PRIVATE JAMES FORNEK of 1269 Atlantic Avenue, Camden NJ, died in France on October 6, 1918 while serving with the United States Army.
James Fornek was the son of Ignatius and Mary Formanek. The couple had come to America from a Polish-speaking part of Germany in 1884 and 1886 respectively, and married here around 1887. Daughter Josephine was born in March of 1888. She was followed by Mary, John, Mollie, and Albert. When the Census was taken in 1900 the family was living at 1133 Louis Street in Camden, a neighborhood where many of Camden's first Polish immigrants resided. James Fornek was born in 1902.
Although Army records indicate that James Fornek was 18 when he enlisted, it appears that he lied about his age to get into the Army, and that he was at best 15 years of age. Older brother John F. had served in the Navy in the 1900s and early 1910s, and went overseas with the 29th Infantry Division, and another brother, Joseph, had also registered for the draft. Calling himself James Fornek, he entered service on May 22, 1918, and was sent to Camp Crane at Allentown PA, where he was assigned to Evacuation Hospital Number 11. He went overseas with this unit in August of 1918.
Private Fornek fell victim to the Spanish flu pandemic that caused millions of deaths around the world in the fall of 1919. He died due to bronchial pneumonia, at the age of 15.
Private James Fornek was brought home and eventually buried at Calvary Cemetery in Delaware Township (present-day Cherry Hill) NJ. Camden County in the Great War states that he was the son of Mrs. Mary Fornek. He was survived by his mother and brothers. The Formanek family was still in Camden, in the 900 block of Tulip Street, as late as 1947, operating a roofing business as Formanek & Sons. A nephew, Alfred J. Formanek, served in the Air Corps during World War II, was taken prisoner when his bomber went down in Europe, and came home at war's end.
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