Category Archives: Honor a Veteran

WWI Profile: Carl Jefferson Danford 1893-1917

Source: Library of Congress
105th Engineers at Camp Sevier, March 1918
Trenches built by the engineers can be seen in the foreground.


Carl Jefferson Danford
Southport, Brunswick County, NC
US Army
Private

Served:
September 18, 1917 – December 8, 1917
Died of Disease: December 8, 1917

Carl Danford was born and raised in Brunswick County, NC. In 1915, he married Luola Lewis. His first and only child, a daughter, was born in August 1916.

His WWI Draft Registration lists his occupation as farmer, living in Bolivia with wife and child. On September 18, 1917, he was ordered to report for duty [Source:ancestry.com], sent to Camp Jackson, SC, and eventually assigned to the 105th Engineers, 30th “Old Hickory” Division, training at Camp Sevier, Greenville, SC.

Camp Sevier was built in a very short span of time. In those few months from June to November 1917, land had to be acquired, facilities built, and supplies found and stocked to train and house 46,000 men and women. Sanitation was an issue. Most military camps did not have running water for toilets, so pit toilets were used. Soldiers began using neighboring woods, which resulted in complaints from land owners. [Read more here on the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources blog.]

Many training camps were built in the South to avoid harsh winters. However, this particular winter was unusually cold and supplies and proper winter clothing and uniforms were scarce.

Source: Wilmington Dispatch, Dec. 1, 1917, p. 2
In November 1917, a measles epidemic was declared at Camp Sevier. The camp was quarantined and civilians were not allowed to enter without a pass from the city board of health. Each day, deaths were announced. Near the end of the month, a mumps epidemic had begun.

The quarantine of the camp was lifted on December 3, 1917. Reports indicated a total of about 2000 cases of measles, 175 cases of pneumonia, and 15 of meningitis. There were 60 deaths reported.

On December 8, 1917, Pvt Danford died of “broncho pneumonia following measles.” A total of five men died that day. 4000 men were still under quarantine.

According to Providing for the Casualties of War, during WWI there were 93,629 cases of measles with 2,343 deaths (2.5% death rate). There were 70,030 cases of pneumonia with 18,040 deaths (25.76% death rate). Almost all of the Died of Disease deaths among the Brunswick County veterans were due to pneumonia.

Carl Jefferson Danford was laid to rest in the same cemetery as some of his family. No military or WWI honors are displayed to indicate that he lost his life while serving his country.

Note: Pvt Danford was not listed on the roster posted in Cpl Ballard’s profile. This is due to his death occurring before the roster was created. The profile has been updated to include his name, noting that it wasn’t on the official lists.

If you would like to help us honor Carl Jefferson Danford 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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Veteran Frances Carlsen Honors Brunswick County World War I Veterans

Fellow DAR members Frances Carlsen and Norma Eckard reviewing certificates Fran received for honoring World War I Veterans from Brunswick County, NC.

Fran is shown wearing her DAR medals representing her many patriots of the American Revolution.

Veteran Frances Carlsen was one of the first to approach Norma Eckard to honor a WWI veteran from Brunswick County. Norma, president of the non profit Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range, is leading the project to raise funds for a memorial honoring Brunswick County WWI veterans at the site of the 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range in Caswell Beach. “The 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range provided the troops with training in marksmanship before leaving for France and that itself is a reason to preserve the historical site,” commented Fran.

Fran and her siblings are veterans. Her sister Virginia Reams served for 21 years, first in the US Army Pentagon Motor Pool and then working for the Department of Defense with large newspapers which earned her a position in New York as an information specialist.

Fran’s brother Ralph joined the Army in 1953 and was assigned to Seoul, Korea, in an Engineer Battalion.

Her own career with the military began after high school in the Women’s Army Corps for three years. Following the completion of basic training and Clerical School at Fort McCellan, AL, she was assigned to Fort Myers, VA, working in the Pentagon for Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel and Chief, Research and Development as an Officers records personnel specialist. “Eventually I attained a rank of SP5 (E-5) and once I served my three years I was hired as a civilian worker and remained at the Pentagon until retirement. It was a wonderful career.”

Since retirement, Fran continues to serve with her involvement in “Wreaths Across America” and as chair of the local Naturalization Ceremony held at Southport each year around July 4th.

Fran and her family are from the small town of Brookfield, Missouri. Interestingly, a close neighbor was General Pershing, the leader of the American Expeditionary Forces in France during World War I.

A monument for WWI veterans not only raises awareness of WWI and the Centennial, as well as the 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range, but honors all veterans and their sacrifices.

“By honoring the veterans I’ve chosen from Brunswick County, I’m honoring my brother, sister, and all of those who ever served.”

Frances Jean Reams joined the Women’s Army Corp (WAC) 27 March 1957 for a three-year enlistment. After basic training and Clerical School at Fort McClellan, AL, she was assigned to Fort Myers, VA, April 1958. She worked in the Pentagon for Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel and Chief, Research and Development as an Officers records personnel specialist. While there her other duties were modeling the officers’ white uniform, color guard at special ceremonies, and playing the part of a civilian in the TV show “Your Serviceman in the Nation’s Capital.” Frances obtained the rank SP5 (E-5).

Ralph Lee Reams was inducted into the Army 22 January 1952. He went to Ft Leonard Wood, MO, for basic training and Engineer training. Assigned to Seoul, Korea, July 1953, to the 453d Engineer Battalion, working as the warehouse manager. Was discharged 15 December 1954. Obtained the rank of CPL (E-4).

Virginia Reams was born in Brookfield, MO, to Clarence and Daisy (Foltz) Reams. She joined the Army in March of 1951. After basic training at Fort Lee, VA, she was stationed with the US Army Pentagon Motor Pool. During this time she saw many dignitaries including Winston Churchill, General Davis, General Doolittle, and many others. During a second tour in Germany she worked for one of the 10 largest newspapers under the Dept. of Defense. After returning to the states she was trained in New York as an information specialist. After 21 years she retired from Fort Leonard Wood, MO. She received many honors including the Army Commendation Medal twice. After returning to Brookfield, MO, she was involved in researching genealogy and was well known for this throughout the community.

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Status Update: Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran

On November 11, 2017, The Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range began the year-long commemoration of the end of World War I. A memorial to Brunswick County WWI veterans is planned for November 11, 2018 at the site of the 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range.

It’s been about two months since “Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran” began. Much has happened.

The 700+ Brunswick County WWI veteran names were gathered from records and the list was created on the website. Click here for the list or use the blue button on the side of every page. Click here for the list of donors and the veteran they honored or use the blue button on the side of every page.

To date, 110 veterans have been honored with a donation.

A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) was created to assist in choosing a veteran to honor.

 

A design for the WWI Memorial for Brunswick County veterans was chosen, based on a sketch by Helen Radcliffe.

A logo was created.

The following WWI Profiles about Brunswick County veterans were posted to the blog using historical documents. Except for Nurse Williams, profiles are focused on veterans who were Wounded, KIA, Died of Wounds or Disease. More profiles are planned. Subscribe or visit the website often!

Dorman L. Mercer, probably the longest living Brunswick County WWI veteran (Dorman passed away in 1996 at age 102).

Susan Adkins Williams, the only known WWI nurse born and raised in Brunswick County.

From the 365th Infantry, 92nd Division “Buffalo Soldiers”

William Frederick Brooks
William James Gordon
Robert Bollie Stanley, Brunswick County’s only known POW.

From the 105th Engineers, 30th Division “Old Hickory”

Lawson Devaun Ballard
George Harker Hewett
Harvey T. Chadwick
Thedford S. Lewis

Norma Eckard, president of Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range, spoke to the Brunswick County Historical Society. Local media reported.

November 23, 2017; Brunswick Beacon:
Club Profile: Brunswick County Historical Society

November 29, 2017: State Port Pilot:
Great War vets honored

December 15, 2017: Star News:
Ft Caswell Rifle Range subject of talk

Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range received a large donation. This story was posted on the blog, plus published in the Brunswick Beacon.

The local media has shown interest in sharing the WWI veteran profiles. The profile on Nurse Susan Williams was included in these newspapers.

December 28, 2017; Brunswick Beacon:
A World War Profile of Susan Adkins Williams

December 30, 2017; Star News:
Southport’s Nurse Williams served in WWI

January 31, 2018; State Port Pilot:
World War I stories part of monument effort

Keep current on published stories by viewing the News section of the website.

Thank you for your continued support!

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WWI Profile: Thedford S. Lewis 1896-1938

Source: Operations, Thirtieth Division, Old Hickory
Thedford S Lewis
Supply, Brunswick County, NC
US Army
Private

Served:
March 21, 1918 – April 24, 1919
Overseas:
May 26, 1918 – April 18, 1919
Wounded: September 29, 1918
Severely Gassed

Thedford S. Lewis was born and raised in Supply. Most of his family appears to have remained in the area throughout their lives. Several are buried in Sharon United Methodist Church Cemetery in Supply, NC.

Thedford’s WWI Draft Registration card from 1917 shows he was single and working as a farmer.

Thedford was ordered to report to the Brunswick County military board on March 22, 1918, with 13 other men from Brunswick County [source:ancestry.com]. Included in this group of 14 men was Harvey Chadwick from Shallotte and Samuel Peter Cox from Bolivia. All were sent to Camp Jackson, SC. On April 24, Thedford and Harvey joined the 105th Engineers, Company D, 30th “Old Hickory” Division. Samuel joined Company A. Their very strenuous training was at Camp Sevier, SC, which was detailed in a previous post.

As the table in a previous post listed, three Brunswick County men in the NC National Guard were already members of the 105th Engineers. They were: Lawson Ballard (Company A), George Harker Hewett (Company A), and Vander L. Simmons (Company A). On May 26, 1918, Thedford boarded Talthybius to France, along with the other five Brunswick County men. After a short training period, the division was transferred to the British troops in Belgium to help construct defensive positions. This was followed by more training and offensives. Their defining battle was the assault on the Hindenburg Line, which began at 5:50am on September 29, 1918 and was the deadliest day of the war for North Carolina.

Pvt Thedford Lewis was in Company D with Pvt Harvey Chadwick. Pvt Chadwick’s veteran profile listed their company activities on September 29, 1918, the day Pvt Chadwick was KIA. Pvt Lewis was severely gassed the same day. His NC WWI Service Card lists the date October 26 as the day he was wounded. But the 105th Engineers were relaxing and planning athletic fields and rifle ranges at that time. After more research, Pvt Lewis’ name was discovered in the 105th Engineer Honor Roll and the date shows his gas injury was September 29. Here is the extension of the list that included Corporals Ballard and Hewett, gassed by enemy gas shells in the line of duty.

To understand the use of gas in the war, some background information is needed.

This photograph was taken at Fort Dix, NJ, as soldiers prepared to learn how to use their gas masks by entering trenches filled with tear gas. [Source: Library of Congress] Details were given and are shown below.

In order that these soldiers might be properly taught the necessity of having their masks adjusted, the army officers made use of this tear-gas trench where fumes that would irritate but not permanently injure the eyes, were used.

The soldier nearest to you is testing his mask to see if it is tight all about his face. With his hand he has removed the piece of rubber from his mouth and is exhaling his breath inside the mask. The mask, you can see, is inflated, proof that the edges are tight. On the mask of the third soldier you can plainly see the circular spring just below the eye piece that is used to adjust and hold the nose grip in place to prevent breath entering the lungs except through the mouth.

All of these men have their masks at the “alert,” that is, strapped high on their chests with the lower part firmly tied around their backs. You will notice too that the flaps of the case fold in toward the body, to lessen the possibility of water, dampness and dirt getting into the mask.

When these masks are adjusted the chin is inserted first and then the rest of the mask drawn over the face, being held in position by that rubber band which you can see passed over the top of the head and two rubber bands that pass around the head.

Months before the 105th Engineers went into battle, on June 16, 1918, Colonel Pratt referred to his men attending gas school, to prepare for gas attacks. Gas masks were fitted, tested, and the men went through the gas house. (Colonel Pratt’s diary was first introduced in George Harker Hewett’s profile.)

The gas mask almost gets the best of me. I nearly suffocate with it, and can hardly control myself from tearing it off. This is one of the worst phases of the war to me.

November 11, 1918, Captain Hill from the 92nd Division (referenced in previous posts) was gassed and shared the following in his diary. He was released November 20th.

…they piled us into an ambulance and rushed us to Field Hospital #366. We expected to return the next day after a good bath—but none of us realized the terrible effects of mustard gas. Shortly after reaching the hospital my eyes began to close and for two days I was unable to see even the light of day. It was then that I realized to what extent we were gassed. I lay in bed and many, many times wondered if I would ever see again and I can assure you it was anything but pleasant. On the 14th of November we were pronounced somewhat better and moved to Base Hospital #82 at Toul. There in the gas ward the sights that we necessarily saw were anything but encouraging: big fine American soldiers, blind, burnt completely over their bodies and physical wrecks—all the result of mustard & other gases. Sure was enough to take the heart out of you.

Source: CDC
Sulfur mustard or Mustard gas was used for the first time by Germans in 1917. Sulfur mustard sometimes smells like garlic, onions, or mustard and sometimes has no odor. It can be a vapor (the gaseous form of a liquid), an oily-textured liquid, or a solid.

The advantage of using it during wartime is the fact that it can have no odor or that the nose quickly adapts to it and no longer notices it. The symptoms typically take time to appear, sometimes not appearing for 24 hours. Also, it can last in the environment for days or even months under very cold conditions.

In its liquid or solid form, you can drink or eat contaminated water or food, or touch it and get it on your skin or eyes. In vapor form, you can breathe it or get it in your eyes or skin.

It can affect:

  • Skin: redness, itching, blistering, second and third degree burns and death
  • Eyes: pain, swelling, temporary or permanent blindness
  • Respiratory tract: sneezing, bloody nose, shortness of breath, chronic respiratory diseases, lung cancer
  • Digestive tract: pain, diarrhea, fever, nausea, vomiting
  • Bone marrow: affects blood cells and platelets, leading to weakness, bleeding, and infections

After breaking the Hindenburg Line, the 105th Engineers continued to push forward. It’s unlikely that any of the gassed men from Brunswick County participated in this push. But Corporal Vander Simmons and Private Samuel Cox were unharmed and eventually Corporals Ballard and Hewett, and Pvt Lewis likely rejoined the 105th Engineers for the cleanup. Sadly, Pvt Harvey T. Chadwick had been laid to rest, although his remains were returned to Shallotte years later.

Source: The History of the 105th Engineering Regiment of Engineers
The engineers had an enormous task ahead of them. Besides supporting the infantry, the enemy was destroying everything as they retreated and repairing it was the engineers’ task.

There were also “booby” traps, and mines in buildings, churches, and trenches. These had to be found and removed by the engineers. There was also the continual search for safe and tested water, which seems to dominate many of the maps and orders located in the book.

Company A returned on USS Martha Washington, while Pvt Thedford Lewis (Company D) returned on USS Zeelandia. The troops traveled to Camp Jackson, SC, where they were mustered out. Thedford married and began raising his family.

Thedford passed away in 1938 at age 42 and was laid to rest before any of his family members. A military headstone was not requested, so no WWI honors are displayed.

Most of the information gathered was from The History of the 105th Engineering Regiment of Engineers; and Operations, Thirtieth Division, Old Hickory; as well as the incredible diary Colonel Pratt kept for his wife and son.

If you would like to help us honor Thedford S. 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: Harvey T. Chadwick 1893-1918

Source: NC Digital Collections
Company D, 105th Engineers Regiment, 30th Division; Camp Jackson, SC; probably 1919, before mustering out

Harvey T. Chadwick
Shallotte, Brunswick County, NC
US Army
Private

Served:
March 21, 1918 – September 29, 1918
Overseas:
May 26, 1918 – September 29, 1918
Killed in Action: September 29, 1918

Harvey T. Chadwick was born and raised in Shallotte, NC. His family appears to have remained in the area throughout their lives. All are buried in Gurganus Cemetery in Shallotte.

Harvey’s twin brother Harry also served. He served with the Replacement Engineers in Virginia throughout WWI. He was discharged January 20, 1919, returned home and passed away many years later in 1979. Harry’s grave includes a WWI plaque.

Harvey and Harry were living in Shallotte during the WWI draft in 1917. Harvey was single and listed farming as his occupation.

Harvey was ordered to report to the Brunswick County military board on March 22, 1918, with 13 other men from Brunswick County [source:ancestry.com]. Included in this group of 14 men was Thedford Lewis from Supply and Samuel Peter Cox from Bolivia. All were sent to Camp Jackson, SC. On April 24, Harvey and Thedford joined the 105th Engineers, Company D, 30th Division. Samuel joined Company A. Their very strenuous training was at Camp Sevier, SC, which was detailed in a previous post.

As the table in a previous post listed, three Brunswick County men in the NC National Guard were already members of the 105th Engineers. They were: Lawson Ballard (Company A), George Harker Hewett (Company A), and Vander L. Simmons (Company A). On May 26, 1918, Harvey boarded Talthybius to France, along with the other five Brunswick County men.

The 30th Division soon took positions at the Hindenburg Line between the 27th American Division on the left, and the 46th British Division on the right, in front of the Tunnel of St. Quentin.

Their goal: Break the Hindenburg Line.

Built in late 1916, the Hindenburg Line—named by the British for the German commander in chief, Paul von Hindenburg; it was known to the Germans as the Siegfried Line—was a heavily fortified zone running several miles behind the active front between the north coast of France and Verdun, near the border of France and Belgium.

By September 1918, the formidable system consisted of six defensive lines, forming a zone some 6,000 yards deep, ribbed with lengths of barbed wire and dotted with concrete emplacements, or firing positions. Though the entire line was heavily fortified, its southern part was most vulnerable to attack, as it included the St. Quentin Canal and was not out of sight from artillery observation by the enemy. Also, the whole system was laid out linearly, as opposed to newer constructions that had adapted to more recent developments in firepower and were built with scattered “strong points” laid out like a checkerboard to enhance the intensity of artillery fire.

The Allies would use these vulnerabilities to their advantage…
Source: This Day in History

Source: By Jbulera8271 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

The Germans occupied the higher ground, giving them machine gun fire on all approaches.

There were a large number of reinforced dugouts, wired with electricity, with steps down 30 feet, capable of protecting 4 – 6 men.

The large tunnel where the canal ran could shelter an entire division. It was wired for electricity and filled with barges. There were tunnels connecting the trenches and to the basement of a large stone building used as headquarters. This large subterranean system of tunnels with hidden exits and entrances formed a safe method for communication and reinforcement for the Germans.

See the post about the NC Museum of History’s WWI exhibit. The diorama has a detailed view of trench warfare.

The assault began at 5:50am on September 29, 1918.

Source: NC Digital Archives

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

In the early hours before the assault began, the 105th Engineers were responsible for the laying of the “Jumping off Tape.” The tape guided the infantry and ensured they left on a straight front. According to Colonel Pratt’s diary, Lieutenant Griffin from Company A and several of his men were severely gassed, with two corporals missing. Recall that Corporals Ballard and Hewett from Company A were severely gassed on this date. There are no details on the circumstances surrounding the Brunswick County casualties. But another possibility may be found in this account of Company A’s activities (Corporals Ballard and Hewett were in Company A):

Company A: The detail of 50 men from Company A, under Lieut. Taylor, carried out its work of searching for traps, mines, captured dumps and reporting on dugouts, roads, and other accommodations. During the 29th they exploited the territory covered by the infantry to a line between G 15 d 5.4 and A 27 a 9.7. This detail suffered eight casualties from gas shells during the day. Source: Page 140 of The History of the 105th Engineering Regiment of Engineers

Pvt Chadwick was in Company D. Their activities that day are detailed on page 147. They were responsible for keeping the roads clear. They filled shell holes, removed obstacles, and filled in trenches and machine gun pits. They were constantly under fire, sometimes got ahead of infantry, and captured prisoners, some refusing to surrender. On the 29th, Company D reported 5 KIA, 42 Wounded, and 1 MIA. Pvt Harvey T. Chadwick was Killed in Action.

When the assault had ended, the entire Hindenburg system and beyond was captured, including numerous surrounding cities and trenches. (More on NC and Breaking the Hindenburg Line)

Chapter XV, the Honor Roll of the 105th Engineers, begins on page 277 of The History of the 105th Engineering Regiment of Engineers.

Pvt Harvey Chadwick’s name is on the first page, which is shown in its entirety on the left.

Pvt Chadwick’s hometown is listed as “Charlotte.” There were many mistakes in the names of cities in various documents, but one very common mistake seen was between Charlotte and Shallotte.

Pvt Harvey Chadwick’s sacrifice was not in vain. The breaking of the Hindenburg Line was pivotal in ending the years long war. Congratulations were received from Australia and Britain, who participated in the battle with the 30th Division.

 

An excerpt from one is shown below. (From Major General E.M. Lewis, Commander of the 30th Division)

To be given the task, in its initial effort, to play an important role in breaking through the Hindenburg Line, the strongest defenses on the Western Front, was a great honor, and the fact that the break-through was actually made on the divisional front is ample evidence that the honor was not misplaced, and is a credit to the fighting efficiency of the division, of the command of which the undersigned has every reason to be proud.

Another letter dated February 16, 1919 from Major General E.M. Lewis, Commander of the 30th Division, to Colonel Joseph Hyde Pratt, Commander of the 105th Engineers reads:

SUBJECT : Service of the 105th Engineers.

1. Before you pass from under my command I wish to tell you how much I appreciate the services of yourself and of the officers and enlisted men of your splendid Regiment.

2. The entire Regiment rendered splendid service in the operations of this Division and its allied units. Called upon to perform a great variety of duties from building railroads in the back areas to accompanying attacking troops to assist in consolidating the position, its personnel has uniformly exhibited courage, fortitude and skill, and has repeatedly earned and received the commendation of Commanders. No matter how difficult the task given it there has never been exhibited the least doubt or reluctance in attempting it.

3. Upon your return to the United States may you all receive the well-earned reward of the expressions of a grateful people, whom you have well served.
Source: Page xiv of The History of the 105th Engineering Regiment of Engineers

December 16, 1921: Several years after the war, Pvt Harvey T. Chadwick’s remains were returned to the United States on USAT St. Mihiel. [Source: ancestry.com]

His remains were buried in Gurganus Cemetery, Shallotte, with his family.

Some members of the The Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range visited the cemetery recently to pay tribute to Pvt Chadwick and take photos of his headstone.

While not an official military headstone, it does include his service.

Harvey T. Chadwick gave his life for his country.

Most of the information gathered was from The History of the 105th Engineering Regiment of Engineers; and Operations, Thirtieth Division, Old Hickory; as well as the incredible diary Colonel Pratt kept for his wife and son.

If you would like to help us honor Harvey T. Chadwick 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: George Harker Hewett 1897-1956

George Harker Hewett
Supply, Brunswick County, NC
NC National Guard
Corporal

Served:
August 15, 1916 – April 16, 1919
Overseas:
May 26, 1918 – April 13, 1919
Wounded: September 29, 1918
Severely Gassed

The previous veteran profile described the birth of the 30th Division, “Old Hickory”, created from National Guard members from North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, supplemented by volunteers and draftees from around the United States.

The 30th Division insignia is shown above. It consists of the “O” and “H” from the name “Old Hickory” and three XXXs, the Roman numeral for 30.

Like Lawson Ballard, George Harker Hewett enlisted in the NC National Guard in 1916. Perhaps they knew each other as their enlistment dates are the same day. According to The History of the 105th Engineering Regiment of Engineers, George likely was in Company A, NC Engineers, organized in Wilmington in 1916, mustered into Federal Service, then engaged at the Mexican Border. When the US entered WWI, George, Lawson Ballard, and Vander Simmons were moved into the new 30th Division, assigned to the 105th Engineers. (Later, Harvey Chadwick, Thedford Lewis, and Samuel Cox joined the 105th Engineers – see table from previous veteran profile.)

The “Old Hickory” Division trained at Camp Sevier, SC, a temporary cantonment site created for the WWI training of National Guard troops. Soldiers trained in a range of common infantry skills and in new modes of warfare, such as gas defense and the use of the machine gun.

The 105th Engineers were required to learn not only infantry skills but engineering work.

Boy, they dig trenches and mend roads all night, and they fight all day!'”

– Lt. Col. John Thomason, referring to engineers

Their responsibilities included the construction and maintenance/repair of trenches, barbed wire, shell- and splinter-proof shelters, roads, bridges, railroads, buildings, and finding water sources/wells for both men and horses, tested for safety. They also performed gas attacks, removed “booby” traps and mines, and tested for gas in buildings and trenches. All of this was often performed while under artillery fire!

Major (later Colonel) Joseph Hyde Pratt was second in command and then Commanding Officer and remained with them throughout the war. Colonel Pratt was from Chapel Hill, where some of his previous titles were Professor of Economic Geology at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; State Engineer and State Geologist of NC; Secretary of NC State Highway Commission; and Consulting Engineer. Colonel Pratt kept a diary of the 105th, providing us insight into the challenges of the engineers. “There is too much tendency to make us Infantry instead of Engineers but we can do either and do it well.” – August 12, 1918

(left) At Camp Sevier, SC, the 105th Engineers laid out and supervised the construction of the rifle range.

(right) You may recognize this photo from the History section of this website. These are the target butts constructed by the 105th Engineers at Camp Sevier.

(left) Constructing a pontoon bridge during training at Camp Sevier.

(right) One of the many concrete machine gun pill boxes constructed by the Engineers in Belgium.

(left) A pyramid shelter constructed by the Engineers in Belgium.

Like Corporal Ballard, Corporal Hewett was seriously wounded by German gas shells on September 29, 1918, the day of the assault on the Hindenburg Line. (More details on the assault will follow in the next veteran profile.)

George’s gas injury is listed on page 283 as part of the Special Order from the Headquarters of the 105th Engineering Regiment found on pages 280 – 285 of the book The History of the 105th Regiment of Engineers, located in the NC Digital Collections. The order gave him the right to wear a wound chevron. (Wound chevrons were replaced by the Purple Heart in 1932.)

Also like Lawson, George returned to Brunswick County, married, and raised his family in Wilmington. In 1956, he was laid to rest alongside his wife in a cemetery there.

Most of the information gathered was from The History of the 105th Engineering Regiment of Engineers, and the incredible diary Colonel Pratt kept for his wife and son.

If you would like to help us honor George Harker Hewett or another Brunswick County WWI veteran, please use the following links:

Click here for the announcement: Announcement: Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran
Click here for directions to donate and honor a veteran: How to Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran

Click the category: Veteran Profile here or at the bottom of any veteran profile post to see all of the veteran profiles published. Follow or subscribe to the blog to stay updated on all new profiles.

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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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WWI Profile: Lawson Devaun Ballard 1896-1981

Source: NC Digital Collections
Company A, 105th Engineers Regiment, 30th Division; Camp Jackson, SC; probably 1919, before mustering out

Lawson Devaun Ballard
Suburb, Brunswick County, NC
NC National Guard
Corporal

Served:
August 24, 1916 – April 16, 1919
Overseas:
May 26, 1918 – April 13, 1919
Wounded: September 29, 1918
Severely Gassed

Lawson Devaun Ballard was born and raised in Brunswick County, NC. Most of his family is buried in Bolivia or Wilmington. Two of Lawson’s brothers, John Thomas Ballard and Edgar Levett Ballard, are also WWI veterans. His family tree can be viewed on FamilySearch.

In 1916, Lawson joined the NC National Guard. A year later, the United States was drawn into the war in Europe.

January 31, 1917: Germany announced its U-boats would sink without warning all ships traveling to and from British or French ports.

March 1917: U-boats sank three American merchant ships with a heavy loss of life.

April 2, 1917: President Woodrow Wilson urged Congress to declare war against Germany.

April 6, 1917: America entered the Great War.

When the United States entered World War I, the country faced the enormous task of creating a modern army and transporting it overseas.

World War I remains one of the defining events in the history of the U.S. Army. The conflict transformed the Army from a small dispersed organization to a modern industrialized fighting force capable of global reach and influence.

Source of table: WWI Fact Sheet

U.S. Army Statistics:
April 1, 1917: November 11, 1918:
Regular Army:

Philippine Scouts:

National Guard:

  • Federal:
  • State:

127,588

5,523

181,620

  • 80,446
  • 101,174
Increments:

  • Commissioned:
  • Inducted:
  • Enlisted:

3,882,617

  • 203,786
  • 2,801,373
  • 877,458
Total Available: 213,557 Total Army Forces: 4,176,297

 

New divisions were created using existing National Guard units such as Lawson’s.

Source of table: Maneuver and Firepower: The Evolution of Divisions and Separate Brigades

Lawson’s new division, the 30th, was nicknamed “Old Hickory” after Andrew Jackson because of his historic connection between the three states (North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee) furnishing the majority of the personnel. The division’s organization included the 117th, 118th, 119th, and 120th Infantry Regiments, the 113th, 114th, 115th Artillery Regiments, the 113th, 114th, 115th Machine Gun Battalions, and the 105th Engineer Regiment, along with other supporting units.

In all, six Brunswick County men served the duration of the war in the 105th Engineers of the 30th Division. Rosters are listed in The History of the 105th Engineering Regiment of Engineers

Lawson Devaun Ballard Enlisted:
National Guard
August 1916 Company A
George Harker Hewett Enlisted:
National Guard
August 1916 Company A
Vander L. Simmons Enlisted:
National Guard
October 1916 Company A
Harvey T. Chadwick Ordered to Report March 1918 Company D
Samuel Peter Cox Ordered to Report March 1918 Company A
Thedford S. Lewis Ordered to Report March 1918 Company D
Note: Pvt Carl Jefferson Danford died of pneumonia before the roster in the document referenced above was created. He trained in Company D until his death in December 1917.
Pvt Henry W. Cannon trained in Company B until his discharge in March 1918, due to dependent relatives.

 

Late in the conflict, in August 1918, the distinction between National Guard, Reserve Corps, Regular Army, and National Army was legally dissolved and all four elements were fused into one organization, the United States Army. This was the first time in American history that career soldiers, citizen soldiers, and drafted men of the infantry found themselves on the same legal basis.

On May 26, 1918, Lawson boarded Talthybius to France, along with the other five Brunswick County men. After a short training period, the division was transferred to the British troops in Belgium to help construct defensive positions. This was followed by more training and offensives. Their defining battle was the assault on the Hindenburg Line, which began at 5:50am on September 29, 1918. The action was part of a series of Allied assaults known as the Hundred Days Offensive, which led to the Armistice of November 1918.

Lawson was seriously wounded by German gas shells on September 29, 1918, the day of the assault on the Hindenburg Line. (More details on the 105th Engineers will follow.)

Lawson’s gas injury is listed on page 283 as part of the Special Order from the Headquarters of the 105th Engineering Regiment found on pages 280 – 285 of the book The History of the 105th Regiment of Engineers, located in the NC Digital Collections. The order gave him the right to wear a wound chevron. (Wound chevrons were replaced by the Purple Heart in 1932.)

Lawson returned to Brunswick County, married, and raised his family in Wilmington. In 1981, he was laid to rest alongside his wife in a cemetery there.

If you would like to help us honor Lawson Devaun Ballard 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: Robert Bollie Stanley 1894-1961

Robert Bollie Stanley
Shallotte, Brunswick County, NC
US Army
Private

Served:
March 29, 1918 – August 25, 1919
Overseas:
June 10, 1918 – March 24, 1919
POW – Wounded: October 29, 1918

 

Robert Bollie Stanley was born and raised in Shallotte, NC, where most of his family remained throughout their lives. The 1900 Census lists his father George (1870-1931), with mother Francis (1870-1957) having two children, all living. Besides Robert: his sister Hattie E (1896-1936) and later, Ellen (1902-1975).

His father and mother are buried in Stanley Cemetery (Brierwood Golf Course).

Robert’s WWI Draft Registration of June 1917 lists his occupation as laborer at Southport Fish Scrap & Oil Company, living in Shallotte, NC, and unmarried.

As the previous two WWI Veteran Profiles recounted, Robert was honored with a position in the 365th Infantry, 92nd Division, along with William Frederick Brooks, who sadly had died of meningitis days before the infantry left for France, and William James Gordon, all from Brunswick County.

The passing months of training, drilling, and the occupation, then command, of the St. Dié Sector, was leading up to the main offensive that eventually ended the war: the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.

A diary written by the captain of their infantry brings the countryside and experiences alive. One entry in August describes his first experience of shell fire, giving a glimpse into what Pfc Gordon and Pvt Stanley were experiencing.

I had my first experience of shell fire. It is an experience that one cannot well describe. You hear the boom of the distant gun then the rushing whine and screeching of the shell as it passes, then you wait for the terrific explosion wondering how far beyond you it will strike. It sure causes a weakness in the knees and a funny feeling up your back. The man that says he was not scared at those first shells he heard is either a damn fool or a liar.

The Meuse-Argonne Offensive

The Meuse-Argonne Offensive, September 26 – November 11, 1918, was the southern part of the great triple offensive that broke the German lines on the Western Front and ended with the signing of the armistice.

The Meuse-Argonne front (the area around the Meuse River and Forest of Argonne) had been practically stabilized in September, 1914, and, except for minor fluctuations remained unchanged until the American advance in 1918. The net result of the four years’ struggle on this ground was a German defensive system of unusual depth and strength and a wide zone of utter devastation, itself a serious obstacle to offensive operations.

The strategical importance of this portion of the line was second to none on the western front.  All supplies and evacuations of the German armies in northern France were dependent upon two great railway systems: the southern one, where the 92nd Division was located, being the Carignan-Sedan-Mézières line.

Should this southern system be cut by the Allies before the enemy could withdraw his forces through the narrow neck between Mezieres and the Dutch frontier, the ruin of his armies in France and Belgium would be complete.

The operations in the Meuse-Argonne battle really form a continuous whole, but they extended over such a long period of continuous fighting that they will here be considered in three phases, the first from September 26th to October 3rd, the second from October 4th to 31st, and the third from November 1st to 11th. It was during the second phase that Pvt Robert Stanley was reported MIA.

Source of map
On October 9, the 92nd Division relieved the French 68th Division and assumed command of the Marbache Sector. Their mission was to hold the line of the First Army east of Moselle, harassing the enemy by frequent patrols. The 183d Infantry Brigade occupied the front line with the 366th and 365th Infantry Regiments in line from right to left. The advance of the 92nd Division can be seen in the South East corner of the map shown at Pont a Mousson.

During the period October 9-31 the division was engaged in patrolling on the front.

The danger of the assignment was reflected in the casualty reports. In the one month of patrolling, there were 23 Killed in Action or Died of Wounds, 362 Wounded, and somewhere in the neighborhood of 32 Missing, which included Pvt Robert Stanley. The French decorated members of the 365th Infantry and 350th Machine Gun Battalion for their aggressiveness and bravery.

Source: Men of the 366th during Gas mask drill. The 366th was in the 183rd Infantry Brigade with the 365th.

By the end of October, the First Army had accomplished the first part of its plan for the Meuse-Argonne Offensive and was  ready to undertake the second operation, i. e., cut the Carignan-Sedan-Mézières railroad, and drive the enemy beyond the Meuse. It was planned that an attack to accomplish this would be launched on November 1.

The last week of the war took a heavy toll, especially as the Germans grew more desperate and lobbed an enormous amount of poisonous gas in their direction. Pvt Stanley was still missing.

He would not be released until November 27.

Pvt Robert Stanley returned to America on March 24, 1919, with his right leg amputated at the thigh (source:ancestry.com). He was not discharged until August 25, 1919, with a 95% disability classification.

After the war, Robert married Ethel Harrison and had several children (total number unknown). Little else is known about this hero from Brunswick County.

Robert Bollie Stanley was laid to rest September 22, 1961, in the same cemetery as his parents. A military headstone was not requested, so no WWI honors are displayed, giving no indication he made such considerable sacrifices for his country.

If you would like to help us honor Robert Bollie Stanley 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: William James Gordon 1891-1930

William James Gordon
Southport, Brunswick County, NC
US Army
Private, First Class

Served:
March 29, 1918 – April 9, 1919
Overseas:
June 10, 1918 – February 11, 1919
Wounded: November 4, 1918
Gunshot wound

Photo source: 92ndinfantry.org.

William James Gordon was born May 29, 1891, in Southport, Brunswick County, NC, the son of Franklin H. Gordon (1855-1939), a public school teacher (and first black educator in Brunswick County), and Nannie Gordon (1860-1943). His father is buried in Smith Cemetery in Southport. His father’s headstone shows William had two siblings, Cenelius and Frank. The locations of his mother’s and brothers’ gravesites are unknown.

Note: The John N. Smith Cemetery in Southport was named by the Wilmington Foundation as the most threatened historic site in the Cape Fear region for 2017. The 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range is on this list as well. The Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range support the recovery and restoration of this important cemetery.

William was married on June 4, 1912, in Southport to Evelyn Frink (1891-1957). His 1917 WWI Draft Registration shows he was married with a 4 year old son. He is listed as a laborer working in Philadelphia. His son, William James Gordon, Jr. (1913-2004) had a very distinguished career in education like his grandfather, served his country like his father, and is buried in Lebanon National Cemetery in Kentucky.

As the previous WWI Veteran Profile recounted, William was honored with a position in the 365th Infantry, 92nd Division, along with William Frederick Brooks, who sadly had died of meningitis days after the infantry left for France, and Robert Bollie Stanley, all from Brunswick County.

Before leaving for France, the 92nd Division chose their insignia and nickname. The 92nd was nicknamed the “Buffalo Soldiers” in honor of African American troops who served in the American West after the Civil War. The patch is shown above.

Company H of the 365th Infantry, which included Pvt Gordon and Pvt Stanley, embarked at Hoboken, NJ, on June 10, 1918, and reached Brest, France, on the 19th day of June, 1918. The camp was established at Bourbonne-les-Bains, a small resort area in the northeast of France, about 60 miles from the front. They immediately began an eight week period of intensive training in offensive and defensive tactics.

On July 6, 1918, Pvt Gordon was promoted to Private First Class.

Photo source: 92nd Division WWI History.
This map shows the approximate location of the front lines in western Europe when the 92nd Division was deployed.

The soldiers of the 92nd and the 93rd infantry divisions were the first Americans to fight in France.

In August, they took up positions in the St. Die sector, where they received their first contact with the enemy. They fought with honor through many engagements on the Meuse-Argonne front and won numerous awards from the French.

Photo source: net.lib.byu.edu/estu/wwi/comment/scott/Stn06.htm
October 29, 1918: Pvt Robert Bollie Stanley (Pfc Gordon’s fellow soldier from Brunswick County) was reported missing.

November 4, 1918: Pfc Gordon was wounded.

November 11, 1918: The armistice between the Allies and Germany was signed.

In the 365th’s final battle, there were 43 Killed in Action or Died of Wounds, 583 Wounded, and 32 Missing, most of whom were killed or succumbed to wounds. Of the three initial Brunswick County soldiers in the infantry, Pvt William Frederick Brooks died of disease before leaving the United States, Pfc William James Gordon was wounded, and Pvt Robert Bollie Stanley was missing.

On February 25, 1919, Pfc Gordon boarded the U.S.S. Nansemond with other sick and wounded soldiers. He was discharged from the Army on April 9, 1919.

William passed away in 1930 from heart disease [source: ancestry.com]. His death certificate lists a contributory cause to his death as “paralysis left side due to bullet wounds received in world war.”

He was laid to rest in Smith Cemetery with his father. A military headstone was requested in 1937 and remains there today.

In the years following the war, the 92nd Division gained fame as records of their accomplishments slowly became known. The November 7, 1942 edition of Baltimore Afro-American, p 20, published this account from General John J. Pershing:

The 92nd Division has been, without a doubt, a great success. And I desire to commend both the officers and the men for the high state of discipline and the excellent morale which has existed in this command during its entire stay in France.

The 92nd Division continued their gallantry in World War II, after which segregation in the military was ended.

Most of the information gathered was from E.J. Scott, author of The American Negro in the World War, Chapter XI, which quoted the work of T.T. Thompson, Historian of the Famous 92nd Division.
Another excellent reference is the website http://92ndinfantry.org/

If you would like to help us honor William James Gordon 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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