WWI Profile: George Harker Hewett 1897-1956

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Lt. Col. John Thomason, referring to engineers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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