A telegram from the secretary of war to George J. Hontos' mother, Cornelia Hontos, informing her of her son's death. Hontos was killed by a Nazi landmine on May 24, 1943, in Tunisia. The telegram is addressed in all caps type on three lines: "C.WB342 WMUA 48 47 GOVT=WMU Washington DC 17 415pm, Mrs Cornelia Hontos=, 3721 North Albany Avenue Chicago illinois=". Message typed in all caps on six lines: "The Secretary of War desires that I tender his deep sympathy to you in the loss of your son Private George J Hontos report just received states that he died on twenty four may in North African area as result of wounds received in action letter follows= UL10 The Adjutant General." Above the message is a blue rectangle with the Postal Telegraph company logo. A "received at" box is to the left of this logo, but the time and date have faded and are barely visible. To the right is a box with 8 lines of small text stating it is a full rate telegram. The number "66" is handwritten over this box. The telegram shows a deep horizontal fold and two vertical folds. The edges are worn, with small folds and tears at the left and top edge. There are three small holes in the top right corner and six in the left corner that might have been from staples. Each line of text in the message appears to be taped on, and this tape is peeling back by the word "follows". In the bottom right corner of the front "VYT" is handwritten in pencil. A small watermark on the back about 2.5 inches from left edge and 1.5 inches from bottom. Some yellowing on right edge.
This telegram was sent from the Secretary of War to George James Hontos' mother, Cornelia Hontos, informing her of her son's death. During World War II, death notices were made by telegram. Today, the military trains special officers to inform the family in person.
George J. Hontos was born in Chicago, Illinois on March 27th, 1920. The son of James and Cornelia Hontos, brother of Dimitra, Arthur and John, who also served in the United States Navy. Two weeks following the Pearl Harbor disaster, he was called to serve his country. He trained for six months at Camps Hulen and Wallace, Tex. On March 1, 1942, the 434th Coast Artillery Battalion (Anti-Aircraft) was activated. With this outfit, he was sent to England. After the completion of training, they took part in the liberation of Africa. George died from a landmine left by the Nazis, trying to aid some wounded women and children in Tunisia, on May 24th, 1943. Private George J. Hontos was posthumously awarded the Soldier's Medal and the Purple Heart.
The Postal Telegraph Company was formed in 1886 by John Mackay as a domestic wire telegraph company. It was one of the first competitors of Western Union and drove the cost telegraphic messages down to twenty-five cents a word.
George Hontos' brother, Arthur Hontos, kept all of his military records and artifacts- including this telegram- and donated them to the National Hellenic Museum in 2000.
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Telegram, 1943, The George J. Hontos Collection, National Hellenic Museum, https://collections.nationalhellenicmuseum.org/Detail/objects/6770. Accessed 12/07/21.