Search billions of records on

The History of the
44th Artillery C.A.C.
During WWI

The above photo was provided by K.C. who was researching some members of the 44th Artillery. The caption below the photo reads: "44th Artillery C.A.C. (Regiment) Camp Jackson S.C."

The 44th Artillery used as its weapon the British 8-inch Howitzer. The 44th was used as Army Artillery and was with the American 1st Army from August 30, 1918-September 16, 1918 during the St. Mihiel Operations and also with the 1st Army from September 26- November 11, 1918 during the Meuse-Argonne Operations. Headquarters Company was attached to the American 2nd Army during Post-Armistice activities from November 12, 1918, -April 15, 1919. The 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 44th Artillery served as IV Corps Artillery at the St. Mihiel front from August 20-September 16, 1918 and also with the IV Corps at the Toul Sector and Thiaucourt Zone September 17-November 16, 1918. The 44th Artillery returned to the States aboard the British ship HMS Cedric on February 5, 1919 to Fort Totten, New York.

This is a photo that I have in my personal collection. On the wooden sign hung from the tree in the background is painted: 7th Battery Howitzer Regiment. The photo shows the gun crew loading an 8-inch shell into the breech of the gun. The photo was identified on the back as:

"French Official Photo. From Underwood and Underwood, New York.

The first photo recieved of the American Artillery before Metz. In this, a French Official photo, one of the first recieved in this country of the great Metz drive are seen the American Artillery before Metz, this capitol of Alsace, firing into the German lines."

Dated: September, 27, 1918

The 44th Artillery C.A.C. was formed as the First Howitzer Regiment of the 30th Separate Artillery Brigade while in France. In the early part of August 1918, just before the St. Mihiel drive there was a reorganization of the Army Artillery and the 1st Howitzer Regiment became the 44th Artillery, Coast Artillery Corps.

The 3rd Battalion of the 1st Howitzer regiment became the Second Battalion, 44th Artillery C.A.C. and has the honor of firing the first American gun on German territory. It was on May 3, 1918, that what was then known as the 5th Battery of the 1st Howitzer Regiment, commanded by Captain R. A. Linton sent its first 8-inch howitzer shell into the German lines. The location was near the village of Thann, opposite Mulhouse, Germany.

March 30, 1918 was the date that the 3rd Battalion, 1st Howitzer Regiment was formed at Haussimont, France from Batteries "I" and "K" of the 51st Artillery. Captain J. B. Wogan was Battalion Commander and Captains R. A. Linton and W. B. Champion as Battery Commanders. The 3rd Battalion, 1st Howitzer Regiment later became 2nd Battalion, 44th Artillery, C.A.C. After some brief training the 3rd Battalion left for the front on April 11, 1918 heading for Belfort in the Alsace. It was in this relative "Quiet Sector" that the Battalion started shooting up the Germans.

They remained at this front until the middle of August, staging the little nightly shoots and occasional daylight firings that were reminders to Fritz that, although the sector was quiet, the war was still on. During this time it is to be noted that very few changes of Battery positions were made, guns remaining in one emplacement for several months at a time. One of the officers who joined the battalion here tells of the beautiful country in which the guns were located. When he reported, the battalion headquarters were at Soppe-le-Haut. His Battery was located at Rammersmatt, way up in the mountains near Thann, overlooking Mulhouse, Germany. It had been in position at Willer, just over the mountains for about a month, and then moved here, where it was located from the first of June to the last of July. From the Battery position and from the observation stations, one could see for miles into Germany. There was nothing down in the valley, but on the opposite mountains were located the German batteries, possessing the same remarkable advantages for observation. Needless to say, the deadly fire, which could have been adjusted on any troops trying to cross the valley, had dissuaded both sides from attempting any offensive warfare, and things remained quiet.

It was here that an excellent sample of the gentlemanly warfare waged by both sides was displayed. One day one of the batteries moved into a new position and opened up with a registration shoot. They were firing from map ranges and deflections, and with a fresh lot of power. The first three shots were reported lost by the observers. Following several drops in range, a shot was finally picked up, about 1 km over. It was discovered that the first three shots had landed in a small German village, back of the lines. We had violated the customs of the locality.

The very next day, at exactly the same hour, Fritz sent over three shots into a town behind our lines. Things were then considered square.

Another of my personal photo collection. This was a photo that my grandfather , Cpl. Edington had in his collection. It is unidentified but it is of an 8-inch Howitzer gun crew. This would be a typical view of a gun and its crew of the 44th Artillery. It shows the camoflague of the gun and note the third man from the left, he is wearing his gas mask.

While at Rammersmatt Battery "C" sustained its first casualty on June 27, 1918, Sergeant Ralph Barker was killed by enemy shellfire while on duty at the gun position. Sergeant Barker was buried with full military honors at St. Amarin, Alsace, June 28th, 1918.

After remaining in one position until the last of July, a move was made to new locations near Haggenbach, farther south, in the vicinity of Altkirch. These positions were kept for but a week, and then the battalion entrained for Toul and selected emplacements and installed the guns for the St. Mihiel drive.

It might be well to note here that in the early part of August 1918, Major John B. Wogan was relieved by Captain Robert N. Campbell. There was a reorganization of the regiments of Army Artillery. First Howitzer Regiment became the 44th Artillery, C.A.C., and the old Third Battalion now became the Second Battalion, 44th Artillery.

No quiet around Toul, things were busy all the time. One of the officers of the battalion describes a typical night up there, showing some of the close ones that the Germans sent over. He relates:

"I was in the battalion commanders station one night when Fritz was quite noisy, showing us by zone fire at very regular intervals. We opened fire in return, and had fired about two rounds per gun, when I heard the most frantic call over the telephone."

"I answered, this is Battalion command, what in the Sam Hill do you what?"

"Shell fire in number one emplacement!"

"Anyone hurt?"

The man at the telephone evidently turned to find out if anyone was hurt, and I heard someone shout, "H'll no!"

I asked, "What was it, gas or high explosive?"

"It was a dud, sir."

The shell had dropped about five feet from the edge of the emplacement but fortunately had failed to explode. It had landed, however, with a loud thud, which had caused considerable commotion.

Later there was another crash, and I got another frantic call from someone else.

"B. C." "Shell just outside of number two emplacement."

"Anyone hurt?"

"No, sir."

"Was it gas or high explosives?"

"High explosive, sir."

I went down to the emplacement, and found that the shell had fallen about 15 ft. away from the gun crew, just 5 ft. behind the piles of projectiles.

In spite of the closeness of these shots, the Battery did not change its location, but continued itÕs firing, and was never shelled out.

During the heavy firing at St. Mihiel, the 3rd Battalion fired steadily at a high rate of speed, for seven and a half hours, at which time they received the report that the enemy, moving swiftly to the rear, was out of range. They then went into position between Bouillionville and Thiaucourt and held this position up to the signing of the Armistice.

It was just after the St. Mihiel drive that the 3rd Battalion acquired its Austrian Guns. In October, the 44th Regiment came under the command of Colonel Albert Louis Rhoades, C. A., the famous ballistician and raconteur. The Colonel called all the officers of the battalion together and explained to them his "Gypsy Gun" tactics. Each Battery was to have one roving, or "Gypsy Gun". This gun would fire from first one emplacement, and then another, keeping up its fire and keeping the Huns guessing as to its whereabouts.

Shortly after this, Captain R. A. Linton went out on one of his little expeditions to look over the surrounding country. While prowling around about 100 meters back of the front lines, at the scene of the heavy fighting at St. Mihiel, the captain came upon two enemy guns. They were 100 mm Austrian Howitzers, and had evidently been left very suddenly. The sights were intact, the breech mechanisms were perfect, and the bores almost new.

"Well I'll be damned if here aren't our gypsy guns", said the captain.

The lightness and mobility of these Guns struck the captain at once. Here were two ideal "Gypsy Gun's" for the battalion. It was not long until they had been hauled back out of danger. The problem now presented was an ideal one for a student of ballistics. No doubt many Coast Artillery Officers recall examinations in which one of the problems read; "You have secured a captured German gun. Nothing is known as to its ballistic properties or range. Required: range tables."

The problem has dumbfounded many a flourishing Officer.

"Let's cock her up a bit and see how far she shoots", suggested one officer.

In order for these guns to be of any real use, they had to have proper range tables. Once equipped with a range tables, and with ammunition, they would be as valuable as any guns which had cost Uncle Sam thousands of dollars, and loads of work on the part of hundreds of men in foundries, railroad yards, and on ships.

Who was to do it? None of the battalion officers would claim the ability to produce range tables for this gun. The matter soon came to the ears of the Colonel of the 44th Artillery. Ah! Now he realized that his seven years service on the Artillery Board at Fort Monroe had not been in vain! There was joy in his heart. His usually sunny countenance shone like a new sixty-inch searchlights. Although others would have thrown up their hands at the thought of such a task, Colonel Rhoades pitched in. Officers of the battalion gave a description of him, down in his dugout, amid piles of papers, log books, ballistic tables, and slide rules, busily solving the problem. Colonel Rhoades and Lieutenant Cahill worked steadily for hours and at last the stupendous task was accomplished. The Lieutenant nearly died, on the other hand the Colonel prospered, as he never had before.

The range table gave data for five charges of power, and for three kinds of projectiles. Gunnery experts can appreciate the scope of such a task. Now all was ready to accept that there was no ammunition.

Then followed a wild scouring of the country for 100 mm ammunition. There were piles of enemy ammunition all around, but no 100 mm stuff. It was not until long and tiresome searches, some of them under fire, had proven fruitless, that luck was with the battalion. In an obscure ammunition dump, a thousand rounds of the treasured ammunition, both power and projectiles, was found. The searching party hurried in to report their luck to the Colonel, and the guns were soon ready for action.

Battery Cahill

The guns were then formed into a Battery manned by the prize "Rough Necks" of the Second Battalion under the command of Lt. Cahill, and were known from then on as "Battery Cahill".

For the attack of the 28th Division of the 7th of November, 1918, the Battery was organized with motor trucks ready to follow the Infantry throughout the enemies lines had the attack been successful. But Fritz was too strong at this place as he had organized a heavy concrete defense strongly manned and more Artillery preparation was needed. The Armistice found this preparation in the process of being done to the extent that the 44th Artillery and the various Boche and American guns attached to it fired about 6,000 rounds during the last 48 hours of the war.

These captured Guns proved real finds, and did some wonderful shooting up to the end of the fighting in November.

It is here that Battery "C" lost most of its officers. Lt. Allen P. Francis who served with Battery during its whole period on the front, commanded the Battery the last 24 hours of the war, and was obliged to direct, unassisted, the shooting during the whole of this time. Without sleep for 36 hours, and little to eat except what he could snatch in between corrections of shots, he enjoyed to the full the life of a Battery Commander. The cause for all this was that on November 10th, the Battery Commander, 1st Lt. Robert Mochrie, and the other of the three Battery officers, 2nd Lt. William J. Lueck, were captured by the Enemy near Zames. Full particulars of their capture and experiences are not yet available, but we hope to have them soon.

As yet, our only figures show that over 1,200 rounds per gun were fired by the Battalion during the war. The exact figures were only up to October 26th, at which time the toll had reached 1,000 per gun. It is believed that the Second Battalion of the 44th Artillery has the best record of any organization of Heavy Artillery for the greatest number of rounds fired during the war.

[ Part of the above was reprinted from the February 15, 1919 issue of the Liaison, the Official Newsletter of the Coast Artillery Corps. ]

First Battalion, Battery A and Battery B

Chesley C. Smith, 253949, Battery A

Chesley C. Smith of Haiford, Florida enlisted into the Regular Army at Columbus Barracks, Ohio at the age 16 on the 19 of August 1916. His service number was 253949 and was in the 6th Company C.A.C., Coast Defenses of Eastern New York. On Jan 10, 1918 he was transferred to a MTC Detail until April 24, 1918 when he was transferred to Battery B, 44th Artillery, C.A.C. On May 28, 1919 he was transferred to Battery A, 44th Artillery, C.A.C. He was promoted to Bugler May 1, 1917, Private on January 10, 1918 and made Wagoner on August 1, 1919. Pvt. Smith sailed on January 13, 1918 with the Auto Repair Detachment, C.A.C. with 2 Officers and 93 enlisted men on the USS Agamemmon for duty in France. Wagoner Smith returned to the States with the 44th Artillery aboard the S.S. Cedric on February 5, 1919. He went to Ft. Totten, NY with the 44th Artillery and remained there until he deserted at Ft. Totten on 22 September 1919.

Pvt. Grafton L. Mouen, 817760, Battery A

Grafton L. Mouen was born about June of 1893 in Maumee, Ohio. On December 15, 1917 Mouen enlisted into the Regular Army at the Columbus Barracks in Columbus, Ohio. On June 28, 1918 twelve ships sailed for France. Aboard one of these ships was Pvt. Mouen sailing likely as a casual or in a replacement draft detail. Once in France he was assigned to Battery A of the 44th Artillery, CAC and served in the Champagne-Marne and in the Defensive Sector. Pvt. Mouen returned to the States with the 44th aboard the HMS Cedric on February 4, 1919. He was Hororably discharged on February 20, 1919.

Pvt. Robert J. Grant , Battery A

Robert J. Grant was born on May 28, 1898 and entered the Army in New York. He was first in the 114th Company, Coast Artillery Corps stationed at Fort Wadsworth, New York. Pvt. Grant likely entered into the Army before April of 1917 and the 114th Company was formed into battery E of the 8th Provisional Regiment, CAC. This would have made Pvt Grant to be one of the first three Artillery Regiments sent to France. Through several artillery re-organizations while in France Pvt. Grant found himself in Battery A of the newly formed 44th Artillery. He returned to the States with the 44th Artillery and lived the rest of his life in New York. On February 28, 1986 Robert J. Grant passed away and today lies burried in Section 2N, Site 4047 of the Long Island National Cemetery.

Second Battalion, Battery C and Battery D

Private Eugene Bernard Ross

Eugene Bernard Ross, was born in Portland, Maine in 1894 and served in World War One. Ross was a private in the 44th Artillery CAC, Battery D. He served in four Offensives in France.

1.) Offensive at Willer, Alsace. May 31st to June 29th 1918
2.) Offensive at Deiffmotten, Alsace. June 29th to August 22nd 1918
3.) Offensive at Barnecourt, Lorraine (St. Mihiel salient) Sept. 1st to Sept.15th 1918
4.) Offensive at Boullionville, Lorraine Sept. 15th to November 11th 1918

1st Lt. Robert Mochrie, Battery Commander, Battery C

Born on May 24, 1894 in New York City to Robert F. and Emily R. Mochrie, young Robert Mochrie grew up in New York City. In the spring of 1910 the Mochrie family lived on West 112th Street in the Borough of Manhattan. RobertÕs father was working as a sanitary inspector possibly for the city or a private plumber. The father, Robert F. Mochrie was born in Scotland about 1865 and had come to America in 1870. At the age of 29 he married Emily R. Lumsden who had been born in New York about 1866 of Scottish and German parents.

There in the home on West 112th Street lived Robert and Emily with their one and only son Robert. Also in the home lived EmilyÕs father William Lumsden (b. abt. 1842 Scotland) who was widowed and was then working as a carpenter. William Lumsden had come from Scotland to America about 1864.

As the years passed and young Robert Mochrie grew into a young man he became a leader and as such entered into the army as an officer. 1st Lt. Mochrie served as a Battery Commander in the Second Battalion of the 44th Artillery, C.A.C. during the First World War. On the day before the war ended the Germans took Mochrie and two other battery officersÕ as prisoner. On November 10, 1918 MochrieÕs Battery was in action and was overran by the HunÕs and the battery officers were captured. Nothing more is known about the capture of the officers but Mochrie would survive his capture and was returned likely the next day on the 11th of November.

Once Mochrie returned from France he returned to New York City and lived again with his parents, Robert F. and Emily. At the beginning of 1920 the MochrieÕs lived in the Bronx. The home was owned by Robert F. and was located at 409 West 261st in the Riverdale area near the corner of W. 261st and Tyndall Ave. Robert Mochrie was by now a 25-year old man and was single. It was unclear what his job was at the time.

About 1927 Robert had married a woman named Mary. She was born about 1902 in New York and was the daughter of Polish immigrants. Robert and Mary in the spring of 1930 were living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The couple rented an apartment in the Waynewood Hall Apartment building where the rent was $95 per month. Robert was working as a general manager in the motion picture industry. Robert and Mary did not have any children at that time.

In 1942 when Robert had to register for the Draft during WWII he was living at 1143 Fifth Avenue in New York City. At the time he was working for the RKO Radio Picture Company. Mochrie listed N. E. Depinet as the person to contact on the form. Depinet was in fact Ned E. Depinet the Vice-President of the RKO Radio Pictures Studio. RKOÕs two initial releases were musicials, the melodramatic Syncopation, directed by Bert Glennon, which premiered on March 29, 1929 and the comedy Street Girl starring Betty Compson and John Harron later on August 1, 1929. It is likely that Robert Mochrie had worked on one or both of these films.

Robert Mochrie would live in New York City for nearly the rest of his life. His last place he lived was Spring Lake, New Jersey where he passed away in August of 1980.

Third Battalion, Battery E and Battery F

William P. McGahey, 2453961, Private, Battery E, 44th Artillery

This information on Pvt. McGahey was provided to me by Lorraine Sullivan of New Smyrna Beach, Florida. She is the daughter of Pvt. McGahey. She had contacted me in reguard to information on the 44th Artillery and at the time I did not have a page on them. Because Lorraine was asking me about the 44th I decided that now was a good time to research them. Many Thanks to You Lorraine for providing this information on your father.

William Patrick McGahey was born in Westborough, Mass. in June of 1896. He attended the Westborough schools. After his discharge from the Army, McGahey in 1922 received a degree in accounting from the Worcester Business Institute. He later became senior accountant for the John J. O' Connor Accounting Firm, Worchester, Mass. He later was appointed town accountant for the town of Westborough, Mass. in 1931. He retired from that position, but was called back to work and gave a total of 30 years in that position. He set up the First accounting system for the town, revised forms, devised a new type of Treasury Warrant, compiled cemetery records of perpetual care bequests from 1898 for the Cemetery Department. Each year he was complemented by state auditors relative to the excellent way in which he kept his records.

In 1965, he was named the Outstanding Municipal Employee of Westbouough, an award sponsored annually by the Massachusetts League of Cities and Towns. In addition, he was the town's Soldiers Relief Agent, Veterans Graves Officer, the Veterans Service Agent for 15 years, Clerk of Selectmen (appointed 1932), Assistant Civil Defense Director and Liaison Officer (following a tornado in 1953 to resignation in 1958), United Fund Director, World War II Honor Roll Committee, Chairman of Red Cross Blood Bank in Westborough from 1946 for 30 years. MaGahey Was A Disabled American Veteran From The Meuse-Argonne Offensive During World War One. He was a Disabled American Veterans Charter Member, a member of the Massachusetts Municipal Auditors and Accountants Association. He was a member of the American Legion, Stowell-Parker, Westborough, Mass. Post, for 56 years and was a past Commander. He was awarded the American Legion Medal of Honor, the Ralph W. Frantz Memorial Medal, award to high school graduates. He was instrumental in raising funds to provide for the first ambulance for the town of Westborough. He helped to adopt boys and girls state programs, and helped to set up blood type and donation programs for the Red Cross. He also was part of the Stowell-Parker Post tree fund. McGahey married his wife, Lena, after his return from France during World War one. She died just two months before they would have celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary. Together they had one daughter, Lorraine, and two granddaughters, Lynn and Lisa. McGahey died at the age of 79 in December of 1975.

This was presented to Pvt. McGahey by the French

A post card of the S.S. Cerdic sent back to his family from Pvt. McGahey. On the back dated Feb. 5th, 1919 he has written: "Well I am back and I am good and glad this is the boat we came on. Some boat! We are at Camp Mills, N.J. I will be glad when I get home." Bill.

This page is owned by Joe Hartwell ©2002-2010

This page was created on 3 October, 2002 and last updated on Sun, Mar 13, 2011

If you have research comments or additional information on this page e-mail them to: Joe Hartwell

[Back to the Site Map] [Back to the Coast Artillery History Page]