Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range Receive Contribution


Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range received a $1000 contribution for the historic 1918 rifle range project from long time supporters Norman and Lois Sprinthall.

“The Centennial of World War I is here and we have a prize in our own backyard as a reminder of the men and women that served and sacrificed in that war.” ~ Norman.

Their contribution was in honor of Norman’s father, Sergeant Archie Sprinthall, who served in World War I with the 103rd Field Artillery, 26th Division.

“My father joined the war effort in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and he would have wanted me to help save this rifle range located in our residential area in Caswell Beach.”

This picture of Sergeant Sprinthall taken near Chateau-Thierry in 1918 shows a large French knife tucked in his belt given to him by the French trainers before he went into battle. Sergeant Sprinthall fought in many of the fiercest battles while in France, including the 2nd Battle of the Marne, the Liberation of Verdun and the Meuse-Argonne.

Norman has made two pilgrimages to the battlefields in France to reflect on the meaning and the effect it had on his family as well as others. Norman’s father returned from France, but many of his fellow soldiers did not.

Norman visited the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial in France to pay his respects at the gravesites of his father’s fallen comrades from the 26th Division.

Norman also visited the church in Belleau. The original church was destroyed by American artillery and rebuilt using funds raised by Sgt Sprinthall and other veterans from the 26th Division. It was completed and dedicated in 1929.

The plaque over the wooden door shows this inscription (in French)

This church, destroyed during the world war, has been rebuilt by the veterans of the 26th Division of the American Expeditionary Force in memory of their comrades who fell on the soil of France while fighting for a common cause.

Visiting the major battlefields where our military fought was the final homage paid to the men and women of the ‘war to end all wars’ before the Sprinthalls left for home.

Norman would like his donation to assist in the complete stabilization of the 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range, and is looking forward to the Brunswick County World War I Memorial planned for dedication at the site of the rifle range on Armistice Day, November 11, 2018.

“What is funny, well not really funny, is that I’ve been passing the rifle range so often since we purchased our condo back in 1985 and never thought to find out what it was or what it was used for. So now that we all know that it was used to train the military to perfect their markmanship before leaving for France in World War I, why not put our heads together and make it a memorial for all residents in NC to honor, especially Caswell Beach? This historic structure tells us a story of our past going back 100 years ago.” ~ Norman

 

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