Fred Idlett
of Navarro County, Texas


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Fred was born 26 Nov 1894 in Navarro Co. He was the son of David and Martha Alice (Ritter) Idlett and grandson of JC Armstrong of the northwest section of Navarro Co. Fred was living with his parents in Oklahoma at the time he signed the draft card in 1917 and he was the first man drafted from that section. He was single, working as a laborer for Leslie Steele in Marlow, OK. He was of medium build and height with brown eyes and hair.
After his formal training he, along with several other Navarro Co boys, started to the front lines in France by way of the Tuscania which was torpedoed by the Germans, and he along with the others was rescued off the Irish coast.
A clipping taken from a Belfast, Ireland, paper of February 7th (1918) describes the event as follows:
“On Wednesday morning in the early hours were landed the survivors of the troops and crew from the torpedoed Tuscania. About 500 men were landed here, and, while many others were taken into other ports, it is, alas only too probable that many lives have been lost.
The Tuscania was the middle boat of a well guarded convoy and was in sight of the Irish coast some hours before the disaster. Guarded by eight destroyers, the convoy arrived at a point off the northern coast before anything untoward happened; then, just as darkness dropped on Tuesday evening, without a sign of a submarine or warning of any sort, a torpedo struck the liner full amidship and the track of another was immediately after noticed astern.
“Without panic and in splendid order the men reached their boat stations, but the work of lowering the life boats was greatly hampered by the tremendous list of the great liner. One or two of the first boats were capsized in the lowering, the occupants being thrown into the water, and other lifeboats being let down right, on top of them. It is feared that several lives wore lost, in this way. The liner continued afloat for considerable time, and the work of rescuing the men from the water was carried out by the boats from the escorts and from patrols called to the scene.
“On the arrival of the survivors at this port many were removed to the hospital, but the great majority were lodged in a large hotel, and hot meals were at once set before them. A will willing band of helpers under the auspices of the Shipwreck Mariners' Society, helped to fit out the men with warm clothing and other comforts. Of course there were many pitiable scenes, and a great number were on the verge of collapse from shock to body and mind through uncertainty as to the fate of relatives and comrades. Notwithstanding, the soldiers and sailors soon recovered their spirits and treated their tragic experience with an indifference truly wonderful.”
After the horrible experience of being dropped into the waters off the Irland coast and escape from death, Fred was sent on to the front lines in France. With five months of hard fighting, he was killed in action in the battle near Buzaney, France, on July 18, 1918.
He was buried there in France until arrangements were made for him to be brought home. On Saturday, September 17th, 1921 his remains arrived in Blooming Grove. A funeral with all the military honors given, largely attended, took place with interment at the Grange Hall cemetery on Sunday, September 18th.


Soldier Buried in Blooming Grove
The remains of Fred Idlett, aged 23 years, when killed in action in France, arrived in Blooming Grove Saturday and the funeral took place Sunday with burial at. Grange Hall. The body was accorded military honors and the funeral was largely attended.
The deceased was a nephew of Jack Armstrong of Blooming Grove.
Idlett registered at Marlow, Oklahoma, and was the first man drafted from that district. He started to France on the Tuscania which was torpedoed by the Germans, and was rescued off the Irish coast after a thrilling escape from death. From Ireland he was sent on to France where he was killed in battle near Buzaney July18, 1918.


Blooming Grove Soldier's Body to Arrive From France

The remains of Fred Ivey, a Blooming Grove soldier boy. who was killed in France reached Hoboken, New Jersey, a few days ago and will be in Blooming Grove one day this week and burial will take place there. The
deceased was a nephew of J. C. Armstrong, a well known citizen of the Grove.


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Edward L. Williams