Albert Reynolds was born near Geneseo, Kansas, later moved to Ellsworth, and came to Bethany College to study violin under Arthur Uhe. Besides undertaking his studies, while at Bethany Reynolds also found time to be part of a small band that toured the area for events like square dances, participated in a thespian group, and even did some boxing. He married Helen Becker of Ellsworth in 1917.
After the United States joined the belligerent nations in World War 1, Reynolds found himself in the US Army. According to his own hand-written history, he enlisted on September 18, 1917. He trained at Camp Funston with Company H of the 353rd brigade of the 89th division. (He is listed in the regimental history as “Albert Renolds” [sic] on p. 294). He served at Camp Funston until May 1918 and arrived in France that June. He “saw service” in the Alsace-Loraine sector in July. His division helped lead the assault against the Germans at the Battle of St. Mihiel (Sep. 12-16, 1918), and Reynolds was severely wounded during the battle. According to the Ellsworth Reporter from February 6, 1919, twenty-six pieces of shrapnel from an artillery piece that exploded four feet from him tore through his body, breaking his jaw, tearing open his scalp, wounding one eye, and damaging his fingers and arms. He took shelter in a shell hole for eight hours until he was found.
Unfortunately, that shell hole contained poison gas residue (after use, poison gas settled into low spots in the landscape), and Reynolds’s gas mask had been compromised from the explosion, leaving Reynolds with burned lips. He was treated at the U.S. Base Hospital in Limoges, France, before returning the the US in January 1919 and convalescing at a hospital at Ft. Sheridan, Illinois. He received his medical discharge on May 5, 1919.
After the war, Reynolds continued to suffer from his injuries sustained in France. He still managed to play his violin, and even to teach. He was active in various communities until his death in the 1960s.
Reynolds kept a substantial amount of material related to the war years. You can read a series of letters – mostly written by his wife Helen between August and December 1918, and returned to sender – that detail homelife and the worry of a wife for her soldier husband. There are also photographs from Reynolds’s time at Bethany College, training at Camp Funston (and on leave while in uniform), and time after the military.