Jacob [Fred Bernasconi] was born in New Britain. CT in 1897 of Swiss descent.... Show moreJacob [Fred Bernasconi] was born in New Britain. CT in 1897 of Swiss descent.
At the time of his enlistment in the U.S. Army he lived in Farmington, CT and worked as a chauffeur. His fiancée at the time was Augusta (Gussie) Marie Firnhaber of New Britain, CT., later his wife and my aunt (my mother's sister).
Serving in France, Jacob was severely burned in a mustard gas attack (1st Purple Heart). After recuperating in an Army hospital in France he returned to the trenches.
In the Battle of Chateau Thierry he and two comrades were advancing on a German machine gun in placement when an artillery shell exploded. This is where he was seriously wounded by shrapnel in the left buttock and leg (2nd Purple Heart). Two of his buddies were killed. After two years in Army hospitals he returned to New Britain and married his love, Gussie.
Jake worked at Stanley Works in New Britain for many years as their garage (transportation) superintendent. Active in Stanley Works, he was president of the Employees Benefit Society. Well known in New Britain, he was active in American Legion, YD [Yankee Division] Club, and the Masonic Lodge. His hobbies were friends (many), reading books and Life Magazine, and target shooting. He smoked cedar wrapped cigars (only place sold was Jimmy's Smoke Shop in New Britain).
He suffered from his wounds, crippled and in pain for 17 years. After falling down a flight of stairs his doctor performed exploratory surgery at New Britain General Hospital. A jagged piece of shrapnel was removed from his spine area (approximately 1 ½" long).
After many more years of suffering Jake passed away in 1949. He is buried in section 34 in Fairview Cemetery in New Britain.
--Information provided by Howard A. Swanson, October 27, 2014 Show less