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Battery C, 56th Artillery, C.A.C.
1917-1919


Battery C of the 56th Artillery, was composed principally of men from 3rd Co. Long Island Sound, formerly 5th Co. Fort H. G. Wright, N.Y. formerly the 146th Co. C.A.C. On 28 March 1918 there were 230 enlisted men plus the below listed officers in Battery C that sailed on the HMS Olympic. Battery C was commanded by the following Officers as of 28 March 1918:

Captain George A. Wold
1st Lt. Henry S. Schermerhorn
1st Lt. Arthur L. La Rocque
1st Lt. Winston W. Little

2nd Lt. Earle C. Herrick
2nd Lt. Andrew M. Avery

1st Sgt. John L. Setzer, Battery C 1st Sgt.

When the 56th Artillery Returned on 5 January 1919 from Brest, France only one officer and 208 enlisted men returned with the Battery on the USS South Dakota. Below is a list of the men in charge of Battery C when they went aboard the USS South Dakota on 5 January 1919:

Captain, Harry C. Carpenter, Battery Commander
1st. Sgt. Westley Stewart, Battery 1st Sgt

As dawn broke on the morning of August 22, 1918 Battery C, 56th Artillery, Sergeant Clitus Swann and crew of Gun No. 1, opened the barrage. Firing of both Batteries C and D were directed on targets assigned by Regimental Post Command. In general targets consisted of fire on cross-roads, bridges, ammunition dumps, troop movements and rest areas. During this period the Battalion suffered a great many casualties from enemy shell fire. 1st Lieutenant Oscar H. Cowan of Battery D and three enlisted men of Battery D died from the effects of shell fragment wounds received. The Germans were now committed to the defensive, the offensive having passed to the Allies.

On September 8, 1918 the whole 56th Artillery regiment positioned themselves for the next battle and on September 26, they opened fire, which was the first day of the Meuse-Argonne offensive.  They again focused on bridges and ammunition dumps, and they also had targets such as large enemy convoys, and rest areas. The three battalions remained on the line in this offensive until the armistice on November 11, 1918.  The regiment fired up to the last hour before the armistice and it was recorded that Battery C fired the last round of the war at exactly 11 AM on the morning of the 11 November, 1918.


Battery C Muster

As I find information on Battery C 56th Artillery men I will list them here in this section. If you had a family member in Battery C, 56th Artillery, C.A.C., please contact me and I will add them to this web page.

Corporal, Oliver Lucas

He was the son of Joseph and Nancy Lucas; born October 6, 1894, Bracken County, KY. Was employed in Connersville, Ind. when he enlisted in U.S. Regular Army, September 20, 1916. Sent to Columbus Barracks, Ohio and then transferred to Ft. Wright, NY where he was assigned to Battery C, 56th Artillery, Coast Artillery Corps. Transferred to Long Island Sound and promounted to Corporal he assigned to the 1st Company, Coast Artillery Corps. Cpl. Lucas died of nephritis on March 20, 1918, Long Island, N. Y. His body was taken back home and he was buried in Brookville, KY.

Pvt. 1cl Wallace L. Benner, 623892

Wallace Love Benner was born on 23 December 1893 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to Henry W. and Elizabeth Benner. He was known as “Wallie” in the family and was a tall man who was medium build with blue eyes and brown hair. When Wallie was out of school he took a job with the Bethlehem Steel Company as a general foreman in one of their rolling mills and at the time he was single. He still lived at home with his parents at 18 North 1st Ave in Bethlehem, PA. When the war in Europe broke out Wallie went to his draft board in Lehigh, PA and registered on June 5, 1917, as he was required to do.

Wallie ended up being assigned to the Coast Artillery Corps and in the newly formed 56th Artillery. Wallie was given his round aluminum dog tags with his service number of 623892 and was given the rank of Private and sailed to Europe with the 56th Artillery on the HMS Olympic. During the months in France as the 56th Artillery took part in many battles on the front lines, Wallie was advanced in grade to Private First Class. He survived the war and wrote his parents several letters home to tell the family of the things that were going on “over there” in France.

On one such occasion on October 12, 1918, Pvt. 1cl Benner wanting to write to the family found himself without any available paper on which to write. So he used what he could find and this was a piece of fabric from a downed German Airplane (shown on the left). Battery C had only been in these new positions for about two days and the Battery was sheltered in the woods and in old buildings, dugouts and shelter tents around the village of Cheppy. They had arrived here at Cheppy at 10 in the morning on October 10 and during the following two days the Battery was in constant action. Wallie having found the downed airplane tore off bits of its fabric and from the relative safety of the new position began to write to the family back home.

Transcribed here just as he wrote, are the contents of this writing:

Battery C
56th Arty (C.A.C)
Arm Exp Force
Oct. 12, 1918

 

My Dear Sisters,

I received your letters asking for a German helmit. There are lots of them laying around, and many other things that the Germans left, I could send it to you, but they say that they are held up on a count of so many being sent back. This cloth is from a German airplane, also the two postals enclosed was taken from the body of a German. Where I am at now there are hundreds of dugouts that are from 50 to 75 ft under the ground. Some are large enough for a whole regiment to stay in. They are all lined with planks and bunks built right in them, stores, electric light and large fans for to blow out the gas out. In one of these holes were captured six hundred prisoners. Most all the dugouts have two ways of getting in and out, but one of our shells got a one way one, and closed it up with 39 Germans in it. I see lots of exciting things such as air battles and peace talks. If there is peace made there I might be home by X-mas, as you wish and there will still be a German. If no peace then I will be home about Easter with no More Germany.

Your Bro

Wallie

The Germans finally gave in and the 56th Artillery did its part and returned to the states. Wallie sailed back home on the United States armored cruiser USS South Dakota and returned to his life he had left nearly two years before. Wallie married Dorthy Ploucher and they made their home in Stone Harbor, New Jersey. Wallace Love Benner passed away on 1 July 1964.

The image of the German Airplane fabric letter provided by Ken Benner, Etna, NH, great-nephew of Wallace Love Benner.
Visit his web site: http://bennertree.homestead.com/wallieletter1918.html

Sergeant Clitus Swann

Clitus Swann was born on 30 September 1885 in West Virginia. Both of his parents were also from West Virginia. Clitus joined the Army and was already in the service when America entered the war in April of 1917. Sgt. Swann was platoon leader of Gun No. 1 of Battery C, 56th Artillery and after the 56th Artillery returned from France, Sgt. Swann remained in the army. He was stationed at Ft. H.G. Wright in New York in the Coast Artillery Corps. Sgt. Swann was also married at the time the Federal Census was taken at Ft. Wright in 1920. Clitus Swann lived in New Jersey for a period and then at the end of his life moved back to his home state of West Virginia. Clitus Swann died in Ceredo, West Virginia in September of 1969

Private George L. Hendrixson, Buglar

The gravestone of George Hendrixson reads: "Bugler 56 Arty CAC - WWI"

George L Hendrixson was born on August 7, 1901, and died on February 14, 1947. On the passenger manifest of the sailing to France aboard the HMS Olympic Hendrixson is listed with Battery C. His service number was 623934 and he listed his father Earl Hendrixson of 2206 Winter, Ave. in Indianapolis, Indiana as his next of kin.


Researched, compiled, written and edited by Joe Hartwell ©2006-2014

This page was created on 12 May 2006 and last updated on Wed, Jan 22, 2014

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

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