WWI Profile: David Elton Lewis 1891-1965

David Elton Lewis
Brunswick County, NC
US Navy
Lieutenant (junior grade)

Served:
May 1, 1917 -unknown

David Elton Lewis was born in Brunswick County, NC, in 1891. A partial family tree is located in FamilySearch.

Two of David’s brothers also served in WWI. Grover Ransom Lewis enlisted in the Navy in NY in March 1918 [Source: Ancestry.com] John Quincy Lewis, served in the US Army. Grover was not originally included in the Brunswick County WWI Veteran List as his NY WWI Service Record shows he was born in Wilmington, NC. However, we now know he lived in Brunswick County which will allow us to add his name to the Brunswick County WWI Veteran List.

The 1900 Census shows his family living in Shallotte. David is 9 years old, one of eight children.

When David was about 12 years old, his father and uncle were lost at sea.

On the night of December 9, 1903, his father, Captain James Harker Lewis, and his uncle, Captain William Edward Lewis, along with all three crew members were lost at sea at the mouth of the Cape Fear River. Captains James and William Lewis were captains and foremen of fishing crews but were passengers on the small schooner Clarence H. which was delivering goods from Shallotte to Wilmington, NC. The story was printed in newspapers across the nation.

According to the Dec. 11, 1903 edition of The Morning Post (Raleigh, NC), the boat was discovered lying bottom up on Oak Island beach that morning. That afternoon, his uncle’s body washed ashore. The Dec. 13 edition of The Morning Star reported that there was no evidence that Captain William Lewis had water in his lungs, indicating that his cause of death was likely the blow to his forehead, possibly from the mast. His body was sent to Shallotte for interment. His gravesite is unknown.

His father’s body washed ashore near the same location on January 9, 1904 and was identified by the papers in his clothing, according to the Jan. 15, 1904 edition of the Wilmington Messenger. He was laid to rest in the Old Smithville Cemetery in what is now Southport. By March, all five bodies had been recovered.

David’s grandson Dave Lewis of Brunswick County Historical Society shares this story about his grandfather.

My great-grandmother moved to Wilmington with all her children after my great-grandfather was lost in a shipwreck off Southport in 1903. She put my granddad to work in a cotton mill which he stayed for about one week. That was not for him, so he went down to the waterfront looking for work. After shoveling coal on a freighter from NY to China he taught himself to read and write and obtained his Engineer License allowing him to sail as Chief Engineer on any size ship. That was why he was in NY before enlisting in the Navy.

Family lore tells me that my great grandmother was told by family members, “they would be back before the peach trees bloom”, but they never returned to Brunswick Co. except for visits.

The 1910 Census shows him living with his mother and some siblings, working on a tug boat. As mentioned above, he is able to read and write now. His name appears in several years of city directories for Wilmington.

On May 1, 1917, David Elton Lewis enlisted in the US Navy Reserve as a Lieutenant (junior grade) [Source: Ancestry].

David’s WWI Draft Registration was completed on February 27, 1918, later than the required registration of June 5, 1917. Written on his registration by the Registrar and signed by David was the statement, “Was on the high seas on June 5.”

David’s passport application or Application for Seaman’s Certificate of American Citizenship of March 15, 1918 [Source: Ancestry] states that he has been a Seaman for 4 years, with his recent position as an Assistant Engineer on the Medina. The photograph attached to the application is shown at left.

Family documents confirm that he served on Medina for about five years.

In the September 1914 issue of International Marine Engineering she was referred to as “One of the most modern and largest freight steamships operating on the Atlantic coast.” When World War I broke out, she became a supply ship for the US Army, but was placed under the operational control of the US Navy. In August of 1918, the SS MEDINA was the Commodore’s Flagship in a convoy of about twenty ships enroute to Europe. During that arduous voyage, two ships in her convoy were torpedoed, but the MEDINA escaped without harm. Following cessation of hostilities, MEDINA was returned to her original owners. [Source: SS Medina]

It is not known whether Lt(jg) Lewis was serving at the time, but it is very likely. The following is a more detailed account of the convoy being torpedoed.

Note: The Medina served as the Commodore’s Flagship. Traditionally, “commodore” is the title for any officer assigned to command more than one ship at a time. A commodore’s ship is typically designated by the flying of a broad pennant, as opposed to an admiral’s flag. [Source: wikipedia]

Source of newspaper clipping: Chronicling America
The U.S.S. West Bridge, commanded by Lieutenant Commander Mortimer Hawkins, U.S. Naval Reserve Force, left New York, August 1st, 1918 in convoy with about twenty other vessels. The S.S. Medina acted as the Commodore Ship.

At about 1740 on August 15, the Captain of the West Bridge was notified by the Chief Engineer that the main engine turbine rotor was stripped and that the ship could not proceed or make any repairs. The Medina was notified of the engine trouble and the inability of the West Bridge to maintain position or hold speed.

At about 1800 the U.S.S. Montana, which was in the convoy and about four miles ahead of the West Bridge, was torpedoed. At 2358 one torpedo struck the West Bridge on her starboard side amidships abreast of the engine room. A second torpedo struck immediately afterwards at about twenty feet forward of the first. The vessel listed to starboard immediately and the captain ordered “Abandon Ship”. She settled quickly so that there was about two feet of water on her well decks, but as she sank she came back to an even keel while the survivors stood by the stricken vessel in lifeboats.

The West Bridge began settling and all hope of saving her was abandoned. The lives of four West Bridge crewmen were lost. [Source: Torpedoing of USS West Bridge]

David returned to Wilmington, presumably as he continued to serve; the 1919 City Directory lists him as US Navy. In 1920 (Census) he continued working aboard the SS Medina.

His grandson, Dave Lewis referenced above, added the following touching information.

I have the old painting of the ship [Medina] that hung in my grandparents’ dining room while they were living at Carolina Beach. The picture hung there as long as I can remember.

In 1922, David married Gertie Lancaster in Southport. The 1930 Census shows him living in Wilmington, working as a Marine Engineer. By the 1940 Census, he was in Texas. He and his wife raised two sons.

David Elton Lewis was living in Wilmington when he passed away on January 5, 1965. He was laid to rest in Greenlawn Memorial Park Cemetery, Wilmington. No military honors are displayed.

If you would like to help us honor David Elton Lewis 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 Profile: John William Vereen 1896-1973

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.

Meuse-Argonne First Division Monument
John William “Johnie” Vereen
Brunswick County, NC
US Army
Corporal

Served:
July 15, 1916 – November 10, 1919
Overseas:
July 28, 1917 – September 3, 1919

Johnie Vereen was born and raised in Brunswick County, NC. A partial family tree is located in FamilySearch. Two brothers also served in WWI. Sgt Pearl Vereen enlisted May 1917 and served overseas with the 17th Railway Engineers. Seaman Jack Vereen enlisted in the Navy in July 1917 and served aboard the USS Peter Struven and USS Lakeside.

Johnie enlisted in the US Army at Fort Slocum, NY, on July 15, 1916.

When the United States entered WWI, the 1st Division was created, as described in the WWI Profile for William Thompson White. Pvt Vereen was assigned to the 6th Field Artillery.

In the beginning of the US involvement in the war, there were few transports available, which required that the division travel piecemeal. The infantry left first, on June 14. Pvt Vereen was promoted to Private, First Class on July 7. When the small fleet of transports returned after discharging the infantry in France, it was the artillery’s turn to board. Pfc Vereen and the 6th Field Artillery had left Douglas, Arizona, on July 23, and embarked at Hoboken, NJ, on July 28, 1917, on USS Henry R. Mallory, shown above [Source: Ancestry].

On the night of July 31st the convoy of three transports, with the cruiser “North Carolina” and five destroyers as escort, and an oil ship carrying fuel, started on another perilous trip across the Atlantic. St. Nazaire was reached August 13th without incident and all disembarked on August 14th.

The 6th Field Artillery, along with the 7th, were light infantry and were equipped with the French 77-mm guns (shown at left). The training continued for seven weeks and included road marching to condition the horses and drivers.

The 6th Field Artillery was credited with firing the first American shot in WWI, at 6:05am on October 23, 1917.

After the success at St. Mihiel, the first All American operation (described in detail in Herbert Burnell Ward’s WWI Profile), the next operation was planned.

Experience had shown that unless a final blow could be struck the lines would stabilize and there would be another winter in the trenches during which the enemy might recover the advantage that he had lost.

The Meuse River – Argonne Forest was targeted.

Nature had contrived to include within the zone the most difficult obstacles, from a military point of view, that could be encountered. The terrain was naturally so rugged and deeply cut by ravines that it was fit only for wild vegetation. Over this surface spread the great Argonne Forest, with an undergrowth that in places resembled a tropical jungle. The Meuse River was a formidable barrier to military operations. Between the forest and the river the country was cut by deep ravines, extensive woods and a succession of hills and ridges whose wooded crests afforded cover for machine guns to sweep their barren slopes. The Aire River flowed along the north and east of the Argonne Forest in a valley that was open throughout its length.

For the first time, the First Division was not waiting in the front line trenches. An eastward operation was planned instead. As the battle began on September 26th, the First Division waited. The Germans were resisting with desperate and relentless fighting and losses were mounting. All thoughts of the eastward operation were forgotten. The First Division awaited their orders to join the raging battle.

September 27, the First Division began to march.

This long night march proved to be another test of endurance and fortitude. For twelve hours the infantry plodded along the muddy and war-worn roads, the larger part of the time in a downpour of rain. The feet of many men were sore and inflamed from living in the mud and from ill-fitting shoes.

The pain that they suffered could be seen in their set faces, but only those whose condition was pitiable would succumb. It was touching to witness the devotion of these officers and men and to realize the sense of consecration that animated them. When the weary march ended, they found themselves in woods rendered boggy by old bivouacs or horse-lines and often tangled by the wire of the rear defenses.

The artillery and the trains were compelled to follow even more difficult roads than the infantry. Nothing short of the most patient and skillful handling could have preserved the strength of the horses. The strain upon these men was, if possible, more trying than that upon the infantry, for not only were they compelled to make their way on foot, but, at the end of the march, their remaining strength was required to care for the horses and keep their guns in readiness for the missions that lay before them.


The First Division relieved the 35th Division on the night of September 30th. The map above shows the location on the left side, as the sections marked “35” changes to “1.” See also the 77th Division on the left flank, as described in the WWI Profile of Forney Mintz, resulting in the Lost Battalion.

Wherever the eye rested, there were low crosses that marked the last resting places of the men who died for their country on either side. Many, alas, were new and crudely bore the names of American soldiers who a few days before went forward as the ranks of the First Division were now doing. Here and there were masses of swollen carcasses of horses torn beyond description by shell — dumb servants whose sacrifice was little less than human — and ceaselessly came the sullen roar of guns, growing ever louder and louder as the columns drew nearer the fate that awaited them.

These devoted men knew what battle meant, and all realized that some supreme test lay ahead. Their faces took on the grim resolution that had now become familiar, and their bearing told of a calm courage that takes little count of danger and death with those who follow the way of Duty, Honor and Country. Veterans of Lorraine [law-ren] and Picardy [pik-er-dee], of Soissons [swa-sawn] and St. Mihiel [san-mee-yel], proud in their record of achievement, strong in their faith of accomplishment and inspired by the memory of their sacrifices and their dead—these were the First Division.

When a passer-by warned of the grim task that awaited them, the reply was flung back from the ranks, “We are the boys who can do it.”

The clips below from the National Archives show the 6th Field Artillery on October 5, 1918. According to the 1st Division History they were in the area of Hill 272, so it is assumed to be recorded there.

“Batteries of the 6th Field Artillery holding a position under heavy shell fire near Exermont, Ardennes, France, October 5, 1918.”

The video clip above also contains the following segments from the Field Artillery of the First Division.

(16:36) “On July 5, 1918, the 7th Field Artillery fired 4000 shells of mustard gas, compelling the Germans to wear their gas masks for three days.”

(34:16) “The Artillery of the First Division opens a barrage near Beaumont, France, on September 9, 1918.”

General Pershing chose the 1st Division for the vital position, or post of honor, in most of his engagements. This, along with the long service time of the division, resulted in a large casualty count of almost 24,000: 4,964 killed in action, 17,201 wounded in action, and 1,056 missing or died of wounds. None of the men from Brunswick County became casualties.

On August 1, 1919, Johnie was promoted to Corporal. He boarded USS Mobile on August 24, 1919, to return to the United States. He likely marched in the parades shown in William Thompson White’s WWI Profile. He was then honorably discharged on November 10 and immediately re-enlisted. His re-enlistment evidently resulted in his rank reverting to private again, as the higher rank was likely only during war-time.

According to the 1920 Census he was stationed at Camp Meade, Maryland. Now known as Fort Meade, at the time it housed the nation’s tank school and experimental grounds. The census shows Pvt Vereen was serving with the Overseas Replacement Depot, Company 49, which processed soldiers sent to Germany for occupation duty.

Source: Ancestry.com. U.S., Army Transport Service, Passenger Lists, 1910-1939 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.

The Passenger List shown above lists Pvt Johnie Vereen sailing USAT Antigone on August 23, 1920 for Antwerp, Belgium. His name is crossed out and stamped with “Did Not Sail.” No explanation is found.

Johnie left the US Army on May 5, 1924 [Source: Department of Veterans Affairs Death File, Ancestry]. Around 1927, he married Lillian Hazel Gray. The 1930 Census shows he and his wife living in Waccamaw Township with their first child, little Johnie Jr, age 19 months. Johnie Sr was working at a lumber mill.

The 1940 Census shows him working as a foreman at the Reigel Paper Company. According to his family, his entire career was spent as a forester with Reigel Paper Company, planting and tending the forests around Lake Waccamaw.

Johnie William Vereen passed away on June 11, 1973. He was laid to rest in Lake Waccamaw Hillcrest Cemetery. No military honors are shown.

In 1991, his wife, Lillian Hazel Gray, passed away. The Brunswick Beacon published the obituary on April 25, 1991, p.6-B.

Lillian Hazel Gray Vereen

Lillian Hazel Gray Vereen, of Long Beach, died April 18 in Cornelia Nixon Davis Health Care Center, Wilmington. She was 80.

The funeral was April 20 in McKenzie Mortuary Chapel, with the Rev. Frank Elliott officiating. Burial was in Lake Waccamaw Cemetery, Columbus County.

Mrs. Vereen was born in Brunswick County and was the widow of Johnny W. Vereen Sr. She was a member of Ocean View United Methodist Church, Yaupon Beach.

Survivors include a daughter, Joyce V. Formyduval of Long Beach; two sons, Wayland Vereen of Yaupon Beach and Johnny W. Vereen Jr. of Long Beach; a half-brother, John B. Gray of Garner; a half-sister, Erma Holden of Supply; a stepmother, Maude Gray of Makatoka; three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to a local rescue unit.

Johnie Vereen, Jr, his son, is living in Brunswick County today. Johnie Vereen III served as mayor of Oak Island for four terms and passed away in 2015.

Sources:
The Society of the First Division (1922) History of the First Division During the World War, 1917-1919. Philadelphia, The John C. Winston Company.

Meuse-Argonne Map: The Society of the Fifth Division (1919) The Official History of the Fifth Division USA, During the Period of its Organization and its Operations in the European World War, 1917-1919. New York, Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford Company.

If you would like to help us honor John William “Johnie” Vereen 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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Why “Doughboy”? revisited

Last week, a page from the 1920-21 Fort Benning yearbook The Doughboy was posted which explained the quest to find the origins of the word doughboy, a term referring to US Army infantry.

The style of writing was humorous. This was the beginning of the Roaring 20s, which was characterized by breaking tradition and formality in contrast to the somber mood of WWI. However, humor is also a tool used to deal with trying conditions. Recall the 77th Division’s “Our Company” which was written in rhyme form, or the 81st Division’s play, “The Bloody War.”

The yearbook had many samples of this writing style and contained oodles of comics. Some would describe the yearbook as “a hoot.” Many of the documents from this period that were used to write the WWI Profiles were written this way.

The 1936 version of the yearbook had returned to a more formal writing style, although some comics were included.

To reiterate, three possible origins of doughboy as US Army Infantry were presented, and the term was traced back to the Revolutionary War.

  • Soldiers kept the piping on their uniforms white by applying pipe-clay, referred to as “dough.”
  • “Dough ball” was used to describe a certain type of button worn on the Infantry overcoats in the early parts of the nineteenth century.
  • The Cavalrymen started it, making fun of infantry because they have to plod along through the mud.

And one additional theory is presented by The History Channel.

  • During the Mexican War of 1846-48, American infantrymen made long treks over dusty terrain, giving them the appearance of being covered in flour, or dough. As a variation of this account goes, the men were coated in the dust of adobe soil and as a result were called “adobes,” which morphed into “dobies” and, eventually, “doughboys.”

Please contact Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range with any additional documented theories.

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WWI Profile: William Thompson White 1892-1969

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: Brunswick County News, Nov. 15, 1917; Courtesy of Gwen Causey and Wilson T. Arnold
William Thompson White
Shallotte, Brunswick County, NC
US Army
Corporal

Served:
April 15, 1917 – September 2, 1919
Overseas:
June 14, 1917 – August 23, 1919

William Thompson White was born and raised in Shallotte, NC. A partial family tree is located in FamilySearch.

On April 6, 1917, the US declared war on Germany. Nine days later, on April 15, 1917, Willie enlisted in the US Army at Fort Thomas, Kentucky.

Pvt White became one of many recruits added to the existing 16th Infantry to bring it to war strength, which was quickly chosen by General Pershing to form the 1st Division, America’s first division.

The 1st Division, or the “Big Red One,” was the first American Army division to arrive in France (June 26, 1917), the first to enter battle (October 23, 1917), the first to report American casualties (October 25, 1917), and the first to lead an American victory (May 28, 1918).

On June 3, Pvt White presumably joined the division’s journey to Hoboken, NJ, to embark for France. As the first troops, they had confidence their participation would be swift and successful, and they would soon return.

On June 14, 1917, they departed in a convoy of twelve ships. (A passenger list for the 16th Infantry was not found in order to confirm that Pvt White sailed with the convoy, but his NC WWI Service Card does confirm these dates.)

The 16th Infantry landed at St. Nazaire, France on June 26, 1917.

Samuel Leob Mintz also traveled with the convoy, serving with Machine Gun Company, 26th Infantry of the 1st Division. Pvt Mintz had been serving for almost a year, having enlisted on August 15, 1916. He would make the military his career.

The photo of Pvt White shown at top was printed in the November 15, 1917, edition of Brunswick County News, with the following.

Willie T. White
(Somewhere in France)

The above picture of Willie Thompson White, son of Mr. and Mrs. F.M. White of Shallotte, who enlisted in the Army early in the Spring was made in France. He is a member of the 16th Infantry, and was one of the two first boys from Brunswick County to be sent to France; the other is Leob Mintz, son of Mr. S.K. Mintz of Mill Branch.

“Son” makes a good looking soldier in uniform, but says it is not a good picture – being taken by a Frenchman.

The second battalion of the 16th Infantry (which did not include Pvt White’s Company B) represented America in a parade in Paris on July 4, 1917. The march ended at Lafayette’s Tomb, where General Pershing reported for duty by declaring, “Layfayette, we are here” in honor of the “friendship and support that France had given to the American colonies in their hour of need when they fought for their liberty.”

Two soldiers from Brunswick County, Pfc Johnie Vereen, a member of the Regular Army, and Sfc Edward Johnson, a 46-year old man from Southport (originally from Norway), joined the division in July when the 5th and 6th Field Artillery of the 1st Division arrived in France. Sgt Johnson was a bandleader. The bands were fiercely protected from injury, as statements from historical documents like the following show.

“The Band was not permitted to go forward, musicians are too hard to replace, and of too great value in maintaining the morale of the men.” ~ Source: Official History of the 120th Infantry

On April 19, 1918, Pvt White was assigned to Company B, 1st Supply Train, in which he remained throughout his service.

General Pershing chose the 1st Division for the vital position, or post of honor, in most of his engagements. This, along with the long service time of the division, resulted in a large casualty count of almost 24,000: 4,964 killed in action, 17,201 wounded in action, and 1,056 missing or died of wounds. None of the men from Brunswick County became casualties.

The division insignia was adopted and first worn after the Armistice. Around this time, November 14, 1918, Pfc White was promoted to Corporal. The Division then began their work in the Army of Occupation, marching to Germany. Cpl White would have likely been given three day passes to explore the countryside during the occupation, as described in the division history.

Pfc Leob Mintz transferred to another division after the Armistice. Bandleader Sfc Edward Johnson returned home in February 1919, retiring soon after. Cpl Bryant Mintz, a Brunswick County soldier with a NC WWI Service Card showing service in the 1st Division, had no record of overseas travel to/from France and apparently served stateside.

In the middle of June 1919, the Allied negotiations with Germany became unsatisfactory and there were doubts that Germany would sign the Treaty of Versailles. The First Division was put on alert and began preparations to resume hostilities. On June 23, word was received that they would sign; the threat had thankfully passed.

As the division began preparing to return home, several units including Cpl White’s were ordered to remain in Germany. Those willing to stay were quickly transferred in, while those wishing to return home were permitted. Cpl White did not remain. On August 12, 1919, he began the journey home from France on USS Nansemond, arriving in Hoboken, NJ, on August 23 (Source: Ancestry). He then received his honorable discharge on September 2.

The 17 Aug. 1919 edition of the Wilmington Morning Star, p.8 included this item.

Mr. and Mrs. F.M. White are in receipt of the welcome news that their son, Willie White, is at last sailing for home. Willie was in the first contingent of American troops to go overseas, and apparently with [sic] the last to come back. He is a member of the First Division.

The division marched in NYC on September 10, followed by Washington DC on September 17. William White did not participate. He likely was in poor health as the passenger list referenced above was labeled “First Division Casualty Company.”

Cpl Johnie Vereen, who served with the 1st Division from the beginning (6th Field Artillery) and Pvt Alvin Milliken, who joined the 1st Division (7th Field Artillery) in August 1918, likely did march in the parades.

Willie White returned home to Shallotte. According to the 1920 Census, he was working as a blacksmith at a fish factory. He married Julia Hemmingway and raised one son, Kenneth Welch White.

William Thompson White passed away on October 29, 1969. He was laid to rest in Chapel Hill Cemetery in Shallotte, joined a few years later by his wife. A military flat marker is shown.

In 2002, his son passed away. His obituary is shown in the Findagrave link as follows:

Kenneth Welch White

SHALLOTTE – Kenneth W. White, 72, of Shallotte Avenue, SW, died Thursday, September 12, 2002 at his residence.

Born in Brunswick County on February 20, 1930, he was the son of the late William T. and Julia Hemmingway White. He was predeceased by his wives, Videll White and Marlene White. After his retirement from the N.C. Department of Transportation, he owned and operated K.W. White Trucking Company and delivered the Wilmington Morning Star Newspaper for many years.

Surviving are two sons, Kenneth Dale White, Shallotte, N.C. and Steve Allen White and wife, Teresa, Holden Beach, N.C., two daughters Cathy W. Sibbett and husband, Jeff, Ash, N.C. and Julie Anne White, Shallotte, N.C., two step daughters Karen S. Westmoreland and husband, Wade, Swansboro, N.C. and Shawna Stanley, Shallotte, N.C., six grandchildren, Kelly Prestipino, Alex White, Chelsa Sibbett, Kara Westmoreland, Jessica Barnes and Damion Purvis and his closest friend, Harry W. White, and two great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be conducted Saturday, September 14, 2002, at 1:30 p.m. in the Brunswick Funeral Service Chapel by the Rev. Brent Evans. Burial will be in Chapel Hill Cemetery, Shallotte, N.C.

The family will receive friends from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m., Friday, September 13, 2002 at the funeral home.

Active casketbearers will be Wayne Smith, David Moore, David Danford, Ricky Danford, Chris Hargis and David Edwards. Honorary Casektbearers will be Harry White, Marvin Watts, Curman Arnold and Roney Cheers.

Source: The Society of the First Division (1922) History of the First Division During the World War, 1917-1919. Philadelphia, The John C. Winston Company.

If you would like to help us honor William Thompson White 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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Our Hometown Interview: March 2019

During the month of March, ATMC a non-profit cooperative offering services such as internet and cable to Brunswick and Columbus County, will feature The Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range on their Our Home program, which includes interviews with Norma Eckard, president, and Ron Eckard, who serves on the Board.

The half hour program will air 3 times a day, 8:30 am, 11:00 am, and 6:30 pm.

For the new readers to the website, welcome!

Highlights of the Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran program include the following lists.

  • The Brunswick County WWI veterans list, which acts as an index to additional information such as WWI Profiles either written about or mentioning the veteran, as well as posts such as visits to cemeteries that mention the veteran. Date of birth, death, and Findagrave listings are included if known.
  • The WWI Army/Marine Division rosters webpage includes some of the divisions that have been included in WWI Profiles, the sources and even rosters published for the units. Of those divisions, a small roster of Brunswick County veterans is also provided.
  • The Published WWI Profile list shows the dates WWI Profiles have been published, as well as the dates the veteran was featured in local newspaper articles.

Please consider donating to honor a veteran. To date, 401 of 724 veterans have been honored. Funds will be used to publish the book of WWI Brunswick County veterans, as well as continue restoring the Fort Caswell Rifle Range.

Thanks to Mary Earp for reaching out to ATMC and organizing the interview!

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Why “Doughboy”?

Copied from the Camp Benning 1920-21 yearbook. Source listed below.

“Who, what and why is a ‘doughboy’?” Well, he is an American Infantryman, of course, as distinguished from all other wearers of Uncle Sam’s uniform, and about the best two-fisted and two-legged fighting man of which there is any record anywhere, and he gets his name because – because, why, er, come to think of it, how does he get the name?

And there you are. In an ambitious attempt to solve this mystery of long standing for the benefit of our readers, we went to no less an authority than Lieut. Col. James G. Hannah, Director of the Department of Research, and an officer of long service and deep erudition. “My boy,” said the Colonel sadly, “you ask me the only question this Department has never been able to solve satisfactorily by the critical research method. In my youth, I, too, was intrigued by this mystery and spent many long hours pouring over musty tomes of military lore, delving deep into the official records of our Army back to Revolutionary days, but never have I encountered an explanation that would really explain this perplexed question. This Department can only commend your worthy purpose and wish you success in the task you have set yourselves.”

With our confidence somewhat shaken, but still hopeful nevertheless, we next accosted a grizzled non-com, who bore on his battle-scarred breast all the campaign ribbons since the Black Hawk War. “Can’t say, sir,” he replied to our question. “I’ve heard it all my life, but never took the trouble to find out how we happened to get the name. Some say the Cavalrymen started it, sort of making fun of us, I guess, because we have to plod along through the mud, and I suppose that’s as reasonable as for us to call them Yellow Legs.”

And so it was all along the line. About all our investigation established was that, as regards this question, there are two major schools of thought, one of which adheres to the origin stated by Sergeant Hill just quoted, while the other contends that “doughboy” is a corruption of the words, “dough ball” used to describe a certain type of button worn on the Infantry overcoats in the early parts of the nineteenth century. Still another tenable theory comes from the use of pipe-clay (familiarly known as “dough”) to whiten the trouser stripes of the dress uniform. And here we are forced to rest, leaving the solution of the question to some master mind of the future, if indeed there is a solution. May it not be that, like Topsy, the term was not born, but “jes growed”?

Regardless of how the sobriquet originated or the idea it may at one time have been intended to convey, the title “doughboy” is Infantry property and belongs of right to no other branch, all of which have their own popular nicknames. We are proud of it, and justly resent its misuse. In these days of machinery, when our brethren of the Field Artillery, the Engineers, the Air Service and other branches call to their aid the genius of the gasoline engine to move them from place to place, there is inspiration in the realization that we “doughboys” are not dependent upon any thing but the equipment we were born with, and that while we may churn up a lot of mud in the process, we GET THERE just the same. If we are a little slower than some, why we’ll just stick around a little longer, that’s all.


The WWI Profile of Sgt Forney Mintz referenced the yearbooks from Camp Benning, GA, (now Fort Benning) home of the US Army Infantry School. The yearbook is named “The Doughboy.” The text and photos above were taken from the 1920-21 yearbook.

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WWI Profile: Forney Boston Mintz 1892-1960 (Part 2)

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: Photo from Adams, John Wesley; McCollum, Lee C. Our Company. Seattle, Lumberman printing co. 1919
Forney Boston Mintz
Mill Branch, Brunswick County, NC
U.S. Army
Sergeant

Served:
January 9, 1918 – January 8, 1929
Overseas:
April 6, 1918 – April 28, 1919
Wounded: August 15, 1918; September 27, 1918

Awarded Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star,
Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster

This is the second part of the Forney Mintz WWI Profile. Due to the amount of documentation about Forney Mintz, along with his multiple medals and association with a famous event, his WWI Profile has been posted in two parts. Read Part 1 here, which includes the story of The Lost Battalion, soldiers from his company and others surrounded by Germans for six days until only 194 of the original 554 soldiers remained.

A recent story in The Washington Post (October 7, 2018) ‘Attacked and starved’: A century-old diary recounts U.S. soldiers trapped behind enemy lines shared details from the diary of a soldier who survived the Lost Battalion. This particular soldier, Sgt Samuel Marcus, was left sterile due to poison gas exposure. Sgt Marcus was the great-great uncle of the author, who wrote the following after visiting the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery,

“The Lost Battalion is one with few descendants: So many young men were killed before having children and many who survived were sterile from gas exposure. Preserving a collective history is a challenge made even more difficult and urgent by the lack of surviving generations. Sam had no children, and to this day, my father and I are the only two people who have read his diary.

I spent hours in the woods and even longer in the cemetery without seeing a single person. Few may be left to visit these graves.

These young men gave their lives and their future — descendants they never had — in a military offensive that reshaped our world, but has nevertheless been largely forgotten. These graves are a testament to the bravery and sacrifice that my uncle’s words resurrect.”

Sgt Forney Mintz also had no children, whether by choice or the effects of war. These are not isolated cases. Many of the WWI veterans, men and women (recall Southport’s Navy Nurse Susie Williams’ WWI Profile), on our list of Brunswick County WWI Veterans and on the WWI Wall of Honor did not have descendants, while those who did have few still living today.

It is left to us to breathe new life into the memories of these soldiers’ lives and sacrifices.

Continuing with Sgt Forney Mintz, with the war over, he arrived in Hoboken, NJ, on April 28, 1919. He entered the Reserves until being discharged on January 8, 1920.

The 1920 Census shows Forney and two brothers, Owen and Martin, living at home in Brunswick County. All three had been wounded in the war. By August, Forney was once again serving in the US Army.

On November 26, 1921, Lt. Col. Charles White Whittlesey, the former commander of The Lost Battalion and the first WWI recipient of the Medal of Honor, after battling inner demons for three years, threw himself over the side of a ship bound for Cuba. His body was never recovered.

In 1919, the events of The Lost Battalion were made into a silent film. Actual maps, documents, and the German note asking for surrender were used. Many of the soldiers, including Lt. Col. Charles Whittlesey, portrayed themselves.

In 2001, A&E made a television movie called The Lost Battalion based on accounts of the battle. In that portrayal Major Whittlesey was played by Ricky Schroder.

Newsletters and newspapers from Fort Benning, GA, include information about both Forney and his brother Leob, who was also stationed there for some time. Excerpts below are taken from the Fort Benning archives and may be found here: http://www.benning.army.mil/Library/Virtual.html

“The Doughboy” yearbooks are also located at this site and while they contain no pictures or information about the Mintz brothers, they do describe the 29th Infantry, in which both served while at Fort Benning. Fort Benning is the home of the US Army Infantry School.

The 29th Infantry

The 29th Infantry is located at Camp Benning for the principle purpose of furnishing the necessary demonstration troops for the Infantry School. The regiment functions under all of the various departments of the School, as well as the Infantry Board and the Department of Experiment, and is frequently drawn upon for various details necessitated by the present evolutionary stage of the work of the School and Camp.

Some of the junior officers of the regiment are graduates of the Basic course of the Infantry School, but the great majority are veterans of the World War who have recently returned to service.

January 29, 1925:
“Sergt. Forney B. Mintz and Sergt. Leob Mintz wrote us last week and will be glad to be back with the boys again sometime this month. The two brothers are on a three month’s furlough.”

December 25, 1925:
“Sergeants Forney B. Mintz and Leob Mintz left on a 30 day furlough, in order to attend the wedding of their sister at Ash, North Carolina.”

February 19, 1926: Sgt Mintz is seated on the far right of the first row.

April 15, 1926:

On September 28, 1918, a flank platoon of Company A, 308th Infantry, was facing the Germans near Binarville, France, not far from Verdun. Since the early morning of September 28th this platoon had been slowly advancing against stubborn opposition from enemy machine gun nests. In command was a sergeant of five years’ service in the Regulars. The American artillery fire swept forward in front, but Co. “A” had no orders to advance. When the barrage had gone forward more than a mile, the orders to advance arrived. The Sergeant led his men forward. How well he performed his duty that day is best indicated by the following citation which accompanied the award to him of the Distinguished Service Cross.

“Forney B. Mintz, Sgt. Co. A, 308th Inf., for extra ordinary heroism in action near Binarville, France, Sept. 28, 1918. Sgt. Mintz, in command of a platoon, worked his way through the enemy rear guard and captured 5 machine guns and an ammunition carrying party. Altho badly wounded when an organized position of the enemy was encountered, he made his way back to request reinforcements and brought with him two German prisoners from whom valuable information was obtained.”

Even before the War, Sergt. Mintz was no stranger to death and disaster as two years after his original enlistment, January 8, 1913 at Columbus Barracks, he was serving with the 23rd Infantry stationed at Galveston, when the flood struck that Texas port. Mintz, then a private, assisted ably in the rescue work, the burial of the victims, the removal of the debris from the city and the reconstruction of the post.

On January 8, 1916, Mintz was furloughed to the Regular Army Reserve, but when Villa’s raid sent American troops hurrying to the border, he was recalled to the colors and served in Brownsville, Texas, and Gettysburg, Pa. with the 4th Infantry. During this period he was first made corporal and later sergeant. In June, 1917 he was transferred to the 58th Infantry and in August to the 77th Division, with which he went overseas thruout that National Army Division’s stay in France.

After being again furloughed to the Reserves in 1919, Sergt. Mintz was discharged January 8, 1920, but the lure of the service was too strong and on August 27, 1920, he came back for another takeout. He served with the 61st Infantry until its demobilization in July 1921, and was then assigned to Co. B, 29th Infantry, where he is still serving. In 1925 another discharge was given him per e.t.s. And again he went back to Bluff City, his home in the North Carolina hills; but as on other occasions, back he came for more, signing up again on May 17, 1924.

Sergt. Mintz is 34 years old, a North Carolinian by birth and inclination and before becoming part of the backbone of Uncle Sam’s Army was a tiller of the soil. Calm and collected during the most trying situations, decisive action when once started and withal having a thorough knowledge of his duties, Sergt. Mintz is one of the most efficient non-coms in the crack demonstration regiment. His comrades says he’s the kind you’d expect to take a corn cob pipe out of his mouth and spit twice before answering a question. And that’s a good kind of man to have around in an emergency.

July 9, 1926:
“Sergeant Mintz has made the high score with the rifle, his score being .317. No wonder he likes to shoot the bull in the eye.”

October 21, 1927:
“The Mintz brothers are back from furlough and reported having a very fine time in N.C., didn’t notice any tar on their heels, must have moved pretty fast while there.”

The February 8, 1929 issue announced that Sgt. Mintz had been given the honor of serving as an orderly for the Assistant Secretary of War during his visit to Fort Benning.

The 1930 Census shows Sgt Mintz and his brother Leob still serving with the 29th Infantry at Fort Benning in Chattahoochee, Georgia.

November 14, 1930:
“The two Mintz boys are back and their ninety days in Carolina certainly agreed with them, and especially with Sergeant Mintz as he has been unable to find a pair of pants that will fit him, since he came back.”

The January 30, 1931 issue mentions the Company Quartet, accompanied by three sergeants playing coronet, saxophone, and Sgt. Mintz on piano. An earlier issue mentions his brother, Leob Mintz, being an artist.

In 1939, the Mintz family’s father passed away. His obituary was printed in The State Port Pilot.

Source: [The State Port Pilot; 1939, Feb. 22, P.1].

Ash Merchant Died Last Week

Funeral rites for Samuel K. Mintz, 83, former merchant of the Ash section, who died at his home after a lingering illness, were held at the graveside in the Mintz cemetery near Shallotte on Thursday afternoon.

The Rec. R.B. Gerald conducted the services.

He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Ida Mintz; and six children, O.R. Mintz, Newman Mintz, Mina Mintz, and Cora Ludlum, all of Ash; Sergeant F.B. Mintz, of Fort Benning, GA; and Leob Mintz, of Washington, D.C.

Mr. Mintz was married four times. His first wife was Miss Mary Bennette, of the Shingletree section, and from this union five children are living. His second wife was Maggie Bennette; his third, Mary Allen, of Tar Hill; and his fourth Ida Goodwin Caines.

In 1940, the Census shows Sgt Mintz still stationed at Fort Benning.

The Fort Benning Bayonet, July 22, 1943 issue, p.2 includes the following story about Sgt Mintz.

Lost Battalion Survivor To Get Discharge Soon
Germans Had Unit Completely Surrounded In Argonne Forest

One of the few survivors of the famous “Lost Battalion” of World War I, Sgt. Forney B. Mintz of Company C of the Academic Regiment, soon will be discharged from the Army, after more than 29 years service.

The be-ribboned sergeant is the holder of the Distinguished Service Cross, the Purple Heart, the World War ribbon, the Mexican Border ribbons, and the pre-Pearl Harbor ribbon. Two of them were awarded for his heroism with the 1st (“Lost”) Battalion of the 308th Infantry, 77th Division.

Describing his experience, Sergeant Minta said, “We were completely surrounded by the Germans in the Argonne. They sent a blind-folded soldier over to ask us to surrender. Our major told them to “go to hell.” Of course, after that we always called him “Go to Hell Whittlesey.”

Tough Spot
“We were in a tough spot,” the 51-year-old sergeant recalls. “They shot everything at us. Gas – one pounders – machine guns. I didn’t have to do any bayoneting, but some of my men did. I had to throw plenty of hand grenades, though.”

Stating that they could get supplies only by plane, Sergeant Mintz said they ate nothing but oak leaves and water for days because the Germans would get everything that was dropped for them.

“As soon as we made a move to go for some food or water that had been dropped, they picked us off,” the sergeant relates. “Finally, when there were only 20 or 30 of us left, the battalions to the right and left of us advanced, and the Germans fell back. We were saved. And when I got out of there, I went straight to the hospital with two wounds.”

Gets D.S.C.
The day after Christmas, 1918, Maj. Gen. Robert Alexander pinned the D.S.C. on Mintz’s chest. Thirteen years later he was awarded the Purple Heart for the same action.

Originally from Ash, N.C., Sergeant Mintz signed up for the Army in 1913. He was on reserve during 1916 when he was called back to the colors to serve on outpost duty during the Mexican trouble, thus earning his first ribbon. When war broke out, he was transferred to Camp Upton as a cadre-sergeant with the 77th Division in the battalion later to be called “Lost Battalion.”

Since the first World War he has been with several units, including the 29th Infantry, and was an acting first sergeant in a CCC unit in Tennessee in 1933. He has been with the Academic Regiment since April, 1942.

As with many stories from the war, myths and distortions grow and become accepted facts. Major Whittlesey never uttered the words, “Go to Hell” although the message was implied when he ignored the demand to surrender. And the 308th Infantry in its entirety had become “The Lost Battalion.”

Read more at the WWI Centennial Lost Battalion webpage (https://www.worldwar1centennial.org/index.php/finding-the-lost-battalion-myths-and-legends.html).

After his retirement date of November 30, 1943, The Fort Benning Bayonet, December 2, 1943 issue, p.12 published the following story about Sgt Mintz.

Member of Lost Battalion Given Discharge After 30-Years Service

Sgt. Forney B. Mintz, of Ash, N.C., one of the 20 or so heroic survivors of the famed “Lost Battalion,” was discharged from the Academic Regiment Tuesday after 30 years with the colors.

Seeing his first active duty during the Mexican border trouble of 1916, Mintz went overseas as a sergeant with the 77th Division. As a result of his service with the almost wiped out “Lost Battalion,” he earned the Distinguished Service Cross and the Purple Heart. He was twice wounded during crucial days when the battalion was surrounded, starving and being cut to pieces. When relief came only a score of Yanks were alive to tell the tale.

Mintz has served with various infantry regiments “between the wars,” and was an acting topkick in a CCC unit in Tennessee in 1933. He came to the Academic Regiment in April of 1942.

Source: findagrave
On December 14, 1960, after nearly 4 months at the Fayetteville Veterans Hospital, Forney Boston Mintz passed away from prostate cancer. He had never married. He was laid to rest in Mintz Cemetery in Ocean Isle Beach. A military headstone is shown.

Medals Received:

DSC: Distinguished Service Cross
SS: Silver Star
PH & OLC: Purple Heart with one Oak Leaf Cluster, indicating he was wounded on two separate occasions.

Sources:
Adams, John Wesley; McCollum, Lee C. (1919) Our Company. Seattle, Lumberman printing co.

Laplander, Robert John (2017). Finding the Lost Battalion: Beyond the Rumors, Myths and Legends of America’s Famous WWI Epic. Waterford, WI: Lulu Press.

Sherwood, Elmer W. (1929). Diary of a Rainbow Veteran. Terre Haute, IN: Moore-Langen.

History of the 77th Division (1919). NY: 77th Division Association

If you would like to help us honor Forney Boston 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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WWI Profile: Forney Boston Mintz 1892-1960 (Part 1)

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: Photo from Adams, John Wesley; McCollum, Lee C. Our Company. Seattle, Lumberman printing co. 1919
Forney Boston Mintz
Mill Branch, Brunswick County, NC
U.S. Army
Sergeant

Served:
January 9, 1918 – January 8, 1929
Overseas:
April 6, 1918 – April 28, 1919
Wounded: August 15, 1918; September 27, 1918

Awarded Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star,
Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster

Due to the amount of documentation about Forney Mintz, along with his multiple medals and association with a famous event, his WWI Profile will be posted in two parts.

Forney Boston Mintz was born and raised in Mill Branch, NC. He was the third of four brothers, all serving in WWI.

Forney was the first brother to enlist in the US Army in 1913 at age 21. His enlistment, found in Ancestry, shows his height was 5′ 5 3/4″. He was transferred to the Army Reserves on January 8, 1916, then returned to active duty on August 22, 1916.

Half brother Samuel Leob Mintz enlisted in 1916; brothers Martin Newman Mintz and Owen Ransom Mintz were drafted.

All four brothers served overseas. Like Forney, Martin and Owen were wounded. WWI Profiles have been posted for Martin Newman Mintz and Owen Ransom Mintz.

Leob and Forney made a career in the Army.

Forney was the only soldier from Brunswick County to serve in the 77th Division. He was assigned on September 5, 1917, to Company A, 308th Infantry, 77th Division. At that point he had been promoted to Sergeant.

The 77th Division, first called the Metropolitan Division but popularly known as the “Statue of Liberty Division” due to the insignia shown, was organized from New York City draftees. Most of the enlisted men were recent immigrants or were poor working class from the streets of New York City. This gave rise to the popular theory that fighting from a young age for food and other attributes acquired on the streets contributed to their survival in the Argonne.

Soldiers from 25 different nationalities were part of the division, reflecting the melting pot of NYC.

“The recruits represented all races and all creeds – men who had only recently been subjected to the pogroms of Russia, gunmen and gangsters, a type peculiar to New York City, Italians, Chinamen, the Jews and the Irish, a heterogeneous mass, truly representative both of the varied human flotsam and the sturdy American manhood which comprise the civil population of New York City.”

One of those members was songwriter Irving Berlin, then age 30. Berlin who was already famous, wrote and produced a musical show called “Yip, Yip, Yaphank” about the experience of training at Camp Upton.

The show featured the song “Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in The Morning” which Berlin performed. The song related how the Soldier hated the bugler who woke up the troops each day.
Source: World War I draftees from New York City made history in the 77th Division

Photo source: Library of Congress; Lady Liberty striking the Kaiser
Sgt Mintz trained with the 77th Division at Camp Upton, one of the two military bases on Long Island. The other was Camp Mills, where the 42nd Division was assembled. (Recall that the 42nd Division included many Brunswick County men.) Both divisions captured the hearts of the citizens of New York.

The photo below is included in “Our Company” a book about Company A of the 308th Infantry. This photo was used to isolate Sgt Mintz, pictured at top of page. Sgt Mintz is in the second row, fourth from the right.


The book is in rhyme form. About Sgt Mintz, the book includes the following:


On April 6, 1918, Sgt. Mintz sailed on Lapland for France. The 77th Division was the first draftee division to arrive in France and the first to take front line positions.

By the end of August, the division had losses equal to nearly one third of its strength.

In early September, the Regiment was moved to the Argonne Forest as part of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was the largest and deadliest battle in US military history, involving 1.2 million American soldiers. It occurred at the same time influenza was raging, claiming lives in Europe and back home. The 308th had been continually in the front line from June 20th until September 15th. Facing the Argonne Forest, the 77th Division was positioned at the left flank of the American forces, with the 308th Infantry at the extreme left. The exhaustion from continuous fighting, the pandemic, and the soon to be exposed left flank all contributed to the tragedy that followed.

To the 77th Division was assigned the task of direct attack through the forest. After the first day, this Division operated alone within the confines of this forest, and fought its way through its entire length.

On the night of September 25th, the Infantry of the 77th Division quietly moved into the front line.
~ History of the 77th Division

The battle began in the early hours of September 26, 1918, through a dense fog. That day, Pfc Louis “Lolly” B. Doerr, from our World War I Wall of Honor, was KIA. He served with the 302nd Engineers of the 77th Division.

The “Wilderness Battle” of the Great War had begun. Overcoats and blankets had been discarded and very limited amounts of food were carried by each man.
Through a tangled jungle of trees, clinging vines and thickly braided brush, through swamps and muddy morasses flooded by constant rains that were falling, over steeps and across wild valleys, through the mud and the wet and the cold, the unfaltering soldiers of the 77th Division were obliged to push on day after day, against invisible machine guns, against trenches concealed by foliage and underbrush, against positions whose forward areas were perfectly protected by numerous lines of barbed wire and chicken wire interlaced among trees, against an enemy who could not be seen to be fired at and who could only be nosed out and routed by attacking parties that crawled along the ground and scouted from tree to tree until they could engage him in hand-to-hand combat.

Told to “push forward without regard to flanks”, by October 2, six companies of the 308th Infantry, commanded by Major Charles S. Whittlesey, along with one company from the 307th Infantry and two companies of the 306th Machine Gun Battalion, penetrated a gap in the German trenches and advanced to a ravine at Charlevaux Mill. At this point, a total of about 700 men were cut off and surrounded on all sides by the Germans and remained there for five days. Food and medical supplies depleted, men were lost one by one, shot while trying to find food or water or retrieve supplies dropped in the area, fallen by illnesses or effects of no food and water, or died of wounds.

Communications were a problem. Runners couldn’t successfully deliver messages, so homing pigeons were used. In one incident, when the battalions were being hit by American artillery, a homing pigeon sent a famous message to stop the barrage and became a hero.

“Five days later, 194 survivors walked out of the ravine and into history…”
~ Robert J. Laplander

WWI Profile: Cher Ami 1910-1919

Cher Ami (“dear friend”)
US Army
Served:
1914-1918
Wounded: October 3, 1918
Awarded Croix de Guerre Medal with a palm Oak Leaf Cluster

Cher Ami carried the famous message back to headquarters.

We are along the road parallel to 276.4. Our own artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us. For heavens sake stop it.

While the artillery had discovered their mistake minutes before Cher Ami returned, she nevertheless became a hero. She had been shot through the breast, blinded in one eye, and had a leg hanging only by a tendon. 77th Division medics worked to save her life. Her leg could not be saved, so a small wooden one was carved for her.

When she died in 1919, Cher Ami’s body was mounted by a taxidermist (who discovered the male pigeon was actually a female) and put on display at the Smithsonian Institution.

Sgt Mintz had been wounded on September 28. Was he a member of the Lost Battalion? He did not appear on the Lost Battalion list. Robert J. Laplander, the world’s leading historian of the Lost Battalion and WWI Centennial Commission’s Managing Director of Finding the Lost Battalion, was contacted to confirm. No, Sgt Mintz was not a member of the Lost Battalion.

“Sergeant Mintz was rescued from the field after he was wounded by Private Stephan Wondowlowsky [a Polish immigrant living in Brooklyn] of Company A, who dressed his wounds and carried him back to a safer area, from which Mintz then rounded up the two prisoners and headed back to a first aid station behind the lines. His combat days were pretty much behind him after that, although he did return to Company A and was with them for the final drive to the Meuse River and returned home with them on April 28th, 1919.”

Three members of the Regiment were awarded the Medal of Honor for their service during the First World War. Two of these men, Major Charles W. Whittlesey and Captain George G. McMurtry, were recognized for their actions during the “Lost Battalion” period while in command of the units trapped in the ravine. Additionally, seventy-five members of the Regiment were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and a further two the Croix de Guerre.

Sgt Forney B. Mintz was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. The following citation accompanied the award.

“Forney B. Mintz, Sgt. Co. A, 308th Inf., for extra ordinary heroism in action near Binarville, France, Sept. 28, 1918. Sgt. Mintz, in command of a platoon, worked his way through the enemy rear guard and captured 5 machine guns and an ammunition carrying party. Although badly wounded when an organized position of the enemy was encountered, he made his way back to request reinforcements and brought with him two German prisoners from whom valuable information was obtained.”

Throughout its service in France the 77th Division sustained 10,194 casualties: 1,486 killed and 8,708 wounded.

The story of the Lost Battalion was one of the most talked about events of World War I. It even made its way into a soldier’s diary. Diary of a Rainbow Veteran (source listed at bottom) entry of October 9, 1918, includes the following.

The division that is now getting the “razz” is the 77th (New York). Their emblem is the Statue of Liberty. Now since the lost battalion has become famous, all the other divisions say that this insignia represents a French mademoiselle carrying a torch and looking for the lost battalion.

The WWI Profile of Forney Mintz will be continued next week.

Sources:
Adams, John Wesley; McCollum, Lee C. (1919) Our Company. Seattle, Lumberman printing co.

Laplander, Robert John (2017). Finding the Lost Battalion: Beyond the Rumors, Myths and Legends of America’s Famous WWI Epic. Waterford, WI: Lulu Press.

Sherwood, Elmer W. (1929). Diary of a Rainbow Veteran. Terre Haute, IN: Moore-Langen.

History of the 77th Division (1919). NY: 77th Division Association

If you would like to help us honor Forney Boston 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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WWI Profile: Jesse Lee Fayette Inman 1891-1935

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
Jesse Lee Fayette Inman
Freeland, Brunswick County, NC
US Army
Private

Served:
May 27, 1918 – May 9, 1919
Overseas:
July 31, 1918 – April 25, 1919
Wounded: September 29, 1918

Jesse Lee Fayette Inman was born and raised in Freeland, NC. A partial family tree is located in FamilySearch. Jesse’s brother Joel “Joe” Robert Inman also served in WWI.

Jesse’s WWI Draft Registration shows he was single, living in Ash, and working on the family farm.

Jesse and his brother Joe were ordered to report for duty on May 27, 1918, along with 35 other men from Brunswick County [Source: Ancestry]. Included in the 37 were John Hillery Caison, David Bertram Frink, and Zade McLoud Williams (NC WWI Service Record not found). Jesse, John, David, and Zade were sent to Camp Jackson, SC, to train with the 81st Division, but transferred to the 42nd Division in August. (His brother Joe Inman was honorably discharged with a Surgeon’s Certificate of Discharge in September, classified as 33 1/3% disabled.)

Jesse Lee Fayette Inman and John Hillery Caison became replacements for Company A, 168th Infantry, 42nd “Rainbow” Division. David Bertram Frink was assigned to the 166th Infantry and Zade McLoud Williams to the 167th Infantry, all with the 42nd Division.

Previous posts described the formation and training of the 42nd Rainbow Division, along with the months in France up to August 17, 1918, when the Rainbow Division, victorious in many battles, was finally given a chance to rest and resupply. Replacements such as Pvts Caison, Inman, Frink, and Williams arrived to serve with the battle hardened troops. Those drafted at a late date such as these men were typically not trained and never even held a rifle before boarding ships to France. They were given uniforms and sent overseas quickly, which earned them the gruesome nickname “Cannon fodder.”

Pvt Caison’s WWI Profile described the St. Mihiel Offensive, the first all-American offensive of the war, along with casualty totals. Pvt Inman was reportedly “slightly wounded” during the operation on September 29. No details are available.

On October 1, 1918, the 42nd Division withdrew and went south. They were a shock division now, elite troops, and must wait until they were needed.

Note: Source information for the diary entries can be found at bottom. Corporal Sherwood served in the 67th Artillery Brigade of the 42nd Rainbow Division from April 12, 1917 until May 10, 1919.

This gang doesn’t act like lambs going forth to slaughter. In fact, we are happy that the Rainbow is going into the line.

We turned into blankets early to the sound of a fierce cannonading from the distant battle front, and in my sleep I dreamed, not of war, but of home and loved ones waiting there, of those at home who really suffer and endure more of the mental agony than we who are in the midst of the war.
~ Diary of a Rainbow Veteran, October 3

Along the way, when troops ask their outfit, they sometimes respond with pride, “Rainbow.”

This always has the desired effect of creating a wholesome awe and respect among the bystanders who watch us pass, and many are the remarks of encouragement and references to our past victories addressed to us.
~ Diary of a Rainbow Veteran, October 4

As they started for the front, the destruction around them was devastating.

In our path lay the four-year-old trenches and defenses of both French and German. What a picture of desolation! We came into what had been a great forest, now shorn of life. What few trees remain standing are naked, burnt and scarred. Gas has killed every living thing.

Our engineers are busy building bridges across this forsaken country, for shell holes are so thick that a gun or even a cart can’t start across it without upsetting. In fact, it is all a foot soldier can do to walk across it.
~ Diary of a Rainbow Veteran, October 6

The 84th Brigade (167th Infantry of Pvt Frink and 168th Infantry of Pvt Inman) relieved the 1st Division in the front lines north of Exermont on October 13, 1918. Their attack began at 5:30am.

The Rainbow attack today netted four kilometers and a great number of prisoners, but our losses exceeded a thousand. For the first time since we have been on the line in this drive the fog cleared away today and a great rainbow emerged from the clouds. Our men regard this as an omen of good luck, and shout to each other encouragements and orders to press on.
~ Diary of a Rainbow Veteran, October 15

I talked to a sergeant whom I had known back in Lorraine. He told me that replacements had filled the great gaps in the lines of the old regiments until only non-coms and a few officers remained of those who had come across with the Division.

He said the new men were filling the places well and got right into the spirit of the Division.
~ Diary of a Rainbow Veteran, October 17

The captain read an order this morning to the non-coms of the battery stating that since our infantry has been so terribly shot up it will be necessary for each artillery outfit to furnish 68 privates, seven non-coms, and one officer to go into the line as infantry on the next advance. …every man volunteered to go over the top with a rifle and doughboy pack.
~ Diary of a Rainbow Veteran, October 22

Replacements are coming in regularly now to fill up the gaps in our ranks caused by losses in action. At first the men of this outfit hated the idea of rank outsiders getting into this volunteer outfit, but of course it has to be done. Then we are Americans after all, and all have one purpose – to win the war; so we have assimilated the green drafts from the States and find that, generally speaking, they make good soldiers.

The new men bring into the outfit news of the States and what the folks at home are doing. They also bring along various training camp songs and jokes.
~ Diary of a Rainbow Veteran, October 24

The 42nd Division broke through the Hindenburg Line in that area and were relieved on October 31 by the 2nd Division. Troops of the 42nd still held the front line but the 2nd Division passed through the lines and attacked the morning of November 1.

The hard-boiled Rainbow infantry doesn’t like the idea of letting the marines make the attack. [November 1]Many Rainbow doughboys pressed on in spite of orders to hold up and let the marines filter through.
~ Diary of a Rainbow Veteran, October 31/November 1

The Division moved further north, past the areas that had seen years of fighting.

The villages we now occupy are not demolished and ravaged by war like most of the communities we have been used to seeing along the front. Aside from a few bullet marks and an occasional shell hole, these are peaceful looking villages and hills. These villages had been occupied since 1914.

The French peasants were overjoyed. They hung out of their windows hastily made replicas of “The Stars and Stripes” and wept and laughed and sang.
~ Diary of a Rainbow Veteran, November 4

The enemy was in full retreat. The 42nd attacked once more from November 7 until November 10 when they were relieved by the 77th Division, ending their participation in the war. It is not known whether Pvt Inman was in combat during that time.

The air is charged with expectancy today, as we await word of peace.

At eleven, the great rumble of artillery and small arms was stilled.

Eleven o’clock!

How strangely solemn, almost painful to ears long accustomed to the din and tumult of the front!

Our men seem strangely silent. Our thoughts in this hour of triumph cannot but turn to those missing comrades who have shed their blood yielded up their lives for America.

We think, too, of their sorrowing mothers who will have no sons to welcome home.
~ Diary of a Rainbow Veteran, November 11

The 42nd Division had suffered nearly 15,000 casualties during the war. Its total days of combat has been claimed as the highest of all American divisions during the war at 264 days.

Their service not complete, they were chosen for the Army of Occupation and began marching for Germany on November 20. The first troops crossed into Germany on December 2. They remained there until they left to return to the US.

Pvt Inman left Brest, France, on April 18, 1919, with the other members of the 168th Infantry [Source: Ancestry]. On May 9, 1919, he was honorably discharged.

Jesse Inman returned to his family in Waccamaw Township (1920 Census) to continue farming. He married Virginia Dare King the next year. The 1930 Census shows him living in the same area with his wife and working on his own farm. There were no children.

Sadly, his wife passed away in 1931 at age 26 from an embolism after surgery. Jesse also passed away at a young age, 42, in 1935. They were both laid to rest in New Britton Church Cemetery in Ash, NC. No military honors are shown.

Sources:
Reilly, Henry J. (1936). Americans All, The Rainbow at War:Official History of the 42nd Rainbow Division in the World War. Columbus, OH: Heer.

Sherwood, Elmer W. (1929). Diary of a Rainbow Veteran. Terre Haute, IN: Moore-Langen.

Thompkins, Raymond S. (1919). The Story of the Rainbow Division. NY: Boni & Liveright.

World War I American Battle Monuments Commission (1944). 42d Division Summary of Operations in the World War. Washington DC: GPO.

If you would like to help us honor Jesse Lee Fayette Inman 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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A new year brings new goals

Caswell Beach Mayor Deborah Ahlers poses in front of the WWI Monument after receiving the WWI Centennial Memorial Certificate

A year of hard work, contributions, and support from the community for the Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran program culminated on Veterans Day 2018 with the installation and dedication of the Brunswick County WWI Monument at the Fort Caswell Rifle Range.

We thank the community for their help and for sharing the stories of the sacrifices made not only by the men, women, and families of Brunswick County during World War I, but our ancestors around the country. (Posted Brunswick County WWI Profiles begin with Wagoner Dorman Mercer, while submitted photos and stories can be read on our WWI Wall of Honor.)

In a few weeks, we’ll conclude the weekly WWI Profiles on the website for Brunswick County veterans identified as wounded or died while serving. WWI Profiles will then be posted for the Brunswick County veterans on the WWI Wall of Honor. (Note that the website is about 5 months ahead with profiles that The Brunswick Beacon has not yet published.)

We are grateful that The Brunswick Beacon continues to publish the weekly WWI Profiles. To see the list of the profiles published on the website and those in The Brunswick Beacon as well as other local newspapers, see the list here.

WWI photos and information are always welcome.

New Goals

Stabilization of the target pit has been achieved; restoration is next. A book is planned this year, which will require funding. The Honor a Brunswick County WWI veteran program will continue; donations of any amount are encouraged to honor all of the Brunswick County WWI veterans. To date, 401 of 724 have been honored.

Goals and a detailed list of funds needed will be posted soon.

Events

The Fundraising tab at the top of the website has been replaced by the Events tab. There are several events already planned, such as commemorating the US Entry into WWI, the Armistice, and the Installation and Dedication of the military marker to honor the only known WWI POW Pvt Robert Bollie Stanley.

New Fundraisers

2018 was the sixth and last of the Kentucky Derby Day fundraisers. New fundraising events are planned. These will be posted in the Events section of the website.

New Board Members

With the completion of the memorial and the designation of the Fort Caswell Rifle Range as an official US WWI Centennial Memorial, new board members have been selected. Information will be posted soon.

Thank you for your support!

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