Branch: U. S. Army
Status: Died of wounds
Date of Service: WWI
Home Town: Holst Township
Bernt Fosnes and family – Bernt is painted into the back row.
Bernt Andersen Fosnes was born in Bergen, Norway on December 14, 1889 to Anders and Marie Fosnes. Anders farmed near Oppstryn, a village in Stryn Municipality in Sogn og Fjordane County, Norway on the southern shore of Lake Oppstrynsvatnet. Bernt was born third in the line of five Fosnes children.
Bernt’s Uncle Mons Fosnes had immigrated to the United States in 1884 when he was 16. He settled in Stony Run, Yellow Medicine County for a while before moving to Kintire Township in Redwood County. In 1900 he and his wife Helga filed for homestead on 160 acres in Holst Township, Clearwater County. Land was cheap in this part of the country, so the thought of owning his own land persuaded his nephew Bernt to also immigrate to America. Bernt was 22 years old when he arrived in Portland, Maine on April 1, 1911.
Bernt lived with Mons for a time before finding his own piece of land nearby. He wrote home to his family in Norway in 1917, telling them that he had worked his own land that summer, crops were good, he was “healthy and fast” for his age and that things were going well.
The letter also remarked about the danger of a looming war and noted that a compulsory military service had been introduced. He told his family that he was likely to be among those called first and he was eager to meet the challenge. He passed along to his family a greeting from Mons.
His prediction soon came true. He was drafted into the U.S. Army and became a private in the 360th Infantry Regiment, 90th Infantry Division. He was severely wounded in France and on September 19, 1918 succumbed to his wounds.
Bernt is buried in the St. Mihiel American Cemetery in Plot C, Row 10, Grave 28 in Thiaucourt, France.
A letter arrived from Bernt to his Norwegian family after his death. In it he told of his being sent to France and he promised them that if God would save his life, he would make a trip home to “Old Norig” before returning to America. It was not to be, however. Instead, Anders and Marie received a check for $10,000 in compensation from the U.S. Congress, scant recompense for the life of their son. It is evident that they were very proud of him, because a picture of the Fosnes family, apparently taken after Bernt’s death, shows Bernt painted into the back row of the family.