Category Archives: Veteran Profile

WWI Profile: Richard Herbert Gray 1890-1962

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.

Aux Remount Depot 310, Camp Sevier, March 16, 1918
Source: Library of Congress

Richard Herbert Gray
Shallotte, Brunswick County, NC
US Army
Private First Class

Served:
September 8, 1917 – March 27, 1919
Unofficially Wounded by Accident: May 10, 1918

Richard Herbert Gray was born, raised, and lived his life in Brunswick County, NC. A partial family tree is located in FamilySearch. Two of Richard’s brothers, Harvey Winfield Gray and Oscar Llewellyn Gray are also WWI veterans.

Richard’s WWI Draft Registration shows he was single, living in Shallotte, and working in the logging industry.

The first draft for the National Army was on September 5, 1917. Five percent of the registered men were called that day. Richard was among the five percent called and one of the first five Brunswick County men ordered to report for duty. On September 9, 1917, he reported and was formally accepted on September 17. Training began at Camp Jackson, SC. [Source: Ancestry]

The 81st Division had just been organized in August 1917 at Camp Jackson. It was primarily created with those drafted such as Richard Gray.

Another man who arrived that day was Thomas “Jack” Pinkney Shinn from Kannapolis, N.C. He wrote a diary rich in details and his impressions. Anyone wishing to understand the experiences of those in the 81st Division infantry regiments or just general front line experiences may want to read the 86 pages found at the link on his name. Excerpts will be included in the WWI Profiles for the 81st Division. Jack Shinn reached the level of 1st Sergeant while serving.

When these first men arrived at Camp Jackson, only a small clearing had been made for some barracks.

Those of us who came into camp during those first weeks spent almost as much time cutting trees, digging stumps, working roads and doing “landscape gardening” as in the study and practice of things purely military. We were naturally very slow in understanding what digging stumps and “policing up” cigarette “ducks” and match sticks had to do with winning the war.

But in the emergency, we obeyed orders out of loyalty to our government and to humanity, as if by instinct, and the work was done regardless of how menial or difficult. Source: History of the 321st Infantry, NC Archives

In October, about half of the men were transferred out of the 81st, mostly to the 30th “Old Hickory” Division. This transfer continued through the fall, winter, and spring of 1918. Those remaining in the 81st wondered if their division would become a depot division (training and receiving unit).

This changed during May 11-18, 1918, when the division was moved to Camp Sevier and rapidly grew to war strength. But most were raw recruits, some having less than two week’s training.

The first official divisional shoulder patches of the US Army.

Source: ECU Blog
The 81st Division is officially known as the “Stonewall Division” but is popularly known as the “Wildcat Division.” The division adopted the wildcat insignia from the common wildcat of the Carolinas and Wildcat Creek that ran through Camp Jackson. The brigades, regiments, and specialty units adopted different colors for their patches. Shown to the right is the 81st Division headquarters shoulder insignia circa 1918.

The Division Commander, Major General Charles J. Bailey, believed the insignia promoted division unity and raised morale. When the War Department ordered the removal of unauthorized patches from their uniforms, General Bailey took the matter to General Pershing. On October 19, 1918, Pershing directed each division commander to submit a sleeve insignia design for review and approval. The 81st sent their design that day, obtaining approval, and becoming the first official divisional patch in the US Army.

“The first U.S. Army patches were produced by sewing or gluing pieces of cloth together. Most of these early patches were made from material the soldiers either had at hand or could obtain easily, such as the brown wool from their U.S. Army blankets, shirts, or puttees (their wrap-around leggings). Most of the colored cloth came from discarded or captured French and German uniforms.” [Source: AEF Shoulder Insignia]

Before moving to Camp Sevier in May 1918, advance groups were sent ahead to prepare for the regiments. Pfc Richard Gray from Brunswick County was part of the advance group, as well as Pfc Jack Shinn. Pfc Shinn wrote this in his diary.

Fri, May 10th, 1918.
I was ordered to take 6 privates and go to Camp Sevier to prepare for the Regiment that was to follow a week later. We loaded the train and started but our train was thrown from a tressell [sic] 45 ft. high. Nine men were killed and twenty-six wounded. The trip was postponed until the next day.

Richard Gray was one of the wounded. His injuries would not have been known except for Jack Shinn’s diary in the NC Archives and researching further for details of the accident. Nine men were killed and they were reported as “Killed by Accident.” The men wounded seriously were reported as “Seriously Wounded” in their service records. But those injured slightly, as Richard Gray was, were never reported as wounded.

The Wilmington Dispatch reported the deadly accident on the front page of the May 10, 1918 edition.

Railroad trestle leading into Camp Jackson [Source: The Birth of Camp Jackson, p. 62]

At some point after this injury, Pfc Richard Gray was transferred to the Aux Remount Depot 310, Camp Sevier, breeding horses for cavalry. He remained there until he was honorably discharged on March 27, 1919.

He returned to Shallotte after the war, where he raised a family. Richard Herbert Gray passed away on August 14, 1962. He and his brothers were laid to rest in Chapel Hill Cemetery in Shallotte.

If you would like to help us honor Richard Herbert Gray 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: Martin Newman Mintz 1888-1975

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.

Martin Newman Mintz
Mill Branch, Brunswick County, NC
US Army
Private

Served:
September 18, 1917 – January 20, 1919
Overseas:
May 27, 1918 – December 30, 1918
Gassed: October 29, 1918

A note about Martin Mintz’ service:

Martin’s NC WWI Service Card shows he served with the 322nd Infantry (81st Division) and was wounded on October 30, 1918. But while reading through combat history of the 81st Division, the regiments were resting before their big operation in early November. It seemed unlikely that Martin was wounded at that time.

Pulling the passenger lists for transport to France [Source: ancestry.com] showed that he was not serving with the 81st. He actually served with the 113th Field Artillery of the 30th Division. He was included in the rosters in the historical documents written about the 113th. His injuries were documented also, as being gassed on October 29, 1918.

Martin likely was originally training with the 81st Division. When he was ordered to report for military duty [Source: ancestry.com], he was sent to Columbia, SC, to Camp Jackson, which is where the 81st trained. As the WWI Profile posts about those serving with the 81st Division will show, the 81st Division had many men transferred to other units, mostly the 30th Division. Martin was likely transferred at some point, although it is unknown when.

It’s fortunate that many documents exist to help verify mistakes on records, as well as add rich details to their experiences. The 113th Field Artillery was well documented, as this profile will show.

Martin Newman Mintz was born and raised in Brunswick County, NC. He was the eldest of four brothers, all serving in WWI.

Forney Boston Mintz was the first to enlist in the US Army in 1913 at age 21. Half brother Samuel Leob Mintz enlisted in 1916; Martin and Owen Ransom Mintz were drafted.

All four brothers served overseas. Martin, Forney and Owen were wounded.

Leob and Forney made a career in the Army.

Martin’s WWI Draft Registration shows he was living in Mill Branch, Brunswick County, single, and working on his own farm. He was ordered to report for duty on September 18, 1917 [Source: ancestry.com] and accepted for duty on October 3, 1917.

As mentioned above, he likely began training with the 81st Division, which was at Camp Jackson, SC. Because it is not known when he transferred to the 113th Field Artillery, his experiences cannot be described accurately until his name is listed on the transport record to France on May 27, 1918.

Some background on the 113th Field Artillery of the 55th Artillery Brigade, 30th “Old Hickory” Division.

The 113th Field Artillery was created in June 1917, when the War Dept announced it would accept a regiment of field artillery from the state of NC. This was a source of pride as almost all counties were represented from NC and included “lawyers, teachers, doctors, preachers, farmers, merchants, mechanics, accountants, bankers, manufacturers, engineers, scientists, clerks, students, stenographers, typists, newspaper men.”

The 113th Field Artillery was one regiment of the 55th Artillery Brigade. It included the following regiments. The tables list the Brunswick County men who served in them. There is a document which includes the 55th Artillery Brigade WWI experience and includes rosters and pictures of the men below.

The following lists and references are available on the World War I Army/Marine Division Rosters webpage.

Documentation (with rosters):
Bacon, William James (1920) History of the Fifty-fifth Field Artillery Brigade … 1917, 1918, 1919 . Nashville : Benson Printing Co.

As previous posts about the 30th Division mentioned, they completed most of their training at Camp Sevier, SC. The land needed for field artillery training at Camp Sevier was almost completely cleared by the 113th using axes, saws, picks, and mattocks. Supplies were scarce and the winter of 1917-1918 was the worst winter the South had experienced since 1898 with terrible blizzards and high winds that ripped tents to shreds. Without winter clothing, training was difficult. The measles and mumps epidemic at the camp, which took the life of Brunswick County veteran Carl Jefferson Danford, added to the difficulties.

The Supply Company, which included Wagoner James Varney Gore, was responsible for 1000 head of horses and mules, feeding, grooming, hauling bedding and manure daily, while also feeding and clothing the regiment: 7 days hard labor each week.

Logs were used for training.

Despite the 59th Artillery Brigade being part of the 30th Division, they never served at the front with them. The Allies felt there was enough artillery and requested infantry and machine gun outfits first. The 59th Artillery Brigade was left behind when the 30th Division left for France. In May, they finally made preparations for transport.

Private Martin Mintz boarded the Armagh on May 27, 1918. The Armagh was a British freighter carrying beef from Australia and New Zealand and had been hastily converted into a transport, which made it an uncomfortable voyage. British food was served and was disagreeable to the men.

When reaching the coast of Ireland, dirigibles, airplanes, and destroyers kept watch over the Americans. They were greeted in Liverpool with enthusiasm.

After arriving in France, the 113th was overjoyed to have guns for all. However, since the American 3″ gun was used for training, the men had to relearn everything to adjust to the French 75mm gun. In a few short weeks, they were ready for battle. The men hoped to rejoin the 30th Division, but were needed elsewhere.

Their first taste of battle was during the Battle of St. Mihiel, supporting the 89th Division. This was typically a quiet sector where raw troops were seasoned. This was about the change.

At 1am on September 12, 1918, the artillery began the barrage. The infantry were to come out of the trenches at 5am. In those four hours, the American guns fired more than 1 million rounds.

When the infantry joined the battle, the artillery rolled a protective and offensive accompanying fire. If the Doughboys could not take out a concrete machine gun nest, or “pill-box,” they called the artillery for assistance.

Here was where the artilleryman found a task to his liking and up across the fields and through the woods on a dead run would come a gun section, the men clinging for dear life to the bouncing carriages and lying low over the necks of their horses.

When deep trenches and wrecked roads and bridges would confront them in what had been No Man’s Land and in the territory back of the old German lines, the horses were unhitched from the carriages and led, pulled and shoved across, while willing hands seized the guns and caissons and carried them over places that looked to be impassable. There was no time to wait for the engineers to build roads and time and again on that memorable day the regiment did the impossible.

Because of the success at St. Mihiel, the Battle of the Argonne was prepared quickly. Typically, fighting didn’t occur at this time of year but waited until the end of winter. The Allies had chosen to take advantage of their momentum.

On September 26, 1918, the 59th Brigade supported the 37th Division (Ohio) as the Doughboys began at 5am. The Germans were caught napping.

German resistance stiffened the next day. The 37th Division was withdrawn on Sept. 30th, and the 32nd Division (Michigan and Wisconsin) relieved them. The 59th Artillery Brigade remained in position, this time with the 32nd Division.

On October 6th, the 42nd Division relieved the 32nd. The 59th Artillery Brigade was prepared to remain in position yet again but they were ordered to withdraw. After two weeks of desperate fighting, followed close after a forced march and the St. Mihiel battle, their horses were depleted. They had entered the forest with 1050 horses and only 247 remained. The guns were no longer mobile and there were no horses to be had.

They marched from October 9-12 to the Woevre Sector, SE of Verdun.

“Join the Army and see the world” some soldiers would yell down the line. “Join the artillery and RIDE!” others would reply sarcastically.

They were to rest and be re-equipped, but instead went into the line immediately, supporting the 79th Division until October 25th, then the 33rd Division (Illinois). The artillery was kept busy with harassing fire at night and protecting raiding parties. The Germans were doing the same, but with German regularity.

“The firing started at the same hour every night, the length of the bombardment never varied five minutes, and all of the points singled out for attention received practically the same number of shells every night.”

Pvt Martin Mintz was gassed on October 29, 1918. His name was listed in the 113th Field Artillery regimental history book listed above. On the left is the page from the list of casualties that includes his name.

There were many other men gassed at the time. He was sent home in December with the other sick and wounded and honorably discharged near the end of January, indicating that he required more medical attention upon his arrival.

Martin Mintz returned to farming, married, and raised a family in Brunswick County. He passed away in 1975 at age 87. He was laid to rest in Mintz Cemetery in Ocean Isle Beach, NC. Military honors are shown.

The 113th Field Artillery is credited with 67 days occupying active sectors and firing. Only 2 divisions (1st and 3rd) are officially credited with longer service in active sectors.

The 59th Artillery Brigade served with the following American Divisions: 89th, 79th, 30th, 33rd, 37th, and 32nd.

If you would like to help us honor Martin Newman Mintz or another Brunswick County WWI veteran, please use the following links:

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

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

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WWI Profile: Claudie Hall McCall 1888-1919

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
Claudie Hall McCall
Supply, Brunswick County, NC
US Army
Private
Served:
April 1, 1918 – April 13, 1919
Overseas:
May 12, 1918 – April 13, 1919
Died of Disease: April 13, 1919

Claudie Hall McCall was born in Brunswick County, NC, in 1888, son of Alice McCall. In 1892, Alice married David Hewett. She had several children with David, one of whom was Willie Cross Hewett, another Brunswick County WWI veteran, who was profiled in the previous post.

Claudie’s Draft Registration Card from the June 5, 1917, draft shows he was single, living in Supply, and working on his own farm.

On February 7, 1918, Claudie married Lundie Frink. The marriage certificate is difficult to read, but seems to show that he was married in his house, with three witnesses: Allen Stanley, Daniel H. Wilcox, and Joe Hunter, all from Wilmington.

Claudie was ordered to report to duty on April 2, 1918 [Source: ancestry.com]. After a very short training period, on April 26, he was assigned to Supply Company, 120th Infantry, 30th “Old Hickory” Division. He then boarded Bohemian in Boston with his Company on May 12, 1918.

On October 4, 1918, his son, Claudie Hazelwood McCall was born.

On October 25, 1918, his half brother Private Willie Cross Hewett died of wounds, as described in the previous post.

Source: Ancestry.com. U.S., Army Transport Service, Passenger Lists, 1910-1939 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
Private McCall nearly made it home. But when his company boarded USS Pocahontas in France on March 28, 1919, to return home, he was not with them. His name was crossed out, indicating that he had entered Hospital #52 on March 5, 1919.

Claudie Hall McCall died on April 13, 1919, from an abscess of the lung.

Having the hospital number provides an opportunity to investigate further. According to the Official History of the 120th Infantry the 30th Division was marched to Forwarding Camp at Le Mans in early January 1919. They remained there until early March, when they were moved to Embarkation Camp at St. Nazaire. The Camp Hospital in Le Mans is #52, which means this is the hospital where Private McCall died.

Camp Hospital No. 52 was established in August, 1918, at Le Mans, Department Sarthe, intermediate section, its personnel being taken from the American Expeditionary Forces at large. It was located in the old monastery, which had been occupied by the French complementary hospital No. 49. The monastery was poorly suited for hospitalization, for its large halls and high ceilings and stone floors made it damp and difficult to heat. Plumbing and wiring were insufficient and a large force of men was required to keep the building in repairs. [Source: The Medical Department of the United States Army in the World War, Vol. II, Chapter 25 Photo: US National Library of Medicine]

These were Private McCall’s nurses. [Source: Oshkosh Public Museum]

Using the full passenger list (excerpt shown above), it is also possible to identify other soldiers in Supply Company from North Carolina who spent his last days with him.

  • Wagoner Dewey C. Bulla from Asheboro, NC, was admitted on March 26, recovered and returned to the USA on May 12.
  • Private George V. Burnett from Black Mountain, NC, was admitted on March 1, recovered and returned to the USA on June 2.
  • Corporal Henry G. Dallas from Reidsville, NC, was admitted on March 14, recovered and returned to the USA on April 24.
  • Wagoner James W. Vickers from Rutherfordton, NC, was admitted on March 5 and passed away on March 13 from broncho pneumonia.

Private Claudie Hall McCall was laid to rest in the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery and Memorial in France, which is located at the very spot where the 42nd “Rainbow” Division fought. The cemetery is the site of 6,012 American graves.

Many Brunswick County WWI veterans fought with the 42nd Division, which will be included in WWI Profiles in the future. 

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.

Claudie’s mother, Alice Lenore McCall Hewett, was given the opportunity to take a Mother’s Pilgrimage in 1929 to visit his gravesite. All three mothers listed from Brunswick County declined.

Claudie’s son, Claude Hazelwood McCall, lived until age 95, dying in 2013. His obituary is printed below.

NEW BERN – Claude “Mac” Hazelwood McCall, 95, of New Bern, passed away December 5, 2013, at CarolinaEast Medical Center. Mac was born on October 4, 1918 to Claudie and Lunda McCall Jones in Brunswick County. He graduated from New Hanover High School in Wilmington, NC, in 1936 and Wake Forest University in 1940. While at Wake Forest, his attaining the ACC Welterweight Boxing Championship was notable.

Mac was employed at the Wilmington, NC shipyard during WWII. He met his beautiful bride, Catherine Virginia Ensley, during the war and they married in February 1945. In 1946, Mac began a long and distinguished career in the airlines industry. After working for Eastern and Piedmont Airlines in accounting management, Mac became Director of Revenue Accounting for the Air Transport Association in Washington, DC in 1957. He also served with distinction as Secretary-Treasurer of the Airlines Clearing House from 1968 until his retirement in 1984. Mac thoroughly enjoyed participating in the “golden years” of the airlines industry.

Mac was heavily involved with the Baptist church throughout his life. He enjoyed teaching Sunday school, and was a member of First Baptist Church in New Bern for over 25 years. In his early family years, he was President of the Springfield, VA Babe Ruth Baseball League for five years.

He is survived by his son Keith McCall (Karen), his daughter Claudia Bryan, his grandchildren Shannon and Michelle Bryan and Scott, Ryan and Kimberly McCall, and six great-grandsons. Mac was preceded in death by his wife Catherine, three half-brothers and one half-sister.

Funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. December 14, 2013, at First Baptist Church in New Bern with Dr. Richard Seagle officiating. Entombment will follow at Greenleaf Memorial Park. The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service at the church.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to First Baptist Church or St. Jude, P. O. Box 1000, Dept. 142, Memphis, TN 38101-9908.

Online condolences may be made to the McCall family at www.cottenfuneralhome.com.

Arrangements are by Cotten Funeral Home & Crematory.

This concludes the Brunswick County WWI veterans who were wounded or killed while serving in the 30th “Old Hickory” Division.

A memorial to the 30th Division was erected on the northeast corner of the North Carolina state capitol grounds in Raleigh on September 29, 1930, the 12th anniversary of the breaking of the Hindenburg Line.

In all, the “Old Hickory” division lost 8,415 men.

The division garnered several outstanding distinctions in the war:

  • The first to break the German Hindenburg Line on the Cambrai-St. Quentin front.
  •  Awarded more Congressional Medals of Honor than soldiers in any other American division.

If you would like to help us honor Claudie Hall McCall 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 Cross Hewett 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
William Cross Hewett
Supply, Brunswick County, NC
US Army
Private
Served:
September 19, 1917 – October 25, 1918
Overseas:
May 12, 1918 – October 25, 1918
Died of Wounds: October 25, 1918

William “Willie” Cross Hewett was born and raised in Brunswick County, NC. A partial family tree can be found in FamilySearch. Willie had a half brother who also served, Pvt Claudie Hall McCall. His WWI Profile will follow this one.

Willie’s World War I Draft Registration Card shows that he was single and farming his own farm in Supply, NC.

He was ordered to report to duty on September 19, 1917, and was accepted for duty on October 3 [Source: ancestry.com]. Pvt Hewett was originally assigned to HQ, 322th Infantry, 81st Division. Many from the 81st Division were moved to supplement the 30th Division and this included Pvt Hewett. On October 16th he was reassigned to Company C, 120th Infantry, 30th “Old Hickory” Division. He eventually began training at Camp Sevier, SC, as reported in previous posts.

Previous posts described the heroic battle at the Hindenburg Line, which was the turning point of the war. The battle was from September 29 – October 1, 1918.

Private Willie C. Hewett died of wounds on October 25, 1918. He was 23 years old. It is not known if he was wounded during the Hindenburg Line assault or the days after, which have been described in previous posts.

His NC WWI Service Card shows only engagements up to and including the “Hindenburg defensive” which could indicate he was wounded during those dates. But the service cards are not completely accurate and few actually include names of engagements. It is unfortunate that there is no information available to clarify when he was wounded.

Given that his half brother Pvt Claudie McCall served in the same infantry, hopefully he was able to give Willie some comfort before his death.

On June 19, 1921, the steamship Wheaton left Belgium, returning his remains along with thousands of others. This steamship made three trips, returning a total of almost 13,000 bodies [Source]

At the end of the First World War, 75,640 United States Dead were buried in Europe. This included all services: Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Ambulance Services, YMCA, and others.

In January 1920, a plan was advanced by the U.S. Congress to bring all the American Dead home. This was projected to cost some $8,000,000. Immediately, a movement was mounted by parents of the Dead to allow them to rest in peace. The plan was scaled down to returning 45,000 and this was reduced further as time went on.

To further the pain of the survivors, there were reports of funeral directors and funeral homes profiteering from this movement. This misconduct affirmed many families not to have their dead returned. Measures were put into place to assure the remains would go only to the funeral directors of the families’ choice.

The steamship MERCURY arrived in the United States in April 1920 with 353 bodies (all but 80 who had been buried in France). Once the movement began in earnest some 2000 bodies reportedly arrived per week. In September 1920, 6281 bodies arrived in one transport.

When steamship WHEATON arrived at Hoboken, New Jersey, on 18 May 1921 with 5212 bodies (2800 received from Cherbourg and 1000 more from Antwerp) the total of dead was brought to 23,000. WHEATON made two other trips in 1921 carrying some 7600 dead. CANTIGNY brought 2804 more in two trips in the fall of 1921.

This serves to explain the relatively “few” American graves in Europe, considering the sacrifices made.

The number of Dead repatriated was approximately 33,400 from all services or some 44 percent of the total buried in Europe.

Source: findagrave
William Cross Hewett was laid to rest in Silent Grove Cemetery in Supply, NC.

If you would like to help us honor William Cross 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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WWI Profile: Jesse James Leonard 1892-1970

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

Jesse James Leonard
Shallotte, NC
US Army
Private

Served:
October 4, 1917 – April 17, 1919
Overseas:
June 5, 1918 – April 11, 1919
Wounded: October 9, 1918

Jesse James Leonard was born and raised in Brunswick County, NC. A partial family tree is in FamilySearch.

His 1917 Draft Registration Card shows he was married, farming, and living in Shallotte. He was married to Mary Lillian Grissett on December 6, 1916.

Jesse was ordered to report to duty on October 4, 1917 [Source: ancestry.com]. Private Leonard was initially assigned to Company M, 120th Infantry, 30th “Old Hickory” Division, then moved to Company D. He eventually began training at Camp Sevier, SC, as reported in previous posts.

As mentioned in a previous post, Private Leonard, along with Private Pigott, was scheduled to depart for France on May 17, 1918, but did not board the USS Miltiades with their Companies. Instead, both boarded Ascanius on June 5, with many other soldiers of the 30th Division who were detached from their units, for reasons unknown.

Multiple posts have included the horrific details of the Hindenburg Line and the many who were wounded or died during the assault. Private Leonard was not wounded at that time, but in the push afterward. Refer to the WWI Profile post of 1st Sgt Van Grissett Mintz for more details of these operations from the 119th Infantry documents. The 120th Infantry followed similar orders.

On October the 1st, when the Division was withdrawn from the [Hindenburg] line, this Regiment moved by marching to the Tincourt Area. On October the 2nd the movement continued, the Regiment marching to Belloy, west of Peronne.

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

This area had been fought over for four years, changing hands time and again; as a result, it was a perfect example of destruction–of many villages nothing remained, no one would have known a house had ever existed but for the signboard marking the site. It was hard to realize that this, the Somme Country, had at one time been the most productive part of France.

On October the 5th the Regiment returned to the Tincourt Area, and on October the 6th the movement continued to Villeret.

Private Leonard’s NC Service Card shows he was wounded on October 10, but it was crossed out and changed to October 9.

Mistakes were made during the operations that followed.

On the afternoon of October 8, the 120th Infantry moved to Joncourt, but left the 1st and 2nd Battalions [Companies A-H, which includes Pvt Leonard’s Company D] as reserve battalions for the 117th and 118th Infantries. The 117th and 118th Infantries were attacking near Montbrehain. Companies A and B of the 120th Infantry were being used in the front line near Premont, while Pvt Leonard’s Company D was used in the taking and mopping up of Brancourt.

At 2:00 am on October 9, the 120th was ordered to join the 118th to hold the general line Premont-Brancourt in an attack to be launched at 5:30 am. Three and a half hours is a very short time in which to prepare orders and distribute them to the troops. The 120th had to regain Companies A-H, which were still under the 118th’s command.

The orders were quickly prepared and distributed to those Companies and support units present with the 120th. They were surprised to learn that the 118th Infantry had notified their own units but never notified the Companies of the 120th Infantry to return to their own Regiment. Companies A-H were still operating as if they were under the previous orders and command of the 118th. Companies A-H were essentially abandoned and forgotten as they moved through the area locating and “mopping up” isolated enemy troops.

In spite of the lack of assistance given by [the 118th Infantry] the battalions were located, and the battalion commanders by almost superhuman effort collected their companies and followed the 118th Infantry–the 2nd Battalion on the right, the 1st Battalion on the left, and the 3rd Battalion in support. In this and in future engagements the 3rd Battalion, in support, was engaged shortly after the attacking battalions went into action. This Regiment was to pass through the 118th Infantry, when it reached its objective, and should have done so about 10:00 A. M.

The 118th was held up, however, by machine gun fire from the right, and this Regiment did not pass through and take its objective until 4:00 P. M. The villages of Becquigny and La Haie Meneresse and the Bois De Busigny were taken, and a platoon from the 3rd Battalion was diverted to assist in taking the town of Bohain, where the unit on the right was held up.

It’s not known whether these mistakes played a role in the wounding of Pvt Leonard, but he was wounded during these operations of October 9.

On the morning of the 10th the advance continued, and after severe fighting the town of Vaux Andigny was taken. This position was enfiladed from the Bellvue Farm on the right, and, as the right of the Regiment was nearly 3,000 yards in the air, the troops were withdrawn a few hundred yards to the western edge of Vaux Andigny.

On the morning of the 11th the 118th Infantry, who had come up too late to take care of the right of this Regiment, attacked through this Regiment, but was unable to advance more than 200 yards.

Between October 7th and October 12th, 1918, the following 120th Infantry casualties were reported.
38 KIA
319 Wounded
1 POW

There are no details on Pvt Leonard’s wound. It was described as “slight” but the recovery period was unknown. He may have returned later, but given that the war ended soon after and little action was seen by the 120th after October 20, most of the fighting would likely have been completed by the time he was fit for duty.

Pvt Leonard returned to the United States with his Company on April 11, 1919. He was honorably discharged on April 17th and returned to Shallotte and his wife.

Jesse James Leonard and his wife lost at least two small children, as shown in findagrave, but also had at least two other children.

Tragically, his son, Mahlon Mallory Leonard, died while serving in Germany during World War II. The December 20, 1944 issue of the State Port Pilot reported him wounded. This was followed by his death on June 8, 1945, in a auto-truck accident in Germany. His funeral was reported in the September 14, 1948 issue of the State Port Pilot.

Funeral Sunday for Pvt. Leonard

Mahlon M. Leonard Laid To Rest Sunday In Gurganus Cemetery Following Graveside Services

Killed in an auto-truck accident in Luxomburg, Germany, on June 8, 1945, the body of Mahlon M. Leonard, well known 24-year old Shallotte Village Point man, was brought home last week and interred in the Gurganus cemetery near Shallotte, Sunday.

Funeral services were held at the graveside with Rev. Austin J. Wheeler and Rev. B.W. English, both of Wilmington.

Private Leonard is survived by his widow, Mrs. Laura A. Leonard, and a small son, Malory B. Leonard; his father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Jesse J. Leonard, and a sister, Miss Connie L. Leonard.

Jesse James Leonard passed away in 1970 at age 78. He was laid to rest in Gurganus Cemetery with his wife, and the three children who preceded him in death. Military honors are shown.

Information regarding the 120th Infantry was gathered from Official History of the 120th Infantry “3rd North Carolina” 30th Division, From August 5, 1917, to April 17, 1919. Canal Sector Ypres-Lys Offensive Somme Offensive

If you would like to help us honor Jesse James Leonard or another Brunswick County WWI veteran, please use the following links:

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WWI Profile: Harry Langdon Pigott 1894-1918

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.

American Soldiers killed during the Hindenburg Line assault

Harry Langdon Pigott
Shallotte, Brunswick County, NC
US Army
Private
Served:
September 18, 1917 – September 29, 1918
Overseas:
June 5, 1918 – September 29, 1918
KIA: September 29, 1918

Harry Langdon Pigott was born and raised in Brunswick County, NC. A partial family tree is in FamilySearch.

His 1917 Draft Registration Card shows he was married, farming, and living in Shallotte. He was married to Annie Eliza Milliken on December 15, 1916.

Harry was ordered to report to duty on September 18, 1917. [Source: ancestry.com] Records show his wife was pregnant at the time. Private Pigott was assigned to Company M, 120th Infantry, 30th “Old Hickory” Division, and eventually began training at Camp Sevier, SC, as reported in previous posts. In December, his daughter Rosalind Pigott was born.

Private Pigott, along with Private Jesse James Leonard, were scheduled to depart for France on May 17, 1918, but did not board the USS Miltiades with their Companies. Instead, both boarded Ascanius on June 5, with many other soldiers of the 30th Division who were detached from their units, for reasons unknown.

Soon after departing, Pvt Pigott’s small daughter passed away. She had survived only five months, dying on June 9, 1918, from whooping cough. [Source: ancestry.com] She was laid to rest where her father would eventually join her, at Gurganus Cemetery in Shallotte.

Multiple posts have included the horrific details of the Hindenburg Line and the many who were wounded or died during the assault. Private Pigott was KIA on September 29, 1918.

Pvt Harry Langdon Pigott gave his life for what has been called the turning point of the war. Pvt Pigott and the courageous men of the 120th Infantry were the first Allied troops to break the line. It was also the Great War’s deadliest day for NC.

Between September 29th and October 1st, 1918, the three days of the Hindenburg Assault, the following 120th Infantry casualties were reported.
202 KIA
759 Wounded

Pvt Pigott’s remains were returned to the United States on April 3, 1921. [Source: ancestry.com] He was laid to rest in Gurganus Cemetery with his daughter. His headstone shows that he was Killed in Action [Source: findagrave].

This concludes the Brunswick County soldiers who died or were wounded breaking the Hindenburg Line, the conflict that led to the end of the war.

These words were written in 1923: [Source: Library of Congress]

The 2nd American Corps, under Maj. Gen. Geo. W. Read, consisting of the 27th and 30th American Divisions, was not with the main American army at the Marne and St. Mihiel and in the Meuse-Argonne. It served throughout the war with the British armies. Consequently the work of the New Yorkers of the 27th and of the Carolinians and the Tennesseans of the 30th has been somewhat obscured in our histories.

The Canal Tunnel sector of the German line north of St. Quentin was tremendously fortified, with passageways running out from the main tunnel to hidden machine gun nests. Into these nests the German gunners returned after the American assaulting waves had passed, and poured a destructive fire into their rear. But through everything the men of the New York and the “Old Hickory” divisions forced their way, supported by the Australians, until the fortified zone was conquered in one of the most desperate single conflicts of the war.

“In fact, in analyzing the records of our state’s dead, we now know that the September 29, 1918, charge on the Hindenburg Line was North Carolina’s deadliest of the war.”Source

If you would like to help us honor Harry Langdon Pigott 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: Hanson Hillard Leonard 1888-1936

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: The Charlotte News (Charlotte, NC) 08, Feb. 1919, p.9
Hanson Hillard Leonard
Southport, Brunswick County, NC
US Army
Private
Served:
April 2, 1918 – April 18, 1919
Overseas:
May 17, 1918 – April 13, 1919
Wounded: September 19, 1918

Hanson Hillard was born and raised in Brunswick County, NC. A partial family tree is located in FamilySearch.

Hanson had a brother who also served, Stacy Harvey Leonard. See below for additional details about his brother’s service.

Hanson’s 1917 Draft Registration Card shows he was single and working as a farm hand for Hiram McKeithan in Southport.

Hanson was ordered to report to duty on April 2, 1918. [Source: ancestry.com] On April 26, he was assigned to Company I, 120th Infantry, 30th “Old Hickory” Division.

Previous posts describe activities until September 1, 1918, when Private Edward Mills was wounded. A few days later, the Regiment was relieved by the British.

September 5th and 6th were devoted to cleaning up. The entire Regiment was deloused and bathed at “Kill Bug Station and Hop Factory,” each man receiving a clean suit of underwear. After a period in the line the little bugs were plentiful.

The Regiment trained until the end of September when the 30th Division broke the Hindenburg Line. While Pvt Leonard’s NC Service Card shows he was wounded September 19, the Official History of the 120th Infantry does not seem to indicate an opportunity. More telling is that the document does not include a list of wounded for the dates between September 5 – September 29. While it is possible that his wounds were received on the 19th, it is more likely that he was wounded during the breaking of the Hindenburg Line.

On the night of September 23, 1918, the Division was transferred to the 4th British Army, commanded by General Rawlinson. No one knew what was to take place, but each man in the Regiment felt the time had come for the Regiment to prove its worth.

The Regiment was formed in columns of twos on the road between Acheux and Forceville. Lorry after lorry rolled into place, and at 8:00 P. M. all troops were embussed and ready to move into the night.

All night long the movement continued through Albert, Peronne, Doingt, and along the marshy Somme. With the sky growing lighter in the east the Regiment debussed at Cartigny and marched to Tincourt. Once more the flash of guns and the burst of “Very lights” could be seen.

The same day the Regiment was joined by a detail of Australian officers and men, who were to give whatever assistance the Regiment might need; and from these Australians more was learned in the short period they were with the Regiment, particularly as regards the rationing of troops in the line, than in the entire period of training.

In the afternoon the Regiment marched to Hervilly. Regimental Headquarters was in the side of a sunken road. The troops were scattered wherever room could be found, the mass of artillery, infantry, and cavalry filling the entire country.

The Regiment learned that in front of it lay the hitherto impregnable positions of the Hindenburg Line, against which many fruitless attacks had been made; that the British Army had been given the task of fighting the only decisive battle in the World-War; that the place of honor in this attack between Cambria and St. Quentin had been given the 4th British Army; that the 30th Division, as part of the 4th British Army, would attack in the center with the 46th British on the right and the 27th American on the left; that the 119th and 120th Infantry Regiments had been selected to do the job, with the 117th Infantry to follow and attack to the right after crossing the Canal, and 118th Infantry as Divisional Reserve.

1920 Hindenburg Line model
Source: Library of Congress

This Regiment’s sector of the Hindenburg System consisted: First, of three rows of heavy barbed wire, woven so thick as to resemble a mass of vines and briars intermingled–each row was from thirty to forty feet in depth, and to which the artillery fire did but little damage; second, three rows of the Hindenburg trenches, on which four years of work had been spent; third, the backbone of the entire system, Bellicourt, the St. Quentin Canal Tunnel. This Canal passed for a distance of 6,000 yards underground from Le Catlet on the north to Recquval on the south.

It had been built by the Great Napoleon, and in some places was 193 feet underground. The Germans filled the Canal with barges, lighted it with electric lights, and fitted it with dressing stations. On the barges accommodations were provided for a division of troops, where they could rest secure from any shell-fire.

The end of the tunnel had been closed with ferro-concrete walls with openings left for machine gun. To the trench system and to the town of Bellicourt, overhead, ran concrete tunnels through which troops could move to reinforce the front line or to occupy the prepared positions in Bellicourt; third, the Catlet-Nauroy Line, a supporting system; and, fourth, the village of Nauroy, which had been prepared for defense.

Over the entire area were machine guns without number, not only the probable approaches, but every inch of front was covered by one or more guns.

The Germans believed the position could not be taken, and even when lost, prisoners would not believe it to be possible, and laughed at those who would tell them.

It was the turning point of the war.

Between September 29th and October 1st, 1918, the three days of the Hindenburg Assault, the following 120th Infantry casualties were reported.
202 KIA
759 Wounded

Many months later, Pvt Hanson Leonard returned on USS Martha Washington with his Regiment in early April 1919, and was honorably discharged on April 18, 1919 with no disability. Nothing is known about his wound or recovery.

He married in 1928. The 1930 Census showed he was the father of two step-children. His life ended suddenly in 1936 at age 47. The 1940 Census shows he and his widowed wife had at least one child together.

Hanson Hillard Leonard was laid to rest in Pender County, where he was living at the time. There is no picture of his gravesite but an application for a military headstone was submitted and approved.

Additional details about his brother Stacy’s service

Stacy Leonard’s NC WWI Service Card shows he was a Private in 156 Depot Brigade. The Depot Brigades were to receive, train, equip, and forward replacements (both officers and enlisted men) to replacement divisions of the corps. Yet his military headstone lists “Pfc Co L, 20th Infantry.” Why the discrepancy?

Luckily, Pfc Stacy Leonard’s military headstone application was available on ancestry.com. The back shows that he enlisted in the National Guard on January 20, 1917, and was honorably discharged on September 16, 1917, with a Surgeon’s Certificate of Disability (SCD). He was then ordered to duty (for the draft) on August 25, 1918. He served until December 6, 1918 when he was honorably discharged.

His injury or illness in 1917 had to have been recoverable as he passed the physical examination a year later and was accepted for duty. Unless it was a service related disability, he would not have received military disability in 1917.

This explained the discrepancy. As the highest rank achieved is credited, the Brunswick County Army/Marine WWI Veterans – Units, Dates Served was updated to reflect Private First Class. The units and dates served were modified to include both sets of service.

If you would like to help us honor Hanson Hillard Leonard 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: Edward Anderson Mills 1891-1953

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: Rockingham Post-Dispatch (Rockingham, NC) 21, Nov. 1918, p.9

Edward Anderson Mills
Winnabow, Brunswick County, NC
US Army
Private

Served:
September 19, 1917 – February 11, 1919
Overseas:
May 17, 1918 – January 21, 1919
Wounded: September 1, 1918
(Note that Wagoner Dorman Mercer appears on the list. However, they did not serve in the same division.)

Edward Mills was born and raised in Brunswick County, NC. His Draft Registration shows he was single, living at home, and working on the family farm.

Edward was ordered to report for duty on September 19, 1917. He was initially assigned to the 322nd Infantry (81st Division). Many from the 81st Division were moved to supplement the 30th Division and this included Pvt Mills. In April 1918, he was transferred to the 120th Infantry, 30th “Old Hickory” Division. In May, they left for France, as detailed in the previous post. See previous post for details of operations through mid-August.

Pvt Edward Mills was severely wounded on September 1, 1918. A previous profile for Cpl Mack Atkins of the 119th Infantry describes the activities of the 120th Infantry at the time. There was a gas attack performed by the 105th Engineers that resulted in some of the infantry being gassed. This is one possibility for Pvt Mills’ injuries. But there are also more details about the operations involving Mont Kemmel that went beyond the details in that post.

The 120th Infantry was originally to be relieved by the 117th Infantry after the gas attack, but there was increased activity on the front so it was canceled. When it appeared the Germans were withdrawing from Mont Kemmel (as described in the profile for Cpl Atkins), patrols were sent forward to confirm, and this resulted in some casualties. Then, an attack was ordered.

On the morning of September 1st an attack was made by the Second British Army. The 1st and 3rd Battalions, this Regiment, was ordered to push forward 100 to 1,000 yards, establishing a new line from Lock No. 8 on Canal, running north of Lankhof Farm to Zillebeke Lake. The principal objective was Lankhof Farm, a strongly fortified position surrounded by a moat. The fighting was very bitter, but, with the cooperation of the artillery, who maintained close liaison with the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, the new line was taken and consolidated, for the consolidation troops were sent up from the 2nd Battalion and from the engineers. The 119th Infantry made a successful advance on the right, taking Voormezeele.

Given the date he was wounded, September 1st, it is likely this was when Pvt Mills was wounded. His injuries were severe and he did not return to duty.

Between July 4th to September 5th, 1918, the following 120th Infantry casualties were reported.
34 KIA
216 Wounded
1 POW

On January 2, 1919, he was taken aboard USS DeKalb from Base Hospital No. 29 in Liverpool, England, with other sick and wounded soldiers, headed for Camp Merritt for more treatment and recovery [Source: ancestry.com].

Base Hospital No. 29 was organized at City and County Hospital, Denver, Colo., on April 5, 1917, and was mobilized at Camp Cody, N. Mex., during March, 1918. The nurses (some 100) were all graduates of Colorado State University and were equipped by the Denver Red Cross Chapter.

The unit trained at Camp Cody and at Camp Crane, Allentown, Pa., until July 5, 1918, when it left for Hoboken, N. J., arriving there on July 6, 1918. It embarked on the Empress of Russia, and sailed the same date for Europe. The unit arrived in England on July 17, 1918, and was assigned to duty at North Eastern Fever Hospital, London, where it arrived on the night of July 19, 1918. It took over the hospital from the British on August 1, 1918. The hospital cared for 3,976 cases, of which 2,351 were surgical and 1,625 were medical.

Base Hospital No. 29 ceased operating on January 12, 1919; sailed for the United States on the Olympic, February 18, 1919; arrived in the United States on February 24, 1919, and was demobilized at Fort Logan, Colo., on March 13, 1919. [Source: The Medical Department of the United States Army in the World War, Chapter 24, and Lost Hospitals of London]

After returning to the United States, it would be a few more weeks before Pvt Mills completed recovery. He was honorably discharged on February 11, 1919, with no reported disability.

Edward returned to the family farm, and married years later in 1930. The 1940 Census shows that he and his wife had three daughters. The final number of children is unknown.

Tragically, Edward was killed by a falling tree in 1953. He was laid to rest in Robbins Cemetery in Town Creek. Military honors are shown.

Information regarding the 120th Infantry was gathered from Official History of the 120th Infantry “3rd North Carolina” 30th Division, From August 5, 1917, to April 17, 1919. Canal Sector Ypres-Lys Offensive Somme Offensive

If you would like to help us honor Edward Anderson Mills 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: Erastus I. Nelson 1893-1918

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: Randolph County Public Library
120th Infantry at Camp Sevier, SC
March 16, 1918

Erastus I. Nelson
Leland, Brunswick County, NC
US Army
Private First Class

Served:
September 19, 1917 – August 22, 1918
Overseas:
May 12, 1918 – August 22, 1918
Killed in Action: August 22, 1918

Erastus Nelson was born and raised in Brunswick County. A partial family tree is located in FamilySearch. The 1910 Census and his WWI Draft Registration shows he was working on his father’s farm.

Erastus had a brother who also served, Walter Decator Nelson. See below for additional information about his brother’s service.

On September 19, 1917, Erastus was ordered to report for duty [Source: ancestry.com].

The 120th Infantry was formed with the 119th Infantry, as part of the 30th “Old Hickory” Division as described in previous posts. The roster contains quite a few Brunswick County men. All of the rosters can be found on the World War I Army/Marine Division Rosters webpage

30th Division, 120th Infantry (from Brunswick County)

Name Co.
Pfc Kinnie Benton H
Pvt William C Hewett C Died of Wounds 10/25/1918
Pvt Hanson H Leonard I Wounded 09/19/1918
Pvt Jesse J Leonard D Wounded 10/09/1918
Pvt Claudie H McCall Sup Died of Disease 04/13/1919
Wag George M Milliken Sup
Pvt Edward A Mills M Severely Wounded 09/01/1918
Pfc Erastus I Nelson C KIA 08/22/1918
Pvt Harry L Piggott M KIA 09/29/1918
Pvt Andrew J Robbins F
Pvt Byron Stanley I
Pvt Martin R Willis A

The 120th Infantry trained at Camp Sevier, SC, along with the other units of the 30th Division. They soon began training with French and British instructors covering the use of bayonets, bombs, scouting, trench-warfare and open-warfare. The middle of December 1917 brought an unusually frigid winter that interfered with training and caused hardships, but the men were able to resume training in January.

The trip to NYC to prepare for embarkation began in May 1918. All men had an opportunity to visit the city, which was a great experience for “most of the men.” (no further explanation was given)

Transport from Boston to London was provided by an Australian transport service. The food, therefore, was Australian and not appreciated by the men. The boats were crowded but the weather was good and all submarine attacks were unsuccessful.

The trip to France was completed on June 5, 1918, when all men were given a copy of an autographed letter from His Majesty, George V.

At first, the men were anxious to join the battle.

…for a long time the constant query was “When do we go South?” but in course of time it was changed to “We don’t want to go South.” At Calias the distant thunder of guns could be heard, and the nightly air raids with the accompaniment of bombs, taking their nightly toll of women and children, gave the first touch of war, and opened the eyes of many to the kind of enemy they were to fight.

They were the first troops to enter Belgium. It was July 4th and the village had Belgium and French flags flying from the houses in honor of the American holiday.

In early August, the men were thrilled to have an inspection by King George. It was over in a few minutes but enjoyed by all.

Training was finished and the Division prepared to relieve British troops at the Canal Sector at Ypres.

The entire sector is a ghastly monument to the tenacity and courage of the British soldiers. For four long years they held it against bitter attacks by a determined enemy; to-day it is consecrated ground made sacred by the bodies of hundreds of thousands of Britain’s finest sons; and the few Americans who lie “where poppies bloom”

On the night of August 17-18, the 120th and 119th Infantry relieved the British troops. At this time, Pvt Luther Benton of the 119th Infantry was wounded, as shared in his WWI Profile.

The ground was very low, easily flooded, and the water so near the surface that each shell hole became a little pool. All of the high ground, Observatory Ridge, Passchendaele Ridge, and the famous Mont Kimmel, was held by the enemy. These points of observation enabled the enemy to detect any movement within the sector, and, as a result, daylight movement was of necessity reduced to a minimum, for even small parties would provoke instant and heavy shelling. The Salient was so deep and so narrow it was subjected to shell-fire from front, flanks, and rear. Oftentimes the men in the forward systems believed they were being shelled by their own artillery, when as a matter of fact the shells were from enemy guns on our right and rear.

It was during these operations, on August 22, 1918, that Pfc Erastus Nelson was killed in action.

Between July 4th to September 5th, 1918, the following 120th Infantry casualties were reported.
34 KIA
216 Wounded
1 POW

The Wilmington Morning Star [Wilmington, NC] 29 Sept. 1918, p.8 published this about his death.

The following is a copy of a letter from Lieut. Gross [George] McClelland, chaplain, 120th infantry, 30th division, American Expeditionary forces, to Mr. and Mrs. John C. Nelson, R.F.D. 1, Leland, notifying them of the death of their son, Erastus I. Nelson, who was killed in action August 22:

“Your son met death instantly yesterday afternoon by a direct hit. He was in the line of his duty and died like a man. I wish, as the officiating chaplain at his burial, to command you to the great Comforter of hearts in this your dark but proud hour.

“We buried your son this morning at Nine Elms cemetery with due military honors. A number of the boys from our regiment were present at the service.

“I should like to get a line from you at any time. Meantime, assuring you of my personal sympathy, and with every high personal regard.”

A friend of Private Nelson has received a letter from him, which was written August 17, five days before he paid the supreme price. The letter follows:

“There are so many laws concerning what a solider can and cannot write that I hardly know what a fellow is allowed to say and get his letter past the censor. Anyway I am well and getting plenty to eat, although it is far from being your table.

“We are not working so hard now. This much talked about ‘Sunny France’ is not what I expected to find. Its lots colder here than at home, and is at least 100 years behind the good old U.S.A. in every respect. The more I see of it the more I appreciate America.

“I am having quite a lot of fun with my French. By using my hands I can generally make myself understand. I think I am going to be able to speak French soon. I find more trouble trying to count the money than anything else.

“We are billeted in a French village, but am not allowed to give the name. At present am sleeping in a barn, which is not so bad so long as we are under a roof.

“If at any time you do not hear from me for quite a while do not worry for if anything happens you will be notified at once.”

His remains were returned to the United States in 1921 [Source: ancestry.com] and laid to rest in Nelson Cemetery in Leland, NC.

Source: findagrave
PRIVATE ERASTUS I. NELSON
SON OF J.G. & HARRIET S. NELSON

BORN OCT. 8, 1893
DIED AUG. 22, 1918

KILLED IN ACTION WHILE
SERVING AS AN INFANTRYMAN
WITH AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY
FORCES IN BELGIUM

[Remaining illegible]

Pfc Erastus Iredell Nelson was the first KIA from Brunswick County.
There would be four more.

Information regarding the 120th Infantry was gathered from Official History of the 120th Infantry “3rd North Carolina” 30th Division, From August 5, 1917, to April 17, 1919. Canal Sector Ypres-Lys Offensive Somme Offensive

Additional details about his brother Walter’s service.

Walter was a Wagoner with the 117th Engineer Train, 42nd “Rainbow” Division. The 117th Engineer Train was created entirely with North Carolina men. Wagoner Walter Nelson served with Wagoner Dorman Mercer and quite a few other Brunswick County men. More information will be available when the 42nd Division is covered in later profiles. This is confirmed by his NC WWI Service Card and his US Army Transport Passenger lists [Source: ancestry.com] for both outgoing and incoming, as well as the Roster for the 42nd Division. Yet, his application for military headstone and his military flat marker show “155 Depot Brigade.” The Depot Brigades were to receive, train, equip, and forward replacements (both officers and enlisted men) to replacement divisions of the corps. Walter Nelson had enlisted in the NC National Guard in July 1917, was a member of the 117th Engineer Train in October 1917 when he was transported to France, and remained in the 117th Engineer Train through April 1919 when he returned to the United States.

With all of this evidence from multiple records and the published roster, the assumption is his military flat marker is incorrect.

If you would like to help us honor Erastus I. Nelson or another Brunswick County WWI veteran, please use the following links:

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

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

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WWI Profile: John W. Carlisle 1887-1919

Source: Soldiers of the Great War, Vol. II
John W Carlisle
Mill Branch, Brunswick County, NC
US Army
Private, First Class

Served:
September 19, 1917 – February 13, 1919
Overseas:
May 12, 1918 – February 13, 1919
Died of Disease: February 13, 1919

John Carlisle was born in Mill Branch, NC, in 1887. He married Lizzie Fowler or Walker (records aren’t consistent) in 1911. His draft registration shows he was married with two children, working as a farmer in Mill Branch. Records show his children were born in 1913 and 1916.

John was ordered to report to duty on September 19, 1917 [Source: ancestry.com]. He was 31 years old.

A third son was born during his training, January 7, 1918, confirmed by the 1920 Census.

Pvt John Carlisle was initially assigned to the 322th Infantry, 81st Division. Many from the 81st Division were moved to supplement the 30th Division and this included Pvt Carlisle. On February 20, 1918, he was transferred to the 119th Infantry, 30th “Old Hickory” Division, and eventually Company K. He served in that division throughout the war, according to his NC WWI Service Card.

Previous posts described the operations of the 119th Infantry until the war ended on November 11, 1918. At that point, the 30th Division moved by rail to Beaumont-sur-Sarthe, Southwest of Paris. They remained there until February 11, 1919, when orders were received to march approximately 30 km to Le Mans, to prepare for embarkation to the United States.

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

Pfc John Carlisle did not participate in that march. His name was scratched from the passenger list for USS Huron for return to the United States on March 21, 1919, with the notation, “SOLDIER DIED IN HOSPITAL FEBRUARY 13, 1919.”

Pfc John Carlisle died of pneumonia on February 13, 1919. There has been no record found for the return of his remains to the United States.

Some members of the The Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range visited Griffin Cemetery in Ash, NC, recently to pay tribute to Pfc Carlisle and take photos and rubbings of his headstone.

While not an official military headstone, it does include his service on the back of the headstone, as shown.

Notice the American flag displayed.

Rubbings show the words:

JOHN W. CARLISLE PVT. 1316552
CO. K 119TH INF. DIED FEB. 13, 1919

NO. 63
F

The meaning of “No. 63 F” is unclear. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range.

John’s second son died of hepatitis in May 1919 and was buried in the same cemetery as his father. He was three years old. His oldest son died in 1993 and is buried in Brunswick County. His youngest son fought in many battles in the Italian Campaign in WWII and received a Purple Heart. He died in 1994 and was buried in Salisbury National Cemetery, in Rowan County, NC, with military honors.

This is the last profile for the 119th Infantry. Next week, posts begin for the 120th Infantry of the 30th Division.

If you would like to help us honor John W. Carlisle 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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