To read the main page with the complete history of the 65th Artillery follow this link.
|Cadet Carl E. Hocker while at the United States Military Adademy at West Point.||Colonel Carl E. Hocker shown in a photo dated to 1941 during the time he was with the 61st Artillery , CAC.|
Captain Carl E. Hocker commanded Battery D of the 65th Artillery during WWI. He was a graduate of the class of 1915 from West Point, Was a 2nd Lt. on 12 June 1915, 1st Lt. on 1 July 1916, Captain (Temp.) 5 August 1917, Captain 12 Oct. 1917, Major 2 July 1920, Lt. Col. 1 Oct. 1936.
A Mini-Bio of Carl Ernest Hocker By Peggy Hocker Small
Daddy was born in Monte Vista, Colorado, March 8, 1891. His: parents were Will and Joetta Hocker. Joetta was Will' s second wife. She gave birth to two sons, Clarence and Carl, and she died thirteen days after Carl's birth. Will married again (Leonora) and they had two children, Lotus and John. Children by his first wife, Nora, were Maud and Roy. Nora and Joetta (nee Cockrell) were sisters.
The family moved from Monte Vista to Rifle, Colorado in 1906. Carl was a member of the first class to graduate from Rifle High School in May 1909. Even though only 18-years old after graduation, he worked up to being supervisor with an oil drilling company in Utah.
Carl entered the University of Colorado in September 1909, in the School of Engineering where he stayed for his freshman year. During 1910-1911 he attended Braden Prep School in Highland Falls, NY. He entered the U. S. Military Academy West Point, NY in the summer of 1911 with the class of 1915.
While at West Point he was an outstanding cadet. He was Cadet Captain his last year. This was the highest Cadet rank attainable in the Corps of Cadets. He was an outstand athlete and broke two Academy track records, in the discus and in the Shot put. Quoting from his yearbook, the Howitzer, “He has the courage of his convictions and a whole bunch of convictions. Arguing with Carl doesn't do much good and is not recommended.” Interestingly enough, in 1935 when the class of 1915 put out its 20-year book, this was written:
“Carl claims that he does not argue - he is simply firm. At all events you may be sure that he knows where he stands on each issue that comes up - and he can tell you why. One of the great leaders once said that the soldier’s difficulty was not in doing what he had decided but deciding what he wanted. Well, here is one soldier who goes through that difficult process without any wavering or faltering.
What we need in this man’s army is more people who, like Carl, know what they want, can tell you what they want, and who doesn’t quit until they get it.”
When Carl graduated he went into the Coast Artillery Corps. His first assignment was in Washington State. The following year he married Eleanor Kriner of Mt. Carmel, Pennsylvania. Due to the war against Mexico, he could not get leave and so Eleanor, with her mother and sister, Margaret, traveled by train across the country to Oregon where their wedding took place July 5, 1916. They lived at Fort Flagler, Washington, near Port Townsend until Carl was ordered to France because of World War I.
He went to France in February 1918 from Fort Flagler. Eleanor, with their six months old daughter, Eleanor, went to Pennsylvania to stay with her family. In France, the Coast Artillery manned the long-range rail guns as well as other heavy guns supporting the front lines. Carl returned from France in September 1919 as a Major. After leave spent in Pennsylvania, Carl and his family went back to Washington State, but this time they were stationed at Camp Lewis near Tacoma. Daughter Margaret was born in Portland, Oregon, in October 1920.
In the summer of 1921, Major Hocker and family moved to West Point New York. Carl taught at the U. S. Military Academy from 1921 to 1925 The Superintendent at the Academy was General Douglass MacArthur. It was during this tour of duty that Carl took up golf. Through the years he was usually club champion wherever he was stationed.
In 1925 the family moved to Fort Monroe, Virginia, where Carl attended his service school - the Coast Artillery School. This was a nine-month course. From there they moved to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where Carl attended the Command and General Staff School.
Next came orders to the 59th Coast Artillery Regiment stationed on Corregidor Island in Manila Bay, Philippine Islands. The family traveled across the United States, saying good by to the Kriner family in Pennsylvania and visiting (both hello and good by) to the Hocker family in Colorado. This was the first time Eleanor met most of the Hocker family.
Carl had command of one of the two battalions of the 59th CAC Regiment. The CAC batteries on Corregidor were primarily 12 and 14-inch guns for use in defending Manila Bay.
The family arrived in the Philippines in 1927 and left 2 years later, in 1929 with orders to Fort Monroe, Virginia. Travel to Fort Monroe was by ship (Army Transport), from Manila via China, Japan, Hawaii, San Francisco, and the Panama Canal to New York City and then overland to their destination. The trip took about six weeks.
Carl was librarian for the Coast Artillery Corps library at Fort Monroe. As were most of the officers in the Army, he was a real military historian and never stopped studying military history - not just American military history but European and Asian too.
The Army Air Corps was becoming increasingly important at this time and Carl had a great interest in rocketry. It is regrettable that we do not have any of his correspondence with Dr. Robert Goddard. Carl was sure that anti-aircraft weaponry was vital to the Army's future and that harbor defense would be obsolete. This was radical thinking in the early 1930’s.
This tour of duty was extended from the usual four years to five years (1929 - 1934). Orders then came for the Army War College, Washington, D. C. This was a much sought after assignment and essential for making general. Carl had now graduated from the Coast Artillery School, The Command and General Staff School, and the Army War College – a real high mark of a successful career in the Army.
Next came another top assignment - Carl was ordered to be G-4 on the staff of General Hugh Drum, Army Commander for the Pacific. His headquarters were at Fort Shafter, Territory of Hawaii. This was near Honolulu. This was an ideal tour of duty. Hawaii was a tropical paradise. There were only two hotels at Waikiki Beach and tourists came by ship. Nevertheless, there was concern at Army Headquarters about the Japanese Navy. The Japanese were considered a potential enemy. Many times Carl voiced his lack of trust of the Japanese and thought it was possible that they could attack Pearl Harbor undetected. This theory was based in part on the fact that we had traveled from Nagasaki, Japan in 1929 in bad weather with heavy cloud cover.
While Carl was G-4 (Supplies) at Headquarters, Colonel George Patton was G-2 (Intelligence). Colonel Patton was six years senior to Lt. Col. Hocker.
In 1937, Carl received orders to command the Coast Artillery Regiment at Fort Crockett, Texas, but before leaving Hawaii (July 3), new orders were received for Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Carl was to head up the Artillery Section at the Command and General Staff School. It is here that the Army’s most promising officers are schooled in the tactics and logistics of senior commands.
While at the Command and General Staff School, Carl wrote the training manual for anti-aircraft artillery, which was used by all Anti-aircraft Commands. He taught at the C&GS School beginning in September 1937 until April 1941 at which time he went to Fort Sheridan, Illinois, to command the 61st Coast Artillery (Anti-aircraft) Regiment. At that time it was the top anti-aircraft regiment in the army. This was a dream command. A command such as this was his ultimate goal since cadet days.
During the next seven and a half months, a state of emergency was declared by President Roosevelt and the 61st was in a state of readiness. They went on the big Army maneuvers in the summer of ‘41 and performed admirably.
Then came December 7, 1941. Carl listened to radio reports of the attack on Pearl Harbor from his sick bed. He had come down with the flu a day or two earlier. Upon hearing of the attack, he was out of bed immediately, getting ready to go to war. Orders came for the 61st to proceed immediately for the Port of Embarkation, New York. The regiment was fully mechanized and within the day they were ready to head east. It was a grueling trip and Carl's flu got worse. In the New York area, they bivouacked at Fort Hancock on Sandy Point. It was a couple of weeks before the 61st got its destination orders (Dakar, Africa via Iceland). Final physicals prior to embarkation were required and Carl was found physically unfit. His hearing had been impaired for many, many years and the doctor who had just been drafted into the army recommended retirement.
There had been an accident with a 12" or 14" gun in Washington State when Carl was stationed there. He was close by and there was permanent nerve damage done to his ears. His deafness was worsened from being on the firing range at Fort Sheridan where 3-inch anti-aircraft guns were used. His bad case of flu affected his hearing, making it worse.
It is easy to imagine what a shattering blow it was to Carl to be relieved of his command and to know the 61st left the states without him. This was January 1942.
Mostly through personal contacts with friends in the War Department, Carl was not retired on physical disability at this time. He stayed on active duty and was ordered as Artillery Officer on the Staff of General Courtney Hodges who was to command the newly formed 10th Corps headquartered in Sherman, Texas. There were five divisions in the Corps, located in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. Carl was with Headquarters Command from the spring of 1942 until early 1944. By then the original divisions and most of the original staff had gone either to the European Theatre or to the Pacific. General Hodges left in 1943 to command the First Army in Europe. General Anderson took the 10th Corps Headquarters Command to the Pacific Theater in either late ‘43 or early ‘44. At this point Carl was given retirement orders based on physical disability.
He watched the action of World War II from his home in little Sherman, Texas. He never got over the disappointment and the hurt of not being on active duty during the war.
He was very proud of the glory that came to his classmates. There were 164 who graduated in 1915 and about 60 became generals. Among them were Eisenhower, Bradley, McNarney, Van Fleet, Stratemeyer, Swing, Harmon, etc.
Had it not been for his trouble with his hearing, or had some regular army doctor examined him that bleak day in 1942, with any doubt, Carl Ernest Hocker would have been among the General Officers of the Class of 1915. There was never any question in the minds of his contemporaries that he would wear stars.
Joe St. Clair Hewit was born in Butler County, Nebraska in a little town on a rail line named Ulysses, which is Northeast of Lincoln. He was born on October 11th of 1889 the same year that the great land runs happened Nebraska. It is not known who his parents were and Joe Hewit like many other children of his time found his way through adolescence and into his teenage years and when he was in his later 20’s the world was going to war. It may have seemed to Joe out in the middle of Nebraska and Oklahoma that the war clouds were a long way off and would or could never reach him. Little did he know that he would one day be on the battlefield fighting and bleeding for his Country.
On the 5th of June 1917 shortly after America entered the war Joe Hewit went to Guthrie, Oklahoma and registered for the draft board, as he was required to do. At the time Joe was single and lived at 423 East Washington, Ave in Guthrie, Oklahoma, which was likely to be the home of his parents. He was a tall young man of slender build with brown eyes and brown hair. Joe worked in the neighboring county of Pawnee and worked there in a town called Terlton, Oklahoma as a material clerk for a company known as Noakola Pipe and Line. Noakola is a Choctaw Indian word and being that the area was filled with oil drilling rigs this was most likely a company associated with the oil industry.
On December 15th 1917 orders were received for the formation of a new regiment of Coast Artillery to be sent to France. As Joe Hewit was entered into the Army he was likely to be placed into the North Pacific Coast Artillery District, based in Seattle, Washington. The men that would form the 65th Artillery, C.A.C. would come mostly from this District. Joe Hewit was to be placed into Battery A of the 65th. Records show that most of the men in Batteries A and B would come from the Coast Defenses of San Diego. Men of Battery A would come from the regular Coast Artillery, and the men of Battery B from the National Guard Coast Artillery. Only recruits or recently drafted men would be assigned as privates in the batteries and other organization formed from the Regular Army. As a recently drafted man Private Joe Hewit came into Battery A of the 65th Artillery.
On March 2nd 1918, the USS Northern Pacific a passenger liner used as a troop transport cleared the Golden Gate in San Francisco, California at noon bound for New York via the Panama Canal. On board was Private Hewit who was probably seeing the ocean for the first time in his life and starting to think about where it was that he was going and what may happen to him and if he would ever see the plains again. After disembarking at Hoboken, New Jersey the Regiment was taken by train to the final resting place at Camp Merritt before being sent to France.
For the second time in his life Private Hewit boarded another ship. This time it was the great British Ocean Liner the HMS Mauretania a veteran of many safe peace time crossings of the Atlantic bringing many new Americans to the new world to find a new life. Now she was carrying some of the sons of those who she brought to America back to Europe to fight for freedom. But this time the Mauretania would be crossing hostile waters with the threat of a German Submarine in her wake. On board the Mauretania were the 65th Regiment C.A.C., from the Forts on the Pacific Coast, and the 55th Regiment C.A.C., from the Forts around Boston, and about 100 officers and 200 Red Cross nurses. All of whom were now wondering how many would be lucky enough to make the return trip as they in the tow of tugs, went out into the river with all men below decks, then down the channel where they passed the Statue of Liberty and headed into a stretch of endless blue ocean.
Tuesday morning, April 2nd, each man in the regiment, after being served with a sandwich and an apple as rations for the day, disembarked to the streets of Liverpool, England in a heavy fog. The British people cheered them as the American boys marched through the heart of the city to the train station. Again for the third time Pvt. Hewit boarded a ship at the Southampton docks, and under the cover of darkness crossed the English Channel to France on an English cattle boat. The trip across was rough and the men were tightly packed down in the ship’s hold. After a breakfast of Cheese and coffee Pvt. Hewit set foot on French soil for the first time in Le Harve, France.
Pvt. Hewit would get his first taste of combat at 1:15 in the morning on September 12th in positions near Manonville, as the guns threw hot steel at the Germans until 7:00 that morning. Pvt. Hewit had made it through his first combat in one piece. On October 9th two guns from Battery B were shelled, while in positions along the east bank of the Meuse River on the famous French battlegrounds to the north of Verdun. The German batteries began firing on both personnel and gun positions. On October 13th the guns of the First Battalion were relocated and were in action until the 23rd of October. It was during this time on the 17th or 18th of October that Pvt. Hewit heard the sound of the gas alarm. The Germans sent over gas shells and Pvt. Hewit was among several men who were overcome by the gas and sent to the hospital for treatment.
The 65th Artillery spent 70 days at the front lines in almost continuous action, either fighting or moving material. During this period the casualties to the regiment were almost negligible, they’re being only three men killed, while 99 men were wounded from German gas, Pvt. Hewit being among the 99 men that were gassed. After the Armistice was signed The Regiment was moved to Brest, France to await transportation to the States. The Base hospitals in Brest were full most of the time and there was as many as 340 men who reported to sick call in one day. As a result of the conditions there, 4 men died and 12 men had to be left in France too sick to make the trip. It is assumed that Pvt. Hewit did return with the regiment on January 14th 1919 when they boarded the English Transport Haverford.
Back in Guthrie, Oklahoma the Hewit family was unaware that Joe Hewit had been wounded and it was not until January 30th 1919 that Hewit’s father learned of his son’s injuries of being gassed from a letter sent to him from the War Department. The entire 65th Regiment returned to New York on February 6, 1919 and moved to Camp Dix, New Jersey. Pvt. Hewit being in Battery A, would have went with the First and Second Battalions to Camp Lewis, Washington, were he was discharged from the Army.
Joe Hewit returned to civilian life and lived and worked in Logan, Pawnee and Payne Counties in Oklahoma. According to the 1930 Federal Census Joe Hewit, now 40 years old was single and lived in Union Township of Payne County, Oklahoma in a rented house and worked as a foreman in a warehouse.
Twenty-five years and three months after the ending of the First World War, Hewit on February 11th 1944 was issued his Purple Heart Medal from the Army Service Corps for his wounds he received on the 17th of October 1918 while serving with the 65th Artillery in France. Joe Hewit sometime after 1951 left Oklahoma and moved to Texas where he passed away in November of 1963.
|This is the purple Heart that Joe Hewit was issued on February 11th 1944||Back side of the medal showing his name engraved.|
Pvt. Poirier was first assigned to the 7th Company, Coast Defenses Portland, Maine Coast Artillery National Guard then stationed at Ft. Preble, Maine. Poirier was with the 7th Company until transferred to the 9th Company then stationed at Ft. Levett, Maine and remained there until August 13, 1917. At that time he was transferred to the Headquarters Company of the 54th Artillery, CA.C.
Pvt. Poirier sailed March 16, 1918 with parts of the 54th Artillery on board the HMS Baltic where they arrived in Le Havre, France on April 6, 1918. Pvt. Poirier remained with HQ Co. 54th Artillery until he was again transferred on July 20, 1918 to the Headquarters Company of the 32nd Artillery Brigade. He served 9 days with the 32nd Artillery Brigade and on July 29 he was transferred to the Headquarters Company of the 65th Artillery Regiment, C.A.C.
With the HQ Company 65th Artillery Poirier saw action at the front in the St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne actions and in the Defensive Sectors. Poirier was advanced to Private First Class while with the 65th Artillery on October 4, 1918. Nineteen days later on October 23, 1918 PFC Poirier was again transferred back to the HQ Co. of the 32nd Artillery Brigade where he would remain until after the armistice was signed. He returned to the States with the 32nd Artillery Brigade on December 31, 1918. The 32nd was demobilized at Camp Hill, Virginia, PFC Poirier being separated from the 32nd Artillery on January 7, 1919. He was placed into the 4th Company of the 151st Depot Brigade at Camp Devens in Massachusetts until his final Honorable Discharge from the Army on January 15, 1919.
|Artillery Ready For Action
The 65th Artillery is ready for front line duty in France and may be expected to be moved into battle shortly, in the opinion of a military man, expressed to the Oregonian on Tuesday. There are four Wallowa county boys in this regiment. Raymond Dunbar, Emerson Reavis, Alvin Clayton and Clyde Batty. When the regiment went overseas, Irl I. Olmstead was also in it, but he has been transferred to the 54th [Artillery], in special service.
Enterprise Record Chieftain
September 19, 1918
|Oron L. Dunbar Dead
Oron L. Dunbar, who lived in Joseph several years ago, died last Sunday, Oct. 27, at Oregon City, of Influenza. He had lived in California until the first of the year when he went to Oregon City, where he was manager of a store. He was born 48 years ago in Fairview and for a time was manager of the McCully Mercantile company store in Joseph. A daughter, Lucile Dunbar, teaches in the Joseph school, and a son, Raymond [Dunbar], is in the 65th artillery, A.E.F., in France, having enlisted in Joseph more than a year ago.
Enterprise Record Chieftain
Thursday, October 31, 1918
Pvt. 1cl Emerson S. Reavis, Battery D
Emerson Sloan Reavis was born on November 20, 1898 in Enterprise, Wallowa County, Oregon to Frank A. Reavis (1857-1941) and Anna Smith-Reavis (1874-1965). Emerson was raised in Enterprise, he had three brothers and a sister. After High school on April 27, 1917 he joined the Army with the “First Enterprise Volunteers” and was stationed at Fort Stevens, Oregon, in the 2nd Company, Coast Defenses of the Columbia, for training and deployment..
March 2, 1918-Left the west coast on board the USS Northern Pacific for New York.
While in France with Battery D Emerson Reavis participated in the following battles: Saint Michiel- September 12-14, 1918; Argonne Forest- September 25-26, 1918; Verdun- October 8-20, 1918; Etrayes Offensive- October 23-24, 1918; Forest d’Argonne- October 31-November 2, 1918
On January 14, 1919 the 65th Artillery recieved the orders they were waiting on and boarded the HMS Haverford at Brest, France for home. Private First Class Emerson S. Reavis was Honorably Discharged from the Army on February 29, 1919. Upon returning to Enterprise, Oregon he became involved with the lumber business locally and moved to La Grande, Oregon in 1926, working for the Mount Emily Lumber Company as Superintendent of Lumber production. On October 19, 1930 he married Margaret L. Baker. They had two children, James E. and Linda M. Reavis. In 1952 he moved his family to Auburn, California where he was a Lumber broker with the Cal-Ida Lumber Company until his retirement in 1969. His lifetime pastimes were wilderness activities, hunting, fishing, horse packing trips, etc. Emerson passed away from complications of Emphysema on October 18, 1976 in Auburn, California where he is interred.
Emerson Reavis's son Jim Reavis has a photo album of his father detaling what and where the 65th did and went during WWI. There are two web pages with Emerson's photographs. Here are the links to his photos Battery D 65th Artillery Page One / Battery D 65th Artillery Page Two
Emerson S. Reavis is 3rd from the left front row.
The following article was printed in the Thursday Edition, March 28, 1918 Enterprise Record Chieftain newspaper from Enterprise, Wallowa County, Oregon.
With the great war in its most critical stage on the blood soaked battlefields of France, America will float its Third Liberty Loan beginning Saturday, April 6 . Wallowa county seeks to show its loyalty by going over the top by the close of the third day of the drive. The people of the county wish to do this to show their devotion to their country, to humanity, and to the three or four hundred young men who have gone from here under Old Glory to fight for the great cause.
This photograph, which appeared in the Record Chieftian, May 3, 1917, shows the first group of Enterprise boys to volunteer. They have been training in camps in America ever since, and now part are on their way to France. Others will go shortly, and all undoubtedly will be on the firing line, or close to it before summer comes. The boys are (Not in correct order); Edward Lindsay, Elbert Bellows, Palmer McVicker, Ralph Kay, Alvin Clayton, Clyde Batty, Neva Streeter, Walter Doss, Albert Parker, Joe Sanford, Emerson Reavis, Jesse Warnock, Blaine Stubblefield, Burton Gifford, C. C. Clearwater and Louis Meecham.
No one who stays home can make any such sacrifice as these young men have offered. The terrible clash of recent days shows the awful maelstrom of death before them. But they are going bravely, eagerly, without a thought of holding back. They have laid their all, their lives, on the altar of country. Can anybody at home look into their faces in this picture and hesitate to do his part? For the sake of these boys and the birthright of every American, let the bonds be subscribed before the night of April 8. Be a man, do your duty!
Marston Coin Hussong was born on July 1st, 1895 in the County of Franklin, Nebraska to Edward Marston Hussong and Minnie Mantauzieque Coin Hussong. Marston Coin Hussong took his first name from his father’s middle name of Marston and his middle name from his mother’s maiden name of Coin. Marston’s mother Minnie was born in Boone County, Iowa on August 2nd of 1871. Edward Marston Hussong was born in Ames, Iowa on December 10, 1863. Edward was a lifelong educator and botanist and received his education in the Ames Agricultural College and at the University of Nebraska. For many years he was engaged in educational work with success. He was the principal of the Public Schools in Franklin, Nebraska and was a successful editorial writer and journalist. Edward M. Hussong was the author of several botanical and educational works. Edward M. Hussong passed away on April 21st 1949. Edward Hussong and Minnie Coin were married on Christmas Day 1893.
In June of 1900 the Edward Hussong family lived in Franklin, Nebraska in a home that was rented. Edward and Minnie had 4 children at that time and they were, Alice Margaret born in October 1893, Marston born in July 1895, Herbert O. born in December 1896 and Dorothia L. born in July 1899. Also living in the home was Edward’s mother and two sisters and a 25 year-old single male boarder. Edward’s mother, Clara R. Hussong who was widowed, was born in Virginia in November 1839. Edward’s two sisters that were living in the home were Grace M. Hussong born in Kansas in February of 1878 and Nellie Hussong also born in Kansas in September of 1879, both of whom were single at the time. Grace like her brother was also a schoolteacher and Nellie was attending school at the time. The 25-year old border was named George Boone born in May of 1875 in Iowa who was a student at the time.
By 1910 the family had grown to include another son Edward M. born about 1902 and two daughters who may have been twins Clara F. and Laura G., both born about 1906.
Marston Hussong joined the army in 1917 and was sent to Fort Scott, San Francisco, California where he was placed in Battery E of the 65th Artillery, C.A.C. Marston sailed on the USS Northern Pacific on March 2nd 1918 as they cleared the Golden Gate at noon bound for New York via the Panama Canal. On March 16th the 65th Regiment sailed into New York Harbor, past the Statue of Liberty and landed at Hoboken, New Jersey and boarded a train for Camp Merritt, New Jersey. Finally on Sunday morning March 23rd 1918, the entire 65th Artillery left camp Merritt by rail with full equipment bound for the Cunard Line docks, then marched aboard the H. M. S. Mauretania.
While in France Marston Hussong took part in each battle of the 65th Artillery and on the morning of January 14th, 1919 he boarded the English ship, HMS Haverford for his trip back to America. Marston Hussong was in Battery E and being that Battery E was in the Third Battalion of the 65th Artillery, which was made up from men from California, they were sent to San Diego where they were discharged to return to civilian life, or re-enlist as they saw fit.
Marston returned to civilian life and made his home in Clatsop County, Oregon, living again with his mother and father. His father at that time was teaching High-School there in Astoria, Oregon. In January of 1920 Marston was a 23-year old single man and worked as a stenographer for a shipping company. Marston would remain in and around the Clatsop County, Oregon area for the rest of his life. He eventually married a woman named Hazel and on February 18th 1960 Marston C. Hussong passed away.
This profile was created for Sara Hussong, Granddaughter of Marston Coin Hussong, Battery E, 65th Artillery CAC.
George H. Curnutt, Duvall Washington, Wagoner. Born 21 Jul 1898, at Welch OK. Son of Mr. and Mrs. W.H. Curnutt, Duvall. Enlisted 9 Apr 1917, in 5th Co. at Snohomish, and at Fort Casey was transferred to Battery F, 65th Artillery, and served in France with that regiment. Discharged 28 Feb 1919, at Camp Lewis.
Donald C. Currie, Everett, Washington. Born 3 Aug 1898, at Everett. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Dan Currie, 3208 Colby. Enlisted 5 Feb 1917 in old 12th Co. He was transferred at Fort Casey to Battery F, 65th Art., and served in France with the 65th during its operations in the battle line. Private, 1st class. Discharged at Camp Lewis 28 Feb 1919. Former Everett High School student. Brother of Robert B. Currie also of Batt. F, 65th Artillery.
Robert B. Currie, Everett, Washington. Born 13 Sep 1900, at Everett. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Dan Currie, 3208 Colby. Enlisted in 12th Co., 5 Feb 1917. Was transferred to Battery F, 65th Art. at Fort Casey. He was with the 65th during its trip to France and in its operations on the front lines. Discharged 28 Feb 1919 at Camp Lewis. Private, 1st Class. Brother of Donald C. Currie, Battery F, 65th Artillery. Former Everett High School student. Private Currie received a citation for his work while the 65th was in action, the full wording of which appears in the history of the 65th Artillery.
Ross Aubrey, Merrill, Ore. Private, Battery C, 65th Coast Artillery Corps; fought at Verdun, St. Mihiel, Argonne Forest.
Paul Hilton, Klamath Falls, Ore. Private, 1st Army Division, 65th C. A. C.; fought at St. Mihiel, Verdun, Argonne, Etrayes offensive; slightly gassed at Verdun.
Elmer A. Lawrence, Klamath Falls, Ore. Private, First Class, Battery D, 65th Coast Artillery Corps; fought at St. Mihiel, Argonne, Verdun, Etrays offensive.
Edgar J. McCollum, Klamath Falls, Ore. Private, 65th Regiment, Heavy Artillery, C. A. C.; fought at St. Mihiel, Argonne Forest, Etrayes offensive.
Ben C. Mitchell, Klamath Falls, Ore. Private, Battery D, 65th Coast Artillery Corps; fought at St. Mihiel, Argonne Forest, Verdun, Etrayes offensive.
Clarence V. Montgomery, Klamath Falls, Ore. Private, Battery D, 65th Coast Artillery Corps; fought at St. Mihiel, Verdun, Argonne, Etrayes offensive.
Eugene Prouty, Klamath Falls, Ore. Bugler, Battery D, 65th Coast Artillery Corps; fought at St. Mihiel and Argonne Forest; wounded at Argonne.
Clifford Sevits, Klamath Falls, Ore. Private, First Class, Battery C, 65th Artillery, C. A. C.
Robert B. Turner, Klamath Falls, Ore. Private, First Class, Battery D, 65th Coast Artillery Corps.
Joseph Zumpfe, Malin, Ore. Private, First Class, Battery D, 65th Artillery; fought at St. Mihiel, Verdun, Argonne, Forges Woods.
Bob Brownell tells about his great-uncle Harold Brownell who served in the 65th Artillery during WWI while in France.
“My great-uncle, Harold Brownell served with this unit during WW 1. He was my grandfather’s brother and died after returning home from the war in 1919 of spinal meningitis. My grandfather never talked of his brother much – they were the only two boys in a family of four girls, with a hard, unforgiving father and my grandfather was eleven years younger than Harold. His brother’s death left a lifelong scar on my grandfather who didn’t really know who his brother was or who he could have been. I always wanted to know more about my great-uncle, his service, who he was, and why he ran away to join the army in 1917. My grandfather never mentioned much other than some basic details which encouraged me to want to know more and more about this mysterious ghost in our family. The only things that remain are Harold’s dog tags, his shaving kit, some buttons, French coins.”
Henry Joseph Lecocq, Jr. was the second eldest son born to Henry and Gabrielle Lecocq. Both Henry and Gabrielle were born in France and had immigrated to the States. Henry and Gabrielle began their family with the birth of their first son named George, which was followed by Henry Joseph Lecocq, Jr on October 3, 1894 in Elliott, Missouri. The six siblings in the Lecocq family were George, Henry Jr., Henrietta, Marguerite, Ferdinand, and Helen.
In the spring or 1917 Henry J. Lecocq, Jr., was then living in Marshfield, Oregon and was working as a salesman. But previous to this he was also serving in the Oregon State Naval Militia for at least 6 months. On June 7, 1917 Henry, a tall slender man with black hair and brown eyes, enlisted into the United States Army and would serve in combat in France with the 65th Artillery, CAC. Because Henry’s father and mother were both born in France and the family spoke French, Henry, Jr. sometimes served as an interpreter while he was with the 65th in France. Henry J. Lecocq, Jr. was honorably discharged from the army on February 28, 1919.
Once out of the army after the war Henry returned back to Marshfield, Oregon and worked for the local public utility as an electrician. By 1930 he was still working for the power company only now his job was that of a storekeeper for the company.
Henry J. Lecocq, Jr. and his wife Alma B. or “Betty” as she sometimes went by lived in Marshfield, Oregon and had one daughter named Yvonne born about late 1928.
In 1940 just before the start of WWII Henry was working as an Area Supervisor at Camp White Division 6 in Medford, Oregon. Lecocq would have been working on constructing the 43,000-acre U.S. Army training camp for the 91st Infantry Division. Over the four years of the war, 40,000 troops shipped out of Camp White. During the war years, the surrounding plains sprouted temporary housing for many camp support services.
Henry Joseph Lecocq, Jr. passed away on March 30, 1976.
Henry Joseph Lecocq, Jr. 1894-1976
Rodney F. Smith was born in Morris, Stevens County, Minnesota on January 7, 1898. On March 6, 1916 Smith enlisted into the Oregon National Guard. Once his Guard unit was called into Federal Service at the start of the First World War he was placed into Battery C of the 65th Artillery, CAC as Sergeant. He served with Battery C during its time in combat in France. He would have returned to the states and was Honorably Discharged from the Army on February 28, 1919. After life in the army Smith married and remained in Oregon for the rest of his life. He passed away on July 12, 1958 and is buried in the Rest Haven Memorial Park in Eugene, Oregon.
Born: December 8, 1891. Death: January 28, 1964. Burial: Missouri Flat Cemetery, Applegate, Jackson County Oregon
Theodore Tucker was born in South Berwick, Maine in 1895, and in December of 1917 was living in Kittery, Maine. He entered the Army in late 1917 and was placed in the Headquarters Company of the then forming 54th Artillery, CAC. The 54th was a Coast Artillery Regiment, which was formed of mostly Maine men who were in the Coast Artillery Coast Defense units stationed in Maine.
On March 16, 1918 the HQ Company of the 54th Artillery, Batteries A and B, the Supply Company along with the HQ Company consisting of 19 officers and 566 enlisted men sailed aboard the HMS Baltic from New York bound for France.
Once the 54th Artillery arrived in France this regiment was selected to become the Tractor Artillery Replacement regiment. This was done so that fully trained men would be ready to be placed into the various artillery units on the firing line when replacement men were needed due to casualties. Private Tucker would have remained with the HQ Company until July 20, 1918 when he was transferred up to the 32nd Brigade HQ Company. On July 29 Private Tucker reported for duty with the HQ Company, 32nd Brigade, which was the command unit of the 58th Artillery, 59th Artillery and the 65th Artillery. All three of theses regiments were on the firing line at the front.
On August 3, 1918 Private Tucker was reassigned to the 65th Artillery CAC, which was, then in combat on the front lines. Private Tucker was placed into the 3rd Battalion of the 65th, and likely into the HQ Company of the 3rd Battalion, which was the command unit for Batteries E and F. He remained with this unit through out the duration of the war while the 65th was engaged in the Lorraine sector, and on February 6, 1919 was then transferred into the 62nd Company, 16th Battalion of the 153 Depot Brigade.
After the war Depot Brigades were formed for the collection of men from various units who were not career army men so that these men could be transported back across the Atlantic to the States. While these Depot units awaited transportation they were also used as labor units and preformed various tasks while in France.
Private Tucker arrived in the States on January 30, 1919 and was Honorably Discharged from the Army on February 14, 1919.
In February of 2014 Wayne L. Pruett of Gouldsboro, Maine wrote the following about Theodore Tucker. "When I was a kid growing up in Kittery, Maine I lived across the street from Mr. Tuckers' grandson. The grandson and I were close at the time, and Theodore would visit his son and grandson often during the summer months. Theodore was great with his grandson and myself, and because of this closeness Theodore told us various stories of his life. Theodore's stories about the army and his service in France were very interesting to me. Theodore's son, who was a WWII Pearl Harbor Navy survivor, was also very good to me and I tried to keep in touch with him every so often. Just two weeks ago, I found out that the son had past away and this got me thinking about Theodore, and I went on line to find out about the 54th & 65th CAC units, which Theodore served in, and this led me to your web site, which is very well done by the way. It is just a matter of one thing leading to another." Wayne Pruett.
Leonard F. Donaldson
The following record of my grandfather’s WW1 service was reconstructed using various sources. My most important source was the contents of an old cardboard box given to me by Grandpa several years before he died in 1981. The box contained his mess kit; canvass leggings, M1917 rifle action cover, numerous WWI vintage ammunition for various small arms and field guns. Also inside the cardboard box was an old tin candy box containing his dog tag, numerous small items, documents, photos and French Postcards.
October 25, 1917 Detroit Mich. Enlisted in the US Army
December 25, 1917 Fort Williams Port Elizabeth Maine US Army assigned to 54th Artillery, C.A.C.
March 22, 1918 Portland Maine Sails on the Canada for Europe
April 2, 1918 Glasgow Scotland
April 3, 1918 Winchester England
April 6, 1918 LeHarve France assigned to Camp Mailly-le-camp
July 21, 1918 Limoges France reassigned to 65th Artillery 2nd Battalion Battery C
July - Aug 26, 1918 Limoges, Pierre Buffere, La Courtine training with guns and equipment Donjeux France
Aug 26-30 1918 Donjeux to Toule France in route to the Front
Sept. 12-25 1918 St. Mihiel in action/ major offensive
Oct. 6-18 1918 Verdun in action/major offensive
Oct. 20-24 1918 Bois De Forges in action
Oct. 29-30 1918 Fleville in action
Nov. 1-11 1918 Meuse-Argonne in action/major offensive. Leonard F. Donaldson wounded by shrapnel and gassed with phosgene gas exact date unknown but it was after 4pm on November 1st (Leonard F. Donaldson made notation on German pilot’s calendar)
Nov. 11, 11am 1918 Armistice End of War
Nov. 15, 1918 Tille to Tours Leonard F. Donaldson on hospital train
March 20, 1919 USA Leonard F. Donaldson Honorably Discharged from Army
June 1920 USA Leonard F. Donaldson finally discharged from hospital treatment after 19 months classified as Disabled Veteran
Originally, this cardboard box must have contained a pair of boots or perhaps a hat and was roughly 8x20x8in. Grandpa first showed this to me in 1964 and we looked through it together. I remember asking him what battles he had been in and scratched the names in the mess kit lid while he talked. The next time I saw the box was in the old log garage at BAR-D in the late 70’s when he gave it to me. I knew that he had treasured it for more than half a century and felt honored to be entrusted with it. It was as if he was giving me a bit of himself.
1) Mess Kit dated 1-18 including a knife, fork, and spoon and canteen cup. Lightly scratched on the kit lid: St. Miheil, Argonne, Verdun, Le Forge, Argonne Muse
2) Canvass leggings, hand marked in ink inside DON. These are only slightly worn and I believe these to have been a second pair used for inspections.
3) A canvass rifle action cover dated April 1918 and hand marked Mack. This cover fit’s the US Model 1917 perfectly and could also be used on the M1903. It is dirty and has seen use. Mud is trapped in one of the snaps. This item is one of the indicators that Leonard F. Donaldson carried the M1917 rifle.
4) Two field gun shell cases. One believed to be for a 37mm anti-tank gun dated 4-4-18 the other smaller and unmarked and made of tin.
5) Foreign and US small arms ammunition: 4 rounds in a clip believed to be for the 7.62mm Russian Nagant, 3 French 8mm Lebel, 1 German 8mm Mauser, 3 USA 30-06 dated 1917 and 1918, 1 USA .45 pistol dated 1914
6) “Schraffts Hard Candy” tin candy box used to contain the below smaller items
7) Dog tag Leonard F. Donaldson #582982 HQ. Co., 54th Artillery. I remember Grandpa reciting his serial number to me some 55 years after the war.
8) A leather wallet containing a Canadian commercial travelers train pass dated April 17th 1917 in Calgary. Grandpa had been working in the lumbering areas of British Columbia and Alberta for the Goodyear Rubber Company. His duties entailed driving a model T Ford around the Rocky Mountains selling and delivering drive belts for sawmills. When he learned that the US was calling for volunteers he traveled to Detroit Michigan to sign up. Perhaps the fact that his older brother Charles was on the Detroit Police Department had something to do with Grandpa’s choosing Detroit as sign up location.
9) A portrait of Leonard F. Donaldson in uniform. He is wearing a US army uniform showing a collar tag with the crossed cannons of the Artillery. This is the type of portrait taken during training camp. It is unknown where he obtained his basic training but it definitely was with the regular US army not a militia or National Guard unit.
10) A banquet menu from Christmas 1917, Fort Williams Maine 1st Co Portland. I believe this represents a special holiday dinner given for the soldiers stationed at Ft. Williams by the local National Guard organization. The 54th Artillery was at Ft. Williams where it was being reorganized and called into Federal Service. Fort Williams is one of several forts at Cape Elizabeth near Portland Maine.
11) A newspaper clipping bearing a poem titled “A US Volunteer” and a write up about a Portland Me. man being promoted to Corporal. One partially torn item indicates a date of January 12.
12) A welcome letter from King George V of England to the American soldiers dated April 1918. This letter is on Windsor Castle stationary with its own envelope. Grandpa somehow managed to “snag” two copies of this letter. From 54th Artillery regimental history we know the unit was in Winchester England from April 3 until probably April 5. This is when Leonard F. Donaldson most likely obtained this memento.
13) Twelve French Postcards. These were most likely purchased by Leonard F. Donaldson for souvenirs as opposed to use in the mail. There are 2 showing American Troops with equipment similar to but not exactly the same as mentioned in unit history or in the (item 16) photographs. 3 depict general French scenes. 4 refer to Camp de Mailly where the 54th Artillery was stationed after arrival in LeHarve. The last 4 are from the Limoges area this was the main training area of the 65th Artillery before going to the front. These cards definitely confirm a transfer of Leonard F. Donaldson from the 54th Art to the 65th Art.
14) Army issued English/ French dictionary and Signal Corps handbook on Morse and Semaphore codes.
15) A 3rd class train ticket. I am unsure from the ticket, which way the train was going but the areas are Pierre-Buffiere and Limoges-Benedictins. The impressed date stamped into the back or the ticket is 21 JUIL 08. I believe that it should read 21 JUIL 18 which we would be in English July 21, 1918. This would be in keeping with the movements of the 65th Artillery.
16) Five original 2” x 1” photographic prints. Two of these appear to be the same image and depict what I believe to be a 9.2 Inch British Howitzer of the Mark I or II and an American Gun crew. This could well be one of the guns of Battery C, 65th Artillery to which Leonard F. Donaldson was assigned. One is a picture of a line of Caterpillar tractors used to haul the heavy guns. One shows a soldier, likely American, near the ruins of a building. The remaining picture is of American troops in the rubble of a town.
17) Newspaper clipping believed to be from the Cape Vincent NY local paper. It is a copy of a letter sent to his sister Ruth. The exact date of the clipping is unknown but on the reverse side the paper appears to be endorsing Alfred E Smith for Governor and came out on a Thursday. Assuming the election was to be held November 2nd, the paper was likely from Thursday October 24 or more likely October 31. In the letter to his sister Leonard F. Donaldson describes the miserable conditions at the front and mentions that it is a Sunday and that he is wearing heavy clothes. Using a 1918 calendar and assuming that he would not be writing letters during combat actions it is likely that Leonard wrote the letter on Sunday October 20th 1918. Earlier dates of September 29 or October 6 may be possible. However, heavy clothes and reference to prolonged action do not seem to fit the earlier date and October 6th was the beginning of the Verdun action. Nor does it seem possible that a letter from later than October 20th could leave the front lines in France and get home in time for a newspaper article published before a November 2nd election. In any event perhaps the most important bit of information in the letter is that Leonard F. Donaldson was assigned to Battery C 65th Artillery.
18) YMCA stationary and envelope. Stationary and envelope bear the YMCA logo and was made available to soldiers for writing home. This is the type of stationary most likely used by Leonard F. Donaldson to write the letter to his sister described in item 17.
19) A 1916 calendar written in German measuring 1” x 1 5/8” with 20 pages. Contains 3 photographs of women glued inside. Writing of original owner has not been translated and appears cryptic but ends with the word Finis!!! It is not known if this writing is from 1916 or a later date. Near the last page Leonard F. Donaldson made a contemporaneous entry: “Taken from a N.C.O. P. Guard, 4 P.M. 11-1-18 Head partly blown off. Harmless, Argonne Meuse Sector.” Grandpa told me that he had been the first soldier to a downed German plane and that he had taken this diary from the dead pilot along with his Lugar pistol. This pistol was later stolen from Leonard F. Donaldson while in field hospitals. He speculated that the pictures were likely of the dead man’s loved ones. One interesting thing brought to light by this item is that Leonard F. Donaldson was still unwounded at the beginning of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive and would have to been wounded during the last 10 days of the War.
20) American Army train pass from Tille to Tours dated Nov. 15, 1918. This signifies Leonard F. Donaldson’s transport away from the Field Hospitals near the front to rear area medical care. The war has been over for just 4 days.
21) A German tunic button depicting the crown and an Italian rank insignia/collar star.
22) A scalpel with black handle marked MILLERDA Co USA. Likely liberated from the hospital by Leonard F. Donaldson while recuperating. Grandpa was under the mistaken belief that this was German steel. The markings are quite small.
23) Various post WWI mementos including VFW items and a U of M watch fob.
In 1990 I requested information from the Veterans Affairs about Leonard F. Donaldson. They responded with a copy of his Honorable Discharge paper, which provides his dates of enlistment and discharge. They also sent me two US issued medals.
WWI Victory Medal: This medal was awarded to all members of the armed forces who served during WWI. Grandpa‚s has 3 battle clasps. St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne, and Defensive Sector. I believe Grandpa’s original medal is in the possession of his daughter, Ann Armento. I have studied an image of this original in an artistic collage titled “MY HERO” done by Aunt Ann and presented to my parents. In this image the third battle clasp is not legible but seems to be of two words ending in GE. I believe it may refer to the engagement referred to in unit history as Bois De Forge. Perhaps there were clasps for these smaller engagements back in 1918 but now they are covered by the Defensive Sector clasp. This clasp was issued for combat in smaller engagements not covered by major battles clasps. (see footnote/Defensive Sector)
Purple Heart: This medal given for wounds or death in combat was not given until 1932 and Leonard F. Donaldson became eligible retroactively. He knew of his eligibility but never got around to applying for it. When I requested information from the Army in 1990 they sent it to me. It has his name inscribed on the reverse.
Croix de Guerre: This medal was awarded by the French for bravery in combat and was widely given to American soldiers. Exceptional cases got the award with a palm leaf. Grandpa spoke of receiving this medal numerous times. I can still hear him rolling the French words on his tongue. Unit history mentions a French General Alexander of the 17th French Army Corp recognizing and issuing citations to the men and officers of the 65th Artillery. It is also quite possible Leonard F. Donaldson received this medal from the French while lying wounded in the Field Hospital.
WWI Victory Button: A US issued small silver pin comemorating participation in the armed Forces during WWI, which could be worn with civilian clothes.
DEFENSIVE SECTOR CLASP: Defensive Sector Clasps were issued for participation in any of the following engagements.
1) In the First Army area, between 30 August and 11 November 1918, or in the Second Army area between October 12 and November 11, 1918.
2) At the regulating station at St Dizier and in the billeting region in connection therewith between October 31 and November 11, 1918.
3) In the area of corps, divisions, or smaller independent organizations under French, British, Belgian, or Italian commands between April 6, 1917 and November 11, 1918.
4) In any engagement not included in one of the thirteen major operations recognized by its own battle clasp.
5) In any engagement in European Russia after August 1, 1918, or in Siberia after August 15, 1918.
The following information is from countless conversations I had with Grandpa over the years. Many of these occurred in the kitchen at BAR-D while he was having his late night “toddy.” He would be reminiscing while heating milk in a small sauce pan or drinking the milk and whiskey concoction. I will take the liberty of using the 1st person, these may not be his exact words but they are his stories and antidotes.
In 1917 I was working in British Columbia and Alberta for the Goodyear Rubber Company. Driving a Model T Ford over the Rocky Mountains I would call on various lumber camps and sell them drive belts for the large circular and gang saws. When I learned that United States had declared war and was calling for volunteers I took the train to Detroit and signed up. The Army in its wisdom decided that if you signed up in Detroit you must know all about cars and trucks. Consequently I was listed as a Wagoner. (Ft. Wayne, IN is believed to be place he signed up)
Once I got to France I quickly learned about the inequity of war. The Germans got a beer ration, the Limeys (English) got a rum ration, the Frogs (French) got a wine ration and we got nothing. Our women back home didn’t think it was good for us to have something to drink! One night after an exhausting march in the freezing rain our column stopped for the night near a French outfit. I saw a French soldier sleeping under a truck. I could see that he had a wine flask slung over his shoulder. Crawling through the mud I snuck up on him with the intention of helping him out with his wine. When I got up to him I found that the strap of the flask was securely held in place by his buttoned down epaulette. He was sleeping so soundly it didn’t seem right to disturb him and besides he was well armed. So I lay down next to him and was able to empty his wine flask. Once the wine was gone it began to feel a bit crowded under that truck so I crawled off and found a different place to sleep.
It was a miserable life at the front with no way out of the weather and no change of clothes or way to wash. When you got wet you stayed wet sometimes for a week. Standing in the pouring rain trying to eat your cold soaking wet food if you were able to get food at all was bad. Sometimes you couldn’t get any sleep for days if your unit was on a drive or the Germans were shelling you. I do remember one time when we were ordered back from the Front to get cleaned up and rested. They sent us to a de-lousing station where we had to strip naked and put our uniforms into a sanitizing unit. We then had to shave our entire bodies, yes even there, and then we went to the showers where along with soap and water we were sprayed with bug killer. When we got our uniforms back from the sanitizer they had been baked so much that the leather was stiff and shrunk and nothing fit. The Army was trying to get rid of all the cooties and lice we were carrying around but it wasn’t long until our little unwanted companions returned. You still had the bugs but now your uniform didn’t fit and your boots were painful.
The suffering of the French civilians was terrible to see. Many of the men had been lost and farms ruined. Women sometimes with families were desperate. After pay days some of these women would show up at our camps and prostitute themselves but would cover their faces with the long skirts to try to preserve a measure of dignity. I didn’t judge them harshly as it was a matter of survival.
I was with the 42nd Rainbow Division. [More likely Leonard means, “We followed the 42nd Division in combat”] This was a special unit because for the first time men from all over the US were in the same Division together and that is why it was called the Rainbow. Sometimes you could have a guy from Michigan, New York and Alabama fighting side by side.
Shrapnel near Verdun, France wounded me. While I lay wounded in the mud the Germans gassed us with phosgene gas. If I had not been lying with my face in the mud it is likely the gas would have been much more harmful. As it was I lost about 14 inches of small intestine and had significant problems with my lungs. Even after I got back to the States I needed more surgery. They were still getting shrapnel out, which was missed in France. (As a boy I remember Grandpa showing me this piece of jagged metal about as large as my little finger) It took 19 months in different hospitals before I could be released.
During those many months in the hospital I changed. One of the worst moments happened as I was starting to recuperate. I had been a heavy cigarette smoker and was sneaking a smoke when the Doctor caught me and chewed me out in front of the entire ward. He said that after all the work that had been done to try to clear my lungs that for me to smoke was an insult to all the guys who were actually trying to get better. He said that if he caught me smoking again he would no longer waste any time on me. I was so ashamed of myself. Even after the doctor left I knew the other men did not think much of me. While laying in that bed about the only thing I could do were small craft activities like making wallets. One day I set the wallet aside and felt like crying it seemed such a meaningless life. I made a vow to myself that day that I was going to rise above it. That I was going to raise myself up above the masses and make something of myself. Never again would I allow myself to used by others and to be thought of as insignificant.
When I was released from the hospital I was able to use the Disabled Veterans benefits along with working two jobs to get an education and eventually become a lawyer. Sometimes, I was so tired that in order to stay awake to study for exams I filled a bathtub with ice water and got in to study. Nothing was going to stop me I was determined to make something of myself.
Back in the early 70’s Grandpa gave me a pistol that he had brought back from the war. It is a 7.65mm (32 auto) semi-automatic made in Spain and purchased by the French for WWI. Grandpa stated that he got it from a surrendering German. If so the German must have gotten it from a French soldier.
I remember buying a Springfield M1903 rifle of WWI vintage thinking it was like the one Grandpa had carried in France. When I arrived at BAR-D I couldn’t wait to show it to him. My car was parked by the old log garage when I handed it to him. He picked it up and looked it over but said he didn’t think it was like the one he had in France. I did not know at the time that two thirds of our WWI Doughboys carried the M1917. By the time I learned of this Grandpa was gone. Given the predominance of the M1917 along with Grandpa’s failure to recognize the M1903 and the fact that the canvass action cover from his box is better suited to the M1917 I am certain that he carried the M1917.
Grandpa did have a diary, which has been lost. The only time I ever saw it was in Florida in the late 70’s. It was about 3in x 5in and 75 pages covered in red leather. I read it completely with Grandpa present and this is what I remember. It covered the time period from the end of training camp to his first day in combat. There were songs including Over Here, When the Caissons Go Rolling Along, and Mademoiselle from Armentieres. There was also a poem about crossing the ocean with references to how thin were the blankets and seasickness. The Diary also mentions his first day at the front when he had the heel shot from his boot. After this the entries stop. Perhaps life at the front was not conducive to keeping a diary.
From the official Divisional History of the Rainbow Division and the book Retreat Hell! We Just Got Here! by Martin Evans, I am familiar with the movements of the 42nd Rainbow Division. During September through November of 1918 they closely parallel those of the 65th Artillery Regiment. Especially, during the Meuse-Argonne offensive they are almost identical. Unlike most regiments the 65th was never really assigned to any Division. As a heavy Artillery regiment the 65th fired in support of the Divisions they happened to be near. It is almost a certainty that they would have fired in support of the fabled Rainbow Division. Grandpa’s claim to have been with the Rainbow Division may not be technically correct but considering the circumstances of the 65th Artillery it is not too far from the truth. When the first thing asked was likely “With which Division were you?” Grandpa either had to say none or pick one of the several, which the 65th Artillery had supported.
At least part of his time at the front Leonard F. Donaldson drove a truck bringing up ammunition. This is a highly dangerous job. To the enemy, ammunition trucks are of high value and very visible targets. The truck was likely the standard 3-ton open cab of the Liberty type. This was the first truck ever produced to military specifications and was manufactured in high numbers by several suppliers. The one driven by Leonard F. Donaldson would have been one equipped with the ammunition body as opposed to the cargo type. The second battalion of the 65th Artillery Regiment had been assigned 19 of this type.
Leonard F. Donaldson mentioned that the artillery we used was not of U.S. manufacture. I recall him mentioning the French 75mm as one type we used. This would have been true of a Field Artillery unit but I can find no mention of them being used by the 65th Artillery, which was a heavy artillery unit and according to regimental history they were assigned 9.5-inch British Howitzers. Years ago I remember seeing a piece of “trench art” (flower vase) made from what definitely could have been a French 75mm shell case. This case used to be in the basement of his house in Detroit on Glastonbury Street.
For the sake of future generations reading this I am the first and oldest grandchild of Leonard F. Donaldson. My father, J. Bruce Donaldson, was his son. I am Bruce J. Donaldson. My son of the same name was the only great grandchild Leonard F. Donaldson ever saw. While holding my son he turned to me and said, “Don‚t ever spoil his smile.”
It has taken me years to solve the mysteries of Grandpa’s WWI service. Even after I had read widely about WWI and examined in detail the contents of box I could not put it together. I had a dog tag indicating 54th Artillery, a letter to his sister indicating 65th Artillery, Battery C and Grandpa’s repeated mention of the 42nd Rainbow Division. Army Records were non-existent. My early research into the 54th and 65th Artillery indicated that they were National Guard Costal Artillery Units stationed in the U.S. I could find no record of their even going to France. I even suspected that the reference to the 65th Artillery in the letter to Ruth might have been the product of military censors deliberately causing miss-information! Finally, this fall (2005) I happened to recheck on the Internet for information on the 54th and 65th Artillery and found that both regiments had been called to Federal Service in WWI. Once I started comparing the regimental histories to the mementos in Grandpa’s box it all fell into place. I was elated! After many years as a detective I had finally solved my most difficult and personally rewarding case. Investigation conducted 87 years after the fact yields conclusive results! In researching, remembering and writing this remembrance I have again come close to one of the most remarkable of men. My Grandfather, I miss him so much.