WWI Profile: David Bertram Frink 1894-1973

To view this or an earlier profile at any time, click on the veteran’s name on the WWI Brunswick County Veteran list, which is also accessible by the blue button on the top right of the webpage.

Photos courtesy of Doris Frink Redwine, daughter
David Bertram Frink
Shallotte, Brunswick County, NC
US Army

May 27, 1918 – July 18, 1919
July 31, 1918 – May 22, 1919

David Bertram “Bert” Frink was born and raised in Shallotte, NC. A family tree is located in FamilySearch. Bert’s brother, Samuel Joseph Frink also served in WWI.

Bert’s WWI Draft Registration shows he was single, a farmer, and living in Shallotte.

Bert was ordered to report for duty on May 27, 1918, along with 35 other men from Brunswick County as detailed in John Hillary Caison’s WWI Profile. They were sent to Camp Jackson, SC, to train with the 81st Division, but upon arrival in France in August, were transferred to the 42nd “Rainbow” Division. Pvt Frink became a replacement for Company K, 166th Infantry.

The profiles of Wagoners Jackson Berry Potter and Dorman Lowell Mercer describe the formation and training of the 42nd Rainbow Division, along with the months in France up to August 17, 1918, when the Rainbow Division, victorious in many battles, was finally given a chance to rest and resupply. Replacements such as Pvts Brown, Caison, Frink, Inman, and Williams arrived to serve with the battle hardened troops. Those drafted at a late date such as these men were typically not trained and never even held a rifle before boarding ships to France. They were given uniforms and sent overseas quickly, which earned them the gruesome nickname “Cannon fodder.”

At this point in WWI the 42nd Division was a shock division, now considered elite troops, and full of pride over their accomplishments. The WWI Profiles of Pvts Caison and Inman describe the battles that followed. After the Armistice, the division was chosen for the Army of Occupation, remaining until May 1919, when the 42nd Division began leaving for home.

The photo at top clearly shows the insignia of the Third Army, or Army of Occupation. His six month overseas chevron can be seen on his left sleeve in the photo here with an unidentified soldier. (Pvt Frink, sitting)

The US Army Transport passenger list shows Pvt Frink’s name crossed out. He did not return with his division, but remained until May 6, 1919, when he embarked at Brest, France, on Yale, arriving in the New York harbor on May 22. He was not discharged for two more months, indicating he required time for recovery. Details of his illness are unknown.

Pvt Frink’s WWI military medals, shown here, include the WWI Victory Medal with Army Battle Clasps awarded for the battles of St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne, along with the Defensive Sector Battle Clasp. On the right is the Army of Occupation of Germany Medal and service ribbon which were awarded to those who served in the European Occupation at the close of the war.

Pvt Frink also returned home with these German and American helmets, which his family has saved for over 100 years.

His daughter, Doris Frink Redwine, shared the following stories.

When we were growing up, we did not have electricity until 1939. Many nights after supper, we would sit around the table and listen to my father tell us of his experiences during his service in WWI. I wrote many essays in school about some of those and received A’s.

One night, after fighting all day against the Germans, they were trudging back to camp. It was first dark. It had been raining and they were wet, hungry, cold and near exhaustion. They were so tired they could hardly put one foot in front of the other when someone started whistling- very wistfully:

[Sketch taken from 1919 UNC yearbook, Yackety-Yack, SATC Section, p. 176]
“K-K-K-Katy, beautiful Katy. You’re the only g-g-girl that I adore. When the m-m-m-oon shines over the cow shed, I’ ll be waiting at the k-k-k-kitchen door.” [lyrics]

This little whistle lifted their spirits so much they were back at camp before they knew it. The irony of this is at times, my Father stuttered.

One night, he and his buddy stormed the door of a house in the edge of the woods where all the shades were pulled. The lady who answered the door and her children were so frightened she could hardly speak! It was difficult for them to show her that all they wanted were some eggs.

When the war was over and on their way home, their ship was in a tremendous storm that knocked a hole in the bow. So much stuff had to be thrown overboard to lift the bow of the ship as they limped into the Azores Islands for repair. What surprised my father so much were the sailors! They were so scared they could barely function while the veterans from the war were calm as cucumbers!

Later in life, Bert Frink served as a Brunswick County Commissioner.

David Bertram Frink passed away on February 15, 1973, as a result of a car accident. He was laid to rest alongside his wife in Mintz Cemetery in Ocean Isle Beach. His daughter Doris Frink Redwine and grandson Edward Davis Redwine are shown here honoring him at his gravesite.

If you would like to help us honor David Bertram Frink or another Brunswick County WWI veteran, please use the following links:

Click here for the announcement: Announcement: Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran
Click here for directions to donate and honor a veteran: How to Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran

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