Kentucky Derby Day Fundraiser: May 5, 2018

Buy your tickets now for the last ever Kentucky Derby Day fundraiser!

Commemorating the WWI Centennial

Be a proud supporter of the rifle range and those who served

Funds raised will support the 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range Memorial honoring Brunswick County veterans of WWI or assist with the stabilization efforts underway.

Click here to view the 2018 Derby Day Fundraiser page or select the Fundraising tab at the top of every page.

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WWI Profile: Calmer Thomas Clemmons 1895-1965

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 Source
Calmer Thomas Clemmons
Supply, Brunswick County, NC
National Guard
Corporal

Served:
May 5, 1917 – February 28, 1919
Overseas:
May 11, 1918 – January 30, 1919
Wounded: September 29, 1918; October 16/18, 1918

Calmer Thomas Clemmons was born, raised, and lived most of his life in Brunswick and New Hanover Counties, NC.

On May 5, 1917, at the age of 22, Calmer enlisted in the NC National Guard by way of the Boys’ Brigade, as described in a previous post.

In October, the 30th Division was created from NC National Guard units. Cpl Calmer Clemmons was assigned to Company F, 119th Infantry, 30th “Old Hickory” Division.

Previous posts described training with the 30th Division at Camp Sevier, SC, the transportation to France, and events up to and including the Hindenburg Line assault.

Recall the following description of the operation.
Photo Source

Very early in the morning of September 29th the 60th brigade [119th Infantry, 120th Infantry, and 115th Machine Gun Battalion], with some units of the 117th regiment, assaulted this terrible line on a front of 3,000 yards, captured the whole Hindenburg system, then advanced still further and took the tunnel system with all the German troops hidden in it and next captured the towns of Bellicourt, Nouroy, Riqueval, Carriere, Etricourt, the Guillaine Ferme (farm) and Ferme de Riqueval; in this part of the assault advancing 4,200 yards and defeating two German divisions of average quality and taking from these (the 75th and 185th) 47 officers and 1,434 men. – Source

Cpl Clemmons was slightly wounded during the heroic assault on the Hindenburg Line on September 29, 1918. This injury was reported on his NC WWI Service Card. But he faced more serious injuries a few weeks later. Details of that battle will be covered in later posts, as several Brunswick County men were wounded during that time.

Source: Rockingham post-dispatch. [Rockingham, NC], December 05, 1918, p. 9

 

Cpl Calmer Clemmons was seriously wounded on October 16 [NC WWI Service Card] or 18 [119th Roster]. The date was probably recorded incorrectly because Cpl Clemmons was initially reported missing.

Cpl Clemmons never returned to service due to the seriousness of his injuries, which are unknown. On January 22, 1919, he left US Army Base Hospital No. 40 in Southern England and boarded USS Plattsburg to New York. The passenger list stated that all passengers were “Walking Cases.” [Source: ancestry.com]

The Charlotte Observer [Charlotte, NC] 1919 Feb. 13, p. 14 reported the following.

52 Carolina Soldiers, Wounded, Arrive Here

Sent to Camp Greene Base Hospital for Medical and Reconstruction Treatment.

Fifty-two Carolina soldiers, wounded in action in France but now almost well again, from a New York army hospital, arrived at the base hospital at Camp Greene for medical and reconstructive treatment, according to information given out there yesterday. With relatively few exceptions these men formerly were with the famous Thirtieth division. Others were with labor battalions, medical corps unit and artillery regiments.
[…]
Corporal Calmer Clemmons, Company F, 119th infantry.
[…]
Bugler William R. Smith, Machine Gun company, 322d infantry.
[…]

Bugler William R. Smith was also from Brunswick County. His WWI Profile is coming soon.

 Calmer Clemmons was honorably discharged on February 25, 1919, with no reported disability. He married  and appears to have lived with his wife and son in Wilmington until his death. Calmer Clemmons was laid to rest on September 26, 1965. Military honors are displayed.

If you would like to help us honor Calmer Thomas 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

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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In the News – April 11-12, 2018

A very nice full-length spread was published in the The State Port Pilot, featuring stories in the recap posted yesterday.

These include the Eagle Scout Service Project by local Boy Scout Ethan Pannkuk, and the World War I Ceremony held at the rifle range on Friday. Click here to read both.

Appearing in tomorrow’s issue of Brunswick Beacon is a tribute to the Brunswick County WWI veterans serving with the 105th Engineers. Click here to read.

As always a big Thank you! to our valuable local media for continuing to publicize and support our efforts.

These stories can also be found by selecting the News section at the top of the website.

Newspaper articles courtesy of
The State Port Pilot
Brunswick Beacon

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A flurry of activity

Fort Caswell Rifle Range experienced a very busy week. Then the exciting news arrived that the 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range was now designated a national WWI Centennial Memorial and suddenly there were many items on the To Do list.

A quick recap…

Friday and Saturday, March 30-31, Ethan Pannkuk arrived to complete his Eagle Scout Service Project. He and some family, friends, and fellow Scouts from Troop 210 in Carolina Beach worked for two days to clear the floor of the target pit and remove roots, digging and clearing the dirt from behind the north wall to examine the footer, and begin the effort to straighten the wall. Two posts cover this work: Day 1 and Day 2. Local newspapers will feature the work later; copies will be found on the News section of the website when they have been published.

On Tuesday, April 3, a visitor from the State Historic Preservation Office in Raleigh inspected the rifle range. The Friends of Fort Rifle Range will continue with stabilization efforts as advised.

Helen and Bob Radcliffe have been hard at work on two projects. They created a standing wooden monument with thermometer to show fundraising progress.

Helen worked on beautiful themed baskets that will be available for raffle at the Derby fundraiser on Saturday, May 5.

Buy your tickets now!

The clubhouse can only accommodate a limited number. Volunteers are still needed.

Tabletop horses are available for sale! Become an “owner” of the horse and win when your horse does. See Derby fundraiser webpage.

Banners were installed at the clubhouse to announce the Derby fundraiser.

An additional banner was ordered using a poster from the Library of Congress with the insignias of combat units during World War I. This poster was used by the recruiting office in 1919. You can see the poster and link on the World War I Army/Marine Division Roster webpage.

The photo shown is Norm Sprinthall pointing at the insignia of the 26th Division, the unit his father served in during WWI. Read more about Norm and Lois Sprinthall’s donation in honor of his father, Sgt Archie Sprinthall. Sgt Sprinthall is also included on the WWI Wall of Honor, as well as his fellow soldiers who didn’t return home.

Photo by Christine Urick
Friday, April 6, the Commemoration of the Anniversary of United State’s entry into WWI was held. It was a beautiful day. The recitation of honored Brunswick County WWI veterans was touching. More details will follow. Until then, please read the DAR Brunswick Chapter blog post.

Also on Friday, the announcement was made by The United States World War I Centennial Commission and The Pritzker Military Museum & Library – –

The 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range had joined prestigious WWI memorials and landmarks such as Chicago’s “Soldier Field” and Washington, D.C.’s “National World War I Memorial at Pershing Park”.

The 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range is now designated as one of only 100 national WWI Centennial Memorials.

It must be said again and again before the Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range can finally believe it. The 100 designated memorials must be checked each day to ensure the 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range is still listed.

This was the culmination of many months of writing, reviewing, revising, and hand-wringing to create a proposal that would fully capture the dedication required for the seven years of work to date. The Fort Caswell Rifle Range receives not only the national designation, but also a grant “towards the restoration, conservation and maintenance of local historical treasures.”

It will result in national attention and publicity for the rifle range. More details will follow on possible podcasts, the award presentation, and publications. Official press release: FINAL 100 Cities/100 Memorials Press Release for Official World War I Centennial Memorials

The U.S. World War One Centennial Commission was established by the World War One Centennial Commission Act, part of Public Law 112-272 passed by the 112th Congress and signed by President Obama on January 16, 2013. The Commission is responsible for planning, developing, and executing programs, projects, and activities to commemorate the centennial of World War One. All living presidents serve as Honorary Chairs. Read more on the webpage at www.worldwar1centennial.org

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WWI Profile: Elder Eugene Heath 1896-1984

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: 119th Infantry Unit Rosters for Company H to Company M, Page 13

Elder Eugene Heath
Bolivia, Brunswick County, NC
NC National Guard
Corporal

Served:
May 27, 1917 – April 7, 1919
Overseas:
May 12, 1918 – April 2, 1919
Severely Wounded: September 29, 1918

Elder Eugene Heath was born, raised, and lived most of his life in Brunswick and New Hanover Counties, NC.

On May 27, 1917, at the age of 19, Elder Heath enlisted in the NC National Guard by way of the Boys’ Brigade, as described in a previous post. He was eventually assigned to Co. I, 119th Infantry, 30th “Old Hickory” Division.

Cpl Heath’s NC WWI Service Card shows he was a Private. Company rosters, such as the one pictured above, US Army Transport records to and from France [Source: ancestry.com], casualty lists printed in newspapers at the time [see below], and his military flat marker refer to him as Corporal Elder E. Heath. It is not unusual for discrepancies in historical records, and the evidence is overwhelming that the service card is incorrect.

Before settling at Camp Sevier, SC, the soldiers were at Camp Jackson, SC. There, photographs were taken. This photograph is Pvt Thomas Newton Bryson (on the left) with three unknown fellow soldiers. [Source: NC State Archives] Pvt Bryson also served in the 119th Infantry. More about Pvt Bryson later.

Previous posts described training with the 30th Division at Camp Sevier, SC, the transportation to France, and events up to and including the Hindenburg Line assault.

Cpl Elder Heath was seriously wounded during the assault on the Hindenburg Line, along with many of his comrades in the 30th Division. Recall that History, 119th Infantry, 60th Brigade, 30th Division, U. S. A. Operations in Belgium and France, 1917-1919 reported the casualties in the 119th Infantry on that day were as follows:

146 KIA
691 Wounded
16 Died of Wounds
37 Taken Prisoner
12 MIA

Source: The commonwealth [Scotland Neck, NC], December 17, 1918, p. 4

This (partial) casualty list appeared in many newspapers after he was wounded.

Pvt Newton was also severely wounded that day. He recuperated in France and had this photo taken, again, with an unknown fellow soldier. [Source: NC State Archives] Pvt Newton’s photographs give us a glimpse into the experience of the other soldiers from the 119th.

Cpl Heath luckily had a complete recovery, returning to duty December 2, 1918. [Source: 119th Infantry Roster, Page 91] The war had ended a month earlier.

When he boarded USS Huron on March 21, 1919, to return to America, the passenger list shows All Class “A” (fit for duty).

After Cpl Elder E. Heath was discharged, he married. It doesn’t appear he had children.

Elder Eugene Heath was laid to rest in Columbus County, NC in 1984. He was 88 years old.

If you would like to help us honor Elder Eugene Heath 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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WWI CENTENNIAL MEMORIAL: 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range

The 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range was designated today as one of 100 official World War I Centennial Memorials in the United States.

With the selection, the Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range receives a matching grant of up to $2,000 and more important, the national designation of the 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range as a “World War I Centennial Memorial”.

Read the announcement from the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission and the Pritzker Military Museum and Library website or the press release.

The Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range is grateful that the 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range was honored as one of only two memorials in North Carolina awarded the designation, and one of 100 in the United States.

The journey to save this World War I structure in the common area of our Caswell Dunes neighborhood began in 2011, when the Landscape/Grounds Committee of Caswell Dunes looked at the deteriorating condition, with weeds overgrown, trees pushing on the sides, and cracked doorways, and recognized they were at a turning point in the life of the historical structure.

Seven years later, the 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range has received the national recognition needed to make us confident that it has been saved.

To read more about the seven year journey, click here or on the Stabilization section of the website.

As stated in the press release

More important, the program is designed to raise community awareness of those who served, and provides a tangible connection to the profound impact this war had on local towns and cities, securing an important place in military history.

Join us tomorrow, Friday, April 6, 2018, as we commemorate the 101st Anniversary of the United States entry in World War I.

By saving the 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range, we are honoring the sacrifices of the brave World War I veterans of Brunswick County.

If you would like to help us honor Brunswick County WWI veterans, 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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WWI Profile: Benjamin Bantie Smith 1893-1918

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
Benjamin Bantie Smith
Ash, Brunswick County, NC
US Army
Private

Served:
September 19, 1917 – October 17, 1918
Overseas:
May 11, 1918 – October 17, 1918
Wounded: September 29, 1918
Died of Wounds: October 17, 1918

Awarded Distinguished Service Cross; British Military Medal

Benjamin Bantie Smith was born and raised in Brunswick County. There is a partial family tree in FamilySearch.

His WWI Draft Registration from June 5, 1917, shows he was single and working on his family’s farm.

Benjamin B. Smith was one of 16 Brunswick County men ordered to report for duty on September 19, 1917. Included were John Carlisle, Samuel G. Fulford, James R. Ganey, and William P. Comron/Cameron, who were all eventually assigned to 119th Infantry, 30th “Old Hickory” Division, to train at Camp Sevier, Greenville, SC.

Previous posts described events up to and including the Hindenburg Line assault.

This account of the assault can be found in the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources blog:

At 5:50 AM on the morning of September 29, 1918, the North Carolinians of the 30th Division—then serving under British command as part of the Fourth Army—emerged from the safety of their trenches and formed up in a single line, each man standing shoulder to shoulder, roughly four to six feet apart.

As they moved across the field under a cacophony of machine gun and artillery fire, the men did their best to stay abreast and maintain unit cohesion. Due to the poor visibility, the difficult nature of the terrain, and battlefield obstacles, however, the lines began to waver almost immediately. Enemy artillery fire punched at the Allied lines as a thick cloud of fog and smoke enveloped the field. “[Y]ou could hardly see your hand before you,” remembered Luther Hall, a Surry County native attached to the 119th Infantry Regiment.

Pvt Benjamin Smith died later from wounds received that day. According to History, 119th Infantry, 60th Brigade, 30th Division, U. S. A. Operations in Belgium and France, 1917-1919, the casualties the 119th Infantry reported that day were as follows:

146 KIA
691 Wounded
16 Died of Wounds
37 Taken Prisoner
12 MIA

Also included was this description.

The field over which this fight took place, on the 30th day of September, presented a miserable appearance, as dead soldiers were scattered broadcast over its area. Shell holes were so numerous that one could not walk three steps without falling into one. Huge masses of barbed wire had been partly cut by the bombardment and the Tanks. Not a telephone pole nor a tree had been left standing by the sweeping Artillery fire. The town of Bellicourt was a complete wreck.

Pvt Benjamin Smith died of his wounds on October 17, 1918, over two weeks after the Hindenburg Line assault.

On November 18, 1918, he was recommended for both a British and American military medal. Pvt Benjamin Smith was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (pictured left) by the United States Army for great bravery in battle. His NC WWI Service Card and page 8 of the 119th Infantry military honors recommendations list shows he was also awarded the British Military Medal (pictured right).

On July 8, 1918, the United States Congress approved an act permitting members of the military forces of the United States serving in the World War to accept and wear certain foreign decorations.

This is an example of a Distinguished Cross Citation that Private Benjamin Smith would have been awarded. This citation was awarded to Captain Ben F. Dixon, who was KIA during the same battle to break the Hindenburg Line.
[Source: NC State Archives]

An account of his bravery can be found in a NC Armistice Day program in 1921
[Source: North Carolina Day. Friday, November 11th, 1921. Armistice Day. North Carolina in the World War; North Carolina. Dept. of Public Instruction]

BENJAMIN B. SMITH, private, Company A, 119th Infantry. For extraordinary heroism in action near Bellicourt, France, September 29, 1918. After being wounded twice in making attacks with his own organization, he joined Australian troops and attacked with them, being wounded a third time before he consented to be evacuated.

Included in the program is this table:

NORTH CAROLINA’S WAR RECORD (A TABLE)

73,000 . . . . . men in the Army.
9,000 . . . . . men in the Navy and Marine Corps.
1,600 . . . . . men gave their lives.
1 . . . . . man awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
200 . . . . . men awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
12 . . . . . men awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.

The 1921 NC Armistice Day program ended with this dedication

Eighty-two thousand North Carolinians fought in the war. One thousand six hundred of these gave their lives in battle. These are the men whom we should especially honor today. Some day their names and homes will all be known. But scholars will have to work a long time to get them all right. In the meantime you should learn as many as you can of the men from your own county who died. Their names should be read on Armistice Day, and hymns sung and prayers offered in their memory. Some of these men have been brought back from France and are now buried in their home cemeteries. Their graves should be visited this day, and decorated with flowers. Remember that these men died for us, and honor them always.

 

The remains of Private Benjamin Bantie Smith were returned from Belgium on the USAT Wheaton on July 2, 1921 [Source: ancestry.com]. He was laid to rest in the Smith Family Cemetery on Hwy 130 in Ash. His headstone is not a military one but includes the inscription, “Served with honor in the World War and died in the Service of his country.”

If you would like to help us honor Benjamin Bantie Smith 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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Eagle Scout Service Project: Day 2

Bright and early Saturday, March 31, Ethan Pannkuk, the Eagle Scout Candidate, and fellow Boy Scouts from Troop 210 in Carolina Beach returned to the 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range to resume the work Ethan had planned for his Eagle Scout Service Project.

Several from Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range stopped by to observe the hard work, including Caswell Dunes HOA President Joyce Crabtree. It was exciting watching the floor of the target pit emerge from beneath the dirt and debris.

The Scouts went above and beyond removing very tough roots that were attempting to destroy the walls and floor. This wasn’t standard weed pulling!

Ethan made lunch, and the work continued. After a day of work, they were able to completely clear both the floor and the drainage ditch. It looked like all of the work was complete but Ethan reminded the group that clean-up was still needed. They smoothed away the dirt they removed, then Ethan announced that they were done.

On Tuesday this week, the State Historical Preservation Office returns to inspect the work and guide the Friends of Fort Caswell on the next steps.

We wish Ethan and all of the Scouts best of luck in their future endeavors. President of the HOA, Joyce Crabtree, President of Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range, Norma Eckard, and all of the Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range thank Ethan Pannkuk for choosing the rifle range and target pit as his project, as well as the Scouts and friends for helping!

Thank you, Ethan and friends!
Ethan is first on the left. The names of the other Scouts will be added if/when permission is obtained.

Day 2, continuing the clearing of the floor. Notice how thick the roots are among the dirt.

Taking a break. Ethan, in yellow.

The floor is almost clear.

Clearing the narrow drainage ditch is difficult work.

Ethan makes lunch. HOA President Joyce Crabtree thanks the Scouts for their hard work, and thanks Ethan for choosing the 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range as his service project.

Floor and drainage ditch are clear! This may be the first time since WWII when the War Department sold the land.

Ethan leads the Scouts in the final cleanup of the site.

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Eagle Scout Service Project: Day 1

Ethan Pannkuk, the Eagle Scout Candidate from Troop 210 in Carolina Beach, arrived yesterday with his fellow Boy Scouts and friends for two days of grueling work at the 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range. They quickly began the work he has been planning for many months. The two Caswell Dunes maintenance employees, Joe & Dee, and even Dee’s husband pitched in some to help.

Those from Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range watching them heave shovelful after shovelful of wet dirt over the wall were amazed at their energy. This work is something the Friends have been anticipating since Ethan began his proposal.

The Scouts left at the end of the day for a night at Fort Caswell. Did they imagine themselves as Doughboys from 1918, returning to the fort after a hard day of practice at the rifle range?

They returned bright and early today, Saturday, at 8:30am to resume the work.

Thank you, Ethan and friends!

 

Ethan, in blue, observing the work.

All hard at work with shovels.

Exposing the back wall for stabilization.

Progress. The remains of the targets can be seen on the floor of the target pit.

Ethan preparing dinner on the clubhouse deck.

 

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Commemorate the 101st Anniversary of World War I

Attend the Commemoration of the US entry into World War I on Friday, April 6, 2018, 10:30am, at the Fort Caswell Rifle Range in Caswell Beach, NC.

There will be a Roll Call from the list of Brunswick County veterans honored. The entire list can be viewed here or by clicking the blue button on the top right of the website. The complete list will be available at the ceremony.

Those reciting names include Dave Lewis from Brunswick County Historical Society; Carl Mauney, a re-enactor who has most graciously participated in previous events; and members from the Brunswick Town Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution and Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range.

Click below to view the flyer.

WWI Commemoration Flyer with Roll Call

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