The 61st Regiment, Coast Artillery Corps was organized in May of 1918 at Fort Moultrie, South Carolina. In June of 1918 the Regiment moved to Camp Eustis, Virginia, and again in July 1918 to Camp Stuart Virginia. On July 17, 1918 the Regiment sailed from Port of Embarkation Newport News, Virginia and landed July 30th in St. Nazarre, France.
While in France the Regiment went to O & T Center (Operation and Training) Center No. 1 at Libourne, France. The firing ranged used by O & T Center No. 1 was at Camp de Sourge, France. The entire 33rd brigade C.A.C. comprising of the 60th, 61st and the 62nd Regiments took their training here. The 60th Regiment used the 155mm G.P.F. guns and the 61st and 62nd used the new 6-inch seacoast guns.
These 6-inch seacoast guns were removed from Coast Artillery fixed mounts from the United States and also spares from the Navy. These guns had special mobile mounts made for them and when the Armistice was signed 72 complete units of the 6-inch type and 26 units of the 5-inch had been sent to France. None of these guns ever made it to the Front lines.
The Regiment returned to the States sailing aboard the Itialian liner Dante Aligihieri from Marseilles, France on Jan 30, 1919 at five o'clock and landed in New York February 15, 1919 and was demobilized that same month at Camp Upton, New York.
A 6-inch, 50 calibres Seacoast Rifle mobile mount. This one is named "Krupp Krumbler" our Big Gun.
The lack of a traversing mechanism made this a very cumbersom gun to handle. It is laid by moving the entire gun by hand.
Bringing our guns from Libourne to Castillion
Transported from American coast defenses to France and put on Wheels.
These guns, noted for thier accuracy as stationary seacoast guns, are shown emplaced at target practice, during the training of the regiment.
This is an example of the type of cards that were used for the troops to communicate with family members back home to let them know that the ship that the soldier sailed overseas made it safely. Due to war time censorship these cards were designed to let the soldier address to the person who they wanted to notify and on the back side they were only permitted to state their name and unit. There were several general types of these cards but this one provided by the American Red Cross seems to be the most common one seen. The person this was sent to was Mrs. Charles A. Vogler, in Winston-Salem, NC.
This card was from Lt. Gilman J. L. Lake of the 61st Artillery, C.A.C. The way these cards worked was that on embarkation on the ship each soldier and officer filled out one of these cards. They were then kept until word was received that the ship had safely arrived at its intended destination. They were them mailed to the address on the card, relieving the tension of the family letting them know that their loved one had at least made the journey across the ocean. Although the information on the card did not say much it must have been good word for the folks at home to receive it.
If you have family members who served in this unit please e-mail them to me and I will add thier names.
Private 1cl Homer P. Werner, 715420
Homer P. Werner entered the Regular Army at Columbus Barracks, Ohio on 15 December 1917, at the age of 21. He was born in Swanton, Ohio and at the time he jioned the Army lived in Berkey, Ohio. He was advanced to the rank of Private First Class on 2 July 1918 and on 4 February 1919 was made Cook. He served overseas with Battery A from 18 July, 1918 until the regiment landed in New York February 15, 1919 and was Honorable discharged on 11 March, 1919.
Gordon Gillmore Williams was born in Mandan, North Dakota in 1892. He worked as a freight agent for the Northern Pacific Railroad, and enlisted in the Army at Bismarck in December, 1917. He took Basic Training at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri before being assigned to Battery A, 61st Artillery. He was overseas from July 1918 to February 1919, and was discharged as Private First Class at Camp Zachary Taylor, Kentucky in July 1919. He died in Los Angeles in 1943.
Miller was from Pennsylvania born on February 17, 1906 and died on February 22, 1959. PFC Miller would not have served with the 61st Artillery while it was in France as he would have been too young to be in the army. It is likely that he served with Battery B, 61st during the time it was re-activated in 1921 or after. Battery B was active as these units during the 1920's: At Fort Monroe, VA in July of 1921: Battery B, Machinegun Battery redesignated 8th Company (CD) Chesapeake Bay, formerly 4th Co. Virginia National Guard. Redesignated 61st Coast Artillery (Anti Aircraft) Regiment June of 1924 and then reassigned to Fort Sheridan in May of 1930.
I was contacted by Keith Bridgman about facts on the 61st Artillery. At the time I had no information on them. Keith told me that his grandfather Robert Bridgman was in Battery B of the 61st Artillery C.A.C. Keith was kind enough to share the information he had about the 61st and his grandfather. All the photos on this page were from his grandfather and he had kept a diary. Below are some excerpts from it. Keith did say that his grandfather’s handwriting was bad and some of it was not readable. I have tried to edit it and fill in the blanks, so to speak.
Robert L. Bridgman taken shortly after the armistice
Keith writes about his grandfather:
I remember as a young boy playing with grandfather's old helmet, and trying on his uniform. He still had an old gas mask, but he would never let me use it because it may have contained some poison residue. I don't know all of the details about what or where it happened to him, and there is no mention of it in his notebook, but at one time or another he fell victim to some poison gas, which messed up his lungs for the rest of his life. Sometime after my grandfather died, in 1974, my grandmother donated all of his stuff to a local museum in Southeastern Oklahoma (at least I think she did). I wish now I could have gotten my hands on all of that.
Robert L. Bridgman (Bob) was born in the Indian territory in I believe 1898 (my dad says 1896) and grew up in the shadow of Cavanal Mountain in Southeastern Oklahoma in the sleepy town of Poteau. Poteau is a few miles from the Arkansas state line. Along with his brother he helped in the family hardware-furniture business established by his father in 1896 in Poteau (which is still operating under the Bridgman name). When the war came along, he, like so many others did their duty. I'm not sure why he was assigned to the 61st C.A.C. and not one of the Texas/Oklahoma divisions (the 36th and 90th) but that is where he ended up. I do not know the circumstances behind the incident, but somehow he and several others were injured by poison gas while overseas which messed up his lungs for the rest of his life. By the age of 45, he was an old man because of it. I vividly remember my grandfather telling me stories about being in France and all the children and families he saw who were having a tough time of it. As most young men who undergo an adventure such as that, the impact of those few short months in France had far reaching affects on him. As he grew older and more senile, his most vivid memories were of being in France and he spoke of those days as though only a few months had passed. He died in 1974, a well-respected, kind and gentle man.
|One story I remember the most my grandfather relayed to me was about how his outfit, Battery B out foxed a French general. Apparently, they were to camouflage one of their large guns as a training exercise. They brought in a large stack of hay and camouflage nets and set up a fake cannon underneath, then proceeded to hide the real gun elsewhere, I don't remember exactly where, but I believe it was in the nearby woods. The French general came around and saw the stack of hay and fake cannon from a distance and began chewing them out because it was so obvious there was a large gun underneath and the Germans would detect it with no effort. They all snickered, and got in more trouble and some of the men accompanying the general began to dismantle the fake camouflaged area. When it became apparent it was a fake, he demanded to know where the real gun was, and no one would tell him, demanding that he try to find it. He never did, and being the pompous French General that he was, stormed off in indignation.
Some of the diary was unreadable and every effort was made to determine what was written, but some just could not be made out. In an effort to keep the true feelings of the diary we have placed ... to indicate words or letters that can't be read.
Special note from Keith Bridgman.
Attitudes were different then and although my grandfather was a very religious man, certain racial attitudes were a common vice then. There were times after the war and during the depression when families who were down on their luck, both black and white, would come to my grandparents dry-goods store needing shoes and clothes for their kids to go to school. My grandparents always made sure those kids had what they needed with no consideration as to how they were to be paid for. More often than not, they received a basket of tomatoes or homegrown corn or eggs for payment.
Sailed from Newport News on July 17, 1918 and landed at St. Nazarre, France on July 30.
"The Dopey News"
W.L. Gaffney... Editor
Hard Boiled Jim... Society Editor
W ... Gaffney The W...
John Helem... Bouncer
Clyde Heal ... Reporter
Hugh Ashmore ... Religious Editor
Coy Compton ... Cartoonist
The office force of the paper put out for the benefit of the barracks of Battery B while stationed at St. Nazarre, France.
Harvey, Smith and Small Just some C.A.C. kids my grandfather knew.
Sat. Nov. 9, 1918
Latest latrine dope:
Castillion, France. Near our "Cow Stalls" (Tent camp) July, Aug., Sept., Oct., 1918.
Why do non-coms eat first?
Three fourths of the Battery got drunk thinking peace had been declared and now are broke and won't be able to celebrate if it's declared this month. Tough on the boys?
Gun section numbers sure deserves to be called the stevedore bunch.
Who can talk to a French girl who eats garlic?
How to make 60 franks do till next pay and also get x-mas presents sure is some job believe me.
The fourth and fifth gun sections voted that the barn not be used as a garage anymore as some fool honks the cars all hours of the nite.
Those Camp ... boys kept us awake with their barrage.
The boys of the barn have the ... at the chateau ... and now call themselves hard-boiled.
The Battery extends its sympathies to Doug Green, Dave Caldr...W...Gaffney, ... Murphy and ... as these guys married while over here. Who is next? All are afraid.
A ... is a fellow who always wants to read you what the best girl in the world has to say.
Those niggers claimed to be American Indians and went with those French girls ... here.
Wanted: some one to wash clothes: Apply to Bert B. Price no consideration.
Who can wash his blue denims and let it rain on them and have them ready to wear next day. Captain take notice.
Who got the "Y" paper?
Who eats Carrots?
Who likes grits?
Bread and grits and grits and bread tomorrow. Some change.
Battery A dropped two shells and they did not go off. Some lucky crowd.
The latrine quartette has been broken up on account of the flu.
(***This could be an indication of the poison gas problem my grandfather and others ran into. My dad said that the doctors told them they had the flu and quarantined them for a short while until they determined what the cause of their symptoms were***).
November 10, 1918
Drunks in night and the crowds celebrate before wine. The French are sure getting ready to pull off some great stunts. The favorite question, "ligare finis" and the answer: "demain levar".
November 11, 1918
When do we go home?
Who put on guard?
Who sings "le dyiny"? Hobo so be awful.
Who can smell and take a bath in cold water in the open in the wettest and misty rainy day.
Sober up boys and see France.
Well about five o'clock we sighted the rock (Gibraltar) and saw the big end of a ... Spain first and then it got larger so ... ... from where we saw it the thing was big and great ... just a big hulk large and ... ... looked like concrete... ... from falling away. Guns were always on all of the boys and the ... we heard the ... ... ...(undecipherable)
What would be worse, All kinds of stuff to buy and now am broke.
A barber told me ... is a grand expression now.
Ask a fella what the rain did for his last nite and at New York they say ... sure hope so.
Who got Major May? ... Who refused to dance with officers? Who said ... isn't having a great time? Who is ... ... ... Who wants to stay on deck from six to eleven? Who ... ... officers? Why don't we ... ? The 61st division emblem one ... When do we eat? When do we get to ...? Who wants to learn the band any way?
Post Card of Bordeaux, France. "Passed thru this street many times with our trucks. Some town and oh you pretty girls."
Came over from Marseilles on Jan 30, 1919 at five o'clock.
Who said we don't get spaghetti. The wops sure are slow. The rock of Gilbralter is all right but sure wish we would ... and get away.
Sparkman enlisted into the Regular Army on April 17, 1917 at Ft. Screvens, Georgia at the age of 21. He was born in Campville, Florida and at the time of enlistment lived in Princeton, Florida. Pvt. Sparkman (719285) was in the 4th Company C.A.C. at Ft. Screven from enlistment until 1 November 1917 when he was moved to the 3rd Company, Ft. Screven. On 1 January 1918 he was promoted to Pvt 1cl and was transferred to Battery C, 61st Artillery C.A.C. On July 17, 1918 he sailed with the 61st Artillery from Port of Embarkation Newport News, Virginia and landed July 30th in St. Nazarre, France. Pvt. 1cl Sparkman returned to the States with the 61st Artillery sailing from Marseilles, France on January 30, 1919 at five o'clock and landed in New York February 15, 1919. He was demobilized on 4 March 1919 at Camp Upton, New York.
Wildes was born about 1898 in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. He was first stationed in the 3rd Company at Ft. Screven, Georgia until 1 January 1918 when he was transferred into Battery C, 61st Artillery, C.A.C. On 27 June 1918-9 July 1918 he attended the Coast Artillery School at Ft. Monroe, Virginia, where upon completion he rejoined Battery C and on the 17 July 1918 he sailed with the 61st to France. Paul returned to the States with the 61st and was released from the 61st Artillery on 25 February 1919 and reported to the 1st Company at Ft. Screven, Georgia where he served until discharged on 25 March 1920. Paul J. Wildes died at the age of 82 in Hueytown, Alabama.
In the southeast parts of Ohio in Washington County is a city named Belpre, which takes its name from the French word meaning “beautiful meadow.” In Belpre on June 16, 1888 Thomas M. Riffle’s wife Katie A. (Barrows) Riffle gives birth to a son who they named John Franklin Riffle. Little is known of his early years but by the summer of 1900, twelve-year old John F. Riffle was living with his 64-year old widowed grandmother Charlotte Riffle in a home on Virginia Ave. in Canton, Ohio. Young John was attending school in Canton, and the only other person living in the home was a boarder by the name of Earnest Muzzy who was 23-years old.
By the spring of 1910 John, now a 21-year old single man was living in a boarding house ran by 45-year old Caroline Pelirs. The house was located on Center Street in Elkins, West Virginia, which is located in northeast West Virginia. John Riffle was then working for the railroad as a brakeman.
When America needed young men to fill the ranks of the Army to fight in Europe, John Riffle on June 5, 1917 registered for the Federal Draft, as he was required to do. On that day in Ohio County, West Virginia John Riffle a medium built man with brown eyes and dark brown hair stated he was living at 535 Warwood Ave. in Warwood, West Virginia. He was working as a foreman for the Wheeling Wall Plaster Company in Wheeling, WV.
John Riffle enlisted into the National Army on December 20, 1917 in Wheeling, WV. As many new Artillery units were being formed the 61st Artillery, CAC was forming in May of 1918 at Fort Moultrie, South Carolina. Private John F. Riffle, service number 719393, was placed into Battery C, of the 61st Artillery, and he would sail to France with this unit on July 18, 1918. He remained in Battery C during the duration of the time the 61st was in France. Private Riffle would return to the states on February 16, 1919 and would be Honorably Discharged on March 5, 1919.
After the war John Riffle moved back to West Virginia, settling into the County of Raleigh. In January of 1920 Riffle, according to the 1920 Federal Census, was now a 31-year old married man, and he was living in the small-unincorporated community of Amigo, which is located on West Virginia Highway 16 at the confluence of the Guyandotte River and the Winding Gulf. On the census form it was noted that he was a married man but there is not a wife listed. Possibly John and his wife were separated as about 1934 he married a woman named Edith, so this may have been a failed first marriage. John was working as a carpenter at the time and had a 19-year old boarder named Carl Trent living with him who was also working as a carpenter and it was likely they worked together.
Sometime about 1934 John Riffle married for a second time. His wife’s first name was Edith and she was born in West Virginia about 1906, and nothing more is known of her except that she passed away sometime between 1940 and 1958. It is likely that John and Edith did not have any children. But what is known is that in April of 1940 John and Edith were living in a home on Ohio Highway 555 in Belpre, Ohio. The couple had been living in this house from at least 1935. John was then 51-years old and was working as a laborer on a road construction project.
Just after America entered the Second World War, men born between 1877 and 1897 were to register for service if called. John Riffle did so and his registration card number was U1373. On the card he states that he is living in Little Hocking, in Washington, County Ohio. Additionally under the section for who would always know his address he lists Mrs. Hattie Dexter of Little Hocking, Ohio. Hattie M. Dexter was John’s neighbor on Highway 555 in Belpre. She was a widow, and her 26-year old son was also a laborer on the same road construction project John was working on. This might also indicate that John’s wife Edith had passed away by this time. The United States Engineers then employed John, so it is likely this was still the same road construction project indicated on the 1940 census.
John F. Riffle would live in Washington County, Ohio for the rest of his life. At his home on December 11, 1958 John F. Riffle passed away and was buried in the Rockland Cemetery in Belpre, Ohio. His grave is marked with a flat bronze marker from the Department of Veterans. On December 16, 1958 a C. B. Riffle of 408 Washington Blvd., Belpre, Ohio signed the application form for the bronze marker to John Riffle’s grave. “C. B. Riffle” is likely Charles B. Riffle who was born about 1893 and was likely a family member in charge of John’s final affairs.
William H. Youngstrom born about 1897 in Illinois. His mother was named Ida D. Youngstrom who was of Sweedish heritage, and in 1910 she was a divorced woman aged 36 years. In 1910 they lived in Hennepin, Putnam County, Illinois. There was also a younger brother named Richard T. born about 1903. In 1930 William H. Youngstrom was married to a woman named Ingrid, aged 28 years and born in Ohio. She had parents that were also from Sweeden. They had no children. Ingrid was born 24 Feb, 1902 and died in August of 1981 in Barrington Lake Illinois, a suberb of Chicago. William H. Youngstrom was a tool and die maker for a machine shop and he and Ingrid lived in Chicago, IL. He was listed as being a veteran of WWI, so I believe this may be the man who made this inscription in the German Helmet.
|Susan and Rod Shaver had discovered a German helmet in an antique store in Chandler, Arizona with writing from an American soldier on the inside of the helmet, "W H Youngstrom, Battery C, 61st ARTY CAC., American EF"||This is the German M-16 helmet Youngstrom brought back as a WWI souvenir.|
Andrew McCaskill related about how his great-great uncle, Harry L McCaskill served in Battery D of the 61st Artillery, CAC. Harry McCaskill enlisted into the Georgia National Guard and when his Guard unit was federalized McCaskill came to be in the 61st Artillery, CAC. While serving in France with the 61st, Corporal McCaskill served as an interperter as he could speak fluent French. Once the war was over he returned with his unit aboard the Italion liner Dante Aligihieri, and was demobilized in Savannah, Georgia in 1919. Harry L. McCaskill today lies burried in the Greenwood Cemetery in Caddo Parish, Shreveport, LA.
James Corbett Lecy was born on May 9, 1895 in Carter County, Kentucky. He served in France with Battery E of the 61st Artillery and was Honorable Discharged on February 15, 1919. James C. Lacy passed away on November 1, 1956 in Bellaire, Antrim County, Michigan. He was awarded the WW I Victory Medal with "France" Clasp, and the Army of Occupation of Germany Medal.
Stephen P. Barrett contacted me about his uncle Lawrence Barrett who was in Battery E, 61st Artillery. This is what Stephen had to tell me about his uncle.
"I have recently discovered that my uncle served in the 61st Artillery. The source of the information is from a post card recently sent to me by my cousin, his daugther. The post card apparently was furnished by the American Red Cross. (like the one from Lt. Lake above) The front of the post card states "Soldiers' Mail," No Postage Necessary, and it addressed to my grandmother, Mrs. O. W. Barrett 132 Pine Ave., Chicago, Illinois (Austin Sta). The cancel stamp imprinted the following" "Soldier's Mail____Mail Censor____U. S. Army Base____," and nothing appears in the blanks.
Someone in my family has written on the card: "Received Aug. 5, 1918." The text is as follows:
"THE SHIP ON WHICH I SAILED HAS ARRIVED SAFELY OVERSEAS.
Name: Lawrence Barrett
Organization: Battery E 61st. Arty C.A.C via New York
American Expeditionary Forces"
Wagoner, Bert T. MooreBert T. Moore was a Wagoner in Battery F. A Wagoner was a rank in the Army and during WWI the artillery units had several Wagoner who's job it was to drive trucks loaded with the artillery piece and supplies. Additionally they whould have also moved shells and powder to and from the guns once they were set up. Today Bert T. Moore is burried in the Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas Cemetery. On his stone is enscribed the following;
Bert T. Moore
BTRY F 61 ARTY CAC
WORLD WAR 1
Thomas Roy Bullock (III) tells a seemingly unbelievable story of his father Thomas Roy Bullock, Sr. The story begins in Honea Path, South Carolina where Thomas R. Bullock, Sr. was born. At the age of 15-years old during WWI Bullock joined the United States Army, somehow, likely lying about his age.
He served as a cook in the 61st Artillery, C.A.C. since he was the only one who could cook a mule so soldiers could eat it. Bullock stayed in France after the war and went to French culinary schools but he would not become a world-class chef until many years later.
When Bullock got back home to the States he first became a border patrolman in Texas. He was issued a dog, a horse, a gun, and a book of blank arrest warrants. Family lore tells that Bullock was a tough man and it was said “Bullock brought back an ear from everyone who didn't survive a meeting with him.” Bullock was said to have repeated the line “But I never cut off both ears,” when telling stories of that time. Once while serving a lawman in Texas Bullock was given a 44-calibre gun from the governor of Texas as a token of his good work.
Always a restless soul Bullock next raced and demonstrated motorcycles for the Indian Motorcycle Company all over the west. After the excitement of the motorcycles wore off Bullock became a rodeo rider specializing in bulldogging. He even competed in knife and battle-ax competitions in Mexico, becoming an expert in knife fighting. Bullock married his first wife and they had a son who was named Thomas Roy Bullock, (II).
Bullock was one not to stick to anyone thing too long and during World War Two saw the sea as his next adventure. Bullock entered the United States Merchant Marines serving as a Lt. Commander and commanded oil tankers for the Esso Oil Company in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. He was sunk twice by U-boats. He was sunk once right off Perth Amboy, New Jersey. The tanker broke in two, and Bullock was lucky to be on the half that didn't sink. He was subsequently promoted to full Commander. At the end of the war he was appointed Port Steward of the Port of New York.
While working in New York, Bullock was injured and spent 5-years on crutches. Sometime during his sea service he became divorced and he married his second wife in 1945 and had another son who was named Thomas Roy Bullock (III). Bullock finally settled down a little bit and was the head chef at the Roger Smith Hotel in New York City, which was known as the United Nations hotel.
Bullock’s second wife had committed suicide at 28-years of age, with Bullock being 55-years of age at the time. Because of the suicide of his wife he began drinking heavily and finally passed away in 1963. When Bullock was 58-years old he was in an automobile accident being rear-ended by 4 young men. The police report stated three of the men who hit Bullock were taken to the hospital in critical condition and one had to be resuscitated.
Thomas Roy Bullock, Sr. is buried in the veteran's cemetery at Beverly, New Jersey.
The spirit of true adventure was passed down the family lines where his second son named Thomas Roy Bullock (III), served 20-years total in the National Guard, 3-years overseas, 17-years in the States as a tank commander. The children of Thomas R. Bullock (III), took after the spirit of adventure of their grandfather and a daughter spent 10-years in Air Force Special Services, mostly in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, a son has 16-years in the Coast Guard, another son was a Marine. The half brother of Thomas Roy Bullock (III), the other Thomas Roy Bullock (II), served in the Korean War.
Thomas Roy Bullock (III) states about the adventures of his father, “It all sounds like a work of fiction but I assure you it's the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”
According to Millard Addison Pownall's discharge papers he served as a Corporal, 1st Class Gunner with the 61st Artillery in France. Pownall was a sales Manager for the Cincinnati Cordage and Paper Company before the war and was born in Loveland, Ohio in 1897. He enlisted at Chicago, IL on December 12, 1917, at 20-years of age. Corporal Pownall sailed with the 61st Artillery to France on July 18, 1918, although it is not known what Battery he served in. He was promoted to NCO Grade of Corporal June 1, 1918, and held the qualification of Gunner, 1st Class. Cpl. Pownall returned to the States with the 61st Artillery on February 16, 1919 and went to Camp Upton, NY. The 61st Artillery was demobilized and Cpl. Pownall was discharged from Camp Zachary Taylor, March 6, 1919. Pownall was issued the Bronze Victory Medal with France May 25, 1921 and he passed away on Fedruary 2, 1941.