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117th Infantry,
59th Infantry Brigade,
30th Division 1917-1919


Captain George A. Blair, Company Commander, Company C

Captain George A. Blair on the left and his brother Sgt. Charles Lee Blair on the right.

George A. Blair was born on August 12th of 1886 in Wise County, Virginia . George was the second eldest child of Joseph and Nannie B. Blair. Joseph was born in April of 1860 in Virginia and Nannie was born in August of 1867 in Virginia. Both Joseph and Nannie’s parents were also born in the state of Virginia.

On the sixth day of June 1900 the Federal Census was taken in Wise, Virginia and C. Y Chapman recorded that the Joseph Blair family had four children. Stella L. was born in March of 1885; George H. A. born in August of 1886; Mattie E. born in April of 1891 and youngest son Charles L. born in June of 1894. All four children were born in Virginia. Joseph supported the family working as a farmer and they lived in Wise County, Virginia in or near Tacoma, Virginia.

It is not known what date that George Blair joined the Army but it is known that he was with the 3rd Tennessee Infantry, National Guard. Rick Lytle who owns his uniform in a private collection notes that there is a Mexican Boarder campaign medal on his uniform.

In late 1915 Pancho Villa had counted on American support to obtain the presidency of Mexico. Instead the U.S. Government recognized the new government of Venustiano Carranza. An irate Villa swore revenge against the United States and began by murdering Americans in hopes of provoking President Woodrow Wilson’s intervention into Mexico. Villa believed that American intervention would discredit the Carranza government with the people of Mexico and reaffirm Villa’s own popularity. President Wilson called out 15,000 militia and stationed them along the U.S. - Mexico border and among these troops was the 3rd Tennessee Infantry. Wilson also informed President Carranza of Mexico that he intended to send a military expedition into northern Mexico to capture Pancho Villa, and Carranza reluctantly agreed. President Wilson then appointed Brigadier General John J. Pershing to lead 4,800 troops (mostly cavalry), supported by aircraft and motorized military vehicles (the first time either were used in U.S. warfare) on a punitive expedition into Mexico to capture Villa.

The 3rd Tennessee Infantry was called on to support the Punitive Expedition into Mexico and on June 16, 1916 they left Knoxville, TN and for the next nine months patrolled the U.S.-Mexican Border. On March 20, 1917 the 3rd Tennessee was mustered out of Federal Service only to be called back into Federal Service with in several weeks.

While service on the Mexican Border it is not known what George Blair’s duty was or what rank he held at the time. At the time the 3rd Tenn. Infantry was mustered back into Federal Service they were assembled at Knoxville, TN. George Blair made is home at 218 Riverside Drive, Knoxville, Tennessee and an active recruiting campaign was conducted to raise the companies of the 3rd TN Infantry back to full strength. As the officers of the regiment were busy in the recruiting efforts and the 3rd TN Infantry was moved from Knoxville in early September 1917, to Camp Sevier, South Carolina where the 30th Infantry Division was being formed. The old 3rd TN Infantry was re-designated as the 117th Infantry of the 59th Infantry Brigade, 30th Division.

Of the Officers of the 1st Battalion, 117th Infantry, Captain George A. Blair is listed as Company Commander of Company C. The two other officers in Company C with Captain Blair were 1st Lt. Lynn Z. Morris and 2nd Lt. George W. McMillan all three were from Knoxville.

As Company C, under the leadership of Captain Blair entered Camp Seiver they found their first jobs was to clear a pine forest to make room for the newly arriving men. This hard physical work proved excellent for the men, as they hardened into fine condition and most of them gained in weight. After fair grounds had been prepared, a strenuous daily schedule of infantry drill was carried out, discipline stiffened, and during the winter and spring of 1918, instruction was given by English Army officers and noncommissioned officers in trench warfare. During the winter, which was a very severe one, one officer and twenty-nine enlisted men died from disease, principally pneumonia. During the eight months at Camp Sevier, all kinds of schools for officers and non-commissioned officers were held. Many of the officers went to other camps for training in special branches.

Orders were received on May 2, 1918, to entrain for duty overseas, and on the night of May 10, 1918, the 117th Infantry went on board transports at New York. The First and Second Battalions with 20 officers and 1922 enlisted men climbed up the gangplank and onto the HMS Northumberland, and the Third Battalion consisting of 27 officers and 949 enlisted men went aboard the HMS Anselm. There were nine troopships that sailed on the morning of the 11th of May and Captain Blair on board the HMS Northumberland started his voyage across the Atlantic. The Northumberland was a cargo ship owned by the Federal Steam Navigation Company and had for the most part been on the Australia, New Zealand and South Africa route before the war. She was 11,559 gross tons and built in 1915 and scrapped in 1951. The 1,942 men of the 117th Infantry were the only men on board the Northumberland that trip so there must not have been much space for troops as being that she was a cargo ship accommodations on board were crude as the men were likely bunked out in the holds of the ship. Some ten days later, after an attack by submarines off the Irish Coast, in which the convoy escaped without loss, the HMS Northumberland docked at Liverpool, England, where special trains carried the 117th Infantry straight through London to Folkestone.

The Thirtieth Division was one of seven American divisions, which were concentrated in the British area for training and for use in case the Germans made their threatened drive for the Channel ports. The 117th proceeded from Calais to Norbecourt, where, under British officers and non-commissioned officers, the officers and men of the regiment were trained strenuously for five weeks. About July 1 the Thirtieth Division was ordered to move into Belgium. The 59th Brigade, which crossed the border on July 4, was the first unit of American forces to enter the war-torn little country, which bore the first assault of the German attack in the world war.

The 117th was assigned to Tunneling Camp, where it was given its final training in trench warfare and in attacking strong points. The 117th Infantry was purely on the defensive while they were in Belgium. The Germans knew the location of every trench, and their artillery played upon them day and night. Night bombers also made this a very uncomfortable sector, for they dropped tons of explosives both upon the front and at the rear. There was little concealment on either side, because this part of Belgium was very flat. Artificial camouflage provided what little deception was practiced upon the enemy. The casualties of the 117th in the two months in which it was stationed in the Canal Sector were not heavy. Only a few men were killed, and the number of wounded was less than 100. Captain Blair and Company C now had their first taste of trench warfare. King George of England and Field Marshal Haig, commander of the English armies, honored the regiment with a visit and made an inspection of its companies.

On September 1, 1918 trucks and busses were provided and the 117th Infantry moved through Albert, Bray, and Peronne to near Tincourt, just back of the celebrated Hindenburg Line. The 59th Brigade went into the line first, relieving the Australians on the night of September 26. The 118th Infantry took over the front line, with the 117th Infantry in close support. The casualties of the latter were rather heavy from gas shells in making the relief, one company losing 62 men to the hospital.

The attack upon this part of the line was set for the morning of September 29, 1918. The 27th American Division was on the left, the 46th British on the right of the 30th American Division. The assault of the infantry upon the fortifications of the Hindenburg Line was to be preceded by a bombardment of 72 hours -- with gas shells for 24 hours and with shell and shrapnel from light and heavy artillery for 48 hours.

In the Thirtieth Division sector, the 119th and 120th Infantry were assigned to make the opening attack, with the 117th Infantry following in close support, and prepared to exploit their advance after the canal had been crossed. The 118th Infantry was held in reserve. The 119th Infantry had the left half of the sector, while the 120th, strengthened by Company H, of the 117th, covered the right half.

The plan of battle was that the 117th, following the 120th, should cross the canal between Bellicourt on the left and the entrance to the canal on the right, then turn at right angles, and proceed southeasterly down the main Hindenburg Line trench, mopping up this territory of the enemy for about a mile. Connection was to be made with the British on the right, if they succeeded in crossing the canal. The facts of the case are that this paper plan of battle worked out somewhat differently under battle conditions. Most of the assaulting companies became badly confused in the deep fog and smoke, strayed off somewhat from their objectives, and their attack swung to the left of the sector. The 117th, which followed, went off in the opposite direction fortunately and cleaned out a territory which otherwise would have been left undisturbed. While it caused endless confusion and the temporary intermingling of platoons, companies, and even regiments, this pall of mist and smoke on the morning of the attack undoubtedly contributed to the success of the battle. The Germans did not know how to shoot accurately, for no targets were visible. During the morning hours it was impossible for a man to see his hand more than a few inches in front of him. Men in the combat groups joined hands to avoid being lost from each other. Officers were compelled, in orienting their maps, to lay them on the ground, as it was impossible to read them while standing in the dense cloud of smoke and mist. The atmosphere did not clear up completely until after the canal had been crossed.

The barrage for the attack went down at 5:50 a.m. The First Battalion, under Major Dyer, jumped off promptly on time, with C Company under command of Captain Blair and D Company in the line, A and B Companies in support. The Second Battalion followed at about 500 yards, while the Third Battalion, with a company of engineers, was held in reserve on the crest of a hill. The tanks, for the most part, became separated from the infantry, but their work was invaluable in plowing through the barbed wire, which had been cut up very little by the barrage. Like nearly everyone else, the tanks lost sense of direction in the smoke and fog cloud, while the majority of them were disabled before noon of the 29th.

Most of the morning was consumed by the 117th in clearing out the area south and west of the tunnel entrance. Some units, mistaking one of the trench systems for the canal, turned southward before actually reaching the genuine canal. They cleaned out thoroughly the Germans, who were in this pocket, but toward 10 o'clock turned northward and began to pass over the tunnel, the left flank skimming Bellicourt and the right crossing near the tunnel entrance. It then turned southward and mopped up the area assigned it.

The First and Second Battalions reached their objectives after vigorous fighting, consolidated the positions they had won, and reorganized their companies, which had been badly scattered and mixed by the morning fog.

The casualties of the 117th on September 29 were 26 officers and 366 men. Seven field pieces, 99 machine guns, 7 anti-tank rifles, many small arms and 592 German prisoners were the trophies of the day. Though the casualties were rather heavy, in view of the machine gun and artillery resistance, which the Germans offered from powerfully held positions; they should be regarded as rather light. With a clear day, without fog or smoke, they would have been double or treble this number.

The 59th Brigade next offensive was launched the following morning, October 8, with the 117th on the left, the 118th on the right and the British were on their flanks. The jumping off line was northeast of Wiancourt, while the objective was slightly beyond Premont. The First Battalion of the 117th launched the attack for the regiment, and the Second Battalion was in close support, while the Third Battalion, which had been cut up badly the day before, was in reserve. The attack got off on time in spite of the difficulties that were encountered the previous night in getting into position under fire and in the dark.

In the face of furious German resistance with all kinds of machine gun nests and an abundance of light artillery, the battalions advanced very rapidly, skillfully knocking out machine guns and maneuvering to the best advantage over the broken ground. The Second Battalion suffered heavy losses during the morning and two companies of the brigade reserve were ordered to its support. Before noon Second Battalion Commander Major Hathaway, announced the capture of Premont and his arrival at the prescribed objective. Positions were consolidated during the afternoon and preparations made for a possible counter-attack.

The casualties of the 117th on October 8 were the heaviest of any day of fighting in which it was engaged on the front. The toll of officers and non-commissioned officers was especially distressing, as it cut down the number of leaders in the coming battles.

It was during the actions on the 8th of October in that advance on Premont that Company C lost their commander, as Captain Blair was severely wounded likely by German machine gunners. Captain Blair would have been taken off the line and sent to an aid station for medical treatment. It is not known what Field Hospital he would have been taken to.

During the night, when all were expecting word of relief after such a strenuous day in which everyone had spent himself to the utmost, orders were received that the brigade would continue the fight at daybreak the next morning. The sector was moved to the right, however, and the front of attack shortened. The drive started before six o'clock in the morning, after the usual barrage, which had been laid down by the artillery. In spite of the fact that this shift was made at night, that the two battalions had to reorganize and gather their men from the attack the day previous, and that the Germans kept up their bombardment by artillery and airplanes, all the companies were on the tape and the attack was launched on the minute.

The resistance slackened during the day, and with the exception of a short check at a railroad embankment, the advance was steady toward the objective. The First and Second Battalions fought side by side, the Third Battalion was held in reserve and to further recuperate. There was a big decrease in the intensity of the hostile artillery fire during the day and the losses were light compared to the day before. Busigny was captured and all objectives reached early in the afternoon.

During these three days of fighting, October 7, 8, and 9, the regiment lost 34 officers and 1051 men as casualties. A count of the spoils taken included 113 machine guns, 28 field pieces, 907 small arms and about 800 prisoners. The great majority of the latter, 703, were captured on October 8, showing that on the final day the men, enraged by the losses of their comrades the day previous, killed most of the Germans they took. This became not an uncommon practice in the latter days of fighting, especially against the German machine gunners, which would kill or wound from their place of concealment a half platoon or more of men before their gun was located and put out of action. This custom of taking no prisoners was confined to no regiment, but became common practice throughout the division.

The next few days were given the 117th to rest and recuperate, a course it sorely needed after the exhaustion and losses of the last three days of it’s fighting. On the morning of October 16, however, it was called back into the line to relieve the 27th American Division. The First Battalion, less Company C, which was relieved just before the battle on account of ptomaine poisoning, jumped off in a new attack the following morning, October 17. The Second Battalion, which followed it, caught the brunt of the enemy fire. Major Hathaway was wounded early in the morning, and Captain Ware, the remaining captain of the battalion, was sent back a short time later with a serious wound. Lieut. Baker, as senior officer, took command and led it the rest of the day, while non-commissioned officers commanded two companies because there were no officers left. Molaine was captured by the regiment, an advance of more than a mile across the Selle River was made, but heavy machine gun fire held up the advance on Ribeauville, which was protected by a railroad embankment. The British had been checked on the right and so it was thought inadvisable to push the capture of the town immediately by a frontal attack, when it might be taken later from the flank. The regiment was relieved on the night of October 17, with the exception of the Third Battalion.

The 117th remained in this area until October 20, when the whole division started back to the rear for rest, reorganization and a new supply of officers and men to bring it up again to war strength. The area a designated was near Amiens. Expectation was that the whole division would be ordered back into the line about November 15, but the signing of the armistice put an end to any return to the battlefront.

For his actions on the 8th of October while in command of Company C Captain Blair was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. His citation reads as follows:

BLAIR, GEORGE A.
Captain, U.S. Army
Commander, Company C
117th Infantry Regiment, 30th Division, A.E.F.
Date of Action: October 8, 1918

Citation:
The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to George A. Blair, Captain, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action near Premont, France, October 8, 1918. During the advance from Geneve to Premont, Captain Blair was seriously wounded by machine-gun fire. Despite his condition, he insisted on remaining with his company, and allowed himself to be evacuated only after his objective had been reached, his position reorganized, and liaison established with flank units.
General Orders No. 46, W.D., 1919

The younger brother to Captain Blair was Charles L. Blair. Among the names listed of veterans from Knox County, Tennessee, Charles L. Blair is listed. Charles L. Blair was noted as being wounded so it is likely that he may have been in Company C with his brother Captain George Blair.

Charles L. Blair lived in Knoxville, TN with his wife, Alta S. born about 1900 and their son Charles R. born about 1928. Charles L. and Alta were married about 1924 and in April of 1930 Charles L. Blair was a traveling salesman for a drug company.

George Blair recovered from his wounds and was returned to the United States in December of 1918, likely not with units of the 30th Division but with wounded soldiers. Captain Blair was discharged from the Army on November 19, 1919 and was listed as 35 percent disabled in view of his occupation. His home of record during the war years was 218 Riverside Drive, Knoxville, Tennessee.

Before George Blair went in the Army he married Myrtle E. about 1915. Myrtle was born about 1883 in Tennessee. George and Myrtle in April of 1930 lived in Nashville, Tennessee at 2802 Oakland Ave in a rented apartment, which was owned by Mr. and Mrs. J. P. Hitch. The rent that George and Myrtle paid was $50 per month and they did own a radio set in the home. George worked for the Veterans Services as a bookkeeper in 1930.

Not much of the life of George Blair is known after about 1930 and it is not known if he and Myrtle ever had any children. George was at some point a "State President" of some military-related organization such as the American Legion, VFW, World War Vets Assn, 30th Division Vets Assn, etc. The date of death or place of burial of George and Myrtle Blair in not known.

This is a photo of the Machine Gun Company, 3rd Tennessee National Guard dating from 1912. It was taken on the rifle range near Knoxville, Tennessee and was under the command of Captain Harry Curtis, with Lt. George A. Blair and Sergeant Charles L. Blair. Unfortunately the Blair brothers can’t be identified in this photo.

This is an undated photo but may have been from about 1912. It shows a young Lt. George A. Blair operating a machine gun. The other fellow on the left is not identified.

Blair photos were shared by brothers Charlie and David Blair, the grandsons of Sgt. Charles Lee Blair.


Private First Class Walter S. Lindahl
Company"I" KIA October 7, 1918

Walter S. Lindahl was a Private First Class in Company “I” of the 117th Infantry of the 59th Infantry Brigade, 30th Division during WWI. He was killed in Action on October 7, 1918 while his Company was participating in the Somme Offensive.

In the days before his death Private Lindahl’s unit had just attacked the Hindenburg Line near Bellicourt and crossed the canal and sustained heavy casualties with 26 Officers and 366 enlisted men killed. Lindahl was lucky he was not killed or wounded in the Hindenburg Line actions, but his luck would run out days later. On October 5, two days before he was killed, the 117th Infantry was under command of the British 4th Army at Templeux-le-Guérard and ordered into the line. On the evening of 5-6 October the 117th was relieving the Australian 2nd Division then on the line from Montbrehain to Beaurevoir. Once the line was relieved and the 117th was in position on the morning of October 7 an attack was made to realign the front line. This is where Private Lindahl’s luck ran out and he was killed in the actions to straighten out the line.

Brigadier General Tyson of the 59th Infantry Brigade had his regiments on the line with the 117th on the left and the 118th positioned on the right of the line for the attacks of October 7. Because of logistical issues the planned attack was postponed to October 8 but first General Tyson had to have his units attack and capture their start line for the attack of October 8. Orders were issued for a line straitening attack of 500-yards east. The 3rd battalion of the 117th had only just gotten in to the line on the night of the 6th of October and their battalion commander came very close to insubordination in protesting the orders to advance 500-yards on the morning of the 7th. But he was overruled and the attack of the 7th went through. The Germans contested every inch of the ground the 117th attacked.

Colonel Spence of the 117th noted several instances of personal valor during the attack. Sgt. Edward R. Talley of Company “L” of the 117th is but one example of the valor seen on October 7 by the men of the 117th. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery on the 7th of October. Sgt. Talley attacked a machinegun position single-handed. Armed only with a rifle, he rushed the machinegun nest in the face of enemy fire, killed or wounded at least 6 Germans and silenced the gun. When the Germans attempted to bring forward another machinegun Sgt. Talley drove them back with his own rifle. Among those of the 117th who were sited for extraordinary heroism in action on October 7 were; 2nd Lt. Robert Sharp; Pvt. Charlie Smith, Co. “L”; Cpl. George W. Spears, Co. “L”; Pvt. George F. Strange, Co. “L”; Pvt. Thomas J. Wilson, Co. “K”; Cpl. Clarence S. Wright, Co. “L”; Cpl. Joe D. Wright Co. “L”

In some notes Colonel Spence prepared after the war for a project of the North Carolina State Archives this is but one example: “Sergeant Marshall B. Dudderar of Company K, who was directed by Capt. Binkley to take charge of his command when he was evacuated to the rear, had advanced about fifty yards. The increasing intensity of the enemy's machine gun fire was so great that Sergeant Dudderar was obliged to halt his platoon in the protection of a sunken road. Realizing the seriousness of the situation the Sergeant advanced alone some twenty-five yards to the right front in an effort to draw the machine gun fire, thus locating the machine gun nests, which were causing the casualties among his men. He then led his men over the top and to the right where the men could advance with less conspicuousness. At this time Sergeant Dudderar was hit by a machine gun bullet and was severely wounded, but turning to Lieutenant Wyman, who had just advanced with another platoon, informed him of his injury stating that he had no intention of being evacuated, a few seconds later he was hit the second time. Although partially stunned, helpless and near death, he managed to call to Lieutenant Wyman and tell him he was shot again and with his last breath said, 'Write and tell Mother.” Sgt. Dudderar was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for gallantry.

During a stint at the Infantry School (Fort Benning) Capt. Nathaniel Callen of the 3rd Battalion, 117th Infantry was blunt in his criticism of the attack plan of October 7: “I am sorry to relate here, however, that the Colonel (Spence) still felt it would be a reflection on the regiment if we did not make the attack and still insisted that it must be done. I frankly state, without meaning to criticize any higher authority, that none of the higher command, (who) had never felt the weight of fire from a well-disposed enemy, could visualize how serious this situation was.” The preliminary attack succeeded, though, and now 2nd Battalion moved up to the jump off point for the attack planned for October 8. The 1st Battalion would follow and 3rd after them.

Private First Class Walter S. Lindahl would not survive the attack made by the 117th Infantry on the morning of October 7, 1918 as he was among the casualties taken by the regiment that day. Among the others of Company “I” that were killed were Captain Rolfe Moody who received the Distinguished Service Cross, Private George Hembree and Private Leo Keith.

His body would have been recovered and taken to an aid station where he would have been identified and processed. The likely steps after his death would have been once he was identified his body would have been taken to an American Cemetery and buried. Many soldiers were buried quickly and then after the war their graves were moved to either an official burial in an established cemetery or gathered up and transported back home to the States at a later date. This was the path Private Lindahl’s body took. On April 16, 1921 his body was home in Minneapolis, Minnesota and on the 18th of April he was buried in the Crystal Lake Cemetery.

In England on December 14, 1918 Captain William L. Bigeloux, the Commanding Officer of Company “I” sets down to write the most difficult letters he will ever write, that of writing letters home to mothers who have lost their sons. Among the names of the mothers is Mrs. Lindahl in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Captain Bigeloux writes on plain paper the following words to a mother who has given a son.

Dear Mrs. Lindahl,

Your letter of November 23 in regard to your son received this afternoon. I was not with the Company on October 7 when Pvt. Lindahl was killed, but Sgt. Dave Walgamott who was in command of the Company when it came out of the line witnessed your son’s death.

Sgt. Walgamott says that on the morning in question the Company went “over the top” at 5:40 AM. Pvt. Walter S. Lindahl was with the Company and was advancing, carrying his Lewis Gun. He had advanced about 50-yards when he was wounded by a German machinegun bullet. Pvt. Lindahl, true to the cause for which he was fighting, tried to advance further and at the same time take advantage of the cover of a shell hole some 50-yards to his front would allow. Before he could reach the shell hole, he was riddled with bullets and died.

All the men of the Company who fought with your son think well of him and I am sure that before he met his death, he did all in his power to defeat the Hun.

Sincerely,
William L. Bigeloux
Captain, 117th Infantry
Commanding Co. “I”

Captain Bigeloux carefully folded this letter and placed it in the only envelopes he had at the time, marked with “On His Majesty’s Service” and addressed it to Mrs. Andrew Lindahl, 249 Fourteenth Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota. The next time this letter would be unfolded would be in the hands of Walter’s mother. One can only imagine the heartbreak Josephine Lindahl felt when reading Captain Bigeloux’s letter. This was doubly hard for her as on October 5, two days before Walter was killed in France, the second eldest daughter Anna Theresa died as a result of the flu. For a mother to loose two children in the span of 2 days is almost unbearable. Walter would never know of his sister’s death two days previous to his own death but then again possibly that was how Walter was so brave on the battlefield as he was slowly dying. His Sister Anna Theresa was touching him from heaven reassuring him that all would be well.

At the home of Private Lindahl’s parents a letter arrives for Lindahl’s sister Agnes in the last days of December 1918, likely about the same time Captain Bigeloux’s letter would have arrived. The letter is on Knights of Columbus letterhead and is dated December 27, 1918 written by M. J. Schadeck. He was Walter Lindahl’s best friend in Company “I” during the war and Schadeck is writing to Walter’s sister to explain the events of Walter’s death.

Dear Miss Lindahl,

Your letter of November 21 received the day before I left England for America so I am answering as quickly as possible concerning Walter’s death. I sailed from London December 16 and arrived at New York December 26.

First of all I want to tell you that words cannot express my sympathy for your people nor can they express the sorrow I feel over Walter’s death. We were the greatest and closest of friends always sleeping together etc. You ask me if he was killed instantly in your letter. Well our Company went over the top that fatal morning and Walter was hit by machine bullets in his leg and stomach about 6:30 AM and died sometime that night at which time I cannot say. The wounds in his leg were not severe so it is safe to say the wound in his stomach is what caused his death. And the sorrowful part of it was that it was impossible for stretcher-bearers to get to the wounded men that day so they had to lay on the field of battle. But the glorious part of it is the bravery Walter displayed after being hit he told one of the boys, I can’t live, and know I am going to die. He was conscious all day always talking as usual to the boys.

I can safely say that Walter was the best-liked boy in the Company and his mother has every reason to be one of the proudest of mothers. I have his watch and fountain pen and as soon as I get home I will bring them to you. They were the only things given to me.

I will be kept here for a week or so and then sent to a hospital near St. Paul perhaps Ft. Snelling and will be glad to call and tell you more.

Wishing all your people a happy New Year. I am,
Your Friend in Sympathy
M. J. Schadeck

The author of that letter was Martin Joseph Schadeck of St. Paul, MN. Martin was a Bugler in Company “I” and was born on April 12, 1894. Martin Schadeck passed away and was buried on January 1, 1949 in the Ft. Snelling National Cemetery. Agnes Lindahl had written to Schadeck and she kept the letters about Walter for years after until she passed away in the 1970’s when the letters disappeared. They had still been in the family and in 2010 Emily Haddad who is the great-niece of Agnes Lindahl rediscovered them again and brought out Walters story.

Walter S. Lindahl was born on June 2, 1894 to Andrew and Josephine Lindahl in Minneapolis, MN. Andrew and Josephine were both Swedish immigrants who had come to America, Andrew in 1878 and Josephine in 1881. About 1885 they met and married, where Andrew worked as a painter all his life. Andrew was born in Sweden in October of 1846 and his wife Josephine also born in Sweden in July of 1858. Shortly after they were married they had their first of six children, a daughter named Jenny in September of 1885. This was followed by Agnes in September of 1887; Anna Theresa in May of 1889; George in November of 1891; then Walter in June of 1894; and lastly Hildegard in January of 1897.

Once Walter was out of school he worked with his father as a painter. When Walter was 23-years old he was living at 249 Fourteenth Avenue in Minneapolis, which was his parents home. America in the spring of 1917 entered into the war in Europe and the government instituted a Federal Draft for men to serve in the armed forces. Walter on June 5 of 1917 registered as he was requested to do. At the time he was single and worked as a painter. He listed on the draft form that he had weak lungs. Walter was a medium built man and had gray eyes and light brown hair. Even with his comment of having weak lungs he was accepted into the Army.

That spring Walter left his home in Minneapolis and would never return to his family. He is now a hero among heroes and rests today in a cemetery in the state of his birth.

Private Lindahl’s Bronze Memorial Cross, placed by the citizens of Hennepin County, Minnesota for defending their Freedom. Today the cross lies peacefully under a tree on Victory Memorial Drive in Minneapolis. Many today pass this simple Bronze Cross on the ground oblivious to what Private Lindahl died for. But now his story will live on.

The Lindahl Family stone located in the Crystal Lake Cemetery. It simply says Lindahl with Agnes on the left Andrew in the center and Josephine on the right. Time has begun to reclaim the family history as you can see that the tree to the right of the stone has begun to grow around it. But now Walters story will live on for all time.

On the reverse side of the family stone is the simple inscription… “Walter 1894-1918”.
Walter now rests in a quiet peaceful field far from the deadly and war ravaged field in France where he shed his blood.


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