Williams, Charles Anderson | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center
Charles Anderson Williams was born September 28, 1887, in New York City. He is listed in the 1900 census with his widowed mother Margaret in the Brooklyn home of his grandmother, Jane B. Anderson. In 1910 he and his mother lived in Queens in the home of his aunt, Maude Anderson; Charles is listed as a railroad clerk. On his World War I registration card he identified himself as a resident of Brooklyn, married, and employed as an accountant at Lybrand Ross Bros. & Montgomery in New York City.
Lieutenant Williams was among the advance group of officers in the Ordnance Department who sailed to France in the fall of 1917 to make preparations for the American Expeditionary Force. His letters begin soon after his arrival in France and end with his return to New York in July 1919, having been promoted to captain. Williams remained behind the lines in and near the city of Tours and saw no combat. His letters depict the experiences of an American officer in France in the months before most Americans arrived. He billeted with a French family in Tours and befriended his landlady and her daughters, practicing his French and introducing them by mail to his sisters in Brooklyn. He describes his friendships with fellow officers and his travels to various ammunition depots and factories behind the front lines, communicating as well as he could with his French counterparts and eating in local houses and restaurants. Williams censored his own letters and was very careful not to reveal his location or anything about military plans or movements; his letters are much more about the logistics of living in France than of the war itself. He does describe two inspection tours from General John J. Pershing, in August 1918 and April 1919.
Williams is listed in the 1920 census with his wife Gertrude, living in Brooklyn and employed as an accountant for a safety razor company. On his World War II registration card (1942) Williams lived in Norwalk, Connecticut. He died in July 1964.