The Fifty-second has come home. In its nearly seventeen months of service overseas it fired from many positions about Verdun and on the Champagne front, aiding the French and American armies, sharing in the St. Mihiel, Argonne and Verdun offensives; it helped build the chief American heavy artillery camp, one of the largest French ammunition dumps, and a vital supply railroad along the Meuse River; it was complimented by American and French generals; and generally it displayed a versatility of industry that makes it quite impossible to tell its story in just a few paragraphs.
So this is simply a sketch of the outstanding facts of its tangled history, in celebration of its arrival at Newport News, Virginia on January 3, 1919. The Regiment is now at Camp Eustis, awaiting demobilization.
The Fifty-second began its career at Fort Adams, R. I., in July of 1917, as the Provision Seventh Regiment, one of the three regiments of Regular's from the Atlantic Defenses out of which the First Separate Brigade was formed. The Sixth, Seventh and Eighth owed their names to experimental mobilizations of the Coast Artillery Corps before the war. In 1911, when a division was mobilized at Galveston in the American Army's first speed test with a unit of that size, the First, Second and Third Provisional Regiments of Coast Artillery were organized into the First Separate Brigade, operating as infantry. In the summer of 1916 two regiments of infantry, formed out of some twenty companies of the Coast Artillery for service along the border, were called the Fourth and Fifth. The provisional regiments now formed for overseas service took the next consecutive numbers.
The Sixth was the first of the three to leave New York, but the Seventh, which embarked on the HMS Aurania on August 18, overtook it at Halifax and the two regiments crossed the Atlantic in the same convoy, escorted by nine British destroyers. The Eighth followed a week later.
This photograph was taken in England and shows the officers of the 7th Provisional Regiment, the first Coast Artillery Regiment to reach France.
THEY ARRIVE AT MAILLY
The Seventh reached Liverpool on September 2, 1917, with no more exciting adventure en route than a day spent in Bantry Bay, Ireland, because submarines were in the convoy's course and had to be chased off by destroyers. The Regiment disembarked at night, and left the next morning for Camp Borden, midway between London and Southampton, from which port it presently crossed to Le Havre, France. On September 13 it reached Mailly-le-Camp, Mai1ly for short, which served as the principal Heavy Artillery base and supply depot for the American Heavy Artillery through the hospitality of the French Army, which had a huge artillery park and permanent camp there.
A diary kept by Corporal Mulligan, company clerk of Battery A, records the pleasant fact that at Mailly the men "were met at the station by General Coe, Chief of American Heavy Artillery in France, and the French Artillery Chief, with French troops and a French band, who escorted the regiment through an arch made of French and American colors to the quarters we were to occupy." The corporal then notes two significant dates: "Received first mail from U.S., 17 September 1917. First pay day in France, 27 September 1917."
They Start Building
The old Brigade it was camp that Mailly for a few days, but a week or two after its arrival the Second Battalion of the Seventh that was sent on to Haussimont, 8 kilometers away, where the men found spreading of green fields which it was their business to turn into a heavy artillery cantonment. Haussimont, halfway between Chalons and Troyes, lay about 2 miles from Sommesous, where the French had training epis for their railway guns. The weather was fine, and the men established themselves in pup tents while they worked on one story floorless French Barracks for which the orienteurs had staked out sites. After about a month of this fatigue duty the Second Battalion was relieved by the First, and by the Second Battalion of the eighth (53rd Artillery). The First tracks of what that afterwards became one of the largest railroad yards of the American Expeditionary Forces were being laid, and an aviation field was being graded, while the cantonment was put up.
They Get 320's
Meanwhile, at Mailly, the regiment was getting its guns. The paper organization called for four batteries in each of the three Battalions, two batteries in each to have 32's, at the other to have 19's. Thus Batteries A and B of the First Battalion, E and F of the Second, and L and M of the Third were given 32's, though there were not enough to give each Battery two and the regiment, at this time, mustered only eight in all. The batteries that received 19's never took them to the front, and all at the regiments fighting was done with the 320's or 340's. The photographs give it a very fair idea of the construction of the 320 and its carriage and the peculiar features of its operation.
The batteries train with their new Guns at Mailly until November, when the regiment was reunited at Haussimont, except for Battery E, which was left behind at Mailly to man the saw mills which were turning out lumber for the cantonment at Haussimont. It was bitter cold, but drilling and target practice went on until the old Coast Defense gun crews, which were in most cases kept intact so far as possible, were accustomed to their new duties.
"Spent first Christmas in France at Haussimont," Corporal Mulligan writes. "The day was cold at, with a slight flurries of snow. Many of the men receive packages from home and altogether it was a good Christmas under the circumstances."
The newly constructed epis at Haussimont were used for drill, and the nearby French ranges at Sommesous served for target practice, while the batteries waited for orders to go forward and fire. When the orders came, Batteries L and M were the lucky ones. On February 10th entrained for the front in company with batteries at H and I of the 53rd, the whole groupement being commanded by Major W. H. Menges (now Colonel and lately in command of the School of Fire, Camp Eustis). Major J. A. Green (now a Lt. Colonel) commanded the group from the 52nd. The adventures of Group Gilmor, from the 53rd, which was the first to fire a, were recorded in the December 21st 1918 issue of Liaison on page 3.
They Begin To Fire
Group Green was loaned to the fourth French Army and found it routed via St. Heris to Hans, not far from St. Menehould, between Rehims and Verdun. The gun trains back in behind a hill and the guns moved, on the evening of the 11th, into epis prepared by the French. They expected to fire on the 12th, but fog prevented that, and the crews remained in the gun trains until the morning of the 13th.
At 3:00 a.m. they went out to fire, but were again disappointed. It proved impossible to observe on the assigned targets, and no firing could be done that morning. Instructions to change targets were received in the afternoon, and the batteries were ordered to demolish an observation tower and ammunition dump and the silence a battery of 155 's at a range of about 14,000 meters. Aerial, ballooned and terrestrial observation (all French) were now available, though the air was very hazy and accurate spotting was impossible.
About 4:32 p.m. Battery M opened fire. After two shots Battery L also fired, and three salvos were fired with good effect. German aviators shores had been looking over the position a few days before, but no shots from the Boche Batteries troubled the Americans during the shoot. The group returned to Haussimont on the 14th.
THEY PLAY SHUFFLE-BOARD
While these batteries were at the front the name of the Regiment was changed to the 52d. But that was the least of the changes, which the regimental organization encountered. On March 26 the whole Second Battalion, Batteries E, F, G, and H were transferred to the Provisional Howitzer Regiment (later the 44th Artillery).
In April Batteries I and K left Haussimont for the front, and did a good deal of firing in the Alsace. Batteries L and M saw service in the St. Mihiel drive, Battery L at Royaumeix in the Toul sector, Battery M at Chempenoise. But since these batteries composed the Third Battalion, which was transferred on August 6, 1918, to a new regiment called the 42nd Artillery (together with regimental headquarters of the 52nd), their detailed record does not belong in this story.
To finish the record of these checkerboard reorganizations, one must skip to midnight, August 6-7, when the four batteries of the old First Battalion; all that remained of the Regiment after the Third Battalion was detached were assigned to two new battalions, while two batteries from the 53rd, L and M, were formed into a new third battalion of the 52nd Artillery. The new regimental organization included three battalions of two batteries each, the batteries being increased from 132 men to 220. Batteries A and B of the old First Battalion were the new First Battalion 52nd Artillery; Batteries C and D of the old First were the new Second Battalion 52nd Artillery; and the new Batteries E and F received from the 53d Artillery were now the Third Battalion 52nd Artillery. To increase the batteries to their newly authorized strength replacement troops were added, diluting the Regular personnel.
THEY EAT PRODIGIOUSLY
While some of the new men were pretty raw, and did such weird things as playing ball with hand grenades, the men as a whole were very well behaved. They were fortunate enough to escape with hardly more than a couple of dozen casualties in all, and though they were often under fire and bombed at position after position they escaped serious consequences. There was a great deal of digging, first and last, in the Regiment's job, and the men developed prodigious appetites. Two of them walked into a little French restaurant one day and ordered three-dozen fried eggs.
"Mais oui," remarked the beaming proprietor. "And your friends, they arrive soon, sans doute?"
"No friends. We eat those eggs," replied the two artillerymen, in positive but un-Parisian French. And they made good.
The Third Battalion never fought with the rest of the Regiment. All it's firing, with 340's, was done under the command of General Gouraud of the Fourth French Army, and all its positions were on the Champagne front between Rheims and St. Menehould. It did good work and was cited for it, and it would have received some of the big Navy guns if the war had lasted a little longer. Lt. Col. (then Major) Knight commanded this battalion at first, Major Wayne M. Gilmore later.
THEY DO MORE BUILDING
Early in March the old First Battalion had left Haussimont for the second of its building jobs. This time it was as ammunition dump in the Vosges, which was one of biggest in France. Batteries A, B, C and D worked at Charmes on this project until the Fourth of July 1918, which involved the erection of some 200 buildings. They were comfortably billeted in a nearby village and enjoyed the hearty hospitality of the French. "The work was carried on six days a week," remarks the Battery A chronicler, "and on Sunday we once more became soldiers and had inspections and instructions in gas and other methods of warfare." Training on the guns for short periods only interrupted the work.
From the Vosges the Battalion moved to Avrainville, in the Toul sector, for railroad construction, which kept it busy until nearly the end of July. Then it returned to Haussimont for drill, refitting and the reorganization of August 6, which has already been described. Major J. A. Green, who continued to command the new First Battalion until he was ordered to the Training Center at Fort Monroe, Virginia, when Major William P. Frazer succeeded him, had commanded the old First Battalion. Major Frazer was later, to serve as executive officer of the Great West Groupement at Verdun. Major E. M. Metzger and Major Walker commanded the new Second Battalion successively.
THEY FIRE WITH MUCH ECLAT
The new First Battalion was the first to get into action, seeing several days' shooting near Verdun during the latter part of August. On September 3 it moved to Genicourt for a share in the St. Mihiel drive. The guns destroyed their targets, which was an ammunition dump and crossroads at St. Maurice, so efficiently and quickly that General William Chamberlaine, the Commanding General of the Railway Artillery Reserve, congratulated the Battalion.
In mid-September, Batteries A and B, moved to Recicourt, where they took part in the Argonne operations. They "made preparations for the largest engagement of the year." says Corporal Mulligan. The heavens fairly opened when the great barrage of September 26, 1918 began. The Battalion was firing on Montfaucon, on which a terrific rain of heavy shells was concentrated. After two days' firing and a week or more in position, the Battalion was withdrawn and sent to Chattancourt for still another construction job, of which more later. Meanwhile the new Second Battalion occupied several positions about Verdun under heavy enemy fire and fired on a concentration camp, observation posts, an abri "big enough to hold a regiment", and other targets. Both of its batteries then joined the First Battalion at Chattancourt.
THEY'VE BEEN WORKING ON THE RAILROAD
The Verdun-Meuse railway, winding along the Meuse River toward the German lines, had been under heavy shellfire for four years and was badly shot up. Now that the Germans were being driven back, it was possible to begin repairs, and since the movement on the front was too rapid for the 320's to keep up with it, the First wad Second Battalion of the 52d,together with about four batteries of the 43d Artillery, two of the 53d Artillery, and a company of Engineers, were put to work as railroad construction gangs.
There were shell-holes in the roadbed large enough to put the ordinary second lieutenant's quarters in, and it was under heavy fire from enemy batteries, so the task was neither an easy nor a pleasant one. The villages, which had marked the route Charny, Chattancourt Cumieres, Forges, had been smashed by shellfire. In Cumieres there were only two fragments of buildings that still stood high as a man. One could not tell the streets from the house sites. The artillerymen lived in pup tents and dugouts while they worked, and though an average of 150 shells fell nightly in and about Charny, they suffered no casualties. Fortunately the ten days spent on this work were mostly cloudy and rainy enough to prevent accurate German observations.
Field Artillery troops passing by took their fling at the strange labors of the men from the Big Gun Corps.
"What are you doing with those shovels?" they would shout.
"Hell!" the men from the Coast Artillery Corps shouted back. "We could put your whole guns inside our big babies!"
Incidentally the road when repaired was so very valuable for the S.0.S. that it was promptly adopted as the chief route for general supplies for the sector it reached, and the Heavy Artillery had to take its chances on getting its own ammunition up over the crowded rails.
THEY HELP HELL TO BREAK LOOSE
About October the first Battalion went back to Haussimont, but the Second Battalion joined the huge West Groupement at Verdun, which was mobilized for the final offensive. The 14-inch Navy guns, and two battalions of the 43d with 19 G's, were also parts of the groupement, which hurled a total of 971 shells into the Hun lines on its biggest business day! Battery D fired from Sommedieue, 15 kilometers south of Verdun, and was there when the armistice was signed.
The Regiment sailed from St. Nazaire on the Antigone on December 22. It fell to the lot of the 52d to do a good deal of digging and building, but as one officer remarked, nine-tenths of heavy artillery is work with the shovel, anyway.
And the heavy railway guns, splendid as is their service at the beginning of an offensive in a war of position, are inevitably handicapped when movement becomes rapid, either way. The 52d went through more than its share of reorganizations; and its commissioned personnel changed repeatedly. Colonel (now Brigadier-General) Johnson Hagood took the Regiment over. He was relieved about November 1,1917, by Lt. Col. (now Colonel) Frank B. Edwards, who was succeeded in April 1918, by Colonel Kimmel. From July 1918, until the fighting was practically over, Colonel Malcolm Young commanded the Regiment. Only one officer, Major Robert T. Devereux, M.R.C., was attached to the Regiment continuously from the beginning to the end of its service.
But for all-around usefulness throughout America's part of the war has any Regiment of the Big Gun Corps a better record?
By Major THOMAS H. JONES,
In following the accounts of the activities of various Coast Artillery outfits, it has appeared to me that the early operations of the Railway Artillery Reserve have not been given proper consideration. Those engaged in those early operations were by way of being pioneers and suffered all the well-known hardships and experiences of that class of trail blazers. Of course, to many of those who were fortunate enough to subsequently participate in the swearing, sweating, fighting experiences of the Big Pushes, the old days, when the word "Front" was one to conjure with, seem meek and unexciting, but the retreat from Mailly and the Battle of Haussimont, it will be admitted, had certain individual characteristics. It is not the intention of this article, however, to go into the details of this period of preparation during which we got educated, got our guns, and got Hell. We learned that an epi was not related to an epigram. that a garage was not necessarily a home for motor cars, and as for "Gisement," shucks, that was nothing. We listened with respect and admiration to those languid gentlemen who came dribbling in, telling us about the way things were done at the front. Oh, the magic of that word! All day and all night we could hear the rumbling, groaning, and complaining of the mysterious "Front." Excitement subdued but intense, a new rumor born with every breath, officers calculating feverishly and every outfit raring to go.
We were among the first, Stockton's Battalion, Batteries "I" and "K" of the 52nd Artillery, C. A. C., subsequently changed to "A" and "B," of the 42nd. The day had arrived. I make the statement without fear of contradiction that this was some outfit, one to gladden the heart of any military man, all Old Regulars, God Bless 'em, capable, willing, and uncomplaining.
The first group of Coast Artillery Officers off for the front. Part of Stockton's Battalion.
Billeted in Lower Alsace-First Americans on German Soil
After an uneventful trip through some beautiful country we arrived under cover of darkness at Mortsweiler, in Lower Alsace, being, it is believed, the first American outfit on German territory. The noises that the Front habitually indulges in sounded pretty close, close enough for one to detect the menace in its grumbling. The Boche was staging a desultory "strafe" nearby and the French were holding up their end of the argument. With every nearly crash, the wise ones (Oh, yes, we had some of this brand, every outfit does) would air their professional and linguistic knowledge by whispering: "That was an arrivie " or "That was a partie." We were actually at the Front, the goal of every soldier's ambition. Our very capable billeting officer led us to our billets; those for the officers were not so bad, but those for the men were well, I may be wrong, but I got the impression that the cows permitted themselves to be ranked out of quarters with a suspicious complacence. However, almost anything looked good after the "Hommes 40 " and there were no complaints.
Epis and Abris
Daylight found us looking over our position. The epis were beautifully constructed and, would you believe it, just like we had been reading about way back at Mailly. Nothing had been constructed in the way of abris, and we immediately started in to make a great deal out of nothing. The outfits worked hard and willingly and accomplished a lot. A five-day snowstorm added to the discomfort but permitted the work to go on unobserved. The sixth day broke bright and clear but the work proceeded undisturbed until about nine o'clock, when I heard one of the men say: "Don't you hear that airplane?" Everyone gave their undivided attention to locating the plane, the lazy droning of a great bee, could be heard but no plane was in sight, then suddenly the Jack Johnsons burst into song and soon the air above was full of Wooly Bears. Keen eyes discovered one plane after another, resembling silver dragonflies flashing in the sunlight, darting, dipping, and gliding about in bursts of shrapnel and high explosives, apparently unconcerned. This merry game continued until it was the German airmen's lunch time, when they started hungrily homeward, and we resumed work.
The second Sunday, following our arrival, the men worked in shifts so they could have an opportunity to bathe and arrange themselves more comfortably in their billets. Some of us were taking what we considered a little necessary rest and recreation, sitting around a table in a cafe in a nearby village and having a snifter of French grape juice, and each one telling the others in turn how good he was, as is the custom on such occasions, when a French motorcycle messenger came dashing up and reported that our positions were being fired on. Gosh ding! Maybe we didn't leave in a hurry. We didn't even stop to pay the bill. The firing stopped as we neared the position, and there was really nothing for us to do except inventory the damage. Three men badly wounded, approach tracks cut in two places, and the general vicinity looking untidy and unsafe. We called it a day, adjourned and organized a poker game, all-agreeing not to play a minute after twelve. This little incident indicated that there was a war on and served as an additional incentive for revenge.
Now, it must be confessed, that the operations in those parts at that time did not agree with the popular conception of war. By a tacit agreement, billets were neither shelled nor bombed. The civil population, who were so inclined, was given every opportunity to practice spying "unmolested. In our little village of La Chapelle sous Bougemont alone, there were, according to General Gamelin, who commanded this sector, some forty-five well known spies who were paired with French spies on the German side. Taking it by and large, it was a very poor war, but, as the expression went, it was the only war we had so we had to make the best of it.
Our Rubber-Banded Counter-Recoil System
While it is not the intention of this article to be technical to any degree, a few semi-professional remarks might be of interest. The guns were French seacoast, cast iron, 24-cm., model 1870, relined with a steel rifled tube, mounted on simple railway trucks to fire at howitzer angles. Maximum range, about 14,000 meters. The principal feature was the counter-recoil system. More than one seasoned Coast Artilleryman took one look at it and burst into tears. It simply couldn't work. It violated every tradition of complication. Even now it pains me to describe it. The system consisted fundamentally of rubber bands that stretched on recoil and pulled the gun back into battery by simple tension. Imagine the wails that went up and the bitter cries of "Old Junk"!
Our tactical raison d'étre was simple. There were some fifty emplaced German batteries in our field of fire, and we were to systematically destroy as many as our capability would permit.
Our First Target
Everything now being ready, we were assigned a target for our first shoot. It is well to pass over the results of this shoot in dignified silence, but the second, "Mon Dieu"! How we did romp on those birds! The dope called for two hundred rounds to destroy our target, an emplaced battery of four 105's, but after we had fired eighty-six, S.R.O.T., having direct observation, reported that further fire was useless as the target was completely destroyed. It was vin rouge night in the village of La Chapelle that night. Only one fault was found and that was that the recoil system worked so perfectly that it stopped the argument. Prior to the shoot, rude laughter had greeted the estimation that these guns could be fired at the rate of ten shots per half hour. Well, the rate of fire developed in this shoot was almost one shot per gun per minute.
Fire Adjustment Developed
From this time on shoots progressed merrily with varying results, but invariably satisfactory. During this period it developed that a combination of the bracketing and successive approximation system of fire adjustment was the most satisfactory came into some vogue throughout the Railway Artillery. Several rules for fire control were adopted as a result of observation and practical experience, the principal one of which, I believe, was, "After fire has been adjusted, never change the range setting until the reason for the contemplated change is based on the results of at least as many shots as were fired in arriving at the range then being used." Thus, if it took four salvos to adjust the center of impact on the target, no change should be made until at least four more salvos have been fired.
Our shoots were so remarkable that they deserve a detailed description. We were furnished the exact coordinates of a battery emplaced in heavy woods. It could be dimly recognized, in the airplane photograph furnished, by using a powerful glass. It had been accurately located, when active, by observation on its flashes. It was extremely desirable that its pernicious activities be terminated, and all calculations and preparations with a view to bringing about this desired result were accordingly made.
We opened fire early in the afternoon of a beautiful clear, still day. The first salvo of four shots was reported by the observing plane and S.R.O.T. as making four direct hits. Our 24-G projectiles made a considerable splash and the confusion around the battery must have been worth seeing. It was in action up to the time our wrath descended upon them, but so far as is known it has never been in action since. The next salvo was reported as making four direct hits, ditto the next. There must be some mistake, says we to ourselves, so we fired three more salvos as rapidly as possible and anxiously waited for results. First S.R.O.T. reported four shots just short, four shots direct hits, and four shots just over, which amazing results was shortly afterwards checked by plane. Naturally, we didn't take time to change the elevation and deflection but just hopped to it. With clock-like regularity, every shot was reported a hit. It was so uncanny that it was almost a relief when a shot was finally reported as a hundred over. To vary the monotony, two magazines were reported as heading skyward. On the eightieth shot, we were told that there was no use wasting any more time, there was not a thing left to shoot at. Unbelievable though it may be, seventy-six of those eighty shots were located, by the most accurate methods known, within twenty meters of the target. A photograph, subsequently taken of this position of the arrivées, so we were not immediately aware that we were under fire. This will be more readily understandable from the following incident that illustrates the deafening noise made by a battery of 24 G's firing at maximum speed.
The Thirty-Second Division had moved into this sector for its "baptism of fire," and established Division Headquarters about a half kilometer from our position. General Haan, originally a Coast Artilleryman, had expressed considerable interest in our guns and, desiring to see them in action, had asked Major E. A. Stockton to call him up the next time we fired. Major Stockton, accordingly, got the Division Headquarters on the phone and said: "This is Major Stockton. Please tell the General that we are firing," to which the Staff Officer, who answered the phone, replied: "My God! Don't you suppose we know that? Why, that is all we do know."
The gun crews and those in the B.C. car were in pretty much the same fix as this Staff Officer, so it came as a surprise when the Battalion Commander called up the B.C. car and asked whether or not the shelling was sufficiently near us to make it desirable to cease firing and abandon the position. We took a good look and listen then and found that high explosives were dropping with considerable regularity about fifty meters to the left of No. 4 gun and reported that the immediate danger was not great.
We finished the shoot and withdrew just as the enemy changed his deflection and began dipping them around No. 3 and No. 4 guns. Subsequent inspection revealed that two 150mm. H. E. shells had dropped feet within ten feet of No. 4 gun, literally covering it with dirt but doing no other damage. We had our get-away just in time!
The German 150mm. gun, as a class, was a particularly accurate and vicious weapon, and those numbers of the tribe, obviously assigned to get us, were no exceptions. This battery crouched some 200 meters beyond our extreme range, and personal danger could be discounted in making plans for its use against us. Owing, undoubtedly, to the great distance between our guns, the enemy realized the futility of further destruction fire and settled on a policy of neutralization, a very crafty decision, though the first attempt, as set forth above, was abortive.
First C. A. C. Officer Killed
The next few efforts at neutralization were also fruitless and then, without warning, Hell descended upon a battery firing and immediately the moans of the wounded filled the woods. The Battery Officer and First Sergeant, with complete disregard of danger, crossed and searched the shell-swept area, carrying helpless wounded to safety. While engaged in this heroic work, the Battery Officer, Lieutenant Hoskins, was killed. Thus was the first Coast Artillery officer called upon to make the Supreme Sacrifice. Thus was another perfect score recorded in the game called Life.
Just prior to this time, the writer and several others in the Battery were classified as "experienced" and were transferred to regiments arriving from the States to disseminate any knowledge we might have regarding the way things were done at the front. Imagine leaving an outfit continuously in action to begin all over the dreary, drudgery of training. That huts but it is part of the game. I know, by hearsay and correspondence, that this Battalion remained in approximately the same position until Armistice Day, continually and being fired on, continuing to accumulate experience and paying for it with casualties. It fired the greatest number of rounds of any American manned guns of equal or greater caliber. I understand that it was constantly in the German eye and never fired but that an attempt was made to neutralize it, but it kept right on the Job.
A great part of the experiences outlined in the foregoing were common to all of those organizations of the Railway Artillery Reserve that participated in the early operations. Let us hope that in setting forth the vicissitudes of Stockton's Battalion, I have selected a typical example that will enable those who were not able to participate actively to form some kind of an idea of what this phase of the work of the Big Gun Corps was like, and what it meant to be on the job along the line with that indispensable adjunct to modern armies, the Railway Artillery Reserve.
By Corporal Ben W. Skinner, Battery C, 52nd Artillery, C.A.C.
On the 10th of September, 1918, Batteries "C" and "D" found themselves billeted in a small and partly destroyed village situated on the St. Mihiel salient. The name of the village was Grosrouvers. German shrapnel had perforated the tin roofs and sides of the shacks that were allotted to us for billets, but after all, we didn't mind the holes that were in our new homes, because while we were in that vicinity we didn't use them long enough to take a new load of "cooties" It was rumored that there would be a big drive on this part of the front, and we were all glad because we had looked forward and longed for a wonderful experience like that, and we wanted to show "Uncle Sam" that we had the grit to do real fighting, as well as the pick and shovel end of it. Our great desire was fulfilled a few days later, on the 12th of September. I must not get ahead of my story; I will tell our experiences as they came to us.
We were assigned to a position a few kilometers closer to the lines, just a little to the north of Bernecourt (better known as "Suicide Village.") The Engineers who were constructing our epis had not finished them, so we had to complete them and construct our B.C. dugouts and trenches. All day of the 11th we worked very hard to get our positions ready in time for the great offensive. During the day "Old Jerry" (The Boche) observed us butting in on the front, so he sent over a few 77s for souvenirs. They were good line shots, but were going over us. We were a little nervous at first, but later took the advice of Sergeant King, who said: "Don't worry, boys, those 'Heinies' couldn't hit a 'bull' in the stern end with a snow shovel." The night of the 11th we were at work putting down our I-beams, and there we were at one o'clock on the morning of the 12th of September, when the great Franco-American barrage started. The moment before the barrage opened up Captain Metzger, our Battery Commander, told us to go to the trenches.
When we jumped into the trenches we found that we were standing in mud and water, thigh deep. That didn't worry us any, because just at that time we didn't know whether it was the Germans that were being bombarded, or the Germans bombarding us. The concussion was so great it would wave and shake our clothes like a hard wind blowing. A few minutes later we were called out of our trenches to resume our work, and then we found out that it was all our own artillery that was doing the shooting. At five o 'clock our Infantry went "over the top," and all up and down the lines old "Joe Boche" began sending up his artillery rockets that called for a counter barrage. But it didn't get him anything, because his artillery had already been knocked out, or else, as the French say "Les Boche partir."
Just before ten o'clock, news came to us that the "Doughboys" had driven the Boches back a great distance. We were overjoyed to hear such good news. At the time we didn't have much to do; we were waiting for our ammunition that was being pushed up to us by a French engine, so we all gathered together to talk about what we were doing to the "Boche," and what we were going to do to them, and what should be done to the Kaiser when we won the war. At the, height of our "tete a tete", the ground blew up in a cone-like shape. A shell had burst in our midst. Just for one second every man in the bunch looked as if he were having a bad nightmare; then like a bolt of lightning, every man dove under the gun.
The only man that was hurt by that shell in Battery "C" was a redheaded "Yank" who ran into the side of the gun and skinned his nose. A rock that was blown up in the air landed on a fellow's head in Battery "D" and put him to sleep for a while. About this time one of our gun officers ordered us to scatter out and take cover. We began running in small detachments to some old trenches. The "Jerries" began shelling the different detachments. The shells would mostly always hit the ground and burst in a conical shape. We discovered that when we heard a shell scream toward us, if we would dive flat on the ground like sliding for home plate in a ball game, it would save our hides from lots of punctures. Finally, we reached the trenches and old "Fritz" lost sight of us and stopped throwing the G. I. Cans over.
Then we "snuck" back to our guns. They pulled us out of those positions the next day, September 13, 1918, and we went into position near Pont-a-Mousson, for one night. The "Boches" bombed us that night. The next day we left those positions and that ended Battery "C's" part and experiences in the St. Mihiel Offensive.
"Good old Betsy Ross,"
"You showed the "Huns" at "Verdun,"
why we came across.
At "St. Mihiel," you taught 'em, what the
C. A. C. could do,
And made a "bran-new" record for the
You helped your "Sister Elsie," when she
could not stand the strain
And fought them single handed at "Jardin Fountain."
We hate leave you Betsy, we are called
Across the sea,
But the French will take good care of
You, the pride of Battery "B".
W. B. Taylor,
Battery B, 52nd Artillery
This is the way the men of Battery B, 52nd Artillery, C.A.C., said good-bye to the joy and pride of their hearts, the two 320 mm’s, which they had affectionately christened "Elsie Janis" and "Betsy Ross." With the very first shell fired at Verdun on August 27, 1917, "Elsie" broke her trunnion band but the necessary repairs were made and "Elsie" again went into action. Then at the Argonne "Betsy Ross," with true feminine sympathy, broke her trunnion, band on the tenth shot.
Well, here we are back again in God's country and mighty glad to be here, too. I never found out just why they call it "Sunny France" for we never saw any sun while we were there. And that place the French call a "rest camp," Oh boy! Nobody could rest there except a dead man. They did us one great favor when they "cootieized" us.
On board the Antigone we met a bunch of real fellows that Uncle Sam might well be proud of. The first day out was pretty rough. The first victim was Private Charles Altman. Father Neptune sure had Altman "buffaloed." He never spoke to anyone for two days and that is a sure sign he was sick. Then we had the detail dodgers and Sergeant Smith had the hardest job in the world trying to find anyone to clean up the hatches. The only time you could find a headquarters' man was on the chow line for that is the one place where they sure are "shock" troops. Most of the boys are pretty fast workers and so they had plenty to eat. Private Walter Berg was sometimes seen twice in the chow line; he claims the he believes in the Golden Rule and explains that the mess fed him and he fed the fishes.
Arriving at Newport News we were sent to Camp Stuart and we were given a nice bath and are clothes put through the cootie Machine. To look at some of those clothes after they came out of the machine one would suspect the owner of having use them for a pillow. Then something very unusual happened, much to our surprise we were given liberty from retreat until 7:00 a.m. At first we thought it was a joke but it turned out to be true. We all got "Dolled up" and went to Newport News where the people treated us very nicely. A dance was given for the boys and to look at some of the Privates one would suspect that they believe themselves to be Colonels by the way they were "dolled up" in nifty uniforms with service pins across their chests.
Our joy was short-lived for we were sent off to Camp Eustis to await Chinese laundry tickets or discharge papers, we weren't sure which. But say, talk about the Argonne Forests, those French ought to come here and see Camp Eustis, Virginia. What is worrying the boys now is when do they get their real home made meal, or see the bright lights, or get a hug from the best girl or the other guys best girl while he is still in France, or a kiss from mother, and all those of the things that make life worth living.
On behalf of this detachment, I want to say that while this organization is being split up, the National Army, National Guard and Duration men going to the Army of Occupation, and the Regulars staying with Uncle Sam there was not a better bunch than ours over there.
It is related that one day in France Battery F of the 52nd Artillery was being drilled by a Second Lt. who gave the command, "To the rear Gallup." as the company kept on marching to the front he halted it and in no complementary terms wanted to know why his commands were not executed. A private in the rear rank said, "Sir, Battery F never gallops to the rear."
It was on midnight of the 14th of July, 1918. The boys of Battery F were in the dugout waiting for dawn to come and the shelling to stop when suddenly the "Top" burst in and said, "Boys, the big show is on," and slinging our packs we started for the Battery position about a mile and a half away. After going about 5 miles Sergeant Smith turned to the Lieutenant and said, "Sir, we are lost."
"Never mind, Sergeant, just keep your post," replied the Lieutenant. Thereafter we heard the Lt. remarking several times that he wondered why he could not find that A.P.(Aiming Point) After going about 10 miles we found the A.P. lying on the ground.
Battery F, 52nd Artillery in position on 1 May 1918 at Reherry, France.
Battery E, 52nd Artillery in position on 1 May 1918 at Reherry, France.
By Pvt. Silas A. J. Pancake, Battery A, 52nd Artillery.
During my seventeen months in France I made it a point to observe and study the French people and among other things I have come to the conclusion that discretion, even to the extent of retreat, is at times the better part of valor in an "affaire de Coeur." When my battery was billeted in the little village of Mailly I made the acquaintance of "une petite femme" named Madeline. At the time was I was cooking in the officers' mess and as I had every other day off it was necessary for me to occupy this time in some way or another, so I found me Madeleine. I spent much time with the young lady and my observations and studies progressed fairly well.
We had to overcome some difficulties in accomplishing our meetings as Madeleine was only sixteen years old and her father did not permit her to go out with soldiers, not even American soldiers. Pere Gegat liked the "Yanks" all right but he did not like the idea of his daughter going out with them, so we had to do some scheming. One thing that helped us was his fondness for cigars, to purchase, which he sent his daughter to the cigar store of the town every day. I knew the route she took just like a book and was right on the job when little Madeleine came tripping blithely along. It was pretty hard for us to understand each other at first, as I knew about four or five words of French and her vocabulary in English was equally extensive, so we would just look at each other for a long time and then laugh, but as we got better acquainted we could do lots better then that.
Madeleine got a little book of English and I got a little book of French and after awhile everything went pretty good. We had been working the cigar store stunt for about two months when I met her stepmother and she thought I was the Real Stuff (apologies to George Ade). One-day step mama fixed a plan for us to have a nice little "tête-à-tête" and sent Madeleine for some cheese; I waited around the corner for her to come. It was about half past one when we started and we walked all afternoon and although we did not know it, her father was getting very uneasy about her.
It was late in the evening before we started home and we walked boldly up the street without thinking about the Old Man. Just as we came around a bend in the road near the little store which her father kept we saw him in the street with a big shovel policing up around the place. I saw him but I did not think he saw me so I told Madeleine to speed it up and I slackened my pace so that she would get there quite a little ahead of me. After she got in I sauntered into the little store. I was talking with step mama when suddenly the Old Man came after me with his big shovel. I ducked out and started down the street, and my pace was not as short as it had been before. Just so that you won't think I was afraid I had better explain that. Papa Gegat was about four feet six inches tall while I am six feet one inch in my stocking feet, but I did not want to have any trouble and get pat in the mill, besides I guess I must have had a guilty conscience. Down the street we went and all the time he was handing me something in French that I could not understand, but which I never have believed was very complimentary. However I never went back to find out what it was. Every four of five paces I would call back to him over my shoulder. "Oui oui." He got tired of chasing me after awhile and went back. After that I thought it was better for my health to stay at the officers' mess than to go poking around Papa Gegat's shop.
What about Madeline? Now you are getting curious.
As I find information and photos of men who served in the 52nd Artillery I will list them here in this section. If you have information on someone who served in the 52nd please e-mail me and I will add their story to this web page.
The story of twenty-three-year old Leonard Cunningham Hoskins begins before he was born. He descended from ancestors, who were ready to take on a challenge. These included Nathanial Tilden, who outfitted and sailed on the Mayflower. Also Colonial relative Daniel Hoskins, an Army Officer serving in the Revolutionary War. Captain Daniel Hoskins was a devoted member of George Washington’s staff. He took part in the famous crossing of the Delaware River with the General and was given a silver ring from General Washington's walking stick as a token of appreciation for his devotion.
Several generations later Leonard Cunningham Hoskins would also serve his country. The story of young Leonard Hoskins picks up with his grandfather Lafayette Hoskins, born about 1825 in New York. He was a shoemaker and storeowner who lived in St. Louis, MO with his wife Sarah Lucretia Tilden, she, the daughter of Congressmen and Judge, Daniel Rose Tilden. Together they had a son named Daniel Tilden Hoskins, born in September of 1857. When Sarah died shortly after giving birth to Daniel, his grandparents, Mary Bolton and Professor Leonard Hoskins, an avowed abolitionist, took over helping raise the infant. This is the great-grandfather that 2nd Lt. Leonard Cunningham Hoskins was named for.
Leonard's father, Daniel Tilden Hoskins was named in honor of his famous relative who served with General Washington. He'd eventually strike out on his own, driving horse and wagon along the famous Santa Fe Trail. This led him in 1880 to a boarding house run by Charles E. Wesche and Samuel Jeffries in the city of Las Vegas, New Mexico, often called the Wildest of the Wild West Towns. When the owners left, Daniel ended up running the boarding house, and invented an inventory system that would later be used by Fred Harvey, of the Harvey Girls restaurants fame. He and his children would end up facing the likes of Doc Holliday, Jesse James and Kit Carson. Experiences that would prepare the young Leonard for circumstances he would face later in life.
By 1884, Daniel T. Hoskins would meet and marry his Canadian sweetheart, Florence Douglas. She had immigrated to the states in 1862 with her father, Mississippi riverboat Captain, John Douglas and mother, Mary Stewart Douglas.
Their children started with Harry Douglas born in May of 1885, then daughter Dorothy Florence born in April of 1887. Another two sons Daniel Tilden Jr. born in April of 1889, and John Douglas were born in April 1891. Son Leonard Cunningham, born August 8, 1894, followed by son Jerold, who died in infancy. Sixty-six year old Mary Stewart Douglas widowed mother of Florence lived with them.
Daniel Hoskins Sr. supported his loving, active family as a partner and cashier of The San Miguel National Bank, in Las Vegas N.M. He eventually worked up to being the bank vice-president. Leonard got his middle name from Daniel's business partner, J.M. Cunningham.
By 1904 the family had grown to add one more daughter, Helen and another called Frances. It was at this time, due to complications of childbirth, Leonard’s mother Florence passed away. His father Daniel kept the family together by himself, as best he could. Young 15-year old Leonard was in school and was doing what he could to help out.
After graduation from the local High School in Las Vegas, NM, Leonard had a desire to better himself. Being a good student he wanted to become an engineer. Following in his brothers Tilden and Douglas' footsteps, he went to college at the University of Illinois at Urbana where he was accepted into the engineering school.
Leonard C. Hoskins while at the University of Illinois at Urbana
Photo shared by S. H. Close, who is related to 2nd Lt. Hoskins
As the spring of 1917 was unfolding, war clouds came to America and Leonard, in his last year of college felt the call to serve his country like his famous Colonial relative. As America entered the war in Europe, the slender 22-year old blue eyed, brown haired Leonard came home to Precinct 29 in East Las Vegas, New Mexico and registered for the Federal Draft.
The Army, would need men to lead it's growing number of enlistees who would soon be filling its ranks. Leonard being a new engineering graduate was selected to be an officer, and as a new 2nd Lt., Leonard Hoskins was assigned to the Army’s Coast Artillery Corps and sent to Ft. Adams, Rhode Island where the 7th Provisional Regiment was forming.
His regiment sailed in September 1917 landing in Liverpool, England. They made their way, ending up in Haussinmont, France where the American Heavy Artillery was based. They spent much of their time learning about the weapons they would be taking to the Front. 2nd Lt. Hoskins was a Battery Officer in Battery I of the 7th Provisional Regiment under the command of Major E. A. Stockton. They were among the first Coast Artillery men to see action at the front.
The weapons in which the men of Battery I would use were French Seacoast guns cast in 1870. They were of a Cast Iron design with steel tubes. These guns were taken from French Forts and mounted on railroad flat cars. One of the strangest things about these ancient guns was the recoil system, which was quite literally a set of giant rubber bands that took up the recoil when the gun was fired. Many men with 2nd Lt. Hoskins saw this for the first time and wondered if this would even work. In fact the French said that they could be fired at a rate of a shot every ten minutes, but the men under Stockton’s Battalion fired one shot every minute. This speaks highly of the hard work preformed by men like 2nd Lt. Hoskins in making such great improvements in this antique weapon.
Battery I was called to the front and their first targets were to be a battery of 4 guns of German 105’s in the La Chapelle area in Alsace, France. Hoskins battery was called on to take this German position out and 200 shots were called for to do so. But 2nd Lt. Hoskins battery took out the Germans in only 86 shots.
On the 28th of June 1918 the Germans sent over a hail of shells. One of the guns of Lt. Hoskins battery was located in woods not far from the gun Leonard was assigned to. The other battery in the woods was then firing on a target when the Germans fired back with a deadly hail of shells at this American gun. Soon the woods were filled with the moans of wounded men. 2nd Lt. Hoskins and his First Sergeant without any thought to their safety ran out into the hail of incoming shells from the Germans to save his fellow men. Lt. Hoskins and the First Sergeant carried many helpless and wounded men to safety. Lt. Hoskins was hit and killed while saving them, he was the first Coast Artillery Officer killed in action during the war.
At the age of Twenty-three, 2nd Lt. Leonard C. Hoskins was laid to rest in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, a hero to his family and to the men who he commanded and saved that day in June 1918.
Back home Lt. Hoskins family grieved over his death on the battlefield. Leonard’s father Daniel T. had remarried in 1913, Grace Dunlop, a schoolteacher, who was born in 1875 in Missouri. Defying the stereotype of an evil stepmother, Grace was loved by all, especially the motherless Hoskins children.
As soon as the war was over Grace applied and was granted permission under the WWI Mother’s Pilgrimage act. She traveled to France and the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery to visit the gravesite of her stepson 2nd Lt. Leonard Hoskins. Called “Gold Star Mothers,” Grace earned again the name all had already felt for her.
In 1930 Daniel T. and Grace living in a rented home for $56 a month at 1930 La Salle Ave. in the city of Los Angeles, California. Leonard's father Daniel T. who was now 73-years old and retired, afforded himself one of the few luxuries of the day, a radio set, and with him rested the following medals that had been awarded posthumously to his son Leonard:
The World War I Victory Medal with Defensive Sector Clasp
World War I Victory Button (silver)
Purple Heart Medal
Croix Guerre with Bronze Star
The Distinguished Service Cross
His DSC Commendation reads:
"By direction of the President, under provisions of the act of Congress, approved July 9, 1918 (Bul. 43, W.D. 1918), the distinguished service cross was posthumously awarded by the Commanding General, American Expeditionary Forces, for extraordinary heroism in action in France to the following named officer... Leonard C. Hoskins, second lieutenant, Coast Artillery Corps, 52nd Artillery. Near La Chappelle, France, June 28, 1918, he gave proof of great devotion and bravery when he entered a shell swept area in search for wounded, and was killed while conducting several of his men to safety."
The city of La Vegas, New Mexico honored their fallen son by naming the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post, Number 24 in honor of 2nd Lt. Leonard C. Hoskins.
His brothers Douglas, Harry and Tilden, also served in WWI. Their descendents have carried on the Military tradition, having served in WWII, Korea, Desert Storm and Iraq, all proud of their country, and proud to serve.
Harold Kramer was born about December 1891 or January 1892 in Lithopolic, Ohio. Harold enlisted into the Ohio National Guard on 22 June 1916. He was assigned to the Hq Co., 4th Infantry, Ohio National Guard and later to the Hq Co. 166th Infantry. His rating was Sergeant and on 21 November 1917 was discharged to accept a Commission as a 2nd Lt. in the Army. Upon his commissioning as a 2nd Lt. in the Army he attended OCS at Ft. Harrison, Indianapolis, Indiana from 12 June 1917 to 5 July 1917. On 18 October 1917 2nd Lt. Kramer sailed with the 166th Infantry on board the transport the USS Henry R. Mallory at 3:05 p.m. from Port of Embarkation, Hoboken, New Jersey. At some point while in France 2nd Lt. Kramer was transferred to the 54th Artillery, C.A.C., and this may have been on 29 May 1918 when he was promoted to 1st Lt. He was again transferred to the 52nd Artillery, C.A.C. and this again may have been on 5 July 1918 when he was advanced to Captain. Captain Kramer was with the 52nd Artillery and fought on the front at the St. Mihiel operations and on the Meuse-Argonne actions. Captain Kramer returned to the States on 5 November 1918 and was Honorable Discharged at Fort Terry, New York on 9 January 1919.
Harry Adair was born about 1888 in Athens, Ohio and lived at the the time of enlistment in Dayton, Ohio. Harry enlisted on 24 February 1917 into the Regular Army at the Columbus Barracks, Ohio and was assigned to Battery C, 52nd Artillery, C.A.C. Pvt. Adair returned to the States on 3 January 1919 and was furloughed to the Reserve Army on 29 March 1920.
Albert Adkins was born about November 1898 in Salem, Virginia and lived at the the time of enlistment in Cincinnati, Ohio. Albert enlisted on 10 February 1917 into the Regular Army at the Columbus Barracks, Ohio and was assigned to the 1st Company C.A.C. at Ft. Terry, New York and was on 17 July 1917 assigned to the 2nd Co. C.A.C., Ft. Terry. Assigned to the 7th Provisional Artillery, C.A.C. he sailed on the 18th of August 1817 with the 7th Provisional Regiment with 187 officers and 1,726 enlisted men aboard the transport HMS Aurania. As the 7th Provisional regiment was re-organized Pvt. 1cl Adair ended up in Battery C of the 52nd Artillery and fought on the front at the St. Mihiel operations and on the Meuse-Argonne actions with Battery C. He returned to the States on 3 January 1919 and was Honorable discharged on 9 December 1919.
On Sept. 24, 1917, by Executive Order 2707, he was transferred to service and jurisdiction of the War Department. Previous to his transfer he was a commissioned Junior Hydrographic and Geodetic Engineer in the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey. Effective Sept. 24, 1917, he was commissioned First Lieutenant in the Coast Artillery Reserve Corps of the U.S. Army, and soon thereafter entered upon duty at the Artillery Training School at Fortress Monroe, Va.
After completing his course at this school, on Nov. 27, 1917, he was assigned to duty with the Coast Defenses of Charleston, S.C., at Fort Moultrie, where he was attached to Battery B 61st Artillery, C.A.C., for another course in training and equipping for services in France. For several months during the period of training at Fort Moultrie, during the absence of the Captain of the battery, he was commanding officer of the organization, and among other duties instructed in the regimental schools on subjects pertaining to engineering, surveying and range finding. He sailed from Newport News, Va., on July 18, 1918, and arrived at St. Nazaire, France, July 31, 1918.
In the reorganization of the regiment for active field service he was made regimental orientation officer, and in this work he was called upon to conduct various schools for training in orientation and later he was engaged in extending by survey the artillery range at Camp de Longe, France.
On Oct. 26, 1918, he was promoted to Captain in the Coast Artillery Corps, and was transferred to the Railroad Artillery Reserve Corps for duty at Mailley de Camp. He was assigned to Battery F and in the absence of a superior officer acted as commanding officer of the 3rd Battalion, 52nd Artillery. The material of this battery consisted of two pieces of 32 cm. French guns, mounted on railroad trucks.
He was later transferred to the command of Battery B of the first Battalion and in that capacity returned to the United States on January 3, 1919. Upon arrival, he was assigned with his organization to Camp Eustis, Va. and later to the Heavy Artillery School at Fort Monroe, Va. He was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army on May 5, 1919 and returned to the Coast and Geodetic Survey on the following day.
Written on back of photo:
|Originally a railcar repairman, Henry had served with the U. S. Army during World War I, and saw heavy action in the St. Mihiel, Argonne and Verdun offensives, in France, with Battery C of the 52nd Artillery, Coast Artillery Corps. He had reached the rank of 1st Sergeant before leaving the service at the end of the hostilities in 1918.
Henry returned to West Virginia and, two years later, married Myrtle C. Dunning. Together they established a home in Cabin Creek, West Virginia. He became a foreman at the Pure Oil Co. refinery, the state’s largest, and a year later, they would celebrate the birth of their first child, Ruth Ann. A son, Robert, came into the world two years later. Sadly, the joy of their second daughter Edith Marcelline’s birth, on May 25th, 1925, would be short-lived as the infant girl would only survive four days.
Finally, on July 17, 1929, James (named for his paternal grandfather) joined the family. Both Creasey brothers would continue the family tradition of serving their country, Robert in the Marine Corps and James in the Air National Guard and Air Force. Their mother was active in the Evening Star of Rebekha Lodge 163, who met at the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Hall, in East Bank, and served as the lodges outside guardian.
In 1950 Henry was one of 37 honored guests, most who had worked there for 25 years or more, at a dinner for veteran retired employees of the Pure Oil refinery in Cabin Creek. His service to the company was also commemorated in a full-page ad which appeared in the local newspapers.
Henry's son, James was killed in the crash of a transport plane in 1951 as the aircraft was attempting to land at Yeager Airport, in Charleston, WV. Henry died in August, 1957 and was buried near his son at Montgomery Memorial Park, in Montgomery, WV.
Richard Cox Coupland was born at West Point, Va., in 1893. He graduated from Virginia Military Institute at Lexington, Va., in 1915, and two years later enlisted as a flying cadet. He graduated from the U.S. School of Military Aeronautics at Cornell University at Ithaca, N.Y., and commissioned a second lieutenant in the Coast Artillery in October, 1917. He then went to Foggia, Italy, where he completed his pilot training in March, 1918, after which he served with the 52nd Artillery of the American Expeditionary Forces in France until the following November. During this time he participated in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive and in the occupation of a defensive sector.
Returning to the United States in May 1919, he was assigned to Fort Terry, N.Y. The following year he received a degree in electrical engineering from Virginia Military Institute, after which he did experimental work at Glouster and Boston, Mass., and Washington, D.C. In October 1921, he transferred from the Coast Artillery Corps to the Ordnance Department and was assigned to Springfield, Mass., for duty in the Experimental Department.
In August 1923, he entered the Air Service Engineering School at McCook Field as ordnance representative and post ordnance officer. In July 1928, he went to Washington, D.C., for duty in the Office of the Chief of Ordnance. Four years later he transferred to Raritan Arsenal in N.J., as maintenance and shops officer, and in July 1934, was appointed depot supply post ordnance, and war plans officer at that station.
He returned to Washington, D.C., in August 1936, to enter the Army Industrial College, from which he graduated a year later. He then was appointed assistant chief of the Civilian Personnel Division in the Office of the Chief of Ordnance, and subsequently became acting chief of that division. In August 1938, he was designated chief of the Small Arms Division in the Office of the Chief of Ordnance.
A year later he was assigned to the Office of the Chief of the Air Corps in Washington as assistant to the chief of the Plans Division. He became a member of the Plans Division in July 1940, and the following November was designated ordnance liaison officer with the Materiel Division of the Office of the Chief of the Air Corps. In January 1942, he became chief of the Accessories and Equipment Section in the Office of the Assistant Chief of Air Staff at Air Force headquarters in Washington.
He was appointed air ordnance officer at Air Force headquarters in February 1943, and served in this capacity until March, 1946, when he was designated chairman of the Air Force Materiel and Services Planning Board, whose mission it was to develop and recommend a detailed plan to accomplish the materiel and service objectives of an autonomous Air Force. In June 1946, he resumed his duties as air ordnance officer, and on Nov. 6, 1947, transferred from the Ordnance Department to the Air Force.
The following July his title of air ordnance officer was abolished and General Coupland was named director of armament for the Air Force. He assumed command of the Air Materiel Armament Test Center at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., in April 1950.
During World War II, General Coupland's office was instrumental in the research, development and supply of the following ordnance items: high rate of fire and high velocity machine guns; improved 20 mm, 37 mm, and 75 mm cannons; armor-piercing, incendiary, special high-velocity, and headlight tracer ammunition; larger and improved general purpose, fragmentation, blast, semi-armor-piercing, and deep penetration bombs; methods for clustering fragmentation and smaller type, general purpose bombs, so that more economical bomb loads could be carried; bomb fuses which made low-altitude bombing possible; VT fuses, and series of target-identification bombs.
General Coupland holds patents covering radio control of dynamic bodies, aircraft gun synchronizers, feed mechanisms of aircraft weapons, computing gunsights, aerial mechanisms and various types of ammunition. General Coupland has been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Army Commendation Ribbon and the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in the degree of Honorary Commander.
He was promoted to first lieutenant (temporary) Jan. 31, 1918; to captain (temporary) Nov. 2, 1918; to first lieutenant (permanent) July 17, 1919. He reverted to his permanent rank of first lieutenant May 3, 1920, and was promoted to captain (permanent) March 16, 1928; to major (permanent) July 1, 1937; to lieutenant colonel (permanent) Oct. 26, 1940; to colonel (temporary) Feb. 1, 1942; to brigadier general (temporary) March 18, 1943; to colonel (permanent) April 2, 1948; to brigadier general (permanent) June 11, 1948, with date of rank from Jan. 22, 1945, to major general (temporary) Dec. 21, 1948. (Up to date as of April 1950) Retired Aug. 1, 1951. Died Jan. 10, 1988.
|Pvt. Kenneth D. Byron.
At the time of enlistment lived in Lincoln, Nebraska and was born in Russia August 17, 1894. He was the son of Bessie and Kenneth Byron. Kenneth Byron entered the Army on December 11, 1917 and was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 52nd Artillery Corps. He served in France on the Champagne front.
Fred A. Bauer was born 24 March 1894 in Barnesville, Minnesota to German-American parents. Previous to his enlistment into the US Army he worked as a machinist. On 8 December 1915 Fred Bauer enlisted into the Army in Indianapolis, Indiana and was sent to the Columbus Barracks, Ohio. Pvt. Bauer was then assigned to the 4th Company, C.A.C. at Ft. Totten, New York. On 1 July 1916 Pvt. Bauer was advanced to grade of Corporal On 21 April 1917 Cpl. Bauer was transferred to the 6th Company, Ft. Totten, New York. On 23 July 1917 Cpl. Bauer was advanced to grade of Sergeant. Sgt. Bauer was again transferred into Battery H, 7th Regiment, Coast Artillery Corps. Then as the 7th Regiment was re-organized became Battery H, 52nd Artillery, Coast Artillery Corps. And again the 4th Battery, 2nd Battalion, 30 Seperate Howitzer Regiment. And finally as Battery B, 44th Artillery, Coast Artillery Corps on April 26, 1919. Sergeant Bauer served overseas from August 17, 1917, to February 4, 1919. Sgt. Bauer served in St. Mihiel Offensive; the Champagne-Marne Defensive; and the Lorraine, Alsace and Champagne Defensive Sectors. After return to the States, Sgt. Bauer was furloughed to the Regular Army Reserve, at Fort Totten, New York, on April 26, 1919, as a Sergeant and was discharged on June 4, 1920.
Canteen cup of "R. J. Waters, 149869, Battery B., 52nd Artillery, C.A.C. A.E.F."
Walter W. Merrill was born 20 October 1881 in Newport, Kentucky. He made his home in Glendale, Ohio and was commissioned as a Second Lt. in the Infantry on 2 March 1903. On 6 April 1917 he was advanced to Captain in the Coast Artillery Corps and was assigned to Fort Baker, California. From 25 May 1917 - 29 November 1917 he was stationed at Ft. Winfield Scott, California in the Coast Artillery Instruction Reserve Officers Training Corps. Captain Merrill sailed on 12 December 1917 aboard one of the following ships that sailed on the 12th; Adriatic, Pocahontas, Susquehanna and the Antigone. He may have been on the Susquehanna as she was the only ship that carried any Coast Artillery Corps units (1st AntiAircraft Battalion). After arrival in France Captain Merrill was with the HQ Co. of the 7th Provisional Artillery, C.A.C. and on 14 February 1918 Captain Merrill was given a temporary comission as a Major. On 28 April 1918 Major Merrill was assigned to the Heavy Artillery School in France and on 30 June 1918 was assigned to the 2nd Battalion of the 42nd Artillery, C.A.C. On 20 October 1918 Major Merrill was assigned to the 52nd Artillery, C.A.C. and that same day was advanced to Lt. Colonel. Lt. Col. Merrill was with the 52nd Artillery during the St. Mihiel actions and also during the Meuse-Argonne operations. Lt. Col. Merrill returned to the States on 3 January 1919 and on 29 May 1920 was Honorable discharged from his emergency Commission only and reverted back to his Regular Army Status.
George A. Burke was born in Fredrick, Maryland. Burke enlisted into the Army on 6 July 1911 and served with the 109th Company, Coast Artillery Corps. His first enlistment period was from 6 July 1911 - 5 July 1914 and his second enlistment was 6 July 1914 - 2 April 1915. On 7 October 1915 Pvt. Burke was advanced to Corporal and made Sergeant on 21 April 1917. On 14 June 1919 was made Gun Commander. Assigned to the 7th Provisional Artillery, C.A.C. he sailed on the 18th of August 1817 with the 7th Provisional Regiment with 187 officers and 1,726 enlisted men aboard the transport HMS Aurania. As the 7th Provisional regiment was re-organized Sgt. Burke ended up in Battery C of the 52nd Artillery and fought on 9 August 1918 at Threrville, 29 August 1918 at Balecourt, St. Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne actions with Battery C. He left France with the 52nd Artillery on 22 december 1918 and returned to the States on 3 January 1919 and was Honorable discharged at Camp Eustis, Virginia on 15 September 1919. his discharge papers was signed by Lt. Col. Walter W. Merrill, who is profiled above.
The springtime of 1917 found Oscar Zinneman in the 8th Grade in Hanover, PA and his only cares were school and pitching baseball for the 8th Grade team. Young Oscar had always admired the military and when America entered the war in April of 1917 Oscar felt the call. But he was only 14-years old, how was a boy of 14 to become a man in the Army?
Ironically Oscar’s story begins in Germany, where one day he would go to fight his kinsmen. Oscar’s father, Ernest George Zinneman was born in Germany on August 19, 1876. As a young boy all things mechanical intrigued Ernest, and as such when he became a young man he took the trade of a machinist. Ernest joined the Imperial German Navy and rose to become a Chief Machinist. Ernest at the height of his German Naval career became the Chief Machinist of the Kaiser Wilhelm’s private Yacht the Hohenzollern. The yacht’s name came from the House of Hohenzollern, which was the family dynasty of kings and emperors of Prussia, Germany and Romania, which date back to the 11th century, of which the Kaiser's bloodline came from. Ernest served 4 years in the German Navy and then about 1898 came to America where he would live the rest of his life.
In 1901 while Ernest was 26-years old he married his wife, Estella K. Henry, who was 16-years old at the time. That same year Ernest became a Citizen of the United States. Ernest and Estella started their family when their first child was born, a son named Oscar H. Zinneman born on September 14, 1902. The Zinneman family made their home in York County Pennsylvania in the city of Hanover.
The family would eventually grow again in 1913 when sons Woodrow and Wilson were born. Woodrow and Wilson may have been twins as they were born the same year. It seems that the one time father who was the Chief Machinist on the Kaiser’s Yacht had a sense of American Patriotism by naming his two sons after the American President Woodrow Wilson. Then again in 1916 son Edward was born and another son Earl in 1918. A daughter named Myrtle born about 1922 and then finally two more Zinneman sons named Carl E. and George W. born sometime after 1930.
According to the 1930 Federal Census, which showed that the Zinneman family, except Oscar and the two sons born after 1930 lived together in a home owned by Ernest and Estella valued at $4,500. The home was located on Alleghany Avenue in Hanover, PA and Ernest was working as a machinist in a wire cloth factory. Sons Woodrow and Wilson who were 17-years old at the time worked as leather cutters in a shoe factory. Edward, Earl and Myrtle were all in school.
In the spring of 1917 as young 14-year old Oscar Zinneman was on the baseball field his thoughts were not of the game, but of the battlefields of Europe. Oscar asked his father Ernest, who himself had served 4 years in the German Navy if he could join the Army. Ernest reportedly answered him “Well go, I have no objections.”
Soon enough on April 28, 1917 Oscar at the age of 14-years, 7 months and his 16-year old cousin Robert Henry accompanied by their fathers Ernest Zinneman and Jacob Henry, traveled to the York Recruiting station to enlist their sons in the Army. Jacob Henry was the brother of Estella Zinneman and the Henry’s lived on North Street in Hanover. In the Jacob Henry family there were 6 children including Robert who was the youngest.
After a considerable amount of talking Oscar and Robert were finally allowed to join the army. Oscar was sent to the Columbus Barracks in Columbus, Ohio and selected for service in the Army’s Coast Artillery Corps. Oscar Zinneman as a new recruit was sent to the east coast and was placed into the newly forming 7th Provisional Artillery Regiment as a Private. This was one of 3 such Artillery regiments being formed from the ranks of the Coast Artillery and would be among the first troops to go to France.
On the 18th of August 1917 Pvt. Zinneman was among the 1,726 enlisted men and 187 officers of the 7th Provisional Artillery who sailed aboard the British transport ship HMS Auriana. When the 7th Provisional Regiment finally got to France Oscar Zinneman found that he was among the first Artillerymen to fire French made 32cm Railroad Artillery Pieces at the Front. For Oscar this may have held some reservations as it was not improbable that the shells he was firing may be killing some of his family members, albeit distant relatives, but Oscar knew he was an American and it was for the Freedom of his country he was fighting for.
While at the front Oscar saw much action as the 7th Provisional Artillery was always at the thick of the action. Once Oscar was wounded in the left foot with some shrapnel. But he refused to be treated and in his words retold later “Oh, that was nothing! It was all in a days work and the wound healed quickly.”
Oscar saw his share of German gas while on the line and once recalled, “…we would see clouds of gas rolling our way. So we donned our gas masks. A piece of shrapnel cut into my respirator tube. It was damaged too bad and I was unable to grab a second mask quickly enough.” Oscar survived the gassing but it left its mark on him as after he returned home after the war rheumatism put him in bed for over a year. In the 15 years after returning from the war in France Oscar was in the Naval Hospital in Philadelphia with recurring attacks nine times.
While with the 7th Provisional Regiment, Oscar was transferred to Battery C of the 52nd Artillery, C.A.C. during a major re-organization of the American artillery units. Then later still again during a second re-organization was transferred to the 42nd Artillery, C.A.C. Pvt. Zinneman took part in the battles of Alsace, Champagne, St. Mihiel and the Butte du Mesnul Offensive.
As early as October 11, 1917 Oscar was known as “The Youngest Doughboy.” In the Thursday, October 11, 1917 edition of the New Oxford Item, New Oxford, PA, there was an article telling the home folks that Oscar was “the youngest soldier from Pennsylvania and may also be the youngest soldier from any other state in the Union.”
After Oscar recuperated from his first bout of Rheumatism met and fell in love with his wife, Beulah Shuman of Midway, PA where they were married on October 18, 1922 in Pittsburgh, PA.
Oscar’s fame as the “Youngest Doughboy” followed him long after the war ended. In November of 1932 Robert Ripley, the famous author and cartoonist of “Ripley’s Believe it or Not,” came to Hanover, PA to interview Oscar Zinneman for Ripley’s book. Ripley drew a cartoon of Oscar and entered him in his book as the “Youngest Doughboy of the United States Army during WWI.”
Oscar and Beulah lived the rest of their lives in Hanover, PA at 104 Alleghany Ave. in Hanover, PA, which was the same street he lived on as a boy. Oscar and Beulah had two sons, Maurice M. and James E., and at the time of Oscar’s death he had nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
While Oscar was raising his family in Hanover he felt the call to serve his community like he had felt the call to serve his country. Oscar was a 50-year member of the Hanover Fire Department, a member of the Hanover VFW Post 2506, and the Fireman’s association of York County, PA.
At the age of 67 on Tuesday evening September 16, 1969 Oscar passed away in Hanover General Hospital. He had been under the care of a doctor and was admitted earlier that day and at 8:30 that evening died. His funeral was held at the Wetzel Funeral Home in Hanover and was officiated by the Rev. Carroll C. Luckenbaugh, pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ. Oscar H. Zinneman was then buried in the Rest Haven Cemetery.
Organized 22 July 1917 in the Regular Army at Fort Adams, Rhode Island, as the 7th Provisional Regiment, Coast Artillery Corps. Redesignated 5 February 1918 as the 52nd Artillery (Coast Artillery Corps). (3rd Battalion inactivated 16 May 1921 at Fort Eustis, Virginia; activated 18 August 1921 at Fort Eustis, Virginia; 1st Battalion inactivated 1 August 1922 at Fort Eustis, Virginia.) Redesignated 1 July 1924 as the 52nd Coast Artillery. (Battery D inactivated 1 November 1938 at Fort Monroe, Virginia; Battery F inactivated 1 February 1940 at Fort Monroe, Virginia; Batteries D and F activated 8 January 1941 at Fort Hancock, New Jersey; 1st Battalion activated 1 June 1941 at Fort Hancock, New Jersey.) Regiment broken up 1 May 1943 and its elements reorganized and redesignated as follows: Headquarters and Headquarters Battery disbanded at Fort Hancock, New Jersey.
1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battalions reorganized as the 286th, 287th, and 288th Coast Artillery Battalions, respectively (Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 288th Coast Artillery Battalion, concurrently inactivated at Fort Hancock, New Jersey.) After 1 May 1943 the above units underwent changes as follows: Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 52nd Coast Artillery, reconstituted 28 June 1950 in the Regular Army and redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 52nd Field Artillery Group. Activated 18 January 1952 at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Redesignated 25 June 1958 as Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 52nd Artillery Group. Inactivated 30 June 1971 at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
286th Coast Artillery Battalion converted and redesignated 30 August 1944 as the 538th Field Artillery Battalion. Inactivated 14 December 1945 at Camp Myles Standish, Massachusetts.
Activated 31 December 1946 in the Philippine Islands. Inactivated 30 May 1947 in the Philippine Islands. Activated 22 March 1951 at Camp Carson, Colorado. Inactivated 1 June 1958 in Germany.
287th Coast Artillery Battalion converted and redesignated 30 August 1944 as the 539th Field Artillery Battalion. Inactivated 28 December 1945 at Camp Myles Standish, Massachusetts.
Activated 31 December 1946 in the Philippine Islands. Inactivated 30 May 1947 in the Philippine Islands. Activated 18 March 1955 in Japan. Inactivated 25 March 1956 in Japan.
286th Coast Artillery Battalion inactivated 18 April 1944 at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. Disbanded 14 June 1944. Reconstituted 28 June 1950 in the Regular Army; concurrently consolidated with the 52nd Field Artillery Battalion (active) (see Annex) and consolidated unit designated as the 52nd Field Artillery Battalion, an element of the 24th Infantry Division. Inactivated 5 June 1958 and relieved from assignment to the 24th Infantry Division.
Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 52nd Artillery Group, and the 538th, 539th, and 52nd Field Artillery Battalions consolidated, reorganized, and redesignated 30 June 1971 as the 52nd Artillery, a parent regiment under the Combat Arms Regimental System. Redesignated 1 September 1971 as the 52nd Air Defense Artillery. Withdrawn 16 April 1988 from the Combat Arms Regimental System and reorganized under the United States Army Regimental System with Headquarters at Fort Lewis, Washington.
Constituted 1 October 1933 in the Regular Army as the 52nd Field Artillery. Redesignated 26 August 1941 as the 52nd Field Artillery Battalion and assigned to the 24th Infantry Division. Activated 1 October 1941 at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
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