45th Artillery, CAC

45th Artillery, CAC


The 45th Artillery, Coast Artillery Corps was a regiment formed under the command of Colonel William P. Hase in July of 1918, at Camp Eustis, Virginia. Once the various Batteries and Companies of the regiment began to be filled out to war-time strength levels they were assembled at Camp Stuart, Virginia. It was there at Camp Stuart that the men were given the equipment such as helmets, gas masks, uniform coats and given their new dog tags. But the one thing they did not have was any artillery guns. None of the American Coast Artillery regiments that went to France had taken any guns across the ocean. The American Army simply just did not have any mobile heavy artillery guns at all. Instead they were all relying on the French and British Armies to give their American cousins weapons with which to fight with.

Orders came and on the morning of October 21, 1918, Colonel Hase had his regiment standing on the docks at Newport News, Virginia, ready to go aboard the transport USS Aeolus. Once aboard the Captain of the Aeolus gave orders to take in all lines and the harbor pilot had the Aeolus heading out to sea. They reached St. Nazaire, France on November 3, 1918. Little did the men of the 45th Artillery know but within eight-days’ time the war would end and they would not even have started their training period, but if the war would have continued on into 1919, the planned Allied Spring Offensive of 1919 would have seen the 45th Artillery on the front lines. If they would have made it to the front lines in the Spring of 1919, the 45th Artillery, who sailed without any artillery guns, would have been assigned to use the French 155mm GPF gun.

With the war now over, the Army General Headquarters decided they were not needed and so, were then ordered to return back to the States. They landed in France at St. Nazaire up in the northwest coast and now made their way to the south west coast of France to the Gironde Estuary to the city of Bordeaux. On January 23, 1919, the USS Siboney stood in the estuary and this was the ship that would take the 45th back home. Once loaded aboard the Siboney, the ship was underway down the Estuary and out into the Bay of Biscay and the Atlantic Ocean. On January 31, 1919, they arrived in New York and were unloaded going first to Camp Mills, New York and then were sent to Camp Dix, New Jersey, where on February 6, 1919, they were demobilized.

After being only in existence for 7-months the 45th Artillery, CAC ceased to exist having never fired a shot in battle nor on the target range.

The 45th Artillery, CAC was under the command of Colonel William P. Hase. Officers of the Field and Staff of the 45th Artillery were:

Lt. Colonel John Thomas N. O'Rear
Major Cedric M. S. Skene
Major Kenna K. Gandee
Major Robert N. Hazeltine
Major Maclom C. Grow
Captain Philip E. Bronson
Captain Verne C. Snell
Captain Gilbert A. Hunt
Captain Charles L. Sefrit
Captain Burton Hartley
1st Lt. Chaplain Dempsey W. Hodges
1st Lt. Chaplain Edmund P. Danbridge

Back from France. Headquarters Company 45th Artillery C.A.C. January 31st 1919. This photo must have been taken at
Camp Mills, New York shortly before being moved to Camp Dix.

This set of three photos were likely taken upon the return of the 45th from France, and may have been at Camp Dix. The caption on the back says, "To W. E. Walthers from 'Bearcat' Brescher, Middleweight Champion, 45th C.A.C." "Bearcat Brescher" was in fact Pvt. James A. Brescher of Battery B, 45th Artillery. Brescher was from New Orleans, LA.

This photo is identified as "Walter L. Brewster RFD #1, Box 17, Atlanta, GA"

Walter Brewster was Pvt. Walter L. Brewster, Service No. 2595531, of Battery C. Pvt. Brewster was from Atlanta and his mother's name was Mattie E. Brewster.

This photo shows 6 men of the 45th Artillery and was not identified. The bench they are setting on looks to be the same wooden bench that is in all three photos. "Bearcat Brescher" does not appear to be in this photo and he may have been the one who snapped it. But in the back row second from the left side standing appears to possibly be Pvt. Walter L. Brewster. PFC W. E. Walthers was known to be a short man, and he may be the man standing in the back row second from the right end.

45th Artillery Muster

As I find stories and photos of men who served in the 45th Artillery I will list them here. If you had a family member who also served in the 45th Artillery please contact Joe Hartwell.

Private James A. Brescher, Bugler, Battery B, And 45th Artillery Boxing Champ, aka "Bearcat Brescher"

The Regimental Middleweight boxing champ of the 45th Artillery, CAC during WWI was a Private by the name of James Albert Brescher. His service number was 2925258 and he was also the Bugler of Battery B. Pvt. Brescher used “Bearcat Brescher” as his boxing name.

James Albert Brescher was born on October 11, 1897 in New Orleans, to Catherine Seidenspinner (1866-1921) and Nicholas J. Brescher (1857-1911). Nicholas and Catherine had three sons, Alexender J., Harry Nicholas, and James Albert. In 1910 Nicholas J. Brescher worked for the railroad as a trackman to support his family, and Harry Nicholas who was 20-years old at the time worked as a teamster.

When James Albert was 16-years and 3 months old on January 3, 1914 he married Margaret “Maggie” Keppers in New Orleans. Maggie quickly became pregnant, and on September 29, 1914 she gave birth to a son they named Nicholas James. It was not known what James Albert did for work during these early years. He may have worked for his older brother Harry who was a teamster, but this is not known for sure.

During WWI James Albert Brescher joined the United States Army. Pvt. Brescher was a member of Battery B, of the 45th Artillery, CAC and sailed to France with the 45th aboard the USS Aeolus on October 21, 1918. During his time while serving with the 45th Artillery Pvt. Brescher became the Regimental Middleweight Boxing Champ of the 45th Artillery. He went by the nickname of “Bearcat Brescher”

Growing up the youngest of three boys and on the streets of New Orleans, was where Brescher may have learned how to box. He also had another talent, that of playing a bugle, as he was the bugler for Battery B. He may have also learned how to play from the many bars and music halls of New Orleans.

Once the war was over the 45th returned back home aboard the USS Siboney and James Albert was honorably Discharged from the Army. Once out of the Army James headed home to New Orleans and his wife and son. In 1920 James, Maggie and Nicholas James were living in the 9th Precinct of New Orleans in the home of Maggie’s sister. At the time, James Albert was working for a private family as a chauffer driver.

During WWII Nicholas James would follow in his father’s footsteps and served in the Army. James Albert and Maggie would only have one son, Nicholas James, and they would live their entire lives in the New Orleans area. The last job James Albert Brescher had was possibly working as an engineer for a company known as Ayres Materials Company of New Orleans.

On August 15, 1957 James Albert would lose his wife Maggie who passed away. On February 15, 1961 James Albert Brescher, the one-time boxing champ of the 45th Artillery passed away. His funeral was held at the Incarnate Word Church located at Apricot and Dante Streets in New Orleans on February 16. He was buried in the family plot in the Greenwood Cemetery in Orleans Parish.

James Albert Brescher, 1944 James Albert on the left with his son Nicholas James Brescher taken in 1944 while Nicholas was in the Army

PFC William E. Walthers, Battery C

PFC William E. Walthers served with Battery C of the 45th Artillery during WWI. He was friends with another man of the 45th, that of Bugler James A. Brescher of Battery B. Once the 45th Artillery had returned back to the states Pvt. Brescher had his photo taken setting on a bench outside of the barracks at what is likely Camp Dix, New Jersey. On the back of the photo Brescher wrote this; "To W. E. Walthers from 'Bearcat' Brescher, Middleweight Champion, 45th C.A.C."

William Ernest Walthers was born on October 5, 1891 in Georgetown, Colorado. He was the youngest son of Sarah Jane (1856-1922) and William Walthers (1854-1932). Georgetown sits at an elevation of 8,530 feet, nestled in the mountains near the upper end of the valley of Clear Creek in the mountains west of Denver along Interstate 70. During the 1880’s the Colorado silver boom helped the population of Georgetown to grow to nearly 10,000, and at the time Georgetown was a center of mining in Colorado only to be eclipsed by Leadville, Colorado.

Growing up in Georgetown, William E. Walthers was exposed to the mining industry, and it was only natural that when he became of age that he would seek the job of a miner. In June of 1917 when young men had to register for the Federal Draft due to America joining the fight in Europe, William Walthers did just that on June 5, 1917 in the first call-up of men.

Walthers’ was a short man with brown eyes and dark hair. On his draft registration form he listed that he worked as a miner for the Midland Chief Mines Company. He was single at the time, and he claimed exemption because he had to support his mother. But the Army saw it a bit differently and took him anyway.

The Midland Chief Mines, Company was incorporated in Massachusetts but was ran out of the Colorado Building in Denver by F. J. Woodward, who was the general manager. The company owned 11 claims, on 50-acres of land in the Democrat Mountain, and Georgetown areas of Clear Creek County, Colorado. The mine operations consisted of a 50-ton mill, with two ore-shoots that were opened up. One was 125-feet long and 4-feet wide, and the second one was 450-feet in length and 4-feet wide. The production in 1917 of the mine was about 700-tons of ore, which was likely silver. 

On July 13, 1918 William E. Walthers was enlisted into the army, and given his service number of 3458847, and was placed into the Coast Artillery branch of the Army. He would serve with Battery C of the 45th Artillery and would sail aboard the USS Aeolus with the 45th on October 21, 1918. The 45th was sent over late in the war and had little time to conduct training before the war ended. By January 31, 1919 the 45th was back on U. S. soil and was being sent to Camp Dix, NJ where they would be demobilized. PFC William E. Walthers was honorably discharged on February 24, 1919.

Walthers would say goodbye to the friends he had made in the army and return back to Colorado. Sometime in 1924 he would marry. Little is known of his wife except that her name was Florence and was born about 1892 in New York. It does not appear that William and Florence had any children. In April of 1930 William and Florence lived in a home he owned in Georgetown. At the time, William was out of the mining business and worked as the Clear Creek County Treasurer. Living in the home with William and Florence was a 19-year old nephew named William Hollingsworth. It was not clear if the nephew was on William’s side or Florence’s side of the family. Also, living right next door was William’s father who was at the time, 75-years old and was a widower, and was still working as a plumber.

By 1940 William and Florence were still living in Georgetown and William was then a Clear Creek County Commissioner. In 1942 William registered for the Federal Draft for the second time in his life. But this time the army did not see fit to take him as he was 50-years old at the time.

On May 18, 1955 William E. Walthers passed away, and was survived by his wife Florence. He was buried in the Alvarado Cemetery in Georgetown. The Alvarado Cemetery was established in 1865. About a year later on April 18, 1956 Florence Walthers filed paperwork to have a bronze military grave marker placed upon William’s grave. It was on July 17, 1956 that his bronze marker was finally placed upon his grave, forever marking the spot where an American Soldier lays resting.

PFC William E. Walthers bronze grave marker.

Private Donald Firkins, Battery B

Donald Firkins was the son of G. A. Firkins of Gibbon, Nebraska. Pvt. Firkirns entered the Army at Ft. Logan, Colorado on 14 December 1917. He was first stationed at Ft. Scott and then Camp Eustis and then was transferred to Battery B, 45th Artillery CAC. Pvt. Firkins was discharged on 19 February 1919.

Private Bryan Adams, 3372024, Supply Co.

Bryan Adams was born 27 July 1898 in Elkton, Kentucky. At the time Bryan entered the Regular Army he lived at 1147 Laird St. in Akron, Ohio. He enlisted at the Columbus Barracks in Columbus, Ohio on 30 July 1918 and was assigned to the Coast Artillery Corps at Ft. Screven, Georgia. On 29 August 1918 he was transferred into Supply Company, 45th Artillery, C.A.C. He sailed with the 45th Artillery to France on 21 October 1918 and returned to the States on 31 January 1919. Pvt. Adams remained with Supply Co., 45th Artillery until he was discharged on 20 February 1919.

Cook Benjamin Franklin Abear, Supply Co.

He was born 14 July 1986 and was placed in a Catholic orphanage when he was young, after his father died in a logging accident, and ran away from the Catholic orphanage at age 10 or 12, and travelled around the country as a young boy, all on his own. During the early summer of 1918 Ben Abair felt the call to serve his country and entered the Army. He was assigned to the 45th Artillery as a Cook in the Supply Company. He served overseas with the 45th Artillery and probably was discharged in February 1919 with the rest of the men in the 45th Artillery. According to the Minnesota Death Index Ben Abair died in Cass County, Minnesota on 18 August 1963. According to his grand-daughter Cheryl Little this is what it says on his gravestone: "MN Cook Sup Co 45 Coast Arty WW1"

Corporal Clyde McMurray, HQ Co.

Clyde "Claude" McMurray's grave marker states; "Illinois CPL HQ CO 45 Arty CAC World War I"

Private Theognis Halkiotis, Battery D

Theognis was born in Constantinople, Greece in 1891 and emigrated to Haverhill, Massachusetts in 1912. He served with Battery D. 45th Artillery C.A.A. from July 6, 1918 to February 12, 1919.

Sergeant Angus L. McDonald, Supply Co.

Angus L. McDonald, Service No. 813471, was a Sergeant in the Supply Company, 45th Artillery, CAC. McDonald entered the Army at Galesburg, Illinois on April 2, 1918 and served with the 45th Artillery until his discharge on February 21, 1919 at Camp Grant, Illinois.

Pvt. Hugh Combs

Hugh Combs West Virginia
Private, 45th Artillery, CAC
World War One
September 30, 1897 - January 2, 1943

Sgt. George L. A. Davis, Battery C

George L. A. Davis was a Sergeant serving with Battery C of the 45th Artillery, CAC during the First World War. Sgt. Davis was from Savanah, Georgia and was the son of William A. Davis. When the 45th Artillery was formed, Davis was then a Corporal. As the 45th Artillery was at Camp Eustis, Virginia making preparations to sailing to France, Corporal Davis was promoted to Sergeant on October 1, 1918.

The entire 45th Artillery sailed aboard the Transport USS Aeolus on October 21, 1918. When the 45th was ready to return from France they boarded the USS Siboney in Bordeaux, France on January 23, 1919 and landed in New York on January 31, 1919. They were first sent to Camp Mills, NY and then moved to Camp Dix, New Jersey where the 45th Artillery was demobilized.

George L. A. Davis shown as a Corporal as seen by his two stripes on the right arm.
This photo would have been taken prior to his promotion on October 1, 1918. His Service Number was 2595447

Pvt. Ralph Moore, Service No. 3070350, Bty C

Ralph Moore was a member of Battery C of the 45th Artillery, Coast Artillery Corps and served with that unit during its brief time in France during WWI. The 45th Artillery, CAC arrived too late in the war to make it to the battle front, but if the war would have continued on into 1919, the Allied planned Spring Offensive of 1919 would have seen the 45th Artillery on the front lines.

Ralph Moore was born on February 14, 1897 in Sugar Lake, Buchanan County, Missouri, and was the second eldest child born to Eliza Emma Berry (1867-1948) and Frederick Sherman Moore (1870-1951). The Frederick Moore family was a farm family and about 1900 had moved from Buchanan County, Missouri out to Franklin County in Kansas, where they were living on a farm in Hayes Township of Franklin County. By late 1910, Eliza Moore had by then given birth to eight children, seven of whom were still living: Elsie was the eldest child, followed by Ralph, Eli Sherman, Anna May, Cal Oliver, Ruth C., and lastly John Frederick. Elsie and Ralph were born back in Missouri but the remainder of the siblings had been born on the farm in Hayes Township.

In the Spring of 1917, when America had entered the war in Europe, Ralph Moore who was then 21-years old enlisted into the United States Army on May 29, 1918. He was assigned to the Army’s Coast Artillery Corps and served in the 3rd Recruit Company stationed at Fort Caswell, North Carolina.

On the first day of July 1918, Pvt. Moore writes a letter to his parents back in Ottawa, Kansas. His letter was printed in the Ottawa Herald in the Tuesday July 9, 1918 edition on page 5. It reads:

Writes of Life in Camp
Ralph Moore, Now in Fort Caswell, NC Hopes for Transfer Soon.

F. S. Moore, three miles southwest, has received a letter from his son, Ralph Moore who is in the Coast Artillery Corps and stationed at Fort Caswell NC. He is a member of recruiting company No. 3. His letter, under date of July 1 follows:

“Dear Folks. I have been working in the mess hall today. We all have to take turns about in it one day each. I guess we will be transferred to another company soon. I am going to try to get in the anti-aircraft division. I don’t know whether I will or not. I might start to France in a day or so and then I may not go for months. We can’t tell. I am sure glad to hear the corn is good. Tell me what Mr. Wolf’s wheat is making so I can tell the boys. They think wheat will not grow in Kansas. I sure would like to be in Ottawa the 4th and go to the dance at the garage. I showed the boys that piece out of the Herald and they all said they would like to be there also. It may be that I will go to Wilmington, NC the 4th. There are some pretty girls up here and they are friendly too and not bashful. I can go down there and back on the boat. I am going to send a box of shells home this week. I got some pretty conch shells yesterday. We went about four miles up the beach. One of the boys caught an alligator about four feet long and brought it down to camp alive. It sure put up some fight at first. I have a good pal. He is from Illinois, about a foot taller then I am. We have some time together. There are eight of us in one tent. We will have our pictures taken together and I will send you some of them.”

The 45th Artillery, CAC was formed in July of 1918 at Camp Eustis, Virginia, for duty overseas in France. And as the 45th Artillery was forming, Pvt. Moore was assigned to Battery C. Moore’s army service number was 3070350 and by mid-October the 45th was ordered to proceed to France. On October 21, 1918, the entire 45th Artillery went aboard the USS Aeolus then at the docks in Newport News, Virginia. As each soldier went up the gangway onto the ship they had to list a name to contact in case of an emergency. Pvt. Moore listed his father Fred S. Moore of RFD No. 9 in Ottawa, Kansas.

Once in France the 45th Artillery, who sailed without any artillery guns, were to be assigned to use the French 155mm GPF gun. But because they would have arrived within days of the war ending the training period for the 45th had not yet begun and they never received their artillery pieces.

On Monday November 11, 1918, the day the war ended in France, back in Ottawa, Kansas at the Moore farm, a simple post card arrives in the mail. It only stated the name of Pvt. Ralph Moore and stated that the ship he sailed to France upon had arrived safely in France. During the war cards like this were pre-printed and when the soldier sailed from the states they filled out this card addressed to someone back home. Then they were collected and stored and once they reached France they were mailed back to the families letting them know their loved ones arrived safely. Nothing else was permitted to be written on these cards due to war-time secrecies.

Back home in Ottawa, Kansas at the Moore home, a letter is received from Pvt. Ralph Moore in France. This was news to the Ottawa Herald and on page 3 in the Saturday January 11, 1919 edition they write a small blurb about the letter.

Ralph Moore Writes– Mr. F. S. Moore of rout 9 has received a letter from his son, Pvt. Ralph Moore, in France. He writes that he is feeling fine and that the climate where he is stationed is very mild, it only being cold enough to frost a few times this winter. He does not tell of when he expects to come home.

Now that the war was over and the Army General Headquarters had decided the 45th Artillery was not needed in France, they were then ordered to return back to the States. On January 23, 1919, they were standing on the docks in Bordeaux, France along the Gironde River and were boarding the transport USS Siboney. Pvt. Moore once again walked up the gangway and again listed his father Fred as his person to contact in case of an emergency. By February 22, 1919, Pvt. Ralph Moore Service No. 3070350 was given an Honorable Discharge from Active Duty with the Army. After just over eight-months of Army life, Ralph Moore was once again a civilian and headed home.

Photo of Pvt. Ralph Moore. The photo is not dated but this photo shows Pvt. Moore wearing his army overcoat, which would indicate it being in the winter months. Also clutched under his left arm is his steel helmet and gas mask bag swung around his shoulder. In his right-hand Pvt. Moore is holding a leather overnight case possibly containing some souvenirs from France. Additionally, this photo seems to be taken in a rural setting, and so It can be assumed that this photo was taken at the Moore Farm in Kansas when Pvt. Moore returned home about the last week in February 1919. Most soldier were allowed to take their helmets and gas mask bags home with them when discharged and this also indicated this is after his discharge from the Army.

Within a few months of his return home, Ralph Moore met and fell in love with Ethel Eliza Richardson (1898-1989) of Baldwin, Kansas and on April 26, 1920, in Lawrence, Kansas Ethel and Ralph were married. Ethel and Ralph would live in Ottawa, Kansas until at least 1955.

As a World War I veteran, Moore was a member of the Warren Black American Legion Post and was a bugler in its prize-winning Drum and Bugle Corps. In 1942 America was once again at war and on May 20, 1942, Ralph Moore once again had to register for the Draft. That day Ralph Moore who stood 5-foot 7-inches tall and weighed 170-pounds signed his name to be called upon if his Country needed him to serve. Ralph Moore who had blue-eyes and brown hair and a ruddy complexion, did not serve in the military during the Second World War but was the commander of the Ottawa Home Guard during the war. Starting in 1943 during WWII German and Italian Prisoners of War were brought to Kansas and other midwestern states to be held. Large internment camps were built across Kansas partly as its remoteness from any big center of military installations. Ottawa, Kansas was the site for one of the several smaller camps for POW’s.

The Ralph Moore family were members of the Ottawa United Methodist Church. Ethel and Ralph would raise three children, Betty Lou, Robert Sherman, and Walter Leroy who were all born in the 1920’s in Ottawa. Later in 1955 Ethel and Ralph Moore moved north to the Cody, Wyoming area and there Ralph was well known in Wyoming for his square dance calling. Through much of his life Ralph was a carpenter and building contractor, he retired in 1962, after operating the Moore and Lantis Contractors.

On December 23, 1972, at the age of 75-years Ralph Moore passed away while living in Cody, Wyoming. He was buried in the Riverside Cemetery in Cody, Wyoming. His wife Ethel is buried next to him and together they rest in peace there.

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This page is owned by Joe Hartwell. This page created on 26 May, 2001 and last updated on November 11, 2019

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