Monthly Archives: January 2019

WWI Profile: James Isaac Jenrette 1894-1973

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.

Insignia of the 3rd Division
James Isaac Jenrette
Ash, Brunswick County, NC
Regular Army
Private
Served:
November 22, 1917 – January 10, 1919
Overseas:
April 6, 1918 – December 31, 1918
Wounded: July 26, 1918

James Isaac Jenrette was born and raised in Brunswick County, NC. A partial family tree is located in FamilySearch. James had two brothers who also served, Wendell Vivian Jenrette, who served stateside in the Army, and Walter Regan Jenrette, who served in the Navy.

His WWI Draft Registration shows he was single, living in Ash, and working for his father on his farm.

James did not wait to be drafted, but enlisted in the Regular Army on November 22, 1917, at Fort Thomas, Kentucky. He was assigned to Company G, 4th Infantry, 3rd “Rock of the Marne/Blue and White Devils” Division.

On April 6, 1918, Pvt Jenrette boarded Great Northern [Source: Ancestry] at Newport News, VA, with the rest of his unit [Source: Ancestry].

Pvt Jenrette was present when his Division earned their nickname “Rock of the Marne” after famously holding back the Germans on the Marne River on July 14, 1918. Their commanding officer cried, “Nous Resterons La” (We Shall Remain Here), which became their motto. General Pershing called this stand “one of the most brilliant pages in the annals of military history”.

Source: Wikipedia: 2nd Battle of the Marne
The Second Battle of the Marne (July 15 – August 6, 1918) was the last major German offensive on the Western Front. The attack failed and marked the start of the relentless Allied advance which culminated in the Armistice with Germany about 100 days later.

The Germans’ target was the salient, shown at left, in the shape of a triangle with Château-Thierry at the apex. The other sides, about 45 km each, were formed by the cities of Soissons and Reims.

Source of map, photo, and descriptions below: The Journal of the World War One Historical Association: Rock of the Marne, from a lecture in the 1930s for the US Army Infantry School at Leavenworth, KS

This map shows the Marne River and the location of Pvt Jenrette’s division, which was under French command. The 3rd Division is in the lower section of the map, which includes four infantry regiments: 4th, 7th, 30th, and 38th. Pvt Jenrette served in the 4th Infantry.

The Army’s defensive positions had not been completed before the enemy struck.

At midnight, July 14-15, the Germans began the artillery barrage. At 3:50am on July 15th, the enemy began their advance.

With hard fighting occurring all around them, the sector occupied by the 3rd Division faced the severest fighting by the American troops.

The Marne River in this area is 30-40 yards wide and too deep to ford. There were no bridges, and forests concealed the enemy’s approach. The area being defended by the 3rd Division was a vantage point desired by the enemy due to its tactical and strategic point of view.

As the enemy began to cross the river, Pvt Jenrette’s 3rd Division gave everything to prevent them from landing. Those Germans who succeeded in reaching the banks wiped out several platoons.

“At 3:30 am the general fire ceased and their creeping barrage started—behind which at 40 yards only, mind you, they came—with more machine guns than I thought the German Army owned.

“The enemy had to battle their way through the first platoon on the river bank—then they took on the second platoon on the forward edge of the railway where we had a thousand times the best of it—but the [Germans] gradually wiped it out. My third platoon [took] their place in desperate hand to hand fighting, in which some got through only to be picked up by the fourth platoon which was deployed simultaneously with the third. By the time they struck the fourth platoon they were all in and easy prey.

“It’s God’s truth that one Company of American soldiers beat and routed a full regiment of picked shock troops of the German Army. At ten o’clock the Germans were carrying back wounded and dead [from] the river bank and we in our exhaustion let them do it—they carried back all but six hundred which we counted later and fifty-two machine guns.

“We had started with 251 men and 5 lieutenants. I had left 51 men and 2 second lieutenants.”

~ Capt. Jesse Woolridge, Commander of Company G., 38th Infantry, 3rd Division


A German Officer’s Impressions

“I have never seen so many dead. I have never seen such a frightful spectacle of war. On the other bank the Americans, in close combat, had destroyed two of our companies. Lying down in the wheat, they had allowed our troops to approach and then annihilated them at a range of 30 to 50 yards.’The Americans kill everyone,’ was the cry of fear on July 15—a cry that caused our men to tremble for a long time.”

~ Lieutenant Kurt Hesse, Adjutant, German 5th Grenadiers

By the end of July 15th, the 3rd Division had not only stopped the two attacking enemy divisions, they had blocked the important Surmelin Valley and thereby halted the entire German advance. The last German offensive of the war had ended.

“A single regiment of the Third Division wrote one of the most brilliant pages in the annals of military history in preventing the crossing at certain points of its front, while on either flank the Germans, who had gained a footing, pressed forward. Our men were fighting in three directions, met the German attacks with counterattacks at critical points, and succeeded in throwing two German divisions into complete confusion, capturing 600 prisoners.”

~ General Pershing

Department of Army Poster, US Army Center of Military History
Near Mézy, France, July 1918. Here the German Army made its last great attack of World War I. It struck in the Marne River area along the road to Paris, and the weight of the blow fell on the 38th U.S. Infantry Regiment under the command of MG Ulysses G. McAlexander, of the 3rd Division. This was their first fight. Firing in three directions, blasted by artillery fire, taking all flesh and blood could stand, the regiments held on doggedly and threw the enemy back across the Marne. This defense checked the Germans’ assault and made an Allied offensive possible. General Pershing called it “one of the most brilliant pages of our military annals.”


Pvt Jenrette’s NC WWI Service Card shows he was slightly injured on July 26, 1918. No details are available and it is not known when he returned to service.

The 3rd Division was not relieved until July 31st, totaling a bruising 70 days in continuous front line service.

During the operations in the Marne area, the 3rd Division suffered the following casualties:
1096 KIA
4833 Wounded
1777 Gassed
231 Missing
34 POW

In all, the 3rd Division was credited with the following operations:
Somme defensive
Lys defensive
Aisne defensive
Montdidier-Noyon defensive
Champagne-Marne defensive
Aisne-Marne Offensive
Somme Offensive
Oise-Aisne Offensive
Ypre-Lys Offensive
St. Mihiel Offensive
Meuse-Argonne Offensive
with the total number of battle casualties 16,456.

On November 14, 1918, after the Armistice, Pvt Jenrette transferred to Prisoner of War Escort until December 1918. According to his NC WWI Service Card, he returned on December 31, 1918. The Passenger List [Source: Ancestry] shows he boarded Ryndam for the return home on December 18, 1918, with other sick soldiers. The excerpt below shows him classified as “B-1” or “Available for limited military service.” Although unconfirmed, the likely reason is a temporary illness such as influenza. He was honorably discharged with no disability on January 10, 1919.

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

He returned to farming at his family’s farm in Ash. Soon after, he married and raised a family, continuing to farm in Brunswick County. Years later, his son, James Herman Jenrette served in the US Army after graduation from Mars College (now Mars University) in Asheville, NC.

James Isaac Jenrette passed away on November 13, 1973, in Elizabethtown, Bladen County, NC. He was laid to rest in McKeithan Cemetery in Ash, NC, with other members of his family. Military honors are not displayed.

Sources:
Hemenway, Frederic Vinton (1919) History of the Third division, United States army, in the world war : for the period, December 1, 1917, to January 1, 1919. Andernach-On-The-Rhine: M. Dumont Schauberg

The Journal of the World War One Historical Association: Rock of the Marne, from a lecture in the 1930s for the US Army Infantry School at Leavenworth, KS

If you would like to help us honor James Isaac Jenrette 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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Ethan Pannkuk achieves Eagle Scout rank with rifle range project

Yesterday we received exciting news from Ethan Pannkuk. The previous evening, January 7, he was awarded the highest rank from the Boy Scouts of America, Eagle Scout.

Ethan chose the Fort Caswell Rifle Range as the focus of his Eagle Scout Project. He spent many months researching, planning, and raising funds.

Then last March, Ethan and members from BSA Troop 210 of Carolina Beach spent two grueling days working on the target pit at the rifle range.

Ethan is shown at right with his proud father.

The Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range are proud of Ethan’s achievement and appreciate his and his troop members’ hard work on the rifle range.

Stories and photos showing the progress last year can be found here: Day 1 and Day 2.

The State Port Pilot newspaper article about the work can be found here.

The Brunswick Beacon article is here.

The Star News article is here.

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WWI Profile: Guy Ellis Watson 1895-1918

To view this or an earlier profile at any time, click on the veteran’s name on the WWI Brunswick County Veteran list, which is also accessible by the blue button on the top right of the webpage.

Guy Ellis Watson
Leland, Brunswick County, NC
US Army
Private
Served:
March 21, 1918 – October 21, 1918
Died of Disease: October 21, 1918

Guy Ellis Watson was born around 1895 in either New Hanover or Brunswick County, NC, and raised in Brunswick County. The 1900 Census shows him born in June 1893 (with brother Quincy Manual born in March 1893, clearly a mistake was made), living in Town Creek, Brunswick County, with father Wiley Worth and mother Eliza Jean Watson.

The 1910 Census lists Guy as 15 years old, a laborer at the farm. His brother Quincy is now reported as 17 years old, also a farmer. There are a total of seven children reported as born, all living.

Guy’s WWI Draft Registration Card (listed as Ellis Watson) shows him born in New Berlin, NC, on June 9, 1894, living in Leland, single, and working at a sawmill (Appomattox Box Shook Company). His NC WWI Service Card lists “Hanover, NC” as his birthplace.

Ellis Watson was ordered to report for duty on March 22, 1918 [Source:Ancestry] and sent to Camp Jackson, NC.

On April 24, he went to Medical Detachment, Embarkation Hospital, at Camp Stuart, VA. At the same time, Brunswick County Privates Willie Winfield Millinor (on our WWI Wall of Honor) and Roy McKeithan (later Sgt) were assigned, presumably making the trip with him.

Note: More Brunswick County men could have served there. NC WWI Service cards of those serving in Medical Detachment units do not always include the location of the hospital.

Embarkation Hospital, Camp Stuart.
Source: National Archives

There were many responsibilities at the hospital, and no information to determine exactly what Private Watson did while serving. Some of the more interesting duties include mosquito control due to Camp Stuart located within a swampy area; the control of flies, many because of the holding area for horses to ship overseas and the dumping of manure into the swamp; the control of bedbugs, cockroaches, fleas and lice; and embarkation and debarkation delousing stations.

In 1918, over 273,000 troops moved through the embarkation port.

Private Watson was attended from October 9, 1918 to October 21, 1918 in the Camp Stuart Hospital for influenza. During that time, his older brother Quincy Watson passed away from influenza/pneumonia on October 11 in the High School Emergency Hospital in Wilmington, NC, where many were dying from the influenza pandemic [Source: Death Certificate in Ancestry]. Read more about how influenza affected NC in Robert Guy Farmer’s WWI Profile post.

Guy Ellis Watson eventually succumbed to acute lobar pneumonia on October 21, 1918. [Source: Death Certificate in Ancestry] Historical data shows a peak of patients and deaths occurred in the hospital during the month of October 1918 during the influenza pandemic with a total of 5,562 patients (4,425 new cases of influenza) and 204 deaths.

Guy Ellis Watson was laid to rest in Benton Cemetery in Maco, Brunswick County, NC, joining his older brother, Quincy Manual Watson. His headstone, shown above, gives no indication he died while serving his country.

Source: The Medical Department of the United States Army in the World War, Volume IV, Activities Concerning Mobilization Camps and Ports of Embarkation. Washington : US Govt Printing Office : 1928, Chapter 24

If you would like to help us honor Guy Ellis Watson 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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