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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

100 years ago: Watch deflects German bullet, saves Spokane soldier’s life

Edwin Huhenthal, 25, of Spokane, narrowly escaped death when a German bullet struck his hunting case watch and was deflected, striking his leg rather than his stomach. (Spokesman-Review archives)

Edwin Huhenthal, 25, of Spokane, owed his life to the silver “hunting case watch” he carried in his pocket.

Huhenthal was a soldier who “went over the top” with his infantry company in France. A German bullet clanged off the watch, and if not for the watch it would have hit his stomach and probably killed him.

Instead, the bullet was deflected downward into the bones of his right leg. He lay unconscious in no-man’s-land for hours before he was finally rescued.

Doctors were able to save his leg, but it was shortened by an inch and he was immobilized in cast in a French hospital for four weeks.

Another Spokane soldier, George D. Dean, a Lewis and Clark High School graduate, was not so fortunate. He was reported dead “by accident or other causes” in France. No details were yet available.

From the court beat: H. Witter of Wenatchee was bound over in federal court on a charge of espionage. This did not mean he was thought to be a spy, in the strict sense of the word. It meant he was charged with making “disloyal remarks.”

Two men testified that they were riding home from work in an auto with Witter when he said, “This country wants a fight and I hope they get their fill of it. If I was big enough I would lick the government myself.”

Witter made no statement at his hearing, but his attorney said, “Witter is an I.W.W. (Wobbly) and you fellows have got it in for him.”