WWI Profile: Craven Ledrew Sellers 1889-1960

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.

Photo contributed by Gwen Causey, granddaughter of Henry Lindon Clemmons
Craven Ledrew Sellers
Supply, Brunswick County, NC
US Army
Mechanic

Served:
May 27, 1918 – June 1, 1919
Overseas:
August 5, 1918 – May 29, 1919

Craven Ledrew Sellers was born and raised in Brunswick County, NC. His brother, Herbert Teller Sellers, also served in WWI.

His Draft Registration shows he was single, living in Supply, and working as a logging foreman for Waccamaw Shingle Company in Bolivia, NC.

Craven was ordered to report for duty on May 27, 1918 [Source: Ancestry]. He was sent to Camp Jackson, SC, for training and then to Camp Sevier in June when he was assigned to Co I, 324th Infantry, 81st “Wildcat” Division.

Previous posts describe the experiences of the 81st Division through the signing of the Armistice. They then prepared for a grueling 15 day hike with full packs. (The following excerpts taken from The history of the 321st infantry.)

The 175 kilometer hike from the front to this training area in the vicinity of Chatillon-Sur-Seine will always stand out as one of the greatest feats of our overseas experience.

It was a test of physical endurance and morale. Their handicaps included the weakened condition of the men due to exposure and hardships on the front, epidemics of dysentery and bad colds of which 75% fell victim, and the bad conditions in which the men marched and slept.

Photo contributed by Gwen Causey, granddaughter of Henry Lindon Clemmons
Location and date unknown

That Thanksgiving will be remembered mostly for what we didn’t have and didn’t do in contrast to what we had had and had done on previous Thanksgivings.

At the end of the fifteen days of hard marching, they passed in review at attention with full packs and complete equipment.

Aching backs and blistered feet made it hell for us.

Those of us who finished this hike together felt more closely bound together than ever after by those ties of comradeship that had been established on those days at the front. We also felt that we had something in common with the soldiers of past wars who had made long marches under trying conditions.

They spent 5 1/2 months in the French villages near Chatillon-Sur-Seine. There was little incentive for training. After Christmas, a more lenient schedule was set with occasional short hikes.

Most of the French peasants opened their homes and their hearts to us, and showed us a hospitality as genuine and unselfish as our own American homes could have shown the soldiers of any army. The French were keenly appreciative and profoundly thankful for the valuable services of the American soldiers. Many of them sacrificed and toiled day and night for American soldiers in grateful recognition of America’s timely aid in the World War.

But the hospitality of the French could not satisfy that longing for home and friends left behind.

We were obsessed with the sole thought of going home.

The introduction of athletics and other activities helped keep them busy and distracted from their homesickness. Football, baseball, basketball, wrestling, theater, and shooting contests were enthusiastically attended by all.

They were proud of their Division’s champions. Besides the wrestler shown here, their baseball team was the best in the Army, having never lost a game either in the States or overseas.

Their play, “O.U. Wildcats” was said to be the most popular in the AEF. It depicted the life of a Doughboy in France. The most popular song was called “The Bloody War.” Some of the verses are copied below.

The Bloody War
I was a simple country boy,
I lived out on the farm;
I never even killed a flea
Or done nobody harm.

One day the sheriff caught me,
He says, “Come with me, my son;
Your Uncle Sammy needs you,
To help him “tote” a gun.”

They tried to teach me how to drill,
I did the best I could;
But my captain told me to my face,
My head was made of wood.

They sent me out on the range,
To hear the bullets sing;
I shot and shot for one whole day,
And never hit a thing.

My captain said to “Shoot at will,”
I says, “Which one is he?”
That made my captain angry,
And he fired his gun at me.

Now when I struck that foreign shore,
I looked around with glee;
But rain and kilometers,
Were all that I could see.

I ran all over Europe,
Fighting for my life;
Before I’ll go to war again,
I’ll send my darling wife.

On March 18, 1919, Private Sellers was promoted to Mechanic.

The orders they were waiting for finally arrived: Prepare to move to the Le Mans area on May 12.

They were surprised at their feelings when preparing to leave the French villages they had grown fond of.

Some of them [French villagers], when we told them good-bye, wept as if they were bidding farewell to their sons.

At St. Nazaire, France, where they would embark to return home, they spent four days delousing, bathing, undergoing medical inspections, and fitted with new clothes. They would have more delousing and inspections when arriving in the US.

When being discharged from service, they once again underwent strong emotions.

They realized that they would probably never see each other again. Strong friendships had been formed – the one thing that had saved many a soldier from despair, and perhaps suicide.

Mechanic Craven Sellers didn’t return with his unit. He boarded USS Antigone at St. Aignane a month earlier on May 17, 1919, along with other ill soldiers [Source: Ancestry]. The assumption is he fell ill during the six months after the Armistice was signed, as his name does not appear on wounded lists during combat which were published at the time.

He was honorably discharged on June 1, 1919 with no reported disability.

After the war, he lived in Southport for many years, raising his family and working first as the manager of a sawmill and then a merchant. During the Depression, he was able to get a job at the Civilian Conservation Corps, supervising a forestry group.

At his death in 1960, Craven Sellers was laid to rest in the Northwood Cemetery in Southport. A military flat marker is shown.

In 2007, his daughter, Susie Carson, along with Larry Maisel, wrote a book about her mother Lelia Jane, published by the Southport Historical Society (ISBN: 978-1-892444-15-8).

This concludes the Brunswick County WWI veterans who were wounded or killed while serving in the 81st “Wildcat” Division.

A memorial to the 81st Division was erected on the southwest corner of the North Carolina state capitol grounds in Raleigh and dedicated on October 5, 1941, by the Wildcat Veterans’ Association. The marker was dedicated as “an inspiration from the past and a warning to the future.”

In all, the “Wildcat” division suffered 1,104 casualties–248 killed or dead from wounds and 856 wounded–for the short time it was in combat.

Sources:
Johnson, Clarence Walton (1919) The history of the 321st infantry, with a brief historical sketch of the 80th division, being a vivid and authentic account of the life and experiences of American soldiers in France, while they trained, worked, and fought to help win the world war. . Columbia, S.C., The R. L. Bryan co.

Thomas P. Shinn’s Wartime Diary

81st Division Summary of Operations in the World War, US Govt, 1944

If you would like to help us honor Craven Ledrew Sellers 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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Storm update

Hurricane Florence is currently moving toward the coast of North Carolina.

The rifle range is 100 years old. It has remained standing through many hurricanes. We hope both the rifle range and the beautiful coastline will remain intact.

First priorities are homes, communities, and loved ones. When time permits and news of the rifle range is available, we will pass on any damage reports.

Those at the coast and along the path of the hurricane will be in our thoughts. Stay safe.

Hurricane Florence image by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Greenbelt, MD, USA

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Podcast interview: WWI Centennial News

Last week, Theo Mayer interviewed the Eckards for the weekly podcast “WW1 Centennial News for September 07, 2018 – Episode #88.” These podcasts are held to educate the nation about World War I during the two years leading up to the Centennial Commemoration.

The 100 Cities/100 Memorials segment includes interviews with those behind the rescue of WWI memorials which have been awarded the official designation of National World War I Centennial Memorial, which the rifle range was awarded in May.

 

Listen to the podcast here: WW1 Centennial News for September 07, 2018 – Episode #88

Click here to view the transcript of the interview: Transcript of 100C_100M podcast episode 88

The WWI Centennial Commission was established by the World War One Centennial Commission Act, passed by the 112th Congress and signed by the President on January 16, 2013. The WWI Centennial Commission Act gave the Commission, among other things, the authority to designate memorials to the service of members of the United States Armed Forces in World War I.

Read the announcement posted on the website in May: WWI CENTENNIAL MEMORIAL: 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range.

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WWI Profile: Robert Eugene Robbins 1895-1960

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.

Photo contributed by Joyce Crabtree, granddaughter
Robert Eugene Robbins
Rich Square, Northampton County, NC
US Army
Private

Served:
April 26, 1918 – June 24, 1919
Overseas:
August 5, 1918 – June 18, 1919

Robert Eugene Robbins was born in Brunswick County, NC. A partial family tree is in FamilySearch. Robert’s mother died in 1910, when he was 15, and his father died in 1914, when he was 19. Sometime between 1910 and 1917, when he registered for the draft, he moved to Rich Square, NC, for work.

His Draft Registration shows he was living in Rich Square, NC, single, supporting a sister, and working as a railroader.

Robert Robbins was ordered to report for military duty on April 20, 1918 [Source: ancestry.com]. He was inducted on April 26, 1918, and began training at Camp Jackson, SC. He was initially assigned to the 534th Engineers, but on June 24, 1918, he was transferred to Company G, 324th Infantry, 81st “Wildcat” Division, which was training at Camp Sevier, SC.

The 324th Infantry left the US on August 5, 1918, several days after the 321st and 322nd.

Previous posts describe the events in France including the orders to go “over the top” during the final days of the war. Pvt Robbins’ 2nd Battalion (Companies E-H) took the position on the far right the morning of November 9.

The Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918. However, as mentioned in the previous post, because the 81st Division did not receive confirmation of the signing, another attack was planned the night of November 10th and executed on November 11.

At 5am, on the morning of November 11, orders were received to begin advancing at 6am. 1st Sgt Thomas Shinn described how the 321st Infantry responded to orders in his diary.

The men rubbed their eyes and tightened their belts for there was no water to wash their faces or food to fill their stomachs. The men only took it good naturally and prepared to go over the top in a few minutes. We formed our lines and got in position to advance.

The high explosive shells were falling just as tho’ it was raining them from above but we would fall flat on the ground and up again and advance a little further.

About 8:30, we struck a solid line of machine guns and they fired on us. It was a whole woods full. We fought them there for about an hour.

As the battle raged on, the men of the 321st Infantry became “lost in a fog and wading water waist deep.” They were caught in a trap and were fired on from all sides. The Captain sent orders to the soldiers in front to hold their position as they attempted to fight their way out.

We fought there for some time in the marsh up to our waist and the coldest water I ever felt.”

They were surrounded by machine guns and barbed wire, making it impossible to advance. The Germans put up a fierce barrage. The barbed wire was 3 feet high and 30 feet thick and they were unable to cut it as it was too strong. Men were killed instantly all around 1st Sgt Shinn of the 321st.

I was wet to my neck and my clothes had frozen stiff on me.

I hadn’t seen any fire or shelter for 48 hours and two days without food, water, or sleep was getting on my nerves.

We had to lay low for a half hour or more and while I lay in the shell hole one of my friends came up to me and asked me to send a man to the rear with him. He had his left arm tore off between the elbow and shoulder and he was bleeding very fast. It was the hardest thing I’d ever done to tell him that I couldn’t send a man back with him.

The Armistice was signed at 11am, but the battle was still raging 15 minutes before.

About 10:45am, the [Germans] seemed to shoot every gun they had at the same time for they kept our heads so near the ground that we got our ears full of mud.

At seven minutes to eleven, a runner came up to the Captain out of breath and handed him our orders.

Orders were given to cease fire at 11:00.

At 11am, we ceased firing and the Germans jumped up, threw their rifles down, and came running to meet us. They wanted to shake hands and talk with us but we made them go back.

The rest of the day would be spent gathering the dead and wounded. Loads of bodies were buried in a hole dug like a long ditch.

Source: NC Archives

Tuesday, Nov. 12th, 1918
We spent the day burying our dead and hunting something to eat.

In those three days fighting, there were 178 killed, nearly 800 wounded, 57 captured, and 6 missing. Of those, the 324th infantry: Killed, 2 officers and 34 men; wounded, 5 officers and 145 men; missing, 18 men. [Source: “Lest We Forget” The Record of North Carolina’s Own]

Pvt Robbins returned with his unit in June 1919. He married in August, returning to Rich Square, NC, where he raised a family and farmed the land.

Robert Eugene Robbins passed away on March 15, 1960, at age 65. He was laid to rest in Cedar Lawn Cemetery in Rich Square, NC. A military flat marker is shown.

Sources:
Johnson, Clarence Walton (1919) The history of the 321st infantry, with a brief historical sketch of the 80th division, being a vivid and authentic account of the life and experiences of American soldiers in France, while they trained, worked, and fought to help win the world war. . Columbia, S.C., The R. L. Bryan co.

Thomas P. Shinn’s Wartime Diary

81st Division Summary of Operations in the World War, US Govt, 1944

If you would like to help us honor Robert Eugene Robbins 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

Click the category: Veteran Profile here or at the bottom of any veteran profile post to see all of the veteran profiles published. Follow or subscribe to the blog to stay updated on all new profiles.

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Graveside Honors: Private First Class Samuel Joseph Frink 1892-1971

Hannah Frink Deppner is pictured here honoring her father, Private First Class Samuel Joseph Frink, at his graveside in Mintz Cemetery, Ocean Isle Beach, Brunswick County, NC.

The Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range are encouraging donors and supporters to honor Brunswick County WWI veterans by submitting photos of themselves at the gravesides. Use the Cemeteries list to locate gravesites for Brunswick County WWI veterans.

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WWI Centennial Memorial plaque and certificate

The plaque and certificate showing the designation of the 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range Memorial as an Official United States World War I Centennial Memorial have arrived.

The plaque will be installed on the monument which will be dedicated during the ceremony on November 11, 2018, the 100th Anniversary of the end of the Great War.

Another view of the bas relief image (sculpted bronze image). The Doughboy comes alive!

The certificate will be presented to the town of Caswell Beach at a later date.

Click here to read about the official United States designation:
WWI CENTENNIAL MEMORIAL: 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range

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WWI Profile: Henry Lindon Clemmons 1895-1960

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 contributed by Gwen Causey, granddaughter
Henry Lindon Clemmons
Supply, Brunswick County, NC
US Army
Sergeant

Served:
October 15, 1917 – June 25, 1919
Overseas:
July 31, 1918 – June 18, 1919

Henry Lindon Clemmons was born and raised in Supply, NC. A family tree is located in FamilySearch.

Henry’s WWI Draft Registration shows he was married with one daughter (born a month earlier in May 1917), living in Supply, and farming for himself. He was described as tall, slender, with blue eyes and red hair. His registration was signed by G. Floyd Kirby, a local businessman and friend.

Henry (center) was ordered to report for duty on October 15, 1917, along with six other Brunswick County men. Beside him (order unknown) are Luther J. Inman, Owen R. Mintz, Willie H. Hewett, Robert W. Holden, Mack Leonard, and Isaac Fred Edge.

All seven Brunswick County men were sent to Camp Jackson, SC, and officially accepted on October 26 [Source: ancestry.com], then assigned to Company F, 322nd Infantry, 81st “Wildcat” Division. (Robert Holden and Owen Mintz would be reassigned before leaving for Europe, while Isaac Edge was honorably discharged with a disability in Dec 1917.)

Before leaving for France, Henry was promoted to corporal (July 4, 1918).

From previous posts, the 81st Division had just gone “over the top” during the Meuse-Argonne offensive. Cpl Henry Clemmons had been promoted to Sergeant about a month earlier (October 5, 1918). 1st Sgt Thomas Shinn’s diary (entries interspersed throughout below) describes how those orders were received.

At 4am on Saturday, November 9, 1918, the captains were called and given orders. Sergeants were told to get the Companies up, have breakfast and packs rolled and ready to move to the front at 7:30am.

Sgt Clemmons was responsible for carrying out the orders for Company F, 322nd, on November 9, 1918.

“The 322 Infantry will go over the top at 8 am. 321 Infantry will follow them and relieve them at the first opportunity.”

The whole plan of action was based on the assumption that the enemy was withdrawing and would not greatly oppose the 81st Division’s advance. It was not the case in this particular sector, however.

With heavy packs, the men moved through the cold mud and rain, the packs becoming heavier with the rain.

Recall that besides Sgt Clemmons, the following Brunswick County men were serving with the 322nd and moving to the front at this time, save those who were either discharged or wounded earlier: Pvt Isaac Edge, Pvt Quince Simmons, and Bugler William Smith. Sgt Clemmons’ Company F now included two men from Brunswick County: Cpl Luther J. Inman and Pvt Mack Leonard.

81st Division, 322nd Infantry

Name Co.
Sgt Henry L Clemmons F
Pvt Isaac F Edge C SCD 12/06/1917
Pvt Ransom Ennis Sup
Bglr Willie H Hewett F Wounded 11/10/1918
Cpl Luther J Inman F
Pvt James W Leonard K
Pvt Mack Leonard F
Pvt Simon A Lewis K
Sgt David H Long K
Pfc Fred McDonald C
Pvt James Rolland Mintz HQ
Pvt Luther P Reynolds HQ
Pvt Quince A Simmons D SCD 03/06/1918
Bglr William R Smith MG Wounded 10/15/1918

The 60th Artillery Brigade of the 35th Division were shooting over their heads, causing the men to jump as they “shot such big guns right in our face.”

We didn’t think of the many of our number that were going up never to return. We laughed and joked just as tho’ we were on an ordinary hike. ~ 1st Sgt Shinn

The 322nd Infantry was on the left, the 324th Infantry on the right. The 321st and 323rd were in support on Metz-Verdun Road. Sgt Clemmons’ 2nd Battalion (Companies E-H) took the position right of the 1st Battalion (Companies A-D) on the morning of November 9.

At 4:30pm, Company F formed a line south of Moranville. The town was captured about 5pm. Companies E and F then established an outpost nearby.

With no food or water, the 321st Infantry, 1st Sgt Shinn’s unit, lay in the woods all day and night without a fire or cover. It was raining and cold enough to freeze water in the canteen. Many of the men’s feet froze until they couldn’t walk on them.

All the boys had lost that jolly yelling feeling that we had the morning before. ~1st Sgt Shinn

That morning, November 10, the 322nd Infantry continued the attack at 6:30am. They took the town of Grimaucourt at 930am and continued pushing east and west. They met strong resistance at 11am and withdrew. By 5:30pm, the 321st Infantry was ordered to relive the 322nd, Sgt Clemmons’ unit. “The roar of the battle still raged on.” 1st Sgt Thomas Shinn watched as ambulances were hurriedly bringing wounded men of the 322nd.

We passed Captain Stone [unknown Company] staggering back shell shocked. “Thank God somebody has come to help us.”

Every few minutes an ambulance would pass full of men with legs and arms shot off or a wagon loaded with 8 or 10 dead men in it.

They told us the 3rd Battalion of the 322nd [Companies I, K, L, and M] was somewhere out there but nobody knew where. They were lost and beaten and we were up against a tough proposition.

As we passed on, stragglers from the 322nd came back, some wounded and some beaten in morale.

1st Sgt Thomas Shinn led his company beside his captain, double time, through barbed wire, as shells burst all around, killing and wounding their men.

We came to a few men of B & L Companies of the 322nd Infantry and carrying parties could be seen crawling along the edge of the wood trying to get up there to carry the dead and wounded back.

We got our men in a wide front and gave them orders to dig in which we didn’t have to beg them to do for it was death to stay on top of the ground.

We dug in about two feet in a very few minutes with our helmets and trench knives.

I was digging into a man’s body. I threw the bones out one by one but didn’t go deep enough to get them all out so I lay in the hole on them all night.

The Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918. However, because the 81st Division did not receive confirmation of the signing, another attack was planned the night of November 10th and executed on November 11.

In those three days fighting, there were 178 killed, nearly 800 wounded, 57 captured, and 6 missing. Of those, the 322nd infantry: Killed, 5 officers and 52 men; wounded, 8 officers and 209 men; missing, 10 men. [Source: “Lest We Forget” The Record of North Carolina’s Own]

Sgt Clemmons returned on June 17, 1919, on Mastonia [Source: ancestry.com]. He was honorably discharged on June 25, 1919, and returned home to his family. He and his wife raised a total of four children. Their three sons also served in the military, with two of them being career military.

Henry Lindon Clemmons passed away on October 31, 1960, at the age of 65. At his death, he was honored with an article and editorial in the State Port Pilot, Southport, NC.

EDITORIALS:
Henry Lindon Clemmons

It is not possible to make editorial reference to each good man and woman in Brunswick county upon the occasion of their death, but we feel that the passing this week of Henry Lindon Clemmons merits special consideration.

Not that Mr. Lindon was one who would either want or expect special consideration, for his was an humble man; but the life he has led and the places of leadership he has filled in the religious, business, and political life of his county has thrown him into contact with literally thousands of his fellow citizens throughout his life, and he has earned friendship and respect of every one of them.

The deceased was a man of unusually high principles of personal conduct, and he was uncompromising in their observance. He did not set himself apart from his fellowman, but he felt that he knew what was right for himself and his family, and these standards of right and wrong were observed.

Brunswick county needs more men like Lindon Clemmons, and it can ill afford his loss.

An article was also published.

Prominent Man Dies at Home
Henry Lindon Clemmons Dies at Home Near Supply Following Brief Period of Illness

Henry Lindon Clemmons, 65, died at his Supply home, Monday. Final rites will be held at Prospect Baptist Church at 8 p.m. Thursday by the Revs. C.D. Blanton, Harry Lackey and R.W. Rollins, with burial in the church cemetery.

The deceased was one of the most widely respected citizens of Brunswick county. For many years he was engaged in the timber business and had contacts in every community. In addition, he was a leading Baptist layman and recently has headed a drive for funds for Campbell College. He was an active member of the Republican party and four years ago was his party’s nominee for Judge of Recorder’s court.

Survivors include his wife, Mrs. Stella Clemmons, three sons, Edwin Clemmons of Supply, Clifton Clemmons with the USAF, Anchorage, Alaska and Clyde Clemmons, USAF, Plattsburg, NY; a daughter, Mrs. John W. Lancaster, Supply; a sister, Mrs. Lizzie Sellers, Supply and 10 grandchildren.

Active pallbearers will be H.W. Clemmons, Wright C. Clemmons, Leon McKeithan, Edger E. Sellers, Jr., Lindsay Clemmons, Jr., and Phillip A. Fulcher. Honorary pallbearers will be Dr. M.H. Rourk, Vander Clemmons, Robert and Aldreth Phelps, Clyde Holdvan, E.J. Prevatte, Floyd Kirby, Dr. L.H. Campbell, R.H. Sorenson, George McCoter and J.J. Hawes.

Henry Lindon Clemmons was laid to rest at Prospect Cemetery in Supply. A military flat marker is shown.

Sources:
Johnson, Clarence Walton (1919) The history of the 321st infantry, with a brief historical sketch of the 80th division, being a vivid and authentic account of the life and experiences of American soldiers in France, while they trained, worked, and fought to help win the world war. . Columbia, S.C., The R. L. Bryan co.

Thomas P. Shinn’s Wartime Diary

81st Division Summary of Operations in the World War, US Govt, 1944

If you would like to help us honor Henry Lindon Clemmons 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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Graveside Honors: Private David Bertram Frink 1894-1973

Edward David Redwine and Doris F. Redwine are pictured here honoring his grandfather and her father, Private David Bertram Frink, at his graveside in Mintz Cemetery, Ocean Isle Beach, Brunswick County, NC.

Private Frink’s WWI military medals 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.

Private Frink has been honored with a donation by both Edward David Redwine and Doris F. Redwine.

The Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range are encouraging donors and supporters to honor Brunswick County WWI veterans by submitting photos of themselves at the gravesides. Use the Cemeteries list to locate gravesites for Brunswick County WWI veterans.

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WWI Profile: Willie Hasper Hewett 1896-1962

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.

Henry Lindon Clemmons (center) is shown with the six other men from Brunswick County ordered to report for duty on October 15, 1917. Beside him (order unknown) are Luther J. Inman, Owen R. Mintz, Willie H. Hewett, Robert W. Holden, Mack Leonard, and Isaac Fred Edge.
Contributed by Gwen Causey, granddaughter of Henry Lindon Clemmons

Willie Hasper Hewett
Shallotte, Brunswick County, NC
US Army
Bugler

Served:
October 15, 1917 – January 26, 1919
Overseas:
July 31, 1918 – December 20, 1918
Wounded: November 10, 1918

Willie Hasper Hewett was born and raised in Brunswick County, NC. His family tree is located in FamilySearch.

Willie’s WWI Draft Registration shows he was single, living in Shallotte, and working as a barber, farmer, and laborer in Supply and Shallotte for parents and himself. He was described as medium height, weight, with blue eyes and light hair. (If anyone can identify each man in the photo based on their physical descriptions, please contact Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range.)

He was ordered to report for duty on October 15, 1917, with the other six men shown in the above photograph. All were sent to Camp Jackson, SC, and officially accepted on October 26. [Source: ancestry.com], then assigned to Company F, 322nd Infantry, 81st “Wildcat” Division.  (Robert Holden and Owen Mintz would be reassigned before leaving for Europe, while Isaac Edge was honorably discharged with a disability in Dec 1917.)

Willie served as a bugler. The previous WWI Profile of Bugler William Ralph Smith included details and pictures of buglers and their dangerous mission communicating orders to the troops. Brunswick County had four known buglers; all served overseas. Two were wounded.

From previous posts, the 81st Division had completed their operations at the St. Die sector, then left on October 19, 1918 at 2:30 am. They hiked 50 km in two days with full packs, then rested and trained for their entrance in the Meuse-Argonne offensive.

Passing through St. Mihiel gave the division their first view of the destruction in France. Reading the entries in the diary of Thomas Shinn helps us understand their experience as they marched through the countryside.

Monday, November 3, 1918
We passed through St. Mihiel which was once a beautiful city but now hardly a stone was left unmoved.

Churches and school buildings were piled up as a whirlwind piles up loose sand in March. Great steel manufacturing plants looked as tho’ a flood had struck them. Great fields which had once supplied France with grain are now covered in barbed wire and shell craters. Great forests which would have supplied France with wood to burn and lumber to build were [illegible] down as a mower cuts his hay.

The closer they moved to the front, the more detailed the diary entries became.

Tuesday, November 5, 1918
Eight o’clock caught us hiking again. It was a long hard hike and we didn’t have much to eat.

We were entertained in the day time by air battles between planes, at night by the flash of guns and the pretty colored flares that signify orders for the artillery.

I went 6 weeks without pulling off my clothes and 35 days without pulling off my shoes and had cooties on me at the same time but that’s not a disgrace for every soldier has them on the front. He doesn’t have time to think of clothes baths beds or how deep the mud is but he only wonders how he can save his skin and kill the Hun.

They arrived in Verdun, a town that was previously home to 25,000 but was now “torn to pieces, not a wall was left standing.” The 81st Division was to relieve the 35th Division.

At 10pm, they were called to move into the reserve trenches. Called the “Underground city of Verdun” it had never been taken by the Germans.

Thursday, November 7, 1918
The top of the ground was a solid mass of human and horse bones.

It is said that more than 700,000 bodies are buried on this hill.

I looked upon the skeletons of many horses and men buried together and had been blown up by the big shells that are still coming over. In so many cases a ring or any metal thing that the man had in his pocket still lay there and by the bones of horses still lay parts of the saddle and the bridle bits between his teeth.

We are getting used to cooties by this time. The only thing I was scared of in the dugout was rats. We had some there as big as common house cats.

On November 8, orders were received to attack early the next morning. They were to take a line from Fresnes-en-Woevre to Parfrondrupt, the infantry in positions from right to left: 324th, 323rd, 322nd, and 321st. The attack was to be directed toward the road. This was the first time the 81st Division would go over the top. The 322nd and 324th Infantries would lead the way, with the other two in reserve.

Bugler Willie Hewett was wounded on November 10, degree undetermined. The wounds were severe enough to be sent home. (More details of the battle will follow in the next profile post.)

In those three days fighting, there were 178 killed, nearly 800 wounded, 57 captured, and 6 missing.

On December 8, 1918, he left Beau Desert, a 550 acre hospital about 5 miles west of Bordeaux.


Beau Desert
Total number of admissions to April 1, 1919: 47,238
Of those, transferred to the United States: 22,880
Returned to Duty: 12,699
Died: 304 [Source: The MEDICAL DEPARTMENT OF THE UNITED STATES ARMY IN THE WORLD WAR, Vol. II, Ch. 23

He boarded Mallory, destination: Ellis Island. The passenger list included the description that these were “patients needing dressings” which indicated his wounds were not yet healed. [Source: ancestry.com]

Bugler Willie Hewett was honorably discharged on January 26, 1919. He had no reported disability.

Willie was married in January 1920. The 1920 Census shows he and his wife were living in Southport, rooming with a John C. Fulbright and his wife. John Fulbright was from Louisiana and served at Jackson Barracks, Louisiana, during the war, re-enlisting afterward. The census shows Willie Hewett as also continuing to serve with the US Army. Willie’s military headstone application [Source: ancestry.com] shows he re-enlisted on October 1, 1919, with an honorable discharge on October 19, 1920.

He and his wife raised several children in Brunswick County. Willie Hasper Hewett passed away on May 22, 1962 at age 66. He had spent the previous 4 years in a nursing home. He was laid to rest in Gurganus Cemetery in Shallotte. A military marble headstone was approved and shipped but it is not shown in findagrave.

Sources:
Johnson, Clarence Walton (1919) The history of the 321st infantry, with a brief historical sketch of the 80th division, being a vivid and authentic account of the life and experiences of American soldiers in France, while they trained, worked, and fought to help win the world war. . Columbia, S.C., The R. L. Bryan co.

Thomas P. Shinn’s Wartime Diary

81st Division Summary of Operations in the World War, US Govt, 1944

If you would like to help us honor Willie Hasper Hewett 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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In the News – July and August 2018

Click here or the NEWS selection at the top of the website to see the many stories in the media about the rifle range and Honor a Brunswick County WWI Veteran project.

The Brunswick Beacon continues to print a WWI Profile each week! Click here to view the List of WWI Profile Posts by date: Published WWI Profiles

As always, The Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range appreciates the support of the local media!

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