Camp Lee, Virginia, assigned to Co. A, Depot Brigade, 11th Battalion. He left Norfolk, Virginia for the European theatre on August 22, 1918. Willie boarded the USS Princess Matoika, a German ship that had been seized by the U.S. Government for service after entry into World War I. He arrived at Brest France on September 3, 1918. He proceeded from Brest to Contres then on to St. Aignan, Tours and Colombey-les-Belles, France. During his time in France, as a Corporal in the 68th Prisoner of War Escort Company, he worked as an electrician installing the wiring on a prisoner of war camp near the German border. He also was a patient in the worldwide influenza epidemic while stationed at Tours in October of 1918.


USS Princess Matoika

Childs arrived back at Hoboken, New Jersey aboard the MSAT America on October 28, 1919 and was officially discharged from Camp Dix on November 1st of the same year. He reported that his experience in the war left him with “no bad effects” and about his state of mind afterwards, he wrote “I suppose my mind is as good as it was.”

Childs returned to Goochland and resumed his job as an electrician on the C & O railroad. He wired many of the houses around his home for electricity when it moved into the rural areas and at one time he operated a phone company in the same area. His body was discovered on Cartersville Road on February 2, 1946 and his death was attributed to heart disease. He was 57 years old. He is buried at Elk Hill Baptist Church.

Uncle Willie Childs post 2

William Marion Childs, 1906


If you have any photographs of World War I service men and women from Goochland, please contact the Goochland County Historical Society. We would love to scan your photographs and add them to the World War I Commemorative Collection. Contact us at 804-556-3966 or at


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