Category Archives: Veteran Profile

WWI Profile: Barfie Randel Long 1895-1947

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.


Barfie Randel Long
Winston-Salem, NC
US Army
Private
Served:
September 18, 1917 – July 29, 1919
Overseas:
April 9, 1918 – July 22, 1919
Wounded: August 17, 1918

Barfie Randel Long was born and raised in Brunswick and Columbus Counties, NC. (His daughter’s birth record shows his name as “Barfield Randal Long.”) His findagrave listing and death certificate shows he was born in Columbus County, whereas his WWI Draft Registration and NC WWI Service Card shows he was born in Brunswick County. He had one brother who also served, Pvt Vanderbilt Long.

In 1900, he and Vanderbilt lived with their family in Shallotte, Brunswick County. By 1910, they were both working on the family farm in Chadbourn, Columbus County, NC.

His Draft Registration in 1917 shows he was single and working as a mechanic at RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company in Winston-Salem, NC.

Barfie was ordered to report for duty on September 18, 1917 in Winston-Salem. He was accepted for service on October 16, 1917, at Camp Jackson, SC [Source: Ancestry]. A handwritten notation states that they were intended for the 321st Infantry of the 81st Division, but as previously included in the 81st Division history, many soldiers were transferred to other needed divisions.

Pvt Long eventually was assigned to Company M, 6th Infantry, 5th Division. The division was not organized until December, and did not unite as a division until the following spring in France, so Pvt Long likely remained in SC or transferred to GA (Camp Forrest) where the 6th Infantry trained. Because it is not known when his transfer took place, it is not known exactly where he trained.

The 5th Division insignia is shown. The nickname is “Red Diamond” or “Red Devils.” They were also referred to as “The Meuse Division” after WWI because of their crossing of the Meuse River and establishing a bridgehead in an area considered impregnable.

The 5th Division’s capture of the riverfront and points east was called “one of the most brilliant military feats in the history of the American Army in France” by General Pershing. Some details will be shared in the WWI Profile of Pvt Owen Ransom Mintz.

There are five known Brunswick County men who served with the 5th Division, as shown below. The rosters are also available on the World War I Army/Marine Division Rosters webpage.

5th Division, 6th Infantry

Name Co.
Cpl Charles Byron Drew HQ
Pfc Barfie Randel Long M Severely Wounded 08/17/1918
Pfc John William Mills M

5th Division, 11th Infantry

Name Co.
Pvt Owen Ransom Mintz C Slightly Wounded 10/12/1918
Cpl Herbert B. Ward M KIA 09/12/1918

Pvt Long boarded Covington with the 6th Infantry on April 9, 1918, for France [Source: Ancestry]. The movement of the entire 5th Division overseas was piecemeal.

The atmosphere of France was a shock after the cheer of England.

Those days of April and May were grave and menacing to the French, for the Germans had launched their last great offensive that was to win or lose the war.

As each unit arrived, it began immediate and intensive training for the front. They were introduced to the French method of conservation: not just concerning food, but methods of firing to save the largest amount of ammunition and construction using an economy of materials.

In late May, the division was declared ready for introduction to the front. They were placed under command of the French and entered the Upper Alsace and Vosges Mountains as the first American troops in that sector. There they participated in patrols, and harassing and raiding the enemy. They experienced their first casualties in June and later a gas attack killed and wounded many. As the Americans became more familiar with trenches, the Americans took over command of the division.

On July 15, the division moved into the St. Die sector. Here, the Germans controlled No Man’s Land. They had visibility of all American daylight movement. German airplanes were constantly monitoring. The 5th Division took a more offensive stand. Sniping was developed until the enemy dare not show himself.

Hungry Huns attempting to reach their cabbage and vegetable gardens by crawling on hands and knees were often forced to scuttle to some protecting shelter by our snipers or machine guns turned on sensitive points.

An Observation Post (O.P.) of the Sixth Infantry

The patrolling and raiding grew bolder and stronger as the 5th Division became experienced in the trenches. Then the first real engagement was booked. The mission was to capture the village of Frapelle (bottom right on map), about 9 kilometers east of St. Die, as well as Hill 541, just north of the town.

This mission was assigned to the third battalion of the 6th Infantry. (Third battalion includes Companies I, K, L, M.) Privates Barfie Long and John William Mills along with the rest of Company M were to lead the attack with Company L. Private Long was severely wounded during this attack.

Use the map above to set the battle positions.

They were positioned just behind the lines at Charmont, about 1 kilometer west of Frapelle. The second battalion (Companies E, F, G, H) was at Nayemont, about 4 kilometers west of Frapelle. The first battalion (Companies A, B, C, D) was at Vanifoss on the Fave, about 4 kilometers southwest of Frapelle. Thirty-six batteries had moved up to concealed emplacements more favorable to fire on the area of attack. The Ammunition Train had moved ammunition and the 99th American Aero Squadron was ready to give air support. “H” hour was set at 4am of August 17.

At 3:54am, the artillery opened up on the enemy’s lines with a heavy barrage. For ten minutes the rain of high-explosive and gas poured on the town of Frapelle and Hill 451, on the Hun trenches and on every known enemy battery.

At four, the bombardment changed to a box barrage, smoke shells were thrown into enemy observatories, and behind the curtain of shell the infantry went over the top.

Companies L and M led the assault while I and K occupied the trenches from which the former departed. Companies A and C were held in support. Each assaulting company was deployed in four waves and had “moppers-up” of engineers and infantry. A platoon of machine guns accompanied each company in its advance.

Evidently the enemy was prepared for the attack, for his counter-barrage came down upon the departure trench at exactly 4:06am and caught the second, third, and fourth waves. With considerable losses the troops pressed through the heavy and accurate barrage toward their objectives. Company M encountered a heavy machine gun barrage on Hill 451 and was held up for a time. The lines were re-formed, the enemy was rushed and the height was won. Company L advanced without serious opposition and occupied Frapelle. With the aid of the engineers enemy shelters were blown up and dugouts and houses searched.

No sooner had the troops gained their objectives than the German artillery was turned on Frapelle and Hill 451. At 6:30am the deluge of fire began, which lasted with varying intensity for three days and nights. The men of the Signal Battalion had carried their telephones and wire over the top in the first assault waves, to establish communication to the rear from the forward command posts. So continuous was the shelling that the telephone lines had to be abandoned.

Large quantities of gas were used, with concentration of mustard. The wooded areas, overgrown with thick underbrush and filled with depressions, were drenched with fumes. Gas overcame many of the parties working at night on the entanglements and the trenches.

The operation received considerable comment in the French and American press. It was the only change that had taken place on this front in three years.

Casualties reported:
81 KIA
5 Died of Wounds
18 Missing
80 Severely Wounded
237 Slightly Wounded
Over 150 of the wounded were gas cases.

It is unknown what type of wounds Pvt Barfie Long experienced. Perhaps it was gas, given that he had several lung diseases at his death many years later.

In addition, Pvt John W. Mills was reported missing in US newspapers on October 31. He was later reported found in reports published in newspapers in December. Newspapers were very much behind reporting casualties so it could have been from this operation or a later one, which will be covered in the next WWI Profiles of the 5th Division.

Private Long returned with his unit in July 1919 and was honorably discharged July 29. A 1920 Census could not be located.

The 1930 Census shows Barfie living with his mother in Chadbourn, Columbus County, NC, farming his land. His father had passed away a year earlier.

In 1936, his brother, Pvt Vanderbilt Long, died of influenza at age 41 and was laid to rest in Chadbourn, Columbus County, NC.

The 1940 Census shows Barfie now married to Emma Louise Long, age 20, from SC. They had a two year old daughter, Helen Elizabeth Long, born in NC. Barfie’s mother is still living with him. Barfie continued to work his farm.

At age 51, November 6, 1947, Barfie Randel Long passed away at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Oteen, NC, near Asheville. He had multiple diseases of the lungs.

The Asheville Citizen-Times published an obituary on November 8, 1947, on page 2.

BARFIE R. LONG

Barfie R. Long, 51, of Chadbourn, Columbus county, a veteran of World War I, died yesterday morning in a hospital here following a long illness.

Surviving is the widow, Mrs. Emma Long.

The body was sent to Chadbourn for funeral services and burial. Morris-Gearing and Black funeral home was in charge of arrangements.

His mother applied for a military headstone, which is in Chadbourn, NC, where Pvt Long was laid to rest. His mother was laid to rest near him at her death in 1959 at age 89.

Records of his wife could not be found, nor is it known whether they had more children. However, his daughter married and raised a family in Brunswick County.

Source:
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 Barfie Randel Long 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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WWI Profile: Lennox Walker Clemmons 1892-1980

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: Kathryn Kalmanson, descendant
Lennox Walker Clemmons
Supply, Brunswick County, NC
US Army
Private

Served:
August 7, 1918 – April 25, 1919
Overseas:
September 15, 1918 – March 3, 1919

Lennox Walker Clemmons was born and raised in Lockwoods Folly, Brunswick County, NC. There is a family tree in FamilySearch.

Walker’s father passed away in 1911, leaving his mother to raise many children alone. When Walker registered for the WWI Draft he indicated he was 25, single, and farming for his mother, partly responsible for her. It appears that he was the oldest son living at home at the time.

Lennox Walker Clemmons was ordered to report for military duty on August 7, 1918.

Source: Ancestry.com. U.S., Lists of Men Ordered to Report to Local Board for Military Duty, 1917–1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013

Walker’s name was typed incorrectly on the Brunswick County Board List excerpt as shown (Leonix Walker Hewett).

His WWI Draft Registration handwritten name shows why his name was misspelled as “Leonix.” And the typewritten Brunswick County Board List was likely typed incorrectly because the name above Walker’s had the last name of “Hewett.”

There are three methods to verify this is Lennox Walker Clemmons.

  • An excerpt from his WWI Draft Registration has been edited to highlight the handwritten number on the top left “651.” This can be matched with the highlighted typed number on the Brunswick County Board List.
  • The second method is using compiled alphabetical county board lists located in the NC Archives. “Leonix W. Clemmons from Supply” is listed.
  • Of course, you can also see these dates on his NC WWI Service Card.

Pvt Clemmons trained in Camp Wadsworth, SC, along with the other Brunswick County men listed in Kendrick Outlaw’s WWI Profile. He embarked with them for France on September 15, 1918.

As mentioned in Elijah Milliken’s WWI Profile, there is no known documentation describing the operations of the 55th Pioneer Infantry. It is also not known whether Pvt Clemmons transferred to the 81st Division for their final operation. Although his NC WWI Service Card does not show he did, it is not sufficient to discount the possibility.

If Pvt Clemmons participated in the grueling hike of the 81st Division as described in Craven Ledrew Sellers’ WWI Profile Post, then it may explain why Pvt Clemmons returned to the US on a Convalescent Detachment from Bordeaux, France. He could also have suffered from gas exposure or the influenza pandemic.
Source: Ancestry.com. U.S., Army Transport Service, Passenger Lists, 1910-1939 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.

It’s fortunate that the passenger list provides details for those soldiers returning from France on the Convalescent Detachment of February 20, 1919. Pvt Clemmons was suffering from chronic bronchitis. He arrived in the US on March 3, 1919, but was not honorably discharged until April 25, indicating he spent some time recuperating before discharge. Still, he was discharged with a 10% disability, which explains the (D) rating in the passenger list above, “unfit for military service.”

Note: The photograph above of Pvt Clemmons shows him with a gold service stripe on his left sleeve. The stripes are awarded after 6 months overseas service.

Walker Clemmons married in early 1920. The 1920 Census shows he was living with his mother, wife, and some siblings, working on his mother’s farm.

His mother passed away in 1929. A year later, the 1930 Census shows that Walker and his family lived in Southport. He was working as a mechanic.

When Walker’s first wife passed away, he remarried and settled in the Winston-Salem area.

Lennox Walker Clemmons passed away on November 1, 1980, in Winston-Salem. He was laid to rest in Gardens of Memory Cemetery in Forsyth County, NC. No indication of military service is shown.

If you would like to help us honor Lennox Walker Clemmons or another Brunswick County WWI veteran, please use the following links:

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

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WWI Profile: Elijah Milliken 1896-1918

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

Source: findagrave
Elijah Milliken
Rocky Mount, Nash County, NC
US Army
Private

Served:
August 5, 1918 – December 11, 1918
Overseas:
September 15, 1918 – December 11, 1918
Died of Disease: December 11, 1918

According to Elijah Milliken’s NC WWI Service Card, he was born in Southport, NC, on August 30, 1896. The 1900 Census and 1910 Census show him living in Shallotte, the oldest son of Robert and Mary Milliken. His father Robert was a farmer.

When the first draft registration was held for WWI on June 5, 1917, it was required for men between the ages of 21 and 31. Elijah was not yet 21.

A city directory from Wilmington, NC, [Source: Ancestry] has a listing for Elijah Milliken as a clerk, living at 1810 Castle, along with Bruce, mill hand, and Robert L. This is very likely Elijah and his brother, Robert Bruce, and father Robert.

The building at 1810 Castle St in Wilmington is a low brick building built in 1900. [Source: New Hanover Count Tax Records] It still exists today, although it’s no longer residential. You can see it on Google street view here. An advertisement from the October 3, 1915, issue of The Wilmington Morning Star lists the residence at 1810 Castle for rent, 5 rooms.

They weren’t listed in the 1918 city directory, but as shown below, in 1918 Elijah and his father were in Rocky Mount working at a mill there.

When the second draft registration was held on June 5, 1918, to include males who were 18 years and older, Elijah registered. At that time, Elijah was single and working at the Rocky Mount Mills. He listed his nearest relative as his father at Rocky Mount Mills.

Elijah was ordered to report for military duty on August 5, 1918 [Source: Ancestry] in Nash County, and sent to Camp Wadsworth, SC. He joined others from Brunswick County assigned to 55th Pioneer Infantry, as described in Kendrick Outlaw’s WWI Profile.

The Companies the soldiers were assigned seem to have changed often. Below is a photograph for Company D, which is the company referenced as Pvt Millken’s in the Mother’s Pilgrimage document near the end of this profile. He and the other Brunswick County soldiers may or may not be included in the photograph.
Source: NC Archives

Pvt Milliken and all of the Brunswick County soldiers in the 55th Pioneer Infantry left for France on September 15, 1918.

Pvt Elijah Milliken passed away from pneumonia on December 11, 1918.

His final three months are difficult to determine. No documents were found describing operations of the 55th Pioneer Infantry, possibly because they were created specifically to assist in combat or engineering work as needed.

Using the NC WWI Service Cards from Brunswick County 55th Pioneer Infantry soldiers shown in Pvt Kendrick Outlaw’s WWI Profile (also located on the World War I Army/Marine Division Roster webpage), many of the soldiers from the 55th Pioneer Infantry were transferred to the 81st Division on November 1, 1918, whose operations are covered around that time beginning with Willie Hasper Hewett’s WWI Profile.

Pvt Milliken’s NC WWI Service Card has no information regarding whether he served in combat or remained ill for several months before succumbing to pneumonia.

By the 1920 Census, the family had returned to Shallotte.

Source: Sewell, Patricia and Cecilia Palin, eds.. U.S. World War I Mothers’ Pilgrimage, 1929 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 1999.

Elijah’s mother, Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Milliken, was given the opportunity to take a Mother’s Pilgrimage in 1929 to visit his gravesite. All three mothers listed from Brunswick County declined.

Pvt Elijah Milliken was laid to rest in Saint Mihiel American Cemetery and Memorial in Lorraine, France.

If you would like to help us honor Elijah Milliken 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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WWI Profile: Kendrick Whiteleaf Outlaw 1892-1918

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

Source: Soldiers of the Great War, Vol. II
Kendrick Whiteleaf Outlaw
Winnabow, Brunswick County, NC
US Army
Private

Served:
August 7, 1918 – October 5, 1918
Overseas:
September 15, 1918 – October 5, 1918
Died of Disease: October 5, 1918

Kendrick Whiteleaf Outlaw was born in Winnabow, Brunswick County, NC. A family tree is shown in FamilySearch. There is some confusion due to census records that show Kendrick as “Hendrick” and “Henry.”

His WWI Draft Registration shows he was living in Winnabow, single, and working on a farm.

Kendrick was ordered to report for duty on August 8, 1918.

25 men were called to report that day in Brunswick County and sent to Camp Wadsworth, SC. 11 of them, including Kendrick, were eventually assigned to the 55th Pioneer Infantry. [Source: Ancestry] Elijah Milliken, who was born in Southport, NC, but currently lived in Rocky Mount, is included in the WWI Brunswick County list, to make a total of 12 Brunswick County men serving with the 55th Pioneer Infantry.

Camp Wadsworth, SC, was established in 1917 and abandoned in 1919.
Source: Spartanburg County Library

55th Pioneer Infantry: Camp Wadsworth, SC
Note: The companies listed do not necessarily match NC WWI Service Cards. Not all have companies identified, so the companies were found through the US Army Transportation records located in Ancestry. Therefore, the companies listed are the ones the soldiers sailed with overseas, giving us insight into their experiences.

Name Co.
PVT David D Beck K
PVT Benjamin K Caison K
PVT Julius H Clemmons K
PVT Lennox W Clemmons K
PVT Hiram Hewett M
PVT William A Hewett M
PVT William L Inman K
PVT Jacob M King K
PVT Elijah Milliken C Died of Disease 12/11/1918
PVT Sandy Milliken K
PVT Kendrick W Outlaw H Died of Disease 10/05/1918
PVT John T Watts H

 

Pvt Outlaw’s NC WWI Service Card has no beginning date for overseas service. However, the US Army Transport Passenger List shows Pvt Outlaw and the soldiers above sailing on September 15, 1918. Paging through the very long passenger lists for Pvt Outlaw, the first few pages show that USS Aeolus sailed from Newport News, VA, on September 15, 1918, to France, with over 3500 passengers. There is no arrival date found.

When the United States entered the war on April 6, 1917, German ships in US ports were seized. The USS Aeolus was formerly SS Grosser Kurfürst. The German crews were sent to internment camps, but not before they sabotaged the ship.

She was repaired and renamed USS Aeolus, god of wind in Greek mythology, making eight round-trip voyages to France during World War I, and seven post-war voyages returning troops.

Pvt Outlaw passed away from lobar pneumonia on October 5, 1918, soon after arriving in France. The location of his death is unknown.

Around this same time, General Pershing’s Chief-of-Staff wired that “a great number of cases of severe influenza and pneumonia and consequently many deaths among troops recently arriving in France.” Back home, Southport and Brunswick County were struggling with the pandemic, as described in Robert Guy Farmer’s WWI Profile, yet another Brunswick County soldier who died of pneumonia in October 1918.

Pvt Outlaw’s remains were returned on June 29, 1920 on USAT Mercury and laid to rest in Lebanon Baptist Church Cemetery in Winnabow, NC, where his mother and later his father were buried.

Source: findagrave
A military headstone was requested in 1950 [Source: Military headstone application in Ancestry] by his sister Flossie Outlaw Willets, and placed in the cemetery.

If you would like to help us honor Kendrick Whiteleaf Outlaw 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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WWI Profile: David Lafayette Dosher 1893-1919

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: findagrave
David Lafayette Dosher
Toledo, OH
US Army
Cook

Served:
October 4, 1917 – February 9, 1919
Overseas:
August 26, 1918 – February 9, 1919
Died of Disease: February 9, 1919

David Lafayette Dosher was born and raised in Southport, Brunswick County, NC. One brother, Charles Edward Dosher also served in WWI.

David was listed in the 1916 Toledo City Directory. [Source: Ancestry]

David’s WWI Draft Registration from 1917 shows he was single, living in Toledo, OH, and working at The Doehler Die Casting Company, which had relocated from NYC to Toledo in 1914. (There is also a “David Dosher” listed in the 1914 Sandusky, Ohio, City Directory, but it is unknown whether this is the same David Dosher.)

David was ordered to report for duty and was inducted into the Army on October 4, 1917. On November 12, 1917, Private Dosher was assigned to Company M, 348th Infantry, 87th Division. He became Cook on December 18, 1917. [Source: Ohio WWI Service Cards, Ancestry]

He boarded Honorata in Brooklyn on August 26, 1918. [Source: Ancestry]

During the fall of 1918 the commander of the Services of Supply, Maj. Gen. James G. Harbord, requested personnel from three combat divisions for labor units in his command. On September 17, Pershing’s headquarters reassigned three divisions scheduled to arrive from the United States to Maj. General Harbord. One of these divisions was the 87th. It was broken up for laborers in the Services of Supply.

The division did not lose its identity as a combat unit. When the Armistice was signed, it was under orders for service at the front. However, the division never served in combat during the war.

Details of the 348th Infantry could not be found. What is known is that on February 9, 1919, David Lafayette Dosher died of influenza and broncho pneumonia. When his Company departed Bordeaux on February 25, 1919, his name was not typed and crossed out on the passenger list, which would provide more information on his last days.

On March 6, 1919, The Wilmington Morning Star published the following story on page 3:

Southport’s First Sacrifice in War
David L. Dosher So Far as Known Is Only Southport Man to Give His Life

Southport, March 5. — Cook David L. Dosher, whose name recently appeared in a casualty list as having died of disease in France, is a son of Jesse Dosher, of this place. As far as is known, he is the first Southport young man to have lost his life in the big adventure. Southport furnished Uncle Sam with a large number of sailors and soldiers, but they were fortunate in being spared.

In 1929, David’s mother, Mrs. W.J. (Margaret Ann) Dosher, was given the opportunity to take a Mother’s Pilgrimage to visit his gravesite. All three mothers listed from Brunswick County declined. More information can be found in Claudie Hall McCall’s WWI Profile.

Source: Sewell, Patricia and Cecilia Palin, eds.. U.S. World War I Mothers’ Pilgrimage, 1929 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 1999.

David was laid to rest in Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial in France (no photo is available). A memorial flat marker is also in place at Toledo Memorial Park, as shown above.

Note: David’s Ohio WWI Service Card is not linked from this post but is available in Ancestry.

If you would like to help us honor David Lafayette Dosher 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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WWI Profile: Walter Stephen Brock 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.

Source: Soldiers of the Great War, Vol. II
Walter Stephen Brock
Wrightsville, New Hanover County, NC
Regular Army
Private, First Class
Served:
July 16, 1914 – November 10, 1918
Overseas:
May 22, 1918 – November 10, 1918
KIA: November 10, 1918

Walter Stephen Brock was born and raised in New Hanover County, NC.

In 1914, when he was 18 years old, he enlisted in the Regular Army at Fort Caswell.

Source: North Carolina Collection: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

According to Walter Brock’s NC WWI Service Card:

    • He enlisted in the Regular Army at Fort Caswell, Brunswick County, NC, on July 16, 1914.
    • He served in the 31st Company Coastal Artillery Corps (CAC) until November 2, 1917.
    • He was then assigned to Company A, 7th Engineers (5th Division) until March 25, 1918,
    • then Company F, 116th Engineers (41st Division) until June 21, 1918,
    • and finally Company B, 2nd Engineers (2nd Division) until his death, KIA, on November 10, 1918.

This information conflicts with information from other sources as shown below. The initial formation of the 2nd Engineers left for France in September 1917 and spent most of their time constructing everything necessary to support a 2,000,000+ strong military force. It appears likely that engineers arriving from the US would be moved into any engineering regiment requiring more personnel.

Other documents from the period show this sequence of events for Private Brock.

Private Brock boarded Leviathan on May 22, 1918. The passenger list shows him in Company A, 7th Engineers (5th Division). [Source: Ancestry]

The Unit History for the 2nd Engineers (2nd Division – source listed at bottom) shows Pvt Brock in the roster. It lists him as having participated in every battle from Chateau Thierry (May 31, 1918) to the Argonne, which ended the war. The “K” before “Argonne” indicates he died during the battle in the Argonne. The “Rhine” is missing in the list because he died before he could join The Army of Occupation.

Yet the newspaper articles shown below state his family received news that he was previously wounded in June, followed by a letter from him in October that stated he was expecting to get back into action soon. There is no record of him being wounded. It was never reported on casualty lists published in newspapers. There is no record of him dying of wounds. The roster above shows him KIA, the newspaper reports in March show him as KIA, as well as the book Soldiers of the Great War, the source of his photo above.

It is typical to find mistakes in historical records. The experience of finding errors was shared in a previous post. In the case of the 2nd Division, their record of hard fighting throughout the war makes it even easier to imagine errors in record keeping.

The 2nd Division lost more men, gained more ground, captured more guns and prisoners, and won more medals than any other American Division. The 2nd Engineers fought every battle with the 2nd Division and fought an additional one without them while the infantry was recuperating. Because of the intensity of the battles of the 2nd Division, the engineers joined the infantry during most of them. It was the 2nd Engineers who inspired the quote seen in a previous post about engineers:

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

– Lt. Col. John Thomason, referring to engineers

Whether Pvt Brock died of wounds or was KIA, the result was the same: he gave his life for his country.

His death was not reported to his parents. For five months, they were unaware. Then on March 6, 1919, his name appeared on the casualty lists published in newspapers across the country. He was reported to have been KIA.

About a week later, on March 14, 1919, The Wilmington Morning Star published this on page 5.

WALTER C. BROCK DIED IN FRANCE IN NOVEMBER
Was Son of Mr. and Mrs. S.E. Brock, of Seagate – Wounded Last June

Official notification of the death of their son, Private Walter S. Brock, has just been received by Mr. and Mrs. S.E. Brock, of Seagate, in the form of a statement from France, that he died November 10, and offering condolences to the bereaved parents and relatives.

Mr. Brock, who was in the city yesterday, said he did not understand the cause of his son’s death, as he had no information prior to the receipt of the notice, except that his son’s name appeared in the list of dead in The Star several days ago. He stated he had wired the department at Washington for further information and for verification of the report immediately upon reading of it in the paper, but had had no reply other than that it was being investigated. The announcement from France came in yesterday.

As no information was given as to the cause of death, the parents don’t know whether he died of disease or in battle. They know he was wounded in action last June, but do not know the date, nor the battle, and were never notified as to the extent of his wounds. Since then they have had one letter from him, dated October 19, which indicated that he was well and expecting to get back into action soon.

Private Brock was 23 years old and was a member of Company B, Second engineers, regular army. He enlisted in 1912 at Fort Caswell and had done eight months’ service in Mexico. He went to France early in 1918. He is survived, beside his parents, by two brothers, William and Russell, both residing at Seagate; three sisters, Mrs. Lucian D. Bishop, 215 South Thirteenth street; Mrs. Strange Pridgen, Seagate, and Mrs. Alfred Flowers, of the city.

The remains were interred at Cummune de Beaumont, France.

Private Brock’s remains were returned on USAT Somme on March 14, 1921.

On April 9, 1921, The Wilmington Morning Star published this on page 3.

BODY OF VETERAN IS HERE FOR INTERMENT
Remains Private Walter Brock to Be Interred Today

Remains of Private Walter S. Brock, of Wrightsville sound, who died in France during the world war, will arrive in the city this morning at 10 o’clock and will be immediately taken to Wrightsville sound cemetery for interment. A large number of legionmen of the Wilmington post will attend the last rites.

Relatives of the dead soldier have just been notified that the remains were in New York. They were shipped there Friday. Although the funeral is not to be military it will be largely attended by friends, relatives and members of the local post of the American Legion. The funeral service will be held as soon as the remains can be conveyed from the union station to the sound.

Adjutant H.A. Church, of the local post, announced last night that legionmen of the city who attend the funeral will meet at Front and Princess streets shortly before 10 o’clock and board a suburban car for Wrightsville. Commander J.R. Hollis is very anxious to have a large number of legionmen attend the funeral.

Private Brock was a native of the Wrightsville sound section. During the world war he went to France as a member of Company B, second engineers. After several months of service he was injured and as a result died in an army hospital. He was well known in Wilmington.

On April 10, 1921, The Wilmington Morning Star published this on page 11.

HOLD FUNERAL TODAY OF PRIVATE WALTER S. BROCK

Funeral services of Private Walter S. Brock, who died in France during the world war, will be held this morning at Sea Gate and the interment will be made in Wrightsville Sound cemetery. The remains of the soldier arrived in Wilmington yesterday morning in a metal casket, having just arrived from the battlefields of Europe a few days ago.

There will be a large number of legionmen of the Wilmington post to attend the funeral services. They will leave the city on the 10 o’clock suburban car for Sea Gate. From there they will accompany the remains to the Wrightsville burying grounds.

Commander E.S. Addison, of the coast guard Seminole, will send a firing squad of sailors to fire the regulation salute over the grave and a bugler to sound taps.

Private Brock went to France as a member of company B, second United States engineers. He died of injuries in an army hospital.

On April 11, 1921, The Wilmington Morning Star published this on page 10.

PRIVATE BROCK LAID TO REST WITH COMRADES IN ATTENDANCE

Last rites over the remains of Private Walter S. Brock, who died in France during the war, were held at 11 o’clock Sunday morning at Sea Gate Baptist church. The interment was made in Giles’ cemetery, Wrightsville sound.

There were twenty-odd members of the local post of the American legion present at the funeral to do honor to this American boy who gave up his life that democracy might be preserved. The active pallbearers consisted entirely of Wilmington legionmen.

Upon the completion of the graveside service a squad of sailors in charge of Petty Officer Ginburg, of the coast guard cutter Seminole, fired the regulation salute. Taps was then sounded by a bugler.

The pallbearers were: Honorary Charlie Summerlin, A.M. Williamson, G.C. Baltzegar, Z.A. Sneeden, J.W. Walton and R.W. Butler; active, Legionmen S. Freeman Yopp, J.J. Neur, J.J. Quinlivan, J.W. McIntire, John C. Moylan, A.E. Wingle and A.E. Werkheiser.

At the church services the building was filled to capacity. The floral offerings were beautiful and many, attesting to the esteem in which the young man held.

Source: findagrace
Private Walter Stephen Brock was laid to rest in Mount Lebanon Chapel Cemetery in Airlie, New Hanover County, NC.

The writing under his date of birth and death is unclear. If they can be identified in the future, this post will be updated.

Source:
The Regimental HQ, 2nd Engineers (1920) The official history of the Second Regiment of Engineers and Second Engineer Train, United States Army, in the world war. San Antonio: San Antonio printing co.

If you would like to help us honor Walter Stephen Brock 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
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WWI Profile: Jimmie Griffin 1899-1918

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

Source: findagrave
Jimmie Griffin
Lillington, Harnett County, NC
Regular Army
Private
Served:
January 5, 1918 – September 11, 1918
Overseas:
May 29, 1918 – September 11, 1918
Shot by Sentry: September 11, 1918

Jimmie Griffin was born in Dunn, Harnett County, NC, in May 1899, according to the 1900 Census, and the youngest of seven living children.

The 1910 Census shows him in Harnett County. The family worked on the family farm. Jimmie (Young J) was 10 years old.

Jimmie had four known brothers; two served in WWI.

Pvt Rufus A Griffin enlisted in 1916, served in the 120th Infantry, and was severely injured on October 20, 1918, in the days after he helped break the Hindenburg Line. This was the same operation that injured Brunswick County veterans 1st Sgt Van Grissett Mintz of the 119th Infantry and Pvt Jesse James Leonard from the 120th Infantry.

Pvt Charlie D Griffin (WWI Draft Registration) was called to duty in May 1918, and served overseas in the 168th Infantry with the 42nd “Rainbow” Division.

William Edgar Griffin (WWI Draft Registration)  and Oscar E Griffin (WWI Draft Registration) were never called to duty.

On January 3, 1918, when Jimmie was 18 1/2 years old, he enlisted in the Regular Army at Fort Caswell, Brunswick County, NC.

Source: North Carolina Collection: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

He served in 1st Company Coastal Artillery Corps (CAC) until February 15, 1918, when his unit became Battery B, 2nd Trench Mortar Battalion (2nd Division). (Because The Fort Caswell Rifle Range was not completed until May 20, 1918, Private Griffin never used it for training.)

The Coast Artillery provided units for heavy artillery, railway artillery, and anti-aircraft artillery.  [Poster, 1917. Source: Library of Congress]

Jimmie boarded Cardiganshire on May 29, 1918, with the rest of the soldiers from the roster shown below, except Pvt Cecil Smith Pierce, who had already passed away, and Cook Frank R. Proffitt, who did not join them until November 1918.

2nd Division, 2nd Trench Mortar Battery

Name Btry
PVT Walter C Bennett C
PVT Paul W Cable C
PVT Jimmie Griffin B KIA 09/11/1918
PVT Charles S Haithcock C
PFC Eugene B Howard B
CPL George P McKeithan B
PVT Cecil Smith Pierce B DD 03/05/1918
Cook Frank R Proffitt D
SGT Charles F Rich C
CPL Archie F Thompson B
PFC Daniel R Walker C

 

The 2nd Division lost more men, gained more ground, captured more guns and prisoners, and won more medals than any other American Division. The division was commanded by US Marine Corps generals twice during WWI, the only time in US military history when Marine Corps officers commanded an Army division. (The history of the division is not available online. It was not published until 2007: see source below.)

The 2nd Division Summary of Operations:
June 1-5: Aisne Defensive
June 6-July 16: Chateau-Thierry Sector
July 18-20: Aisne-Marne Offensive
August 6-17: Marbache Sector
September 9-11: Limey Sector
September 12-16: St. Mihiel Offensive
September 29-October 14: Meuse-Argonne (Champagne) Offensive
October 24-November 11: Meuse-Argonne Offensive
November 12-August 1919: Army of Occupation

While the 2nd Division was in the Limey Sector (Lorraine), preparing for the St. Mihiel Offensive, Pvt Jimmie Griffin was shot by sentry. The Division had just completed the move to the sector the day before, September 10, 1918.

The front line of this sector on the south face of the St-Mihiel salient extends from 1/2 km southeast of Remenauville to 1 km north of Limey; 5th Div on right, 89th Div (IV Corps) on left. Sept 12, the Limey sector occupation merges into the St-Mihiel Operation.

These terrain photographs and maps show the area where Pvt Griffin was shot by sentry. Additional photographs may be found in The American Battle Monuments Commission source below.

The view behind their location:

The view to the east:

The view to the north. The Division would be marching toward Bois du Four.

Private Jimmie Griffin was laid to rest in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial in France. He was 19 years old.

Sources:
The Regimental HQ, 2nd Engineers (1920) The official history of the Second Regiment of Engineers and Second Engineer Train, United States Army, in the world war. San Antonio: San Antonio printing co.

Center of Military History of the United States Army (1931) Order of Battle of the United States Land Forces in the World War, American Expeditionary Forces: Divisions, Volume 2. Washington DC: US Government Printing Office.

The American Battle Monuments Commission (2016) 2nd Division, Limey Sector, September 9-11, 1918, St. Mihiel Offensive, September 12-16, 1918. Washington, D.C. : American Battle Monuments Commission.

Additional Sources:
Clark, George B. (2007). The Second Infantry Division in World War I: a history of the American Expeditionary Force regulars, 1917-1919, Jefferson, NC: McFarland.

If you would like to help us honor Jimmie Griffin 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: Cecil Smith Pierce 1896-1918

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

Source: findagrave
Cecil Smith Pierce
Hallsboro, Columbus County, NC
Regular Army
Private
Served:
January 23, 1918 – March 5, 1918
Died of Disease: March 5, 1918

Cecil Smith Pierce was born in Hallsboro, Columbus County, NC. His parents, Jonathan Smith Pierce and Jeanette Council Pierce died several months after his birth, in 1897, cause unknown.

The 1900 Census shows he and his brother Lonnie Middleton Pierce, living with their grandparents in Columbus County. His grandfather died that year.

The 1910 Census shows Cecil and his grandmother living with an uncle, Albert Sidney Pierce and his family. His brother Lonnie lived next door with another uncle, Alvah Willis Pierce. Both worked on the family farms.

Cecil was not yet 21 in 1917 when men were required to register for the WWI draft. His brother Lonnie’s draft registration shows he was single and working as a clerk at Pierce & Co, a general store in Hallsboro. Lonnie was eventually called to service on July 6, 1918, and served at Camp Greenleaf, GA, in the medical department until January 1920.

On January 23, 1918, when Cecil was 21 years old, he enlisted at Fort Caswell, Brunswick County, NC. He served in 5th Company Coastal Artillery Corps (CAC) until February 12, 1918, when his unit became Battery B, 2nd Trench Mortar Battalion (2nd Division). (The Fort Caswell Rifle Range was not completed until May 20, 1918, which means Private Pierce never used it for training.)

Source: North Carolina Collection: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Private Pierce trained less than two months at Fort Caswell before his death of pulmonary tuberculosis on March 5, 1918. His death certificate indicates his tuberculosis was active and affected both lungs. The attending physician stated that he attended Private Pierce from February 10 to his death on March 5.

A previous post gave details on the Army’s approach to tuberculosis. It was not an automatic disqualification for service because of the lack of knowledge of the disease.

The following was published on the front page of The Wilmington Morning Star on March 8, 1918.

DIED AT FORT CASWELL.
Death Claims Cecil S. Pierce, Soldier From Hallsboro.

The remains of Cecil S. Pierce of Hallsboro, who died at Fort Caswell, were brought to the city yesterday under military escort and this morning were taken to his home at Hallsboro where the funeral will be held today.

Private Cecil Smith Pierce was laid to rest in Elbow-Pierce Cemetery in Hallsboro, Columbus County, NC.

If you would like to help us honor Cecil Smith Pierce 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 Guy Farmer 1886-1918

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.

Photo contributed by Ruth Ann Beck
Robert Guy Farmer
Southport, Brunswick County, NC
Regular Army
Sergeant

Served:
July 13, 1914 – October 9, 1918
Died of Disease: October 9, 1918

Robert Guy Farmer was born and raised in King William County, VA.

His US Army Record of Enlistment shows he enlisted on August 7, 1907. He reported that he was nearly 22 years old. He served in the Coastal Artillery Corps (CAC) at Fort Perry, NY, for three years. He was honorably discharged as a private on August 11, 1910, at Fort Perry, NY. The 1910 Census also shows that he was a private in the US Army at Fort Perry, NY.

At age 24, he reenlisted on October 18, 1910, at Fort Slocum, NY.

He served in the CAC at Fort Caswell for three years.

October 18, 1913: Private Farmer was honorably discharged at Fort Caswell.

June 28, 1914: Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated.

Susie Carson, daughter of Brunswick County WWI veteran Craven Ledrew Sellers, wrote that those living in Southport felt that the US would be drawn into the conflict. [Source: The Pelican Post, Winter 2000. Oak Island, NC: Oak Island Press]

Could this have affected Robert Farmer’s decision to reenlist yet again?

July 13, 1914: Robert Farmer reenlisted at Fort Caswell. [Source: Robert Farmer’s NC WWI Service Card] His residence is listed as Southport, NC.

August 2, 1914: Germany declared war on Russia.

“A few days later, [Southport’s] fear reached fever pitch when a German ship loaded with coffee came into the Southport harbor to avoid capture at sea. Another German ship was already anchored in the harbor, as were two British ships awaiting orders. All remained quiet on the Southport waterfront and all four ships departed without incident.” ~ Susie Carson

August 23, 1914: Robert Farmer married Katie Piver in the house at 717 N. 5th St, Wilmington, NC. [Source: Ancestry] That house no longer exists, but was replaced in 1920. Three soldiers from Fort Caswell served as witnesses.

When the US entered WWI on April 1917, Robert and Katie Farmer were the parents of three children. [Source: findagrave listings]

“Happenings at Caswell were of keen interest to Southport citizens, especially when the big guns were to be fired. Notices of the firings were always given and when they came the townspeople removed pictures and mirrors from their walls and dishes from shelves because when the guns went off the houses shook violently and mirrors, dishes, and pictures crashed to the floor. The noise from the guns was deafening.” ~ Susie Carson

October 18, 1917: Robert Farmer was promoted to Sergeant.

Sgt Robert Farmer served with the 1st Company, CAC Cape Fear throughout the war, remaining at Fort Caswell. It seems highly likely that he spent some of his time training soldiers at the Fort Caswell Rifle Range.

Coastal Artillery Corps

Source: North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

“Until World War I, coast artillery meant seacoast artillery; the World War brought additional functions, especially antiaircraft artillery.”

Seacoast artillery was used in defense of the coastline. If a war resulted in no threat to the coast, seacoast artillery would be unused and seacoast artillery forces would be anxious to join in land combat. This issue presented some difficulty throughout the history of coastal defense.

As technology improved, Coastal Artillery Companies, which were assigned to forts, split artillery into heavy and light. Coast Artillery Corps were created and were separate from field artillery. Coastal responsibilities included planting submarine mines.

Reorganization and renumbering of the CAC units made the historical tracking of assignments confusing. The build-up for World War I added more confusion when reading historical records for soldiers in CAC units. The unit number could mean before the renumbering took place or after.

When entering World War I, land combat units did not have heavy artillery or training. The CAC was tapped to provide both the heavy artillery and men trained to use it. While the heavy coastal artillery didn’t arrive in France in time for use in the war, the men were quickly trained in heavy land artillery and techniques and served in France.

As airplanes became more advanced and crucial to the war, the US Army turned once more to the men of the CAC for Anti-aircraft forces, due to their unique training firing at moving targets.

“At the end of WWI, the CAC, with an enlisted strength of 147,000, was much more varied than it had been two years before, with heavy artillery batteries, regiments, and brigades with or destined for the field armies; and anti-aircraft and trench mortar units for specialized roles. In the U.S. and its possessions, gun, mortar, mine, and searchlight companies remained organized into coast defenses, for harbor defense.”
[Source: Smith, Bolling W. & William C. Gaines, American Seacoast Defenses: A Reference Guide Compendium: Coastal Artillery Organization, A Brief Overview]

It’s clear that the CAC played a major role in providing the country with defensive capabilities in WWI.

But the rapid advances in technology and new roles by the CAC, as well as reorganization and renumbering, makes it difficult to follow the soldier’s NC WWI Service Card information. It seems the best way to determine what role the veteran had is by checking for overseas service. For example, Sgt Farmer served from at least 1914 until his death at Fort Caswell, which implies a seacoast defensive role, or perhaps training men in heavy artillery before they were sent to France.

Brunswick County provided many men for the CAC. The information from their NC WWI Service Cards is listed on the Brunswick County Army/Marines WWI Veterans webpage, but it must be left up to others to determine their specific roles in the war.

“An epidemic of Spanish Influenza hit the lower Cape Fear in the early fall of 1918, claiming many lives in Southport and Brunswick County as well as at the Fort. The schools and theatre were closed and all public gatherings were cancelled.” ~ Susie Carson

From October 1, 1918 until October 9, 1918, Sgt Farmer was attended at the hospital at Fort Caswell for pneumonia from influenza. It appears that a Captain A.L. Peters, MD attended him and signed his death certificate.

Sgt Robert Guy Farmer passed away October 9 and was laid to rest in Old Smithville Cemetery in Southport, NC.

On March 31, 1919, the Farmers’ youngest son, Robert Guy Farmer, Jr, one year of age, also passed away from broncho pneumonia while battling influenza. He was also laid to rest in Old Smithville Cemetery in Southport, NC.

Source: (1919, October) Health Bulletin pp.1-2

Note: 624 North Carolinians were killed in battle; 204 died of wounds; 1,542 died of disease while serving; for a total of 2,370 NC military deaths.

13,644 North Carolinians (non-military) died of influenza. [Source]

Robert Farmer’s eldest and remaining son, Arthur Latney Farmer, (Navy) was awarded a Silver Star many years later for his service in WWII when 14 enemy planes attacked his ship as he manned the machine gun. His story follows as a tribute to his father.

Source: The State Port Pilot 27 Jan. 1943, p.1

Arthur Farmer Receives Silver Star For Bravery
Southport Boy Was Member of Navy Gun Crew That Distinguished Itself In Fighting Off Enemy Action At Sea

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity as he stood by his gun, fighting off persistent attacks by 14 enemy planes on his merchant ship, Coxswain Arthur L. Farmer was awarded the Silver Star, while an officer and a gunner were presented citations in an impressive decoration ceremony last Friday afternoon on the Naval Station parade ground at New Orleans.

Arthur L. Farmer, now Boatswain’s Mate Second Class, was a long way from his home at Southport, and very tired, for the crew aboard his ship had been at battle stations since the previous morning, with time out only for hurried trips to the galley. At the moment every man of the Armed Guard unit was tense, alert, because word had been flashed that a flight of 40 German torpedo planes was winging to the attack.

Farmer, weary but unafraid (it wasn’t later that his knees “knocked together”) was manning a machine gun located after when the first wave of low-flying Heinkel 177’s swept over the ship. The battle was joined, guns flashing amidst the roar and clatter.

Two of the Nazi planes launched the torpedoes at Farmer’s ship, then swerved to the rear. The “tin fish” missed, but the Coxswain didn’t. He and other gunners poured a steady stream of lead into the two Keinkels and both burst into flames and crashed into the sea about 500 yards beyond the ship.

It was estimated that, in all, 14 German planes took part in the attack surging around Farmer’s ship for about 15 minutes, but the withering hail of fire from the vessel beat off the Heinkels, and the freighter continued on her course – victorious.

The gunners were on constant alert throughout that night and the following day. But the next afternoon two torpedoes which were fired by a U-Boat between the freighter and the blinding sun, smashed into the ship, but she maintained full speed ahead. Then, 10 minutes later, a third torpedo crashed into the engine room, and the ship broke in half.

Farmer jumped into the sea and was picked up by a lifeboat which became the three-day haven of 21 men. All of the crew except one merchant seaman were rescued. On the third day the survivors were picked up by another Russia-bound vessel.

By that time nervous reaction had set in and Farmer had a full-sized case of “jitters.” He had hopes that his troubles were over.

But those hopes were short-lived. The next midnight, German planes found the rescue ship, and Heinkel 88s began a dive-bombing attack which continued with only sporadic abatement for seven long hours. For the second time, Farmer was compelled to go over the side with his companions. He was picked up immediately by a British vessel and taken to a Russian port, where he remained for seven weeks.

Farmer saw partial vengeance during the second action when a Russian submarine slammed two torpedoes into a powerful Nazi battleship, forcing it to retire. On his return voyage, Farmer also shared in a detached sort of way, in an engagement which cost the Axis a surface raider and 60 prisoners of war.

This, in brief, is the story of Arthur Latney Farmer, whose courage was recognized by President Roosevelt, in a citation awarded through Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, beginning with the words: “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity.”

If you would like to help us honor Robert Guy Farmer 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
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WWI Profile: James Coy Edwards 1885-1917

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.

James Coy Edwards
Exum, Brunswick County, NC
US Navy
Seaman

Served:
June 4, 1918 – December 24, 1917
Died of Disease: December 24, 1917

James Coy Edwards was born and raised in Exum, Brunswick County, NC, of the Waccamaw Township. A family tree is available in FamilySearch.

The 1900 Census shows he was 15 years old, living at home and attending school. No 1910 Census record for him could be found.

The first WWI Draft registration occurred on June 5, 1917. James Coy Edwards enlisted in the US Navy the day before, on June 4, 1917, in Wilmington. He served at the Naval Hospital in Norfolk, VA.

On December 2, 1917, The Wilmington Dispatch reported that these Red Cross packages were sent to local men serving in the Navy. (N.N.V. stands for “National Naval Volunteers”)

Knitting directions for The Red Cross packages were published in magazines and books such as The Delineator, July 1917, p.37.

The creation of the modern Navy

President Woodrow Wilson signed the order creating Naval Station Norfolk on June 28, 1917. The US Navy expanded from 70,000 to a half-million officers and men during World War I.

No Navy in the world had ever created a larger force or as quickly. New training methods had to be devised in a very short time.

Source of photos: Naval Station Norfolk

Many rural recruits could barely read and knew little or nothing about radio and electricity. Most had never seen the ocean.

New recruits had to be isolated to reduce the spread of disease.

The training center opened on October 12, 1917, and by the end of the year, held 34,000.

Read the full article here: http://www.dailypress.com/features/history/dp-nws-naval-station-norfolk-20170627-story.html

Some interesting statistics for the Navy from the year 1917

  • Total number of applications for enlistment: 281,957
  • Applicants rejected for physical disability: 127,512
  • Top reason for physical disability: underweight (31,531) followed by eyesight (29,945) and teeth (13,884)
  • Total enlistments: 92,413
  • Total enlistment applications in Wilmington, NC: 103
    • 46 rejected for physical defects
    • 22 enlisted
  • Total men in service on June 30, 1917: 128,666 (an increase of 74,432 from June 30, 1916)
  • Total deaths in 1917: 511
  • Leading cause of death: pneumonia (200)
  • Number admitted to hospital for pneumonia: 1,696

Sources:
United States of America Navy Department (1918) Annual Reports of the Navy Department: For the Fiscal Year 1917. Washington DC: Government Printing Office.

United States of America Navy Department (1918) Annual Report of the Surgeon General, U.S. Navy: For the Fiscal Year 1918. Washington DC: Government Printing Office.

On Christmas Eve, 1917, Seaman James Coy Edwards passed away from broncho pnemonia.


Source: United States of America Navy Department (1920) Officers and Enlisted Men of the United States Navy Who Lost Their Lives During the World War, from April 6, 1917 to November 11, 1918. Washington DC: Government Printing Office [Online Source: Ancestry.com. U.S., Navy Casualties Books, 1776-1941 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA]

James Coy Edwards was laid to rest at New Life Baptist Church Cemetery in Ash, NC, where most of his family is buried. No military information nor honors are shown.

Seaman James Coy Edwards is the only known Brunswick County casualty from the Navy or Coast Guard.

If you would like to help us honor James Coy Edwards 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
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