WWI Profile: Richard Herbert Gray 1890-1962

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.

Aux Remount Depot 310, Camp Sevier, March 16, 1918
Source: Library of Congress

Richard Herbert Gray
Shallotte, Brunswick County, NC
US Army
Private First Class

Served:
September 8, 1917 – March 27, 1919
Unofficially Wounded by Accident: May 10, 1918

Richard Herbert Gray was born, raised, and lived his life in Brunswick County, NC. A partial family tree is located in FamilySearch. Two of Richard’s brothers, Harvey Winfield Gray and Oscar Llewellyn Gray are also WWI veterans.

Richard’s WWI Draft Registration shows he was single, living in Shallotte, and working in the logging industry.

The first draft for the National Army was on September 5, 1917. Five percent of the registered men were called that day. Richard was among the five percent called and one of the first five Brunswick County men ordered to report for duty. On September 9, 1917, he reported and was formally accepted on September 17. Training began at Camp Jackson, SC. [Source: Ancestry]

The 81st Division had just been organized in August 1917 at Camp Jackson. It was primarily created with those drafted such as Richard Gray.

Another man who arrived that day was Thomas “Jack” Pinkney Shinn from Kannapolis, N.C. He wrote a diary rich in details and his impressions. Anyone wishing to understand the experiences of those in the 81st Division infantry regiments or just general front line experiences may want to read the 86 pages found at the link on his name. Excerpts will be included in the WWI Profiles for the 81st Division. Jack Shinn reached the level of 1st Sergeant while serving.

When these first men arrived at Camp Jackson, only a small clearing had been made for some barracks.

Those of us who came into camp during those first weeks spent almost as much time cutting trees, digging stumps, working roads and doing “landscape gardening” as in the study and practice of things purely military. We were naturally very slow in understanding what digging stumps and “policing up” cigarette “ducks” and match sticks had to do with winning the war.

But in the emergency, we obeyed orders out of loyalty to our government and to humanity, as if by instinct, and the work was done regardless of how menial or difficult. Source: History of the 321st Infantry, NC Archives

In October, about half of the men were transferred out of the 81st, mostly to the 30th “Old Hickory” Division. This transfer continued through the fall, winter, and spring of 1918. Those remaining in the 81st wondered if their division would become a depot division (training and receiving unit).

This changed during May 11-18, 1918, when the division was moved to Camp Sevier and rapidly grew to war strength. But most were raw recruits, some having less than two week’s training.

The first official divisional shoulder patches of the US Army.

Source: ECU Blog
The 81st Division is officially known as the “Stonewall Division” but is popularly known as the “Wildcat Division.” The division adopted the wildcat insignia from the common wildcat of the Carolinas and Wildcat Creek that ran through Camp Jackson. The brigades, regiments, and specialty units adopted different colors for their patches. Shown to the right is the 81st Division headquarters shoulder insignia circa 1918.

The Division Commander, Major General Charles J. Bailey, believed the insignia promoted division unity and raised morale. When the War Department ordered the removal of unauthorized patches from their uniforms, General Bailey took the matter to General Pershing. On October 19, 1918, Pershing directed each division commander to submit a sleeve insignia design for review and approval. The 81st sent their design that day, obtaining approval, and becoming the first official divisional patch in the US Army.

“The first U.S. Army patches were produced by sewing or gluing pieces of cloth together. Most of these early patches were made from material the soldiers either had at hand or could obtain easily, such as the brown wool from their U.S. Army blankets, shirts, or puttees (their wrap-around leggings). Most of the colored cloth came from discarded or captured French and German uniforms.” [Source: AEF Shoulder Insignia]

Before moving to Camp Sevier in May 1918, advance groups were sent ahead to prepare for the regiments. Pfc Richard Gray from Brunswick County was part of the advance group, as well as Pfc Jack Shinn. Pfc Shinn wrote this in his diary.

Fri, May 10th, 1918.
I was ordered to take 6 privates and go to Camp Sevier to prepare for the Regiment that was to follow a week later. We loaded the train and started but our train was thrown from a tressell [sic] 45 ft. high. Nine men were killed and twenty-six wounded. The trip was postponed until the next day.

Richard Gray was one of the wounded. His injuries would not have been known except for Jack Shinn’s diary in the NC Archives and researching further for details of the accident. Nine men were killed and they were reported as “Killed by Accident.” The men wounded seriously were reported as “Seriously Wounded” in their service records. But those injured slightly, as Richard Gray was, were never reported as wounded.

The Wilmington Dispatch reported the deadly accident on the front page of the May 10, 1918 edition.

Railroad trestle leading into Camp Jackson [Source: The Birth of Camp Jackson, p. 62]

At some point after this injury, Pfc Richard Gray was transferred to the Aux Remount Depot 310, Camp Sevier, breeding horses for cavalry. He remained there until he was honorably discharged on March 27, 1919.

He returned to Shallotte after the war, where he raised a family. Richard Herbert Gray passed away on August 14, 1962. He and his brothers were laid to rest in Chapel Hill Cemetery in Shallotte.

If you would like to help us honor Richard Herbert Gray 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: Sergeant Robert G Farmer 1886-1918

On Memorial Day weekend, Ruth Ann Beck and her grandchildren went to Old Smithville Cemetery in Southport to honor WWI veteran Sergeant Robert G Farmer. Sgt Farmer died of pneumonia while serving at Fort Caswell.

They also stopped at the gravesite of his son, Arthur Latney Farmer (Navy), who was awarded a Silver Star in WWII when 14 enemy planes attacked his ship as he manned the machine gun.

Sergeant Robert G Farmer has been honored with a donation by Elizabeth A. Albee.

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: Martin Newman Mintz 1888-1975

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.

Martin Newman Mintz
Mill Branch, Brunswick County, NC
US Army
Private

Served:
September 18, 1917 – January 20, 1919
Overseas:
May 27, 1918 – December 30, 1918
Gassed: October 29, 1918

A note about Martin Mintz’ service:

Martin’s NC WWI Service Card shows he served with the 322nd Infantry (81st Division) and was wounded on October 30, 1918. But while reading through combat history of the 81st Division, the regiments were resting before their big operation in early November. It seemed unlikely that Martin was wounded at that time.

Pulling the passenger lists for transport to France [Source: ancestry.com] showed that he was not serving with the 81st. He actually served with the 113th Field Artillery of the 30th Division. He was included in the rosters in the historical documents written about the 113th. His injuries were documented also, as being gassed on October 29, 1918.

Martin likely was originally training with the 81st Division. When he was ordered to report for military duty [Source: ancestry.com], he was sent to Columbia, SC, to Camp Jackson, which is where the 81st trained. As the WWI Profile posts about those serving with the 81st Division will show, the 81st Division had many men transferred to other units, mostly the 30th Division. Martin was likely transferred at some point, although it is unknown when.

It’s fortunate that many documents exist to help verify mistakes on records, as well as add rich details to their experiences. The 113th Field Artillery was well documented, as this profile will show.

Martin Newman Mintz was born and raised in Brunswick County, NC. He was the eldest of four brothers, all serving in WWI.

Forney Boston Mintz was the first to enlist in the US Army in 1913 at age 21. Half brother Samuel Leob Mintz enlisted in 1916; Martin and Owen Ransom Mintz were drafted.

All four brothers served overseas. Martin, Forney and Owen were wounded.

Leob and Forney made a career in the Army.

Martin’s WWI Draft Registration shows he was living in Mill Branch, Brunswick County, single, and working on his own farm. He was ordered to report for duty on September 18, 1917 [Source: ancestry.com] and accepted for duty on October 3, 1917.

As mentioned above, he likely began training with the 81st Division, which was at Camp Jackson, SC. Because it is not known when he transferred to the 113th Field Artillery, his experiences cannot be described accurately until his name is listed on the transport record to France on May 27, 1918.

Some background on the 113th Field Artillery of the 55th Artillery Brigade, 30th “Old Hickory” Division.

The 113th Field Artillery was created in June 1917, when the War Dept announced it would accept a regiment of field artillery from the state of NC. This was a source of pride as almost all counties were represented from NC and included “lawyers, teachers, doctors, preachers, farmers, merchants, mechanics, accountants, bankers, manufacturers, engineers, scientists, clerks, students, stenographers, typists, newspaper men.”

The 113th Field Artillery was one regiment of the 55th Artillery Brigade. It included the following regiments. The tables list the Brunswick County men who served in them. There is a document which includes the 55th Artillery Brigade WWI experience and includes rosters and pictures of the men below.

The following lists and references are available on the World War I Army/Marine Division Rosters webpage.

Documentation (with rosters):
Bacon, William James (1920) History of the Fifty-fifth Field Artillery Brigade … 1917, 1918, 1919 . Nashville : Benson Printing Co.

As previous posts about the 30th Division mentioned, they completed most of their training at Camp Sevier, SC. The land needed for field artillery training at Camp Sevier was almost completely cleared by the 113th using axes, saws, picks, and mattocks. Supplies were scarce and the winter of 1917-1918 was the worst winter the South had experienced since 1898 with terrible blizzards and high winds that ripped tents to shreds. Without winter clothing, training was difficult. The measles and mumps epidemic at the camp, which took the life of Brunswick County veteran Carl Jefferson Danford, added to the difficulties.

The Supply Company, which included Wagoner James Varney Gore, was responsible for 1000 head of horses and mules, feeding, grooming, hauling bedding and manure daily, while also feeding and clothing the regiment: 7 days hard labor each week.

Logs were used for training.

Despite the 59th Artillery Brigade being part of the 30th Division, they never served at the front with them. The Allies felt there was enough artillery and requested infantry and machine gun outfits first. The 59th Artillery Brigade was left behind when the 30th Division left for France. In May, they finally made preparations for transport.

Private Martin Mintz boarded the Armagh on May 27, 1918. The Armagh was a British freighter carrying beef from Australia and New Zealand and had been hastily converted into a transport, which made it an uncomfortable voyage. British food was served and was disagreeable to the men.

When reaching the coast of Ireland, dirigibles, airplanes, and destroyers kept watch over the Americans. They were greeted in Liverpool with enthusiasm.

After arriving in France, the 113th was overjoyed to have guns for all. However, since the American 3″ gun was used for training, the men had to relearn everything to adjust to the French 75mm gun. In a few short weeks, they were ready for battle. The men hoped to rejoin the 30th Division, but were needed elsewhere.

Their first taste of battle was during the Battle of St. Mihiel, supporting the 89th Division. This was typically a quiet sector where raw troops were seasoned. This was about the change.

At 1am on September 12, 1918, the artillery began the barrage. The infantry were to come out of the trenches at 5am. In those four hours, the American guns fired more than 1 million rounds.

When the infantry joined the battle, the artillery rolled a protective and offensive accompanying fire. If the Doughboys could not take out a concrete machine gun nest, or “pill-box,” they called the artillery for assistance.

Here was where the artilleryman found a task to his liking and up across the fields and through the woods on a dead run would come a gun section, the men clinging for dear life to the bouncing carriages and lying low over the necks of their horses.

When deep trenches and wrecked roads and bridges would confront them in what had been No Man’s Land and in the territory back of the old German lines, the horses were unhitched from the carriages and led, pulled and shoved across, while willing hands seized the guns and caissons and carried them over places that looked to be impassable. There was no time to wait for the engineers to build roads and time and again on that memorable day the regiment did the impossible.

Because of the success at St. Mihiel, the Battle of the Argonne was prepared quickly. Typically, fighting didn’t occur at this time of year but waited until the end of winter. The Allies had chosen to take advantage of their momentum.

On September 26, 1918, the 59th Brigade supported the 37th Division (Ohio) as the Doughboys began at 5am. The Germans were caught napping.

German resistance stiffened the next day. The 37th Division was withdrawn on Sept. 30th, and the 32nd Division (Michigan and Wisconsin) relieved them. The 59th Artillery Brigade remained in position, this time with the 32nd Division.

On October 6th, the 42nd Division relieved the 32nd. The 59th Artillery Brigade was prepared to remain in position yet again but they were ordered to withdraw. After two weeks of desperate fighting, followed close after a forced march and the St. Mihiel battle, their horses were depleted. They had entered the forest with 1050 horses and only 247 remained. The guns were no longer mobile and there were no horses to be had.

They marched from October 9-12 to the Woevre Sector, SE of Verdun.

“Join the Army and see the world” some soldiers would yell down the line. “Join the artillery and RIDE!” others would reply sarcastically.

They were to rest and be re-equipped, but instead went into the line immediately, supporting the 79th Division until October 25th, then the 33rd Division (Illinois). The artillery was kept busy with harassing fire at night and protecting raiding parties. The Germans were doing the same, but with German regularity.

“The firing started at the same hour every night, the length of the bombardment never varied five minutes, and all of the points singled out for attention received practically the same number of shells every night.”

Pvt Martin Mintz was gassed on October 29, 1918. His name was listed in the 113th Field Artillery regimental history book listed above. On the left is the page from the list of casualties that includes his name.

There were many other men gassed at the time. He was sent home in December with the other sick and wounded and honorably discharged near the end of January, indicating that he required more medical attention upon his arrival.

Martin Mintz returned to farming, married, and raised a family in Brunswick County. He passed away in 1975 at age 87. He was laid to rest in Mintz Cemetery in Ocean Isle Beach, NC. Military honors are shown.

The 113th Field Artillery is credited with 67 days occupying active sectors and firing. Only 2 divisions (1st and 3rd) are officially credited with longer service in active sectors.

The 59th Artillery Brigade served with the following American Divisions: 89th, 79th, 30th, 33rd, 37th, and 32nd.

If you would like to help us honor Martin Newman Mintz 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: John N. Smith Cemetery, Southport, NC

Source: findagrave
Peggy Harris and Maxine McCullar recently visited John N. Smith Cemetery in Southport to pay respects to Pfc William James Gordon.

William Gordon was honored by Peggy Harris in March.

See Honor a Brunswick County WWI Veteran: Donors for the full list.

Peggy and Maxine spent the morning searching the cemetery for William Gordon’s grave. Pfc Gordon’s headstone is on the ground, which makes it difficult to find. They called Judy Gordon, the co-leader of the effort to restore and preserve the 135 year old cemetery. She directed them to the location of his headstone.

Judy then showed them the headstones of WWI veterans Sheppard Campbell and James Clemmons. Both were also previously honored with a donation. Sheppard Campbell was honored by Carol Jutte; James Clemmons was honored by Patricia Steele.

Judy Gordon provided a list of additional names of WWI veterans buried in the cemetery.

Several of these were already identified as buried at Smith Cemetery on the Honor a Brunswick County WWI Veteran: Cemeteries webpage. Those not already listed can now be added. Identifying the cemeteries where the WWI veterans were laid to rest is very important in order to honor them, so we thank Judy, Peggy, and Maxine!

Most were on the Brunswick County WWI Veterans webpage. But three were not.

Harry/Henry Charlie Price

Henry was living in Georgia when he was drafted into the Army. Georgia is a state which has WWI Service Cards available online, and so had previously been searched for Brunswick County WWI veterans. However, his birth location is set as “Charlotte, NC” which as mentioned in several WWI Profiles posted, was a common mistake at the time for “Shallotte.” He can now be added to the Brunswick County WWI veteran list.

Fred Elmer Smith

The Department of Veterans Affairs Death File shows he served from Oct 1, 1918 through Dec 12, 1918. He did not show up in either the NC WWI Service Cards nor the Brunswick County Lists of Men Ordered to Report For Duty. He also can be added to the list. If anyone has information regarding his service, please contact Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range.

George A. Galloway

There are no records of NC WWI Service Cards nor Report to Duty lists. If anyone has information, please contact Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range.

Thanks to Peggy, Maxine, and Judy, we have more accurate records of Brunswick County WWI veterans. Any additions or information regarding Brunswick County WWI veterans is always welcome.

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: Claudie Hall McCall 1888-1919

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.

Source: Findagrave
Claudie Hall McCall
Supply, Brunswick County, NC
US Army
Private
Served:
April 1, 1918 – April 13, 1919
Overseas:
May 12, 1918 – April 13, 1919
Died of Disease: April 13, 1919

Claudie Hall McCall was born in Brunswick County, NC, in 1888, son of Alice McCall. In 1892, Alice married David Hewett. She had several children with David, one of whom was Willie Cross Hewett, another Brunswick County WWI veteran, who was profiled in the previous post.

Claudie’s Draft Registration Card from the June 5, 1917, draft shows he was single, living in Supply, and working on his own farm.

On February 7, 1918, Claudie married Lundie Frink. The marriage certificate is difficult to read, but seems to show that he was married in his house, with three witnesses: Allen Stanley, Daniel H. Wilcox, and Joe Hunter, all from Wilmington.

Claudie was ordered to report to duty on April 2, 1918 [Source: ancestry.com]. After a very short training period, on April 26, he was assigned to Supply Company, 120th Infantry, 30th “Old Hickory” Division. He then boarded Bohemian in Boston with his Company on May 12, 1918.

On October 4, 1918, his son, Claudie Hazelwood McCall was born.

On October 25, 1918, his half brother Private Willie Cross Hewett died of wounds, as described in the previous post.

Source: Ancestry.com. U.S., Army Transport Service, Passenger Lists, 1910-1939 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
Private McCall nearly made it home. But when his company boarded USS Pocahontas in France on March 28, 1919, to return home, he was not with them. His name was crossed out, indicating that he had entered Hospital #52 on March 5, 1919.

Claudie Hall McCall died on April 13, 1919, from an abscess of the lung.

Having the hospital number provides an opportunity to investigate further. According to the Official History of the 120th Infantry the 30th Division was marched to Forwarding Camp at Le Mans in early January 1919. They remained there until early March, when they were moved to Embarkation Camp at St. Nazaire. The Camp Hospital in Le Mans is #52, which means this is the hospital where Private McCall died.

Camp Hospital No. 52 was established in August, 1918, at Le Mans, Department Sarthe, intermediate section, its personnel being taken from the American Expeditionary Forces at large. It was located in the old monastery, which had been occupied by the French complementary hospital No. 49. The monastery was poorly suited for hospitalization, for its large halls and high ceilings and stone floors made it damp and difficult to heat. Plumbing and wiring were insufficient and a large force of men was required to keep the building in repairs. [Source: The Medical Department of the United States Army in the World War, Vol. II, Chapter 25 Photo: US National Library of Medicine]

These were Private McCall’s nurses. [Source: Oshkosh Public Museum]

Using the full passenger list (excerpt shown above), it is also possible to identify other soldiers in Supply Company from North Carolina who spent his last days with him.

  • Wagoner Dewey C. Bulla from Asheboro, NC, was admitted on March 26, recovered and returned to the USA on May 12.
  • Private George V. Burnett from Black Mountain, NC, was admitted on March 1, recovered and returned to the USA on June 2.
  • Corporal Henry G. Dallas from Reidsville, NC, was admitted on March 14, recovered and returned to the USA on April 24.
  • Wagoner James W. Vickers from Rutherfordton, NC, was admitted on March 5 and passed away on March 13 from broncho pneumonia.

Private Claudie Hall McCall was laid to rest in the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery and Memorial in France, which is located at the very spot where the 42nd “Rainbow” Division fought. The cemetery is the site of 6,012 American graves.

Many Brunswick County WWI veterans fought with the 42nd Division, which will be included in WWI Profiles in the future. 

Source: Sewell, Patricia and Cecilia Palin, eds.. U.S. World War I Mothers’ Pilgrimage, 1929 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 1999.

Claudie’s mother, Alice Lenore McCall Hewett, was given the opportunity to take a Mother’s Pilgrimage in 1929 to visit his gravesite. All three mothers listed from Brunswick County declined.

Claudie’s son, Claude Hazelwood McCall, lived until age 95, dying in 2013. His obituary is printed below.

NEW BERN – Claude “Mac” Hazelwood McCall, 95, of New Bern, passed away December 5, 2013, at CarolinaEast Medical Center. Mac was born on October 4, 1918 to Claudie and Lunda McCall Jones in Brunswick County. He graduated from New Hanover High School in Wilmington, NC, in 1936 and Wake Forest University in 1940. While at Wake Forest, his attaining the ACC Welterweight Boxing Championship was notable.

Mac was employed at the Wilmington, NC shipyard during WWII. He met his beautiful bride, Catherine Virginia Ensley, during the war and they married in February 1945. In 1946, Mac began a long and distinguished career in the airlines industry. After working for Eastern and Piedmont Airlines in accounting management, Mac became Director of Revenue Accounting for the Air Transport Association in Washington, DC in 1957. He also served with distinction as Secretary-Treasurer of the Airlines Clearing House from 1968 until his retirement in 1984. Mac thoroughly enjoyed participating in the “golden years” of the airlines industry.

Mac was heavily involved with the Baptist church throughout his life. He enjoyed teaching Sunday school, and was a member of First Baptist Church in New Bern for over 25 years. In his early family years, he was President of the Springfield, VA Babe Ruth Baseball League for five years.

He is survived by his son Keith McCall (Karen), his daughter Claudia Bryan, his grandchildren Shannon and Michelle Bryan and Scott, Ryan and Kimberly McCall, and six great-grandsons. Mac was preceded in death by his wife Catherine, three half-brothers and one half-sister.

Funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. December 14, 2013, at First Baptist Church in New Bern with Dr. Richard Seagle officiating. Entombment will follow at Greenleaf Memorial Park. The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service at the church.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to First Baptist Church or St. Jude, P. O. Box 1000, Dept. 142, Memphis, TN 38101-9908.

Online condolences may be made to the McCall family at www.cottenfuneralhome.com.

Arrangements are by Cotten Funeral Home & Crematory.

This concludes the Brunswick County WWI veterans who were wounded or killed while serving in the 30th “Old Hickory” Division.

A memorial to the 30th Division was erected on the northeast corner of the North Carolina state capitol grounds in Raleigh on September 29, 1930, the 12th anniversary of the breaking of the Hindenburg Line.

In all, the “Old Hickory” division lost 8,415 men.

The division garnered several outstanding distinctions in the war:

  • The first to break the German Hindenburg Line on the Cambrai-St. Quentin front.
  •  Awarded more Congressional Medals of Honor than soldiers in any other American division.

If you would like to help us honor Claudie Hall McCall 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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Report on NC 4th of July Festival Booth

On Tuesday, July 3rd, at the Southport, NC River Front Park on Bay Street during the three day NC July 4th Festival in Southport, the Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range set up their Community Non-Profit Spotlight Booth.

Russ Barlowe (Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range VP) sat in a patriotic setting with a red, white and blue banner displayed across the front of a table. “Help save the rifle range” and “Honor a Brunswick County WWI Veteran” were clearly visible.

Russ was dressed in patriotic clothing under a bright red umbrella with a table covered in stars and stripes to answer questions about the Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range, dedicated to preserving the WWI rifle range located on Caswell Beach. Dana Majernik and Cindy Harriet Etchison assisted during the 4 hours as people visited the booth asking questions about the rifle range and where it was located.

Visitors honored Brunswick County World War I soldiers by making a donation, then receiving a certificate and NC WWI Service Card with the soldier’s military information. Note cards featuring Helen Radcliffe’s water color of the rifle range and 5 X 7 prints were available for purchase. Individuals made contributions and received a pamphlet telling the historical story of the 100 year old structure. Cards with information on how to contact the Friends group were given to visitors.

Each year the Southport/Oak Island Chamber of Commerce offers one local non profit each day of the celebration to share their story. The Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range thank the chamber for the opportunity to be featured this year.

Several donations were received to honor a Brunswick County WWI veteran:
Robert & Pamela Schottfeld: Fireman First Class Charles Cox
Susan & Vincent Mercurio: Private Joseph Clemmons
Lori & Dave Testa: Private Lawrence Smith
Russ & Ann Barlowe: Private James Fair
Dana Majernik: Private Julius Clemmons

Thank you for the donations!

See the updated Contributors page and the Honor a Brunswick County WWI Veteran: Donors for all of our wonderful supporters!

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WWI Profile: William Cross Hewett 1895-1918

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.
Source: Soldiers of the Great War, Vol. II
William Cross Hewett
Supply, Brunswick County, NC
US Army
Private
Served:
September 19, 1917 – October 25, 1918
Overseas:
May 12, 1918 – October 25, 1918
Died of Wounds: October 25, 1918

William “Willie” Cross Hewett was born and raised in Brunswick County, NC. A partial family tree can be found in FamilySearch. Willie had a half brother who also served, Pvt Claudie Hall McCall. His WWI Profile will follow this one.

Willie’s World War I Draft Registration Card shows that he was single and farming his own farm in Supply, NC.

He was ordered to report to duty on September 19, 1917, and was accepted for duty on October 3 [Source: ancestry.com]. Pvt Hewett was originally assigned to HQ, 322th Infantry, 81st Division. Many from the 81st Division were moved to supplement the 30th Division and this included Pvt Hewett. On October 16th he was reassigned to Company C, 120th Infantry, 30th “Old Hickory” Division. He eventually began training at Camp Sevier, SC, as reported in previous posts.

Previous posts described the heroic battle at the Hindenburg Line, which was the turning point of the war. The battle was from September 29 – October 1, 1918.

Private Willie C. Hewett died of wounds on October 25, 1918. He was 23 years old. It is not known if he was wounded during the Hindenburg Line assault or the days after, which have been described in previous posts.

His NC WWI Service Card shows only engagements up to and including the “Hindenburg defensive” which could indicate he was wounded during those dates. But the service cards are not completely accurate and few actually include names of engagements. It is unfortunate that there is no information available to clarify when he was wounded.

Given that his half brother Pvt Claudie McCall served in the same infantry, hopefully he was able to give Willie some comfort before his death.

On June 19, 1921, the steamship Wheaton left Belgium, returning his remains along with thousands of others. This steamship made three trips, returning a total of almost 13,000 bodies [Source]

At the end of the First World War, 75,640 United States Dead were buried in Europe. This included all services: Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Ambulance Services, YMCA, and others.

In January 1920, a plan was advanced by the U.S. Congress to bring all the American Dead home. This was projected to cost some $8,000,000. Immediately, a movement was mounted by parents of the Dead to allow them to rest in peace. The plan was scaled down to returning 45,000 and this was reduced further as time went on.

To further the pain of the survivors, there were reports of funeral directors and funeral homes profiteering from this movement. This misconduct affirmed many families not to have their dead returned. Measures were put into place to assure the remains would go only to the funeral directors of the families’ choice.

The steamship MERCURY arrived in the United States in April 1920 with 353 bodies (all but 80 who had been buried in France). Once the movement began in earnest some 2000 bodies reportedly arrived per week. In September 1920, 6281 bodies arrived in one transport.

When steamship WHEATON arrived at Hoboken, New Jersey, on 18 May 1921 with 5212 bodies (2800 received from Cherbourg and 1000 more from Antwerp) the total of dead was brought to 23,000. WHEATON made two other trips in 1921 carrying some 7600 dead. CANTIGNY brought 2804 more in two trips in the fall of 1921.

This serves to explain the relatively “few” American graves in Europe, considering the sacrifices made.

The number of Dead repatriated was approximately 33,400 from all services or some 44 percent of the total buried in Europe.

Source: findagrave
William Cross Hewett was laid to rest in Silent Grove Cemetery in Supply, NC.

If you would like to help us honor William Cross 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

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 William Edgar Willetts 1890-1972 (2)

Kenny Jones, Sue Jones Jordan, and Mary Willetts Earp are pictured here honoring Private William Edgar Willetts, at his graveside in Willetts Cemetery, Mill Creek, Brunswick County, NC. Private Willetts is Mary’s father and Kenny’s and Sue’s great-uncle.

Private William Edgar Willetts has been honored with a donation by his daughter Mary Willetts Earp and niece Anne Willetts Jones.

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: Jesse James Leonard 1892-1970

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.

Source: findagrave

Jesse James Leonard
Shallotte, NC
US Army
Private

Served:
October 4, 1917 – April 17, 1919
Overseas:
June 5, 1918 – April 11, 1919
Wounded: October 9, 1918

Jesse James Leonard was born and raised in Brunswick County, NC. A partial family tree is in FamilySearch.

His 1917 Draft Registration Card shows he was married, farming, and living in Shallotte. He was married to Mary Lillian Grissett on December 6, 1916.

Jesse was ordered to report to duty on October 4, 1917 [Source: ancestry.com]. Private Leonard was initially assigned to Company M, 120th Infantry, 30th “Old Hickory” Division, then moved to Company D. He eventually began training at Camp Sevier, SC, as reported in previous posts.

As mentioned in a previous post, Private Leonard, along with Private Pigott, was scheduled to depart for France on May 17, 1918, but did not board the USS Miltiades with their Companies. Instead, both boarded Ascanius on June 5, with many other soldiers of the 30th Division who were detached from their units, for reasons unknown.

Multiple posts have included the horrific details of the Hindenburg Line and the many who were wounded or died during the assault. Private Leonard was not wounded at that time, but in the push afterward. Refer to the WWI Profile post of 1st Sgt Van Grissett Mintz for more details of these operations from the 119th Infantry documents. The 120th Infantry followed similar orders.

On October the 1st, when the Division was withdrawn from the [Hindenburg] line, this Regiment moved by marching to the Tincourt Area. On October the 2nd the movement continued, the Regiment marching to Belloy, west of Peronne.

(To zoom in further, use the map from the Source.)

This area had been fought over for four years, changing hands time and again; as a result, it was a perfect example of destruction–of many villages nothing remained, no one would have known a house had ever existed but for the signboard marking the site. It was hard to realize that this, the Somme Country, had at one time been the most productive part of France.

On October the 5th the Regiment returned to the Tincourt Area, and on October the 6th the movement continued to Villeret.

Private Leonard’s NC Service Card shows he was wounded on October 10, but it was crossed out and changed to October 9.

Mistakes were made during the operations that followed.

On the afternoon of October 8, the 120th Infantry moved to Joncourt, but left the 1st and 2nd Battalions [Companies A-H, which includes Pvt Leonard’s Company D] as reserve battalions for the 117th and 118th Infantries. The 117th and 118th Infantries were attacking near Montbrehain. Companies A and B of the 120th Infantry were being used in the front line near Premont, while Pvt Leonard’s Company D was used in the taking and mopping up of Brancourt.

At 2:00 am on October 9, the 120th was ordered to join the 118th to hold the general line Premont-Brancourt in an attack to be launched at 5:30 am. Three and a half hours is a very short time in which to prepare orders and distribute them to the troops. The 120th had to regain Companies A-H, which were still under the 118th’s command.

The orders were quickly prepared and distributed to those Companies and support units present with the 120th. They were surprised to learn that the 118th Infantry had notified their own units but never notified the Companies of the 120th Infantry to return to their own Regiment. Companies A-H were still operating as if they were under the previous orders and command of the 118th. Companies A-H were essentially abandoned and forgotten as they moved through the area locating and “mopping up” isolated enemy troops.

In spite of the lack of assistance given by [the 118th Infantry] the battalions were located, and the battalion commanders by almost superhuman effort collected their companies and followed the 118th Infantry–the 2nd Battalion on the right, the 1st Battalion on the left, and the 3rd Battalion in support. In this and in future engagements the 3rd Battalion, in support, was engaged shortly after the attacking battalions went into action. This Regiment was to pass through the 118th Infantry, when it reached its objective, and should have done so about 10:00 A. M.

The 118th was held up, however, by machine gun fire from the right, and this Regiment did not pass through and take its objective until 4:00 P. M. The villages of Becquigny and La Haie Meneresse and the Bois De Busigny were taken, and a platoon from the 3rd Battalion was diverted to assist in taking the town of Bohain, where the unit on the right was held up.

It’s not known whether these mistakes played a role in the wounding of Pvt Leonard, but he was wounded during these operations of October 9.

On the morning of the 10th the advance continued, and after severe fighting the town of Vaux Andigny was taken. This position was enfiladed from the Bellvue Farm on the right, and, as the right of the Regiment was nearly 3,000 yards in the air, the troops were withdrawn a few hundred yards to the western edge of Vaux Andigny.

On the morning of the 11th the 118th Infantry, who had come up too late to take care of the right of this Regiment, attacked through this Regiment, but was unable to advance more than 200 yards.

Between October 7th and October 12th, 1918, the following 120th Infantry casualties were reported.
38 KIA
319 Wounded
1 POW

There are no details on Pvt Leonard’s wound. It was described as “slight” but the recovery period was unknown. He may have returned later, but given that the war ended soon after and little action was seen by the 120th after October 20, most of the fighting would likely have been completed by the time he was fit for duty.

Pvt Leonard returned to the United States with his Company on April 11, 1919. He was honorably discharged on April 17th and returned to Shallotte and his wife.

Jesse James Leonard and his wife lost at least two small children, as shown in findagrave, but also had at least two other children.

Tragically, his son, Mahlon Mallory Leonard, died while serving in Germany during World War II. The December 20, 1944 issue of the State Port Pilot reported him wounded. This was followed by his death on June 8, 1945, in a auto-truck accident in Germany. His funeral was reported in the September 14, 1948 issue of the State Port Pilot.

Funeral Sunday for Pvt. Leonard

Mahlon M. Leonard Laid To Rest Sunday In Gurganus Cemetery Following Graveside Services

Killed in an auto-truck accident in Luxomburg, Germany, on June 8, 1945, the body of Mahlon M. Leonard, well known 24-year old Shallotte Village Point man, was brought home last week and interred in the Gurganus cemetery near Shallotte, Sunday.

Funeral services were held at the graveside with Rev. Austin J. Wheeler and Rev. B.W. English, both of Wilmington.

Private Leonard is survived by his widow, Mrs. Laura A. Leonard, and a small son, Malory B. Leonard; his father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Jesse J. Leonard, and a sister, Miss Connie L. Leonard.

Jesse James Leonard passed away in 1970 at age 78. He was laid to rest in Gurganus Cemetery with his wife, and the three children who preceded him in death. Military honors are shown.

Information regarding the 120th Infantry was gathered from Official History of the 120th Infantry “3rd North Carolina” 30th Division, From August 5, 1917, to April 17, 1919. Canal Sector Ypres-Lys Offensive Somme Offensive

If you would like to help us honor Jesse James Leonard 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 George Finnis Willetts 1894-1956

Kenny Jones, Sue Jones Jordan, and Mary Willetts Earp are pictured here honoring their uncle, Private George Finnis Willetts, at his graveside in Sharon United Methodist Church Cemetery, Holden Beach, Brunswick County, NC.

Private Willetts has been honored with a donation by his granddaughters Darlene Willetts McGee, Joann Willetts Neal, and Beth Willetts Osborne.

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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