Graveside Honors: Private First Class Samuel Joseph Frink 1892-1971

Hannah Frink Deppner is pictured here honoring her father, Private First Class Samuel Joseph Frink, at his graveside in Mintz Cemetery, Ocean Isle Beach, Brunswick County, NC.

The Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range are encouraging donors and supporters to honor Brunswick County WWI veterans by submitting photos of themselves at the gravesides. Use the Cemeteries list to locate gravesites for Brunswick County WWI veterans.

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WWI Centennial Memorial plaque and certificate

The plaque and certificate showing the designation of the 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range Memorial as an Official United States World War I Centennial Memorial have arrived.

The plaque will be installed on the monument which will be dedicated during the ceremony on November 11, 2018, the 100th Anniversary of the end of the Great War.

Another view of the bas relief image (sculpted bronze image). The Doughboy comes alive!

The certificate will be presented to the town of Caswell Beach at a later date.

Click here to read about the official United States designation:
WWI CENTENNIAL MEMORIAL: 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range

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WWI Profile: Henry Lindon Clemmons 1895-1960

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.

Photos contributed by Gwen Causey, granddaughter
Henry Lindon Clemmons
Supply, Brunswick County, NC
US Army
Sergeant

Served:
October 15, 1917 – June 25, 1919
Overseas:
July 31, 1918 – June 18, 1919

Henry Lindon Clemmons was born and raised in Supply, NC. A family tree is located in FamilySearch.

Henry’s WWI Draft Registration shows he was married with one daughter (born a month earlier in May 1917), living in Supply, and farming for himself. He was described as tall, slender, with blue eyes and red hair. His registration was signed by G. Floyd Kirby, a local businessman and friend.

Henry (center) was ordered to report for duty on October 15, 1917, along with six other Brunswick County men. Beside him (order unknown) are Luther J. Inman, Owen R. Mintz, Willie H. Hewett, Robert W. Holden, Mack Leonard, and Isaac Fred Edge.

All seven Brunswick County men were sent to Camp Jackson, SC, and officially accepted on October 26 [Source: ancestry.com], then assigned to Company F, 322nd Infantry, 81st “Wildcat” Division. (Robert Holden and Owen Mintz would be reassigned before leaving for Europe, while Isaac Edge was honorably discharged with a disability in Dec 1917.)

Before leaving for France, Henry was promoted to corporal (July 4, 1918).

From previous posts, the 81st Division had just gone “over the top” during the Meuse-Argonne offensive. Cpl Henry Clemmons had been promoted to Sergeant about a month earlier (October 5, 1918). 1st Sgt Thomas Shinn’s diary (entries interspersed throughout below) describes how those orders were received.

At 4am on Saturday, November 9, 1918, the captains were called and given orders. Sergeants were told to get the Companies up, have breakfast and packs rolled and ready to move to the front at 7:30am.

Sgt Clemmons was responsible for carrying out the orders for Company F, 322nd, on November 9, 1918.

“The 322 Infantry will go over the top at 8 am. 321 Infantry will follow them and relieve them at the first opportunity.”

The whole plan of action was based on the assumption that the enemy was withdrawing and would not greatly oppose the 81st Division’s advance. It was not the case in this particular sector, however.

With heavy packs, the men moved through the cold mud and rain, the packs becoming heavier with the rain.

Recall that besides Sgt Clemmons, the following Brunswick County men were serving with the 322nd and moving to the front at this time, save those who were either discharged or wounded earlier: Pvt Isaac Edge, Pvt Quince Simmons, and Bugler William Smith. Sgt Clemmons’ Company F now included two men from Brunswick County: Cpl Luther J. Inman and Pvt Mack Leonard.

81st Division, 322nd Infantry

Name Co.
Sgt Henry L Clemmons F
Pvt Isaac F Edge C SCD 12/06/1917
Pvt Ransom Ennis Sup
Bglr Willie H Hewett F Wounded 11/10/1918
Cpl Luther J Inman F
Pvt James W Leonard K
Pvt Mack Leonard F
Pvt Simon A Lewis K
Sgt David H Long K
Pfc Fred McDonald C
Pvt James Rolland Mintz HQ
Pvt Luther P Reynolds HQ
Pvt Quince A Simmons D SCD 03/06/1918
Bglr William R Smith MG Wounded 10/15/1918

The 60th Artillery Brigade of the 35th Division were shooting over their heads, causing the men to jump as they “shot such big guns right in our face.”

We didn’t think of the many of our number that were going up never to return. We laughed and joked just as tho’ we were on an ordinary hike. ~ 1st Sgt Shinn

The 322nd Infantry was on the left, the 324th Infantry on the right. The 321st and 323rd were in support on Metz-Verdun Road. Sgt Clemmons’ 2nd Battalion (Companies E-H) took the position right of the 1st Battalion (Companies A-D) on the morning of November 9.

At 4:30pm, Company F formed a line south of Moranville. The town was captured about 5pm. Companies E and F then established an outpost nearby.

With no food or water, the 321st Infantry, 1st Sgt Shinn’s unit, lay in the woods all day and night without a fire or cover. It was raining and cold enough to freeze water in the canteen. Many of the men’s feet froze until they couldn’t walk on them.

All the boys had lost that jolly yelling feeling that we had the morning before. ~1st Sgt Shinn

That morning, November 10, the 322nd Infantry continued the attack at 6:30am. They took the town of Grimaucourt at 930am and continued pushing east and west. They met strong resistance at 11am and withdrew. By 5:30pm, the 321st Infantry was ordered to relive the 322nd, Sgt Clemmons’ unit. “The roar of the battle still raged on.” 1st Sgt Thomas Shinn watched as ambulances were hurriedly bringing wounded men of the 322nd.

We passed Captain Stone [unknown Company] staggering back shell shocked. “Thank God somebody has come to help us.”

Every few minutes an ambulance would pass full of men with legs and arms shot off or a wagon loaded with 8 or 10 dead men in it.

They told us the 3rd Battalion of the 322nd [Companies I, K, L, and M] was somewhere out there but nobody knew where. They were lost and beaten and we were up against a tough proposition.

As we passed on, stragglers from the 322nd came back, some wounded and some beaten in morale.

1st Sgt Thomas Shinn led his company beside his captain, double time, through barbed wire, as shells burst all around, killing and wounding their men.

We came to a few men of B & L Companies of the 322nd Infantry and carrying parties could be seen crawling along the edge of the wood trying to get up there to carry the dead and wounded back.

We got our men in a wide front and gave them orders to dig in which we didn’t have to beg them to do for it was death to stay on top of the ground.

We dug in about two feet in a very few minutes with our helmets and trench knives.

I was digging into a man’s body. I threw the bones out one by one but didn’t go deep enough to get them all out so I lay in the hole on them all night.

The Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918. However, because the 81st Division did not receive confirmation of the signing, another attack was planned the night of November 10th and executed on November 11.

In those three days fighting, there were 178 killed, nearly 800 wounded, 57 captured, and 6 missing. Of those, the 322nd infantry: Killed, 5 officers and 52 men; wounded, 8 officers and 209 men; missing, 10 men. [Source: “Lest We Forget” The Record of North Carolina’s Own]

Sgt Clemmons returned on June 17, 1919, on Mastonia [Source: ancestry.com]. He was honorably discharged on June 25, 1919, and returned home to his family. He and his wife raised a total of four children. Their three sons also served in the military, with two of them being career military.

Henry Lindon Clemmons passed away on October 31, 1960, at the age of 65. At his death, he was honored with an article and editorial in the State Port Pilot, Southport, NC.

EDITORIALS:
Henry Lindon Clemmons

It is not possible to make editorial reference to each good man and woman in Brunswick county upon the occasion of their death, but we feel that the passing this week of Henry Lindon Clemmons merits special consideration.

Not that Mr. Lindon was one who would either want or expect special consideration, for his was an humble man; but the life he has led and the places of leadership he has filled in the religious, business, and political life of his county has thrown him into contact with literally thousands of his fellow citizens throughout his life, and he has earned friendship and respect of every one of them.

The deceased was a man of unusually high principles of personal conduct, and he was uncompromising in their observance. He did not set himself apart from his fellowman, but he felt that he knew what was right for himself and his family, and these standards of right and wrong were observed.

Brunswick county needs more men like Lindon Clemmons, and it can ill afford his loss.

An article was also published.

Prominent Man Dies at Home
Henry Lindon Clemmons Dies at Home Near Supply Following Brief Period of Illness

Henry Lindon Clemmons, 65, died at his Supply home, Monday. Final rites will be held at Prospect Baptist Church at 8 p.m. Thursday by the Revs. C.D. Blanton, Harry Lackey and R.W. Rollins, with burial in the church cemetery.

The deceased was one of the most widely respected citizens of Brunswick county. For many years he was engaged in the timber business and had contacts in every community. In addition, he was a leading Baptist layman and recently has headed a drive for funds for Campbell College. He was an active member of the Republican party and four years ago was his party’s nominee for Judge of Recorder’s court.

Survivors include his wife, Mrs. Stella Clemmons, three sons, Edwin Clemmons of Supply, Clifton Clemmons with the USAF, Anchorage, Alaska and Clyde Clemmons, USAF, Plattsburg, NY; a daughter, Mrs. John W. Lancaster, Supply; a sister, Mrs. Lizzie Sellers, Supply and 10 grandchildren.

Active pallbearers will be H.W. Clemmons, Wright C. Clemmons, Leon McKeithan, Edger E. Sellers, Jr., Lindsay Clemmons, Jr., and Phillip A. Fulcher. Honorary pallbearers will be Dr. M.H. Rourk, Vander Clemmons, Robert and Aldreth Phelps, Clyde Holdvan, E.J. Prevatte, Floyd Kirby, Dr. L.H. Campbell, R.H. Sorenson, George McCoter and J.J. Hawes.

Henry Lindon Clemmons was laid to rest at Prospect Cemetery in Supply. A military flat marker is shown.

Sources:
Johnson, Clarence Walton (1919) The history of the 321st infantry, with a brief historical sketch of the 80th division, being a vivid and authentic account of the life and experiences of American soldiers in France, while they trained, worked, and fought to help win the world war. . Columbia, S.C., The R. L. Bryan co.

Thomas P. Shinn’s Wartime Diary

81st Division Summary of Operations in the World War, US Govt, 1944

If you would like to help us honor Henry Lindon 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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Graveside Honors: Private David Bertram Frink 1894-1973

Edward David Redwine and Doris F. Redwine are pictured here honoring his grandfather and her father, Private David Bertram Frink, at his graveside in Mintz Cemetery, Ocean Isle Beach, Brunswick County, NC.

Private Frink’s WWI military medals include the WWI Victory Medal with Army Battle Clasps awarded for the battles of St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne, along with the Defensive Sector Battle Clasp. On the right is the Army of Occupation of Germany Medal and service ribbon which were awarded to those who served in the European Occupation at the close of the war.

Private Frink has been honored with a donation by both Edward David Redwine and Doris F. Redwine.

The Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range are encouraging donors and supporters to honor Brunswick County WWI veterans by submitting photos of themselves at the gravesides. Use the Cemeteries list to locate gravesites for Brunswick County WWI veterans.

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WWI Profile: Willie Hasper Hewett 1896-1962

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.

Henry Lindon Clemmons (center) is shown with the six other men from Brunswick County ordered to report for duty on October 15, 1917. Beside him (order unknown) are Luther J. Inman, Owen R. Mintz, Willie H. Hewett, Robert W. Holden, Mack Leonard, and Isaac Fred Edge.
Contributed by Gwen Causey, granddaughter of Henry Lindon Clemmons

Willie Hasper Hewett
Shallotte, Brunswick County, NC
US Army
Bugler

Served:
October 15, 1917 – January 26, 1919
Overseas:
July 31, 1918 – December 20, 1918
Wounded: November 10, 1918

Willie Hasper Hewett was born and raised in Brunswick County, NC. His family tree is located in FamilySearch.

Willie’s WWI Draft Registration shows he was single, living in Shallotte, and working as a barber, farmer, and laborer in Supply and Shallotte for parents and himself. He was described as medium height, weight, with blue eyes and light hair. (If anyone can identify each man in the photo based on their physical descriptions, please contact Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range.)

He was ordered to report for duty on October 15, 1917, with the other six men shown in the above photograph. All were sent to Camp Jackson, SC, and officially accepted on October 26. [Source: ancestry.com], then assigned to Company F, 322nd Infantry, 81st “Wildcat” Division.  (Robert Holden and Owen Mintz would be reassigned before leaving for Europe, while Isaac Edge was honorably discharged with a disability in Dec 1917.)

Willie served as a bugler. The previous WWI Profile of Bugler William Ralph Smith included details and pictures of buglers and their dangerous mission communicating orders to the troops. Brunswick County had four known buglers; all served overseas. Two were wounded.

From previous posts, the 81st Division had completed their operations at the St. Die sector, then left on October 19, 1918 at 2:30 am. They hiked 50 km in two days with full packs, then rested and trained for their entrance in the Meuse-Argonne offensive.

Passing through St. Mihiel gave the division their first view of the destruction in France. Reading the entries in the diary of Thomas Shinn helps us understand their experience as they marched through the countryside.

Monday, November 3, 1918
We passed through St. Mihiel which was once a beautiful city but now hardly a stone was left unmoved.

Churches and school buildings were piled up as a whirlwind piles up loose sand in March. Great steel manufacturing plants looked as tho’ a flood had struck them. Great fields which had once supplied France with grain are now covered in barbed wire and shell craters. Great forests which would have supplied France with wood to burn and lumber to build were [illegible] down as a mower cuts his hay.

The closer they moved to the front, the more detailed the diary entries became.

Tuesday, November 5, 1918
Eight o’clock caught us hiking again. It was a long hard hike and we didn’t have much to eat.

We were entertained in the day time by air battles between planes, at night by the flash of guns and the pretty colored flares that signify orders for the artillery.

I went 6 weeks without pulling off my clothes and 35 days without pulling off my shoes and had cooties on me at the same time but that’s not a disgrace for every soldier has them on the front. He doesn’t have time to think of clothes baths beds or how deep the mud is but he only wonders how he can save his skin and kill the Hun.

They arrived in Verdun, a town that was previously home to 25,000 but was now “torn to pieces, not a wall was left standing.” The 81st Division was to relieve the 35th Division.

At 10pm, they were called to move into the reserve trenches. Called the “Underground city of Verdun” it had never been taken by the Germans.

Thursday, November 7, 1918
The top of the ground was a solid mass of human and horse bones.

It is said that more than 700,000 bodies are buried on this hill.

I looked upon the skeletons of many horses and men buried together and had been blown up by the big shells that are still coming over. In so many cases a ring or any metal thing that the man had in his pocket still lay there and by the bones of horses still lay parts of the saddle and the bridle bits between his teeth.

We are getting used to cooties by this time. The only thing I was scared of in the dugout was rats. We had some there as big as common house cats.

On November 8, orders were received to attack early the next morning. They were to take a line from Fresnes-en-Woevre to Parfrondrupt, the infantry in positions from right to left: 324th, 323rd, 322nd, and 321st. The attack was to be directed toward the road. This was the first time the 81st Division would go over the top. The 322nd and 324th Infantries would lead the way, with the other two in reserve.

Bugler Willie Hewett was wounded on November 10, degree undetermined. The wounds were severe enough to be sent home. (More details of the battle will follow in the next profile post.)

In those three days fighting, there were 178 killed, nearly 800 wounded, 57 captured, and 6 missing.

On December 8, 1918, he left Beau Desert, a 550 acre hospital about 5 miles west of Bordeaux.


Beau Desert
Total number of admissions to April 1, 1919: 47,238
Of those, transferred to the United States: 22,880
Returned to Duty: 12,699
Died: 304 [Source: The MEDICAL DEPARTMENT OF THE UNITED STATES ARMY IN THE WORLD WAR, Vol. II, Ch. 23

He boarded Mallory, destination: Ellis Island. The passenger list included the description that these were “patients needing dressings” which indicated his wounds were not yet healed. [Source: ancestry.com]

Bugler Willie Hewett was honorably discharged on January 26, 1919. He had no reported disability.

Willie was married in January 1920. The 1920 Census shows he and his wife were living in Southport, rooming with a John C. Fulbright and his wife. John Fulbright was from Louisiana and served at Jackson Barracks, Louisiana, during the war, re-enlisting afterward. The census shows Willie Hewett as also continuing to serve with the US Army. Willie’s military headstone application [Source: ancestry.com] shows he re-enlisted on October 1, 1919, with an honorable discharge on October 19, 1920.

He and his wife raised several children in Brunswick County. Willie Hasper Hewett passed away on May 22, 1962 at age 66. He had spent the previous 4 years in a nursing home. He was laid to rest in Gurganus Cemetery in Shallotte. A military marble headstone was approved and shipped but it is not shown in findagrave.

Sources:
Johnson, Clarence Walton (1919) The history of the 321st infantry, with a brief historical sketch of the 80th division, being a vivid and authentic account of the life and experiences of American soldiers in France, while they trained, worked, and fought to help win the world war. . Columbia, S.C., The R. L. Bryan co.

Thomas P. Shinn’s Wartime Diary

81st Division Summary of Operations in the World War, US Govt, 1944

If you would like to help us honor Willie Hasper 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

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In the News – July and August 2018

Click here or the NEWS selection at the top of the website to see the many stories in the media about the rifle range and Honor a Brunswick County WWI Veteran project.

The Brunswick Beacon continues to print a WWI Profile each week! Click here to view the List of WWI Profile Posts by date: Published WWI Profiles

As always, The Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range appreciates the support of the local media!

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WWI Profile: William Ralph Smith 1890-1971

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.

Trench Bugle, Common in WWI
Source: Taps Bugler
William Ralph Smith
Bolivia, Brunswick County, NC
US Army
Bugler

Served:
September 21, 1917 – February 22, 1919
Overseas:
July 31, 1918 – January 31, 1919
Wounded: October 15, 1918

William Ralph Smith was born and raised in Johnston County, NC. His brother, Robert F Smith, also served in WWI.

Some time between the 1900 Census and the 1910 Census, his mother passed away. The 1910 Census lists William and all of his brothers and sisters as laborers on the family farm in Johnston County.

William’s WWI Draft Registration (June 5, 1917) shows he was living in Johnston County, single, and working as a barber. He also reported that he had experience in the NC Militia, 2nd Regiment, for 6 months.

On August 25, 1917, his father, Britton Smith, was appointed US Postmaster of Bolivia in Brunswick County, NC [Source: ancestry.com]. The Smithfield Herald, Sept. 14, 1917, p. 7, noted

Mr. Britton Smith, of Bolivia, N.C., was in town Sunday and Monday. Mr. Smith has been appointed Postmaster of Bolivia and expects to move his family down there soon.

By the time William was ordered to report for military duty and was inducted on September 21, 1917, his residence was Bolivia. He became a bugler with Machine Gun Company, 322nd Infantry, 81st “Wildcat” Division.

The bugler had a hazardous position. Telephone and telegraph lines were useless when trenches were abandoned, so the bugle became an important method of communication. To sound the bugle, the bugler’s gas mask was removed, risking poisoning and death during gas attacks.

A photograph of WWI Buglers
In addition to the standard reveille and Taps calls, the bugler blurted out command signals for the troops during action. To do so required him to stand tall and play the instrument with great force so all could hear over the rattling of machine guns and the explosions of artillery shells. He was a strategic target for the enemy. Cutting off lines of communication in war was an essential objective for the enemy. [Source: The American Legion, August 15, 2013]

Continuing from the previous WWI Profile, the 81st Division completed training at Camp Sevier, and began the train trip to NYC, boarding the ships on July 31, 1918. Bugler Smith’s ship was Orduna [Source: ancestry.com].

This is an actual Troop transport ship bunk and meal assignment ticket, to be worn around the neck, during a trip across the Atlantic Ocean. [Source: NC DNCR]

Sunday, August 11, 1918.
As our ship sailed into the docks of Liverpool, our band played “Britain Forever” and a big English cruiser sailed by us playing “The Yanks are Coming” which showed us that we had a hearty welcome. Old men, women, and children greeted us by saying, “God Bless you, Sammy!” and young girls hugged and kissed us and walked with us most of the five miles that we hiked out to the rest camp called Knotty Ashe. [Thomas Shinn’s diary]

In England, the Red Cross provided postcards to send to loved ones, notifying them of their safe arrival in Europe. Pictured is an original postcard from the NC Archives.

A week later, they crossed the Channel and arrived in France. They were loaded into the infamous French box cars marked “Hommes 40 — Chevaux 8” (40 men or 8 horses). Most diaries and unit documentation write of the difficulty traveling this way although they quickly point out they prefer it to marching! This cartoon was found illustrating the experience. [Source: Fletcher, Arthur Lloyd (1920) History of the 113th Field Artillery, 30th Division . Raleigh, NC: History Committee of the 113th F. A. p. 190]

Women did the work at the railroad, breaking, switching and even track work.

Wednesday, August 21, 1918.
Arrived St. Percy after marching through Flogny. We were the first American soldiers that these people had ever seen and they thought we were all millionaires because we had watches and rings and other things that peasants in France didn’t have. [Thomas Shinn’s diary]

Arriving at St. Die near the end of September, they were to relieve the 92nd “Buffalo Soldiers” Division.

The 92nd Division included two Brunswick County men with WWI Profiles posted earlier, William James Gordon and Robert Stanley, as well as several other soldiers listed on the WWI Army/Marine Division Rosters webpage.

After darkness fell on September 19th, they moved into the trenches that the Buffalo Soldiers had vacated.

On September 22, after a German airplane flew directly above their heads, a sign appeared in no man’s land from the Germans, proving that their movements were being closely monitored.

“Good bye Buffalo’s Welcome Wild Cats”

On October 15, 1918, at 9pm, they were relieved from their position in the trenches. Bugler Smith was wounded that day. His NC WWI Service Card showed it was a slight wound, but it was a gunshot wound to the elbow, as indicated on the Passenger List below, and he was classified as having a disability at discharge. According to unit history, 14 men were wounded and 21 were killed during the occupation of the St. Die sector.

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

William Ralph Smith returned to the United States on January 31, 1919, and was honorably discharged on February 22, 1919, with a 15% disability. Recall the previous profile of Corporal Calmer Clemmons, which included a newspaper clipping that listed William Ralph Smith among the wounded returning to NC.

The 1920 Census shows William (Ralph) was living with his father and two sisters in Town Creek. His father was still Postmaster and his sister, Patsy, was Assistant Postmaster. William was working as a barber. He married in 1922 and eventually moved to Wilmington, NC, and became a watchmaker. He and his wife raised several children.

In 1929, William’s younger brother Robert, who also served in WWI died of meningitis and tuberculosis. He was only 35 years old and had never married.

In 1936, his father Britton Smith died. The State Port Pilot, March 18, 1936, p. 6 published his obituary.

Funeral Services for Bolivia Man
Mr. Britton Smith, long-time resident and business man of Bolivia, died Thursday morning at James Walker Memorial hospital, after a lingering illness of pneumonia. Mr. Smith was 75 years of age. He was a native of Smithfield, Johnston County.

Being an honest, straightforward christian man, he was greatly loved and highly esteemed among all of his friends and acquaintances.

His wife preceded him in death several years ago. He leaves to mourn the loss three daughters, Mrs. Stancil, of Johnston County; Mrs. Fred Edwards of Bolivia; and Mrs. Thelma Pittman of Wilmington; also a son Ralph Smith of Wilmington, and several grandchildren.

The funeral was conducted at 11:00 o’clock Friday at Smithfield by Rev. B.R. Page, assisted by local pastors.

William Ralph Smith passed away in 1971 at age 80. He was laid to rest in Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington. Military honors are shown.

Sources:
Johnson, Clarence Walton (1919) The history of the 321st infantry, with a brief historical sketch of the 80th division, being a vivid and authentic account of the life and experiences of American soldiers in France, while they trained, worked, and fought to help win the world war. . Columbia, S.C., The R. L. Bryan co.

Thomas P. Shinn’s Wartime Diary

If you would like to help us honor William Ralph Smith 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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History of the Rifle Range: 1980s

The Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range received the following letter from a former resident of Caswell Dunes, along with a generous donation.

He agreed to allow us to share his letter here.

Greetings,

I am enclosing a check for two hundred dollars to help towards the repair and
maintenance of the Fort Caswell Rifle Range.

Here is a bit of history since I am one of the earliest residents of Caswell Dunes. The layout of Caswell Dunes was done without adequate exploration of the land because it was like a jungle and quite overgrown and thick with vines. Practically impenetrable. I purchased my condo by walking along the edge of the golf course with the realtor and simply pointing. They did not discover the rifle range until they started bulldozing, and had to inform the authorities, who didn’t know what it was, but said it had to be protected, and the builder had to move some buildings accordingly. My condo overlooked the rifle range and Bunker Rd. was so named because we called it the bunker back then and did not know it was a rifle range until much later when some research was done on the subject.

I lived there from 1985 or 86 (can’t remember which) until around 1990. The bunker then was largely covered by thick jungle-like growth and not very visible. My gray cat lived on its walls and would pass the entire day completely protected, watching traffic drive by. When I arrived home in the evening the cat would run along the wall and greet me like a dog. He thought he was a dog and took walks with us on the golf course at night.

In those days children played on the walls and we planted shrubs and bushes around it. Consequently, it has always had a special place in my heart.

Henry F. Tonn, M.S.
Psychologist
Wilmington, NC

The earliest photo available is this photo from 2011.

After many years, the current condition is quite different.

More significantly, the 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range is now a nationally designated WWI Centennial Memorial.

A quick illustration of the progress:

The Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range could not have accomplished the transformation to date without supporters like Henry Tonn. View all of the supporters and donors on the Contributors webpage.

For more details on the previous seven years of the stabilization effort, see the Stabilization section of the website.

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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