Published in the July 2012 PANORAMA COMMUNITY MAGAZINE

Five in family serve overseas

by Linda Sult, Curator of The Carriage House Library and Museum


A Great American family" is the title bestowed on the family and descendants of the late Russell and Leona Belle Turner who were residents of Orange Street, Berwick.  Three sons as well as three sons-in-law and a grandson served in the US military in three conflicts World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam conflict.

The Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award to a local soldier, Staff Sgt Day G. Turner.  Turner commanded a nine-man squad with the mission of holding a critical flank position.  When overwhelming numbers of the enemy attacked under cover of withering artillery, mortar and rocket fire, he withdrew his squad into a nearby house, determined to defend it to the last man.  The enemy attacked again and again and were repulsed with heavy losses.  Supported by direct tank fire, they finally gained entrance, but the intrepid sergeant refused to surrender although five of his men were wounded and one was killed.  He boldly flung a can of flaming oil at the first wave of attackers, dispersing them, and fought from room to room, closing with the enemy in fierce hand to hand encounters.  He hurled hand grenade for hand grenade, bayoneted two fanatical Germans who rushed a doorway he was defending and fought on with the enemy's weapons when his own ammunition was expended.  The savage fight raged for four hours, and finally when three men of the defending squad were left unwounded, the enemy surrendered.  Twenty-five prisoners were taken; 11 enemy dead and a great number of wounded were counted.  Sgt. Turner's valiant stand will live on as a constant inspiration to his comrades.  His heroic inspiring leadership, his determination and courageous devotion to duty exemplify the highest tradition of the military service.

Staff  Sgt. Day Turner was killed in action one month after his historic defense.  He is buried in the National cemetery, Dahl, Luxembourg.  Staff Sgt. Turner served the US Army Company b, 319th Infantry, 80th Infantry Division.  Date of birth:  September 2, 1921, Date of death:  February 8, 1945; Citation:  G O No. 49, June 28, 1945.

Brother, Private Ernest K. Turner, was the first enlisted casualty of the Korean War, he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery on August 23, 1950.  He was a veteran of nine years of army service.  Private Turner was in the Hawaiian Islands when war broke out and came back to the US to train selectees.  He gave up a Sergeants rating in that work to volunteer for the infantry and go to Europe.

Brother, Private First Class Robert Turner, was wounded in Europe during WW II.  Sons-in-law of the Turner couple, Pfc. Richard Stout was wounded in Belgium, another son-in-law John W. Slusser served in the Air Force.  They served overseas in World War II at the same time as the Turner brothers.


History of the First Christmas Cards

In the early 19th century, families would send long Christmas letters to their family and friends. This custom was about to change. In 1843, a wealthy London businessman decided to surprise his friends by sending them colored Christmas cards instead of the usual Christmas letters. The businessman, Henry Cole (later Sir Henry), founder of the Victoria and Albert Museum, asked his friend John Callcot Horsley RA to design a special card for him. It showed a family gathering. Some temperance-minded Victorians criticized the card as it showed a family toasting with wine. About 1,000 of these cards were printed at the princely sum of a shilling, or about a nickel each. Very few of them survive today. Some years ago, one was sold to an American dealer by a London auction for 400 pounds, or about $600. The record price paid for such a card was 25,000 pounds, or $38,000, on account of the card’s exceptionally fine condition. 

Early Christmas cards didn’t always have a Christmas theme. The Victorians couldn’t see the appeal of illustrating cold, white snow on their cards, instead they dreamed up sunny scenes of flowers, birds in their nests, strawberries and other summer fruit. A lust bird’s nest suggested that spring was just around the corner. 

They also liked scenes showing festive parties and sentimental pictures of small children, angels and pet animals. Dogs were the first animals to appear on Christmas cards as great symbols of faithful and noble family pets. The Victorians considered pigs emblems of good luck, so card artists were encouraged to put in as many as possible.

Towards the end of the 19th century, cards became very elaborate and colorful. Many included padded satin or woven silk. At turn of the century mechanical Christmas cards became all the rage. They were a flat card and by pulling a lever, a three dimensional scene was revealed. “Hold to light” cards were also very popular. By holding the Christmas cards to light, a hidden scene would appear.

In the early 20th century, Father Christmas made his appearance. He was usually cloaked in red but it was not unusual to find him dressed in green, blue or yellow. 

While writing your Christmas cards this year, be thankful for Sir Henry for developing the Christmas card and saving us from all of those long letters. 

Jim Stout Jackson Mansion Curator