The 2nd Trench Mortar Battalion was formed in January of 1918 at Ft. Monroe, VA. In May 1918 the Battalion moved to Lee Hall, VA then to Camp Mills, NY for final preparations before sailing orders. In the latter part of May orders finally came and on May 28th the Battalion embarked aboard the Shire Line Steamer HMS Cardiganshire at Port of Embarkation Boston, MA. and sailed the next day 29th May, 1918. The HMS Cardiganshire sailed with 32 Officers and 726 enlisted men of the HQ Co., Supply Co. Batteries E & F of the 309th Field Artillery, 78th Division, and 20 Officers and 886 enlisted men of the 2nd Trench Mortar Battalion. The Battalion arrived overseas on June 12, 1918.
The Battalion went to the Newly formed American Army Trench Mortar School located at Fort de la Bonnelle, an old stone fortification near the city of Langres, Haute Marne, France. From July 1st-August 3rd, 1918 Class VI was held and many of the Officers of the Second Battalion were trained.
Two Battalions of Heavy 240mm Trench Mortars the 1st and the 2nd Trench Mortar Battalions, have seen much action and have served as trench artillery as well as infantry. During September 17-November 16, 1918 the Battalion was with the US IV Corps in the Toul Sector and Thiaucourt Zone. During Post-Armistice activities the Battalion saw duty with the US VI Corps. The Battalion used the Heavy 240mm Mortars and the French 95mm Mortars. The Battalion returned to the States in April of 1919 and went to Camp Upton, New York where they were demobilized that same month.
Eugene Jennings Sands was born on May 29 1899 likely in Newark, New Jersey to Charles H. and Henrietta Sands. The Sands family home in April of 1910 was located on Belleville Ave in Newark where Charles worked as a Blacksmith to support his family. Charles was born about 1860 in New Jersey. Both of his parents were born in New York. Eugene’s mother Henrietta was born about 1860 also in New Jersey and her father was born in Ireland and her mother was born in Maine.
Charles and Henrietta were married about 1889 and Henrietta had five children in April of 1910 of which sons Luadwell A., (Born about 1894) Charles jr, (Born about 1898) and Eugene J. were living at home in the Belleville Avenue home. Also in the home was a boarder, a 56-year old single woman named Francis Hayden. She was born in Massachusetts and worked as a saleslady in a store.
The home on Belleville Avenue may have been a 3 family dwelling as on the Federal Census there are 3 families listed at the address of 120 Belleville Avenue. Between the 3 families there were a total of 4 boarders living there also.
Eugene entered the Army during WWI and served in Battery B, 2nd Trench Mortar Battalion, C.A.C. According to information provided by the family, Eugene may have been gassed while in France. It is not known at which battle or to what extent he was gassed. After he was mustered out of the Army in 1919 he returned to the Newark, NJ area. He lived with his older sister and her husband at 107 Third Street in Ward 15 of Newark. In January of 1920 Eugene was single and worked as a clerk for an emulsion company. The head of the home was Hugh McDonald and his wife, Eugene’s sister Isabelle (born about 1885). Hugh and Isabelle had 3 children as of January 1920, Evelyn, Isabelle and Hugh, the later two being named after their parents. Hugh worked as a chauffeur for a local wire company in Harrison, NJ.
About 1927 Eugene met and married his wife Hazel. She was born about 1901 in New Jersey where her father was born in New Jersey and her mother in Connecticut. Eugene and Hazel in April of 1930 lived in a rented home, in which the rent was $45 per month, at 708 Jersey Street in Harrison, Hudson County, New Jersey. They were able to afford one of the few luxuries of the day, which was a radio set. Eugene and Hazel had also started a family and had two sons, the eldest was named Eugene after his father, was born on August 24th of 1928. The youngest sons name was Treadwell, who was born sometime after the 1930 Federal Census Also living in the home was Eugene’s widowed father 70-year old Charles Sands. Eugene worked as a Chauffeur for a wire company in Harrison, NJ. He may have gotten this job through his brother-in-law Hugh McDonald, who also had the same job ten years before.
Eugene Jennings Sands lived the rest of his life in New Jersey and when he passed away in September of 1967 he was living in Kearny, Hudson County, New Jersey.
Caption reads; "Battery B, 2nd Trench Mortar Battalion, A.E.F. 1918-1919" Photo was dated 21 April 1919 and was taken at Camp Upton, NY.
Pvt. Lynn F. Simmons sailed with the Battery D, 2nd TM Bn on May 29, 1918. At some point Pvt. Simmons transferred to the 1st TM Bn, Battery D. According to is discharge papers it shows that he participated in the Argonne Forrest 26-30 September, 1918 and Battle of Meuse from Oct. 31-Nov. 7, 1918. From this information I believe that he was with the 1st TM Bn at this point as the 2nd TM Bn did not participate in these engagements but the 1st TM Bn did. Pvt. Simmons returned to the States with Battery D, 1st TM Bn. The Battalion Left France on 12 February aboard the US Battleship USS Virginia and arrived back to the States at Newport News, VA on February 28th, 1919 and were being demobilized during March of 1919 at Camp Upton, NY. It was noted by Dottie Piechocki that her grandfather Pvt. Simmons along with several others were quarantined with scarlet fever for 2 weeks and couldn't leave the ship after they had reached port at Newport News.
Dottie Piechocki contacted me about her grandfather Lynn Fred Simmons. She supplied the information about her grandfather.
Corporal Herbert Welsh Evans Poinsett was a member of Battery D, 2nd Trench Mortar Battalion and he kept a diary which contains some of his experiences with this unit while he was in France. His son Ben Poinsett now has his fathers diary, honorable discharge and his promotion to corporal certificate. Herbert Welsh Evans Poinsett was born 4 March 1893. Poinsett originally joined a New Jersey National Guard C.A.C unit and apparently wound up in Battery D, 2nd Trench Mortar Battalion C.A.C. Cpl. Poinsett was a National Guardsman not a regular. Obviously, the 2nd Trench Mortar Battalion apparently contained a mix of regulars and National Guardsmen. This was cause for problems that Cpl. Poinsett relates in his diary. Cpl. Poinsett in his diary refers to the guns they had as "French 95's." His diary does contain some information on some of the engagements that he was involved in. Specifically: dates, time, and number of rounds fired. He indicates the last firing on November 11, 1918 at 10:30 A.M. to 10:56 A.M. 200 rounds. Battery D's commander was Captain Stewart which, Cpl. Poinsett did not like his very well. Cpl. Poinsett lost his corporal stripes because of this officer. Cpl. Poinsett claimed, in his diary it was because he was an National Guardsman. Cpl. Poinsett was Honorably Discharged in 1919.
Ben F. Poinsett supplied information on his father, Corporal Herbert Welsh Evans Poinsett.
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