100 years ago today: The signing of the Treaty of Versailles

June 28, 1919: Over six months after the November 11, 1918 Armistice which ended the fighting of WWI, the signing of the Treaty of Versailles ended the war between Germany and the Allied Powers.

The Wilmington Morning Star, 29 June 1919, p. 1

In Brunswick County, 82 men serving in the US Army had not yet returned home after the treaty was signed, out of a total of 351 Brunswick County soldiers making the trip overseas.

It is difficult to track the 93 Brunswick County men serving in the US Navy but we do know that 56 had already been discharged including Navy nurse Susan Williams from Southport.

Many who continued to serve overseas were those you might expect: some from service and labor battalions, as well as engineers, medical units, and MPs, such as Pfc Harry Clayton Chinnis.

Those serving in units other than the above may have remained due to illness, such as Cpl Rothschild Holden from the 81st Division and Pvt Castello Goodman from the 543rd Engineers.

The 1st and 5th Divisions had been assigned to the Third Army, the Army of Occupation, and had not yet returned home. The 5th Division was relieved in May 1919 but their departure was delayed until July, which included Cpl Charles Byron Drew, Pfc John William Mills, Pvt Owen Ransom Mintz and Pfc Barfie Randel Long from Brunswick County.

The 1st Division remained until August 1919, which included Pvt Alvin Alwin Milliken, Cpl William Thompson White and Cpl Johnnie Vereen.

Historians and economists continue to debate whether the concessions and reparations the treaty required from Germany helped lead to World War II. After being assured this was the “war to end all wars” these courageous and in many cases, forgotten veterans were then asked to make additional and likely what they considered more difficult sacrifices as they sent their sons and daughters to face the horrors of war.

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