The History of the
51st Artillery, Coast Artillery Corps
Below is a history that was obtained from the U.S. Army Military History Institute located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
The 51st Artillery was organized at Fort Adams, Rhode Island, in July 1917 under the designation of the 6th Provisional Regiment, Coast Artillery Corps. The men came from twelve Companies from seven different Forts within the North and Middle Atlantic Coast Artillery Districts. All twelve companies came from the Coast Defenses of Boston, MA, C.D. of Narragansett Bay, RI, C.D. of Portland, ME, and of the C. D. of the Delaware. The Batteries that formed the 6th Provisional Regiment were as follows:
|Headquarters Company||2nd Co. at Ft. Mott, NJ formed in June of 1917
|Supply Company||2nd Co. at Ft. Mott, NJ formed in June of 1917
|Battery A||1st Co. at Ft. McKinley, ME originally organized in 1808
|Battery B||2nd Co. at Ft. Greble, RI originally organized in 1901
|Battery C||3rd Co. at Ft. Strong, MA originally organized in 1847|
|Battery D||5th Co. at Ft. McKinley, ME organized in April of 1917|
|Battery E||1st Co. at Ft. Preble, ME originally organized in 1901
|Battery F||4th Co. at Ft. Williams, ME originally organized in 1901|
|Battery G||3rd Co. at Ft. Williams, ME originally organized in 1861
|Battery H||2nd Co. at Ft. Williams, ME originally organized in 1812|
|Battery I||2nd Co. at Ft. Andrews, MA originally organized in 1907|
|Battery K||1st Co. Ft. Banks, MA originally organized in 1813|
|Battery L||3rd Co. at Ft. Andrews, MA originally organized in 1907|
|Battery M||4th Co. at Ft. Andrews, MA originally organized in 1916|
The regiment left New York August 13, 1917, for France aboard the HMS Andiana with 108 Officers and 1,745 enlisted men. They arrived in England on September 2, 1917, after having called at Halifax, N.S. and Bantry Bay, Ireland on the journey. The later call was caused by the presence of submarines off the Irish Coast. The Regiment left England and arrived at La Harve, France, on the 16th of September 1917. The regiment was transported and arrived at Mailly le Camp, Aube, September 18, 1917. The regiment remained at Mailly le Camp during the winter, obtained artillery, materiel, tractors, trucks, etc., and engaged in intensive training.
The 2nd Battalion was ordered to Bordeaux for the purpose of instructing new Coast Artillery troops arriving from the States in the late part of the winter. The 6th Provisional Regiment was designated the 51st Artillery C.A.C. in the later part of February 1918.
The 1st and 3rd Battalions were ordered to the Toul Sector in the middle of April. These battalions were operated separately under the VIII Army (French) and later under the 1st and 2nd American Armies as Army Artillery. They engaged in numerous actions including the Secheprey raid April 21, 1918, assisting the 26th Division in that operation.
In August the Coast Artillery in France was reorganized, the 2nd Battalion composed of Batteries F, G and H was transferred to another regiment, as were Batteries C, D and E. Batteries I and K had formerly been transferred in organizing the Howitzer Regiment C.A.C.
The new and present organization of the 51st Artillery are as:
1st BattalionBattery A / formerly Battery A, 51st Artillery C.A.C.
Battery B / formerly Battery B, 51st Artillery C.A.C.
2nd BattalionBattery C / formerly Battery L, 51st Artillery C.A.C.
Battery D / formerly Battery M, 51st Artillery C.A.C.
3rd BattalionBattery E / formerly Battery E, 53rd Artillery, C.A.C.
Battery F / formerly Battery G, 53rd Artillery C.A.C.
Headquarters Co. / formerly Headquarters Co. 51st Artillery C.A.C.
Supply Co. / formerly supply Co., 51st Artillery C.A.C.
The new 3rd Battalion located and remained in the Verdun Sector until after the Armistice.
In the early morning of the 12th of September 1918, all battalions engaged in the St. Mehiel Offensive and later advanced their guns into the St. Mehiel and Thiaucourt Sectors. Numerous artillery actions followed during the period of the Argonne Offensive, in which the 1st and 2nd Battalions participated by firing on enemy gun positions, roads, etc., in their rear, and the 3rd Battalion engaged in the frontal attack.
A third Offensive was planned in the early part of November 1918, and the artillery preparation was in progress when the Armistice became effective on the 11th of November 1918. Our farewell salvo was fired two minutes before this hour on which the Armistice became effective. While serving in France the 1st Battalion was equipped with the French 240mm tractor drawn guns, the 2nd Battalion with 270mm mortars transported by use of narrow gauge railways and the 3rd Battalion with the British 8" Howitzers, tractor drawn. Shortly after the Armistice the Regiment turned all its heavy equipment over to the Ordnance Department and returned after various delays enroute caused by congestion of traffic, to the United States, leaving Brest, France on January 26, 1919. All emergency men were demobilized during February and the remainder, mostly Regular Army, are still serving their Regiment.
The Regiment has been equipped with 8" Howitzers, Holt Caterpillar tractors and the standard F.W.D. trucks, White Reconnaissance cars, GMC and Dodge cars and motorcycles, practically on the same plan as during our service at the front. The Regiment was temporally stationed at Fort Hamilton, New York, after its return from France. In October 1919, the regiment changed station and is now stationed at Camp Jackson, South Carolina.
In addition to the experience a solider in the Heavy Mobile Artillery is bound to obtain during his service, with various kinds of motor vehicles, including their principle, construction, operation, care and preservation etc, a number of schools are open for all enlisted men. The schools now in operation include, Motor Mechanics, Machine Shop, Clerical, Music, Singing, Chauffeurs, Telephone, Educational) Grammar and High School), Carpenter, and Plumbing, and others covering practically all useful and compensating trades.
In connection with Motorized Artillery radio, telephones, surveying, instruments etc., are used in obtaining information and computing firing data. All soldiers in this branch become familiar with these instruments and their knowledge, with a bit of voluntary effort and perseverance on the part of the individual soldier. The Regiment, by the service it rendered on the front in the World War, earned a good name and by virtue of its service was retained in the Service as a permanent organization. The Regimental Colors carry a distinctive Regimental Insignia and the names of the Battles in which it participated.
The 51st Artillery, C.A.C. took part in the following battles:
|Toul sector, France||1st Battalion, 10 April-11 September 1918|
|2d Battalion, 15 April-11 September 1918|
|Verdun sector, France||3d Battalion, 27 April-11 Sept. 1918; 17 Sept.-26 October 1918|
|St. Mihiel offensive, France||1st 2d, and 3d Battalions, 12 September-16 September 1918|
|Thiaucourt sector, France||1st Battalion, 17 September-11 November 1918|
|2d Battalion, 17 September-29 October 1918|
|Meuse-Argonne offensive, France||3d Battalion, 27 October-11 November 1918|
A 240mm gun emplacement of the 51st Artillery C.A.C.
The newly formed 51st Artillery received its training at O&T Center No. 6 at Mailly and Haussimont, France. The 51st was one regiment of the 39th Artillery Brigade C.A.C. During August 30-September 16, 1918 units of the 51st were at the disposal of the 1st Army during the St-Mihiel operation. The 51st used 240mm guns, 270mm mortars and 8" Howitzers. Also they were with the 1st Army 26 September-11 November 1918 during the Meuse-Argonne operations.
A detachment of 8" Howitzers of the 51st were with the 2nd Army from October 12-November 11, 1918 and again with the 2nd Army November 12-April 15, 1919 during Post-Armistice activities.
The 3rd Battalion (8" Howitzers) of the 51st Artillery was with the III Corps during the Meuse-Argonne Front from September 14-November 11, 1918.
September 17-November 16, 1918 saw the 1st Battalion (6- 240mm guns) and the 2nd Battalion (8-270mm guns), 51st Artillery with the IV Corps in the Toul Sector and Thiaucourt Zone.
Units of the 51st Artillery were with the VI Corps during post-armistice activities from November 13-April 10, 1919.
The 51st Artillery returned to New York 3 February 1919 aboard the USS Agamemnon. Regular army men were at Fort Hamilton New York and the rest were discharged. The Skeletonized 51st was retained on active service as part of the newly formed 39th Artillery Brigade at Camp Jackson, South Carolina in October 1919. The 39th Brigade (tractor-drawn artillery) was made up of the 44th and 51st Regiments of 8-in howitzers and the 56th Regiment of 155mm G.P.F. guns.
If you have a family member who was in the 51st Artillery or you have information to share about this unit, please contact me and I will add your information to this web page.
Cpl. R. N. Noonan, left side of the door crouched, rining in a French 40 and 8 car.
I was contacted by Richard N. Noonan, Jr. about his father who was with HQ. CO. of the 51st Artillery. He writes:
My father, Richard Nicholas Noonan was born in Bridesburg, PA which is a suburb of Philadelphia, near the former Frankford Arsenal. I believe the address was 4515 Salmon Street. He lived with his father and mother and brother Joseph. His father was a Conductor on the Pennsylvania Railroad, and was killed at work when my father was a boy.
My father attended Catholic School for a time. He told me he got very angry with one of his teachers, and subsequently ran away from home.
During WW I, he enlisted in the U. S. Army, in the 51st Coast Artillery at Fort Adams, Rhode Island. He was shipped off to France. He became the Battalion Commander's driver, achieving the rank of Corporal. He said he drove a 1915 Cadillac open car. The biggest challenge was dodging shell holes. He said his commander wore glasses and frequently misplaced them--most often on the top of his head, as my father would respectfully indicate when asked.
At home, we had a large book of photographs entitled: "The First World War Illustrated," edited by Lawrence Stallings. The book was published in the 1930's. In that book was a photograph of a group of men in uniform occupying a French Railways (SNCF) 40 and 8 car. He told me he is the man in the left area of the door opening. He is the one waving his campaign hat with his right hand to the right of and slightly above his body, just above another man who is seated on the edge of the car and is also holding out his hat. I have compared the image my father indicated with other photos of him taken a few years later. His statement is accurate.
A couple of years ago I was watching a History Channel program entitled "Trains Unlimited." The episode covered trains at war, and this photograph was shown. I have a copy of that program. I located the book again (my father's was apparently lost) at the California Military Museum in Sacramento. The Librarian was kind enough to lend me the book so I could have a negative and prints made. He said he was injured in a gas attack, and received a would in the back of his neck from a piece of shrapnel. There was a scar from that wound.
He was discharged after the Armistice and returned home to Philadelphia. He told me his mother was upset that her son had not been so badly battered as the other boys who came back from the war. I don't think he had a very happy childhood or adult home life. In contrast, I had a good childhood in a very stable loving home. He was a marathon runner in Philadelphia, winning several trophies. He went to work for the Pennsylvania Railroad as a clerk. He subsequently enlisted in the Marine Corps and served in Haiti and Santo Domingo. He was discharged from the Marine Corps in 1926 in San Diego, CA. He did not return home until 1947 and that was only for a brief visit. He had virtually no contact with his brother after he left. I never met him, either.
My father spent the rest of his life in San Diego. He went to night school and earned his high school diploma. He also specialized in bookkeeping at which he was very good. He worked for a furniture manufacturing company in the 1930's. He ran his own business during WW II, while also serving in the Coast Guard Auxiliary. After the war he worked for another furniture company, tried his hand at selling real estate, and owned his own three-axle dump truck, hauling asphalt and aggregate around Southern California. His biggest project was working on the first freeway, part of US Highway 101, between Oceanside and Carlsbad. He then worked for Merrifield Trucking Company until he retired. He died in May, 1982, of a heart attack at age 85.
He spoke little about his military service. However, he was a long-time member of the American Legion. He also preserved his records and medals, receiving one some time later from the French Government naming him a "Soldat de La Marne."
I would welcome contacts from other descendants of veterans of this unit. Richard N. Noonan, Jr. Elk Grove, CA
At 11 o’clock in the morning on November 11, 1918 the guns fell silent on the battlefront in the fields of France. And also, at that moment the millions of men who had been in those fields started to leave the memories of what took place there behind. And as they were leaving their memories these soldiers left many thousands of items on the battlefield that also fell silent in the soil. Now more than 100-years after that moment when silence engulfed the soil of France and these soldiers too have now fell silent, we the living now seek answers to questions about what took place there 100-years ago.
Some of the answers now come in the form of the many thousands of small items that were left on the battlefields. The earth, at the moment the guns fell silent, began to reclaim these items and holds the many stories that each item tells, away from us. But sometimes one of these items are found and a story is brought back to life. A life that many, too many of these men who served on this soil had to give up. Each item that is found has a story to tell and it is the story of what took place 100-years ago. These are the memories that the soldiers wanted to leave behind on the battlefields. This is the story of one such item, found by a Dutchman named Michel Morel.
The item Michel had found was a square aluminum American Army Dog Tag. It is unusual as the square dog tags were an early issued dog tag to the American soldiers, and shortly after they were issued, round aluminum dog tags took their place. Possibly this was why the American soldier discarded it. Michel had discovered this unusually shape dog tag near Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, France back in the late summer of 2001, some 83-years after it was discarded or lost by the soldier. The story of who this soldier was lay silent all that time, and in fact the story had to lay silent another 18-years after it was found by Michel Morel.
Back on September 11, 2001 another Dutchman named Rob de Soete had contacted me on behalf of Michel Morel trying to find out information on who the soldier was that this dog tag once belonged to. The dog tag was badly pitted from being in the soil and part of the identifying information was unreadable. At the time in 2001 when I was asked to help I did not have enough information in which to put the pieces back together of who this soldier was. And as the time passed by the story again lay silent. It would lay quietly still until Christmas of 2018 when I had some time off work and was doing more research into other soldier stories. Quite by chance I ran again into the story of the square dog tag Michel Morel had found near Romagne-sous-Montfaucon.
The passenger lists of American troops sailing to France had now been processed and were available on line and that was the missing piece that I did not have back in 2001 when I was first contacted about this square dog tag. As I looked again at the photo of this dog tag something inside of me began to wonder who this man was. The purpose of the dog tag was to identify his body should he be killed in battle, but now this badly eroded dog tag could not tell me who the soldier was. The only information available on the dog tag was that the soldier’s first name was “Willard” his middle initial was “H” and his last name began with “RA…” and the rest of his name was gone. There also was his unit, which was the “Medical Detachment” of the 51st Artillery, CAC, and that he was a Private. That was all there was to go on.
But as I began to look more closely to his last name that only the first two letters were readable I began to notice that part of the last letter in his name was still intact. Not much was there but who ever had stamped this soldiers dog tag hit the stamp tool hard with the hammer causing the steel stamp to dig deeply into the soft aluminum, which left the impression of the shoulders of the stamp.
I began to compare this partial last letter to each of the letters that were still visible on the dog tag. I began to notice that this mystery letter looked nearly the same as the “Y” that was used to stamp out “ARTY” which meant Artillery. So now I had something to go on, I was looking for a soldier whose first name and middle initial was “Willard H.” and his last name began with “RA” and ended in the letter “Y” and that he was a Private serving with the Medical Detachment of the 51st Artillery, Coast Artillery Corps.
|This is the Ramsey Square Dog Tag found by Michel Morel near Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, France back in the late summer of 2001.|
The only trouble with this was that for the American Coast Artillery Corps units that went to France during WWI, they were reorganized many times and changed the names of their units almost monthly during the early part of America’s involvement in the war. The 51st Artillery was formed from men already serving in France and so, I would be looking for what unit they were formed from. This trail led me to the 6th Provisional Regiment, CAC. This was the very first American Coast Artillery Corps unit formed for duty overseas in the early summer of 1917 at Fort Adams in Rhode Island.
On the very day that the 6th Provisional Regiment had sailed for France the American Army was issued orders to issue dog tags to soldiers, so it is likely that this square dog tag was issued to the soldier after he was already in France later on in 1917 or early 1918.
I began to search the passenger list of the sailing of the RMS Andiana which was the Cunard Liner passenger ship that transported the 6th Provisional Regiment to Liverpool, England. Of the 30-enlisted men listed in the Medical Detachment of the 6th Provisional Regiment aboard the Andiana was the name of: “Private Willard H. Ramsey”
|The above is a section of the troop passenger list of the sailing of the Medical Detachment of the 6th Provisional Regiment, CAC aboard the RMS Andiana on which Pvt. Ramsey sailed to Liverpool England on. Willard H. Ramsey is identified by the red arrow pointing to his name.|
This was without a doubt the soldier who lost his dog tag 100-years ago near Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, France and Michel Morel had found in 2001. Now the long silent story of this dog tag and this soldier could be told.
Willard Hilston Ramsey was born on February 13, 1896 to Isabelle Ann McCausland and Sergeaut Ramsey, who were then living on Prince Edward Island, Canada, which is the island just to the north of Nova Scotia, Canada. Willard’s mother, Isabelle was born on October 4, 1873, in Tyne Valley on Prince Edward Island. And his father, Sergeaut Ramsey was also likely born on Prince Edward Island, but little is known of him except that by 1901 he had passed away leaving Isabelle to raise two children, Willard and his older sister Gladys May who was born on November 18, 1894. The only other known information of Sergeaut Ramsey was that he was of Scottish descent.
There seems to be two different dates listed as the birth date of Willard H. Ramsey. February 13, 1896 is listed as the date on the U. S. Social Security Application and Claims Index, and also Willard recorded this same date on his WWII Draft Registration form he signed and filled out in 1942. The other date of birth comes from the 1901 Canadian Census form that listed his date of birth as January 17, 1897 and this is backed up with a date of August 21, 1897 was the date that Willard was Baptized in Prince Edward Island, Canada. Being that on Willard’s WWII Draft Card that he filled out and signed with his birth date of February 13, 1896, this then is the presumed correct date of birth.
According to the 1901 Canadian Census, Gladys, Willard and their mother Isabelle, who was then widowed, were living on a farm in Prince County, which is on the west end of Prince Edward Island. From information gleaned from the United States 1930 Federal Census form, it indicates that Willard was Naturalized in 1908, so, it can be surmised that between 1901 and 1908 the Ramsey (Isabelle, Gladys, and Willard) family immigrated to the United States from Canada.
This can be further pinned down in time with the fact that on June 29, 1904 Isabelle Ramsey was married for the second time. She had married Guy Harold Ayer in Newtonville Massachusetts, and so, it is likely that Gladys, Willard and their mother Isabelle had come to America sometime in late 1903 or 1904. This is known from the Newtonville, Massachusetts Methodist Episcopal Church records, which listed Isabelle Ramsey as living in Newtonville and this was her second marriage and she was born in Prince Edward Island, Canada. It was about 1906 that Guy and Isabelle had their first child together, a daughter named Helen Ayer. So, in 1906 Willard’s family consisted his sister Gladys and mother Isabelle Ayer, his step- father Guy Ayer and half sister Helen Ayer.
Little is known of the life of Willard Ramsey from about 1906 until the time he is serving in the Army. There does not seem to be a World War One Draft Registration form for Willard and this would suggest that by the time of the First Call-up for the draft in June of 1917 that Willard was already serving in the Army. This also makes sense because the men who were being formed into the 6th Provisional Regiment were nearly 100-percent Regular Coast Artillery Corps men. Willard H. Ramsey must have been serving in one of the many Coast Artillery Corps Companies in the New England Coast previous to America’s entry into the war in April of 1917.
As the 6th Provisional Regiment was being formed, and they would be the very first Coast Artillery regiment to go to France, a Medical Detachment was formed that would be attached to the 6th Provisional. Of the 30-enlisted men of the Medical Detachment, Private Willard H. Ramsey appears on the roster of men who went aboard and sailed to Liverpool, England aboard the RMS Andiana on August 14, 1917. Pvt. Ramsey listed as the person to contact in case of an emergency on the passenger list his aunt, Mrs. E. French of Route No. 1 Lowell, Massachusetts.
It is curious why Willard did not list his mother Isabelle as the person to contact. It is very likely that Isabelle and Guy Ayer were not living on the east coast at the time. It is a known fact that Isabelle and Guy Ayer, in 1930, were living in California and it is assumed that they had moved there by 1917 or before. Guy Ayer had taken a job working for an oil pipeline company. This may explain why he listed his aunt, Mrs. E. French, who in fact was Elizabeth French the wife if Eliot French of Tewksbury, Massachusetts. Elizabeth is presumed to be Isabelle Ann McCausland Ramsey’s sister as both were Canadian by birth, Elizabeth being about a year older than Isabelle. And a confirmation of the two being sisters comes from the 1920 Federal Census. Eliot and Elizabeth were still living in Tewksbury and living in the household was, Wallace, Ellen, and Herbert, who were the three children of Eliot and Elizabeth French. Also, in the home was Samuel and Flora McCausland listed as the brother and sister in-law of Eliot French the head of the household. This is the confirmation that Isabelle and Elizabeth were sisters, and Samuel McCausland being their brother. Elizabeth French and Samuel and Flora McCausland were all listed as being born in Prince Edward Island, Canada.
Willard H. Ramsey would have been 18-years old in February of 1914, and being we do not know when he may have enlisted into the army it could have been as early as February of 1914 when he turned 18, but this is only a possibility. In reality it could have been anytime between 1914 and the early spring of 1917 when Willard was known to be serving in the army.
Private Willard H. Ramsey while serving with the 6th Provisional Regiment would have been first stationed at O&T Center No. 6 located at Mailly and Haussimont, France during the winter of 1917-18. It was in April of 1918 that the 51st Artillery was formed from the men of the Howitzer Regiment of the 30th Artillery Brigade. It would have been at this time that the Medical Detachment of the 6th Provisional Regiment, of which Pvt. Ramsey was a member of, was transferred over to become the Medical Detachment of the 51st Artillery, CAC. It was likely at this time that the square aluminum dog tag that Michel Morel found in 2001, was issued to Pvt. Ramsey.
And then again there was another major re-organization in late July or early August 1918 ordered by the General Headquarters AEF. The regiments of the 30th Brigade i.e. the 51st, 52nd and 53rd Regiments were re-organized into six new regiments which were then numbered as the 42nd, 43rd, 51st, 52nd, 53rd and 81st Artillery Regiments, CAC. But the 2nd Battalion of the 51st Artillery were assigned to the 57th Artillery and in return the 57th Artillery gave its Batteries C and D up to become part of the 43rd Artillery. During this change the 30th Brigade now consisted of the 42nd, 52nd, and 53rd Regiments. The 51st and 81st Regiments became part of the 39th Artillery Brigade and were then not part of the Railway Artillery reserve. Shortly thereafter the 81st Regiment became known as the 44th Artillery Regiment, CAC.
It was at this time late July or early August 1918, during the swapping of the 2nd Battalion of the 51st Artillery to the 57th Artillery that the 51st Artillery Medical Detachment men also had a reassignment. At that time Private Ramsey was transferred again and was now serving with the Medical Detachment of the 57th Artillery, CAC.
The 57th Artillery, CAC from September 12-16 was on the line during the St. Mihiel drive and as a member of the Medical Detachment, 57th Artillery, Pvt. Ramsey would have been along with the batteries as they were on the firing line caring for the wounded as they were in battle. He would have been near and in the front lines during these battles.
But as the excitement of the St. Mihiel sector died down to a calm, orders came to get into road position for the Meuse-Argonne Drive. The 57th Artillery road convoy, consisting of guns, tractors, trucks, automobiles, and sidecars, started at night and headed along the road leading north of Verdun and it was raining. And it kept on raining for the next four days until after the 57th Artillery had reached its destination in the Bois-de-Nixeville, and the men were uncomfortably sheltered. There in the woods the men of the 57th Artillery spent the night, but it would not be correct to say they actually slept there, they merely passed the night in these woods, some stretched out in trucks and upon the seats of automobiles, and others in horse stables and temporary barracks. A reconnaissance party on the following day surveyed the terrain in the region of Miontzeville with a view to establishing positions for the guns. The German lines were only two kilometers away, which necessitated careful camouflaging of all the guns in this position. All activity about the gun positions was done at night and without the aid of lights. The Medical Detachment went about their work caring for the men as they needed.
Ammunition was carried into piles beside the guns and covered with camouflage material. All this went on steadily but not a gun was fired. One evening a single shot was sent from a Battery of French 75's that was nearby the positions of the 57th Artillery, as though its patience could endure no longer. Within 30-seconds a return salute of 15 projectiles came whizzing over from the German lines and exploded, scattering fragments of stone from the ruined buildings of the town and drove everyone to cover. It seemed as though "Jerry" was prepared for the Americans. The men of the 57th Artillery were anxious for the party to begin. When everything is cocked and primed and one fears that the enemy may strike first and seize the stage and all the setting, suspense is awful. Private Willard Ramsey and the men of the Medical Detachment were right in the middle of all this, one can only imagine what feelings he must have had during those days.
Under a clear, starry sky on the night of September 25th, 1918, the men curled up in their dugouts for a few hours' sleep, after having received the official information that "Zero hour" would be 11:30. All watches had been synchronized. At precisely half past eleven a big naval gun behind the 57th Artillery started it with one deep throated roar that vibrated throughout the valley. A few seconds later everything let loose at once. The sky was lighted with the flashes. One continuous succession of explosions shook the earth and rock the concrete dugouts in their solid foundations. The smell of powder filled the air, causing some to fear that the Germans had sent a gas cloud over. Until daybreak those hammers of hell kept up their infernal pounding, demonstrating to the enemy that the presence of the greatest concentration of artillery yet assembled was at their heels. All night the heavy engines of destruction belched flame and spoke loud, hurling tons of steel against the Hindenburg line.
Within five-hours after the first guns fired, the Germans were on the run. Private Ramsey with the Medical Detachment had few casualties in this position. The 57th Artillery remained in this position until October 2nd when they advanced about fifteen kilometers and took up position at Cuisy, where they opened up another barrage at 1 A. M. on the morning of the 4th of October, 1918. This barrage was not so intense as previous barrages. They remained in this position, firing intermittently until the 13th of October, 1918, when they advanced again another 10-kilometers and took up position at Eclisfontaine. Here they fired intermittently until October 25th, 1918, when once again they advanced about five-kilometers taking up a position at Romagne-sous-Montfaucon.
It was near Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, France in 2001 that Michel Morel found a square aluminum dog tag belonging to Pvt. Willard H. Ramsey.
This is a map provided by Michel Morel to show the location where he had found the dog tag back in the summer of 2001. Romagne-sous-Montfaucon is located in the upper right side of the map, and the location of the dog tag is marked with the blue X, with the Robinette Farm, the property where the dog tag was found marked with the red circle.Michel found the dog tag in a wooded area within sight of the Robinette Farm. Back in 1918 on October 19th Battery B which was the first elements of the 57th Artillery to advance on Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, made positions on the road south of Romagne-sous-Montfaucon along the road to Gesnes-en-Argone. Which is shown on the map at the right. This would have been a short distance south of where the dog tag was found.
Back again to the events in 1918. While the 57th Artillery went into positions at Cuisy, Eclisfontaine and Romagne-sous-Montfaucon they did so under machine gun fire from the Germans. It was during these positions that the Medical Detachment, that Pvt. Ramsey was with, began to see the first casualties come in. At Eclisfontaine one man was wounded slightly. Romagne-sous-Montfaucon was the worst position on account of being in such close range and the delay of other units getting into position. Here in Romagne-sous-Montfaucon the 57th had seven men killed and one officer and 37-enlisted men wounded. Private Ramsey would have seen his first deaths very close up.
It was on October 25th that the 57th Artillery Battalion HQ was moved to a location on the Romagne-Sommerance road about 200-yards west of the town of Romagne-sous-Montfaucon. This location would be just to the north and east of the blue X on the above map. The Romagne-Sommererance Road would be the road marked with the yellow box as D123, just on the northern edge of the woods where the blue X appears.
The battalion moved to this position under the cover of the night and as they moved in German machine guns opened up on the 57th Artillery HQ Company as they moved in. So, the men of the Medical Detachment must have been in the woods directly to the north of the Robinette farm on October 25, 1918. In the darkness and with German Machine Gun fire directly in front of them and trying to make their way through the woods, with wounded men to care for, this was where Pvt. Ramsey lost his square dog tag.
This is a view looking generally southward with the Robinette Farm visible at the end of the dirt road.
Another view in the same orientation as the above photo except off to the right of the dirt road closer to the wooded area.
|Michel Morel in 2001 found the dog tag of Pvt. Willard H. Ramsey, Medical Detachment, 57th Artillery in these woods.|
On the nights of the 25-27th of October the Battalion HQ area was under fire from the Germans and on the 26th and 27th the Germans sent over a barrage of sneezing gas. This did not set too well with Colonel Burgess the commanding officer of the 57th Artillery, and on October 26th at 8 o’clock in the evening, Col. Burgess wrote out an order to fire 250-rounds of gas into the Germans at 2 o’clock in the morning. The target was the village of Barricourt. The order stated to open up with 250-rounds of gas; 100-rounds at the fastest rate possible, 50 more at one-third that rate, and 100 more at the original rate.
In the afternoon of October 28, the German airplanes overhead increased. German observation planes swooped down and had a good look at the positions of the 57th Artillery just to the west and south of Romagne-sous-Montfaucon. Feeling that the German observation planes had a good fix on the 57th Artillery, Col. Burges phoned in to General Davis and states that the Germans had them fixed. Col. Burgess was quoted is his reply back to general Davis in saying, “Yes, we can hold out, but I think we are in for a warm time.” Sure, enough right after dark the Germans sent over sneezing gas and then mustard gas. And then they followed up with H.E. shells from German 77’s and 105’s. All the boys from the 57th could do at the time was take cover. Shortly after the German barrage began, a nearby American Field Artillery unit opened up on the Germans, which made the boys from the 57th feel somewhat better about their present situation.
On October 29th at about 9 o’clock that evening a German 77 made a direct hit on the shack where Lt. Colonel Wallace was working in the Battalion Operations center at the time. The shell burst and wounded Col. Wallace severely in the head and chest. Two other men were in the shack at the time; Lt. Woodrow was wounded and a soldier named Woolitz was unhurt somehow. Captain Chase the Regimental Surgeon arrived soon after the explosion and Wallace, was then still partly conscious. But about 5 days later Lt. Col. Wallace died from his wounds. It is possible that Private Ramsey may have been with Captain Chase or very close by. From then on things got worse for the men of the 57th Artillery. The Medical Detachment was kept very busy in the coming days.
On the morning of November 1, 1918, the order came to open up another big barrage at 12:55 in the morning. This barrage paled all that had come before in every respect and was the last barrage of any consequence on this front, and was the indirect cause of Germany asking for an armistice. A German Major that had been taken prisoner made the remark that there was nothing that could live under fire of an American barrage. The ground looked as though it had been freshly ploughed. The 57th Artillery along with the Medical Detachment remained in this position until November 6th, 1918, when they advanced about fifteen-kilometers and took up position at Beaufort where they remained until the 24th of November, 1918.
On the morning of November 11th, the batteries of the 57th Artillery commenced firing their final shots at 10:50 A.M. and fired the last one at 10:59 and 30-seconds that morning, using as their targets three cross roads heavily convoyed by German troops. The Medical Detachment was kept busy with two more killed and several others wounded. It was on the morning of November 11th at the Regimental radio station that was set up near Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, that the first news of the Armistice was received.
Private Willard H. Ramsey had made it through the war with his life intact. But on the battlefield near Romagne-sous-Montfaucon he had left something in the soil, which was his square dog tag from when he was with the Medical Detachment of the 51st Artillery. During the endless struggles of life during war, Pvt. Ramsey likely never knew he had lost his old dog tag. Now this old dog tag would lay still for 83-years until is was discovered by Michel Morel.
From November 11-24, 1918 the 57th Artillery remained at their positions near Beaufort, France watching the Germans as they began the long march back home. On November 24 the all-clear was given and the 57th Artillery began their own long march back home. But first the artillery guns and associated parts and ammunition would need to be cleaned and turned in for storage. On December 4th, 1918; they turned in all ordnance property; which consisted of the guns and tractors. The 57th Artillery was beginning their trip to Brest, France the port city they would leave France from.
Upon arrival at Brest, they "hiked" out about three miles to a camp of mud and water where the men were put into tents; where they remained until December 29, 1918, and then moved to regular dry Billets where they remained until January 1, 1919. The next morning the entire 57th Artillery was again on the move, this time the destination was the gang way that lead to the deck of the USS Huntington, which was an American Armored Cruiser. January 2, 1919 was the last day that Private Willard H. Ramsey, Medical Detachment, 57th Artillery, CAC set foot in France. Once aboard the Huntington, a passenger manifest was made out and in the list of the Medical Detachment, 57th Artillery, Pvt. Ramsey is listed. He is listed as: Ramsey, Willard H. 7447, PVT. M. D. [Medical Detachment] His person to contact in case of an emergency was: Mrs. Eliot French, Aunt, Sprague, Ave. Lowell, Massachusetts
The crossing of the Atlantic Ocean was uneventful with the exception of two days rough weather and the usual amount of seasickness. On the morning of January 14, 1919, the Huntington rang up all stop on her engines at 9:35 in the morning, docking at Pier No. 5 in Hoboken, New Jersey. The unloading process began and by 2:30 that afternoon the men of the 57th Artillery were at Camp Merritt, NJ. One day of rest and on January 15 they made out for Sandy Hook, New Jersey and were stationed at Ft. Hancock.
The above is the troop Passenger list for the USS Huntington, the ship on which Ramsey returned from France aboard. This is the passenger list for the Medical Detachment of the 57th Artillery, CAC, which was the unit Pvt. Ramsey was then serving in. Again Ramsey is identified with the red circle.
It is not known how long Willard Ramsey would have stayed in the army, but because he was in the Regular Army and not a draftee, it is assumed he remained on Active Duty after his return from France. He may have served 1-2 years after the war ended.
The next event in the life of Willard H. Ramsey would have taken place in 1921. That is the year Willard got married and so we can assume he was not serving in the army at that time. Willard married Alice Frances Tully who was born about 1903 in Boston, Massachusetts. Alice and Willard would live in the Boston area. About 1923 Alice and Willard would have their first child together a daughter they named Dorothy Lucille Ramsey. And then in 1925 their second child was born a son named Harold Francis Ramsey.
By 1930 Alice and Willard and the children were living in a apartment building located at 41 Batavia Road. This is likely what is now known as Symphony Road in Boston and is very close to the Back Bay area of Boston, of which was the place that Willard’s wife Alice was originally born and raised. This was likely one of the many four to five story brick apartment buildings that populate Symphony Road today. In 1930 the rent was $35 per month was what the Ramsey’s paid. At the time Willard was working as a salesman, but it is not known was he was selling. According to the census form the Ramsey’s could afford a radio set as that was noted on the census form. Alice was also working as a waitress in a restaurant.
By 1933 the Ramsey family had moved a bit to the west into the Allston Neighborhood of Boston, to another apartment at 82 Brainerd Road. This was a five-story brick apartment building on the south side of the Allston neighborhood.
On April 27, 1942 Willard H. Ramsey, now 46-years old, had to register for the draft during the Second World War. He did so in Peabody, Massachusetts and was at the time 5-feet, 6-inches tall and weighed 142-pounds, with brown eyes and gray hair. He listed his address as 15 Highgate Street in Boston. This was a four-unit wooden apartment home located in the northern section of the Allston Neighborhood. His occupation was listed as “Self” and being he was a salesman for many years he was likely still selling. His office must have been at 161 Harvard Ave, in the Allston neighborhood, as that was what he listed his employment address as. Today this address is in the business section and 161 Harvard Ave. is known as the Gordon Building and upstairs are several small offices. On the registration form it asked for an address of someone who would always know Willard’s address, and he listed “Mrs. Guy Ayer, Tracey, California” who was his mother Isabelle Ayer. On October 5, 1943 out in San Joquin, California Willard’s mother Isabelle passes away.
During WWII Alice and Willard’s daughter Dorothy served as a Sergeant in the Army, it is not known what her duty was but upon her death in 1999 she was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Willard and Alice would live most of their lives in the Boston area. Alice worked as a hotel manager for many years. Both Alice and Willard were members of the St. Cecelia Catholic Church in Boston.
The Ramsey’s may later in life have moved away from the Boston area for a time, as in a 1969 Honolulu City Directory there is a Willard H. Ramsey listed as living at 91-122 Kuhina Street, Ewa Beach, Hawaii. This is located just on the western side of the entrance to Pearl Harbor. After 1969 very, little is known of Willard, and it is curious that in the Honolulu city directory only Willard’s name was listed, with no mention of Alice or a wife for that matter.
Willard’s wife Alice would live to be 91-years old and was, at the time of her death, living in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, where she had been in a nursing home for several years. In her obituary printed in the August 26, 1993 edition of The Coastland Times she was listed as the widow of Willard Hilston Ramsey. Alice Ramsey was then buried in the Mount Hope Cemetery in Mattapan, Suffolk County, Massachusetts. She does not seem to be buried with her husband Willard.
So, the question is left as to what happened to Willard? Some possible answers may be that sometime prior to 1969 when Willard was known to be in Hawaii they had become divorced and went their separate ways. In the end, like his dog tag that he lost in France and lay silent for so many years, now the end of Willard Hilston Ramsey’s story will also have to lay silent. Without the known place of his burial Willard’s lost dog tag now becomes his grave marker, for the man who wore this dog tag in 1918 served his Country and paid for our Freedom. He also passed on this duty to his daughter Dorothy who also served her Country during WWII, and that is a fitting memorial to just one of the many millions who have worn the uniform to defend Freedom.
||I received this photo and E-mail from Tim Reneau in reference to his grandfather, Jesse Roy Reneau, who enlisted in the United States Army in March of 1914. Jesse was a member of the 3rd Co. at Ft. Andrews, MA and was then in Battery L, 6th Provisional Regiment when it was formed and then in Battery C, 51st Artillery when it was formed. Jesse was honorably discharged in 1920 and later applied for disability with the VA. He had been exposed to a mustard gas attack during combat according to his medical records sent by the VA. Also late in 1918 he became sick with influenza and survived, while so many around the world succumbed to this tragic epidemic. At the time of separation from the Army Jesse was listed as Pvt. 1cl and was in HQ Company.
P.S. I attach the only photo I have in my possession of my grandpa while in his service uniform. I do not know the date in which this photo was taken nor whom the other individuals might be. Jesse Roy Reneau, my grandpa is pictured sitting.
On Sept. 24, 1917, by Executive Order 2707, Robert J. Hole was transferred to the service and jurisdiction of the War Department. Previous to his transfer he was a commissioned officer in the Coast and Geodetic Survey, with the rank of Aid. Effective Sept. 24, 1917, he was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the Coast Artillery Corps of the U.S. Army. From Oct. 5 to Nov. 27, 1917, he was at the Coast Artillery School at Fortress Monroe, Va., and on Dec. 27 he embarked at New York for service in France. From Feb. 12 to April 10, 1918, he was with Battery "I", 51st Artillery, C.A.C., located at Mailly - le -camp and Haussimont, France, where he served in regular battery duty and instructed in Fire control and Drill on 8-inch howitzers. From April 11 to August, 1918, he was with Provisional Howitzer Regiment, 4th Battalion, where he was assigned as Orientation Officer. This organization went into the front lines near Ft. Troyon on the first of May, 1918. Various positions along the River Meuse were occupied. The name of the organization was changed in August to the 3rd Battalion of the 51st Artillery, C.A.C. The Battalion to which he was attached was actively engaged from April to October, 1918, with the French Artillery, aiding in general "fixed front" bombardments until the St. Mihiel attack but afterwards participated in the advance in the Argonne region under American command. He was promoted to First Lieutenant, C.A.R.C. on Sept 21, 1918. On Feb. 6, 1919, he was honorably discharged from the U. S. Army at Camp Dix, N.J., and on the following day he returned to the Coast and Geodetic Survey.
John Smith service number 254132, from Tampa, Florida enlisted into the Regular Army at Terre Haute, Indiana on 28 November, 1916 at the age of 21. Pvt. Smith was stationed with the 5th Company, C.A.C. at Ft. Moultrie, South Carolina. On August 31, 1917 he was moved to the 2nd Company, C.A.C. at Charleston, SC and on 6 December 1917 transferred to Auto Repair Detachment 1, C.A.C. On 13 January 1918 this unit sailed to France aboard the HMS Carpathia (the ship that went to the rescue of the sinking of the HMS Titanic) with 4 Officers and 177 enlisted men.
On 9 April 1918 Pvt. Smith was transferred to Headquarters Company, 51st Artillery and saw action in the Toul Sector and the St. Mihiel offensive. On 21 December 1918 Pvt. Smith went to Battery C, 51st Artillery and remained there until his discharge on 3 December, 1919. He was promoted to Corporal on September 13, 1918 reduced to Private on 2 November 1918 and made Wagoner on 22 June 1919. Wagoner Smith returned to the States with the 51st and upon his discharge from the 51st at Camp Jackson, South Carolina on 3 December 1919 he re-enlisted back into the army. It is not known what his service was after that date.
Charles W. Spencer: Service No. 581410 was 18 years old and was born in Lewiston, Maine and entered the Maine National Guard at Ft. Preble, Maine where he was in the 3rd Company, C.A.C. On 27 March 1917 he made Corporal and was advanced to Sgt. 1 July 1917. He was briefly with HQ Company of the 101st Engineers from 23 August until 30 August 1917 then went back to his former unit the 3rd Co. CAC ME NG. He was reduced back to Private 1 March 1918 and again to Corporal on the same day. On 25 May 1918 he was transferred to Supply Co. 54th Artillery and sailed on the Baltic 16 March 1919 for France. At some point in France he was transferred as a replacement to 7th Battery, Howitzer Regiment which later was renamed Battery E, 51st Artillery. While with this regiment he participated in the Meuse-Argonne and the Defensive Sector. On 23 October 1918 was wounded in action probably in the Verdun sector as that was where the 3rd Battalion of the 51st Artillery was at that time. He returned to the States on 20 March 1919 and was Honorably discharged on 3 April 1919.
Charles W. Spencer, Service No. 582519: Charles enlisted into the Maine National Guard on 1 June 1917 at the age of 26. At that time he lived in Kennebunk, Maine and this was also his place of birth. He reported for Federal Service 25 July 1917 to the 13th Company, C.A.C. ME NG at Ft. Baldwin, Maine. On Christmas Day 1917 he was transferred to Battery E, 54th Artillery until he was again transferred to Battery D, 51st Artillery while in France on 17 May 1918. While with Battery E he participated in the St. Mihiel Offensive, the Meuse-Argonne Offensive and the Defensive Sector. He served overseas from 22 March 1918 to 14 January 1919. He was honorably discharged on 22 January 1919.
Ira Oval Hinton was born in Centerville, Iowa on November 8, 1893. During 1917 while living in Hammond, Indiana Ira enlisted in the Army. He was eventually assigned as a Wagoner to Battery D of the 51st Artillery, C.A.C. and served in combat in France with the 51st Artillery. After his return to the States after the war Ira married Grace Marian Tetlow on March 24, 1920 in Taunton, MA.
On December 22 just three days before Christmas of 1931 Ira passed away in the Hines VA Hospital in Hines, Illinois. The Lake, County [Indiana] Appropriation for Burial of Soldiers paid for the funeral of Ira O. Hinton.
|John E. Burroughs during 1917||John E. Burroughs shortly before he passed away in 1971|
John E. Burroughs was born on September 27, 1889 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Before 1917 John worked as a motorman and as a lumber finisher and was single. As America entered into the war in Europe in the spring of 1917, John felt the call to serve his Country and enlisted into the Army.
On February 19, 1917 John Burroughs entered the Army at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis, MO. Pvt. Burroughs was assigned to the Coast Artillery Corps branch of the Army and was sent to the 1st Company, Ft. Banks, Massachusetts. Then on April 19, 1917 as the 6th Provisional Regiment was being formed for duty in France Pvt. Burroughs was reassigned to that regiment. The 6th Provisional Artillery Regiment consisting of 108 Officers and 1,745 enlisted men sailed for France on August 14, 1917 as the first Coast Artillery unit to go to France. That day the 6th Provisional Regiment sailed on the British ship the HMS Andania.
On April 5, 1918 as the 6th Provisional Regiment was reorganized Pvt. Burroughs was then reassigned to Battery E of the newly formed 51st Artillery, C.A.C. and then again during another re-structuring on June 17, 1918 of the 51st Artillery was in Battery M and still again for the last time ended up in Battery D, 51st Artillery, C.A.C.
On February 28, 1918 while in France Pvt. Burroughs received his 1st Class Gunners rating. On April 12, 1918 Pvt. Burroughs gets his first baptism of action on the front lines in action along the Toul Sector. From the April 12 through June 17 was the length of time that his battery was in action for the first time. Then on September 12, 1918 his battery fired during the St. Mihiel Offensive and then again was moved to the Argonne Forrest to take place in the great Meuse-Argonne Offensive, which opened with a great Artillery Barrage in the early morning hours of September 26, 1918.
On December 3, 1918 after the war had ended Burroughs was advanced in rating to Corporal. During the later parts of January 1919 the 51st Artillery received orders to return to the States. On February 3, 1919 the 51st Artillery reached New York and went to Ft. Hamilton, New York for demobilization. Cpl. Burroughs was then reassigned to duty with the Railway Artillery Reserve for 4 more months. On May 31st 1919 at Ft. Hamilton, Cpl. Burroughs after serving 2-years service was discharged from the Army by Major J. P. McCashey, jr. C.A.C.
During 1923 John Burroughs married Willie L. Cubage, his 21-year old bride. She was born in Arkansas as John was and together they had in April of 1930, three children. They were; W. John born about 1924, M. Alice born about 1926, and Edith born about 1929. In April of 1930 John and Willie lived in a rented home in Red Hill Township of Ouachita County, Arkansas where John was a Farmer. Also living in the home was Willies 74-year old father, William Cubage.
John was a life long Arkansas resident and lived in Pine Bluff, Arkansas when he passed away in Camden, Arkansas in December of 1971.
Claude C. Hendon was born on November 9, 1891 in Oklahoma. Claude and his younger brother Robert R. Hendon, jr., who was 3 years younger, both went to law school and then in the spring of 1917 America went to war in France. Both brothers enlisted in the Army at the same time and Robert would make a career in the US Army and retired as a Brigadier General.
As America was short of officers, Claude was selected as such and became a 1st Lt. with Battery D of the 51st Artillery, C.A.C. Lt. Claude Hendon served with Battery D in battle in France and was promoted at wars end to the rank of Captain. Upon his return to America and discharge from the army Claude returned to his former profession of a lawyer.
By January of 1920 both of the Hendon brothers worked and lived together in Washington DC as lawyers in their own practice. After Claude returned from France and was out of the Army, he and Robert rented a place on Pennsylvania Avenue N. W. in Washington, D.C. and were still both single at the time.
By 1921 Claude had turned to politics and moved back home to Oklahoma where he was elected and served 5 terms as the County Attorney of Pottawatomie County, OK. Claude was married to Dana Glass Fairchild of Lufkin, Texas on February 4, 1928. Dana was 9 years younger than Claude and together they produced three sons, William, Robert and Claude Jr. Claude and Dana owned a home at 522 W. Ford St. in Shawnee, Oklahoma, which was valued at $4,500 in April of 1930. About June of 1929 Claude and Dana had their first son, and he was named Claude jr. after his father.
During his career, Claude also worked as Special Counsel to Oklahoma Governor William H. Murrary, served in the Oklahoma Tax Commission and later was Head of the Oklahoma State Industrial Commission. Between appointments, Hendon practiced law with his brother, Scott Hendon in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Claude C. Hendon passed away on September 30, 1963.
|Captain Claude Hendon, C.A.C. 1919|
|Battery D, Position, Ravine St. Jean, near Fliery. Lt. Hendon has also written, "Return to 1st Lt. Claude Hendon, 51st Art, CAC, Ft. Hamilton, NY" on both of these photos.||This photo was identified by 1st Lt. Hendon on the back in his handwriting as, "1st firing in action of Battery D, 51st Art., 270mm mortar, Ravine St. Jean, near Flirey. Firing on a casemated 150mm German Battery."|
||The photo on the left is also identified by Lt. Hendon as, "Driving; 1st Lt. Claude Hendon, On right; 1st Lt. Walter G. Miller, On running board; 1st Lt. Louis M. Coln, 51st Arty, CAC."
The photos of Lt. Hendon were contributed by his son Bill Hendon. Bill Hendon also has 4 maps that his father brought back from the war which include Pannes, St.Mihiel, Flirey and other towns. The maps are about 3 feet square and are labeled with the sectors and the towns and "Secret". The all have trenches marked and dates and some indicate the location of batteries on particular dates.
Fred “W” Grohn was a Private in Battery A, of the 51st Artillery, C.A.C. Fred Grohn’s story begins with his middle initial of W, which as it turns out is not his actual name. Fred’s real given name is Fred John Grohn and the story goes like this. After the war Fred told of an incident that occurred early in his army days. One payday Fred was in line to be paid, and the ledger he was required to sign had the typo of Fred W. Grohn typed out where he was to sign for his pay. Fred did inform the finance office about this but he was told he had to sign it the way it was printed otherwise pay might be withheld for everyone in his unit. That typo of his middle initial would follow Fred for the rest of his life and even after he had passed away.
Grohn enlisted into the United States Army at the age of eighteen in his hometown of Chicago. On December 13, 1916 Grohn was inducted into the army at the Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis, Missouri. Pvt. Grohn was given his service number of 254 087 and was assigned duty within the Army’s Coast Artillery branch and sent to Ft. Moultrie, Charleston, SC. Pvt. Grohn was qualified as Marksmanship Gunner on October 19, 1917.
Grohn volunteered for service with the A.E.F. and sailed for Europe on January 14, 1918 according to information on his discharge papers. Usually the dates of service outside the United States, is the sailing date of the ship he would have sailed on. From this piece of information I compared this to a known list of ships sailing by date and find that there are two ships he would likely have had sailed on. On the manifests for the USS Agamemnon and the HMS Carpathia there were units listed as January Replacements consisting of 5 officers and 250 enlisted men aboard the Agamemnon and 2 officers and 197 enlisted men on the Carpathia. The Agamemnon sailed on January 13 and the Carpathia sailed on January 15, so it is probable that Grohn sailed on one of these two ships.
The 6th Provisional Regiment was re-organized in the latter parts of February 1918, Pvt. Grohn was then attached to Battery A, 51st Artillery. What is known for fact is that Pvt. Grohn served with Battery A during actions at Seicheprey from April 21-22 and again at the St. Mihiel Offensive September 12-13, and finally during the Pont-a-Mousson actions from September 13 through the Armistice on November 11, 1918.
Pvt. Grohn would return to the United States with the 51st Artillery. On February 3, 1919 the entire 51st Artillery boarded the USS Agamemnon, which may have been the second time Grohn sailed in this ship. Once returned to the States, part of the 51st Artillery was demobilized and Grohn’s status was reverted to Army Reserve on June 9, 1919. Pvt. Grohn was later Honorably Discharged from the Army on June 4, 1920.
On February 7, 1922 Fred Grohn gave a Personal Affidavit to the United States Veterans Bureau, District 8, Chicago, IL. Even then the “Claimant’s” name was typed incorrectly as “Fred W. Grohn” and he did sign it as Fred W. Grohn. Likely this affidavit was given due to a health claim. In Fred’s own words this was his story.
I enlisted at Chicago, IL, December 13, 1916 and was shipped to St. Louis. From there to Ft. Moultrie, Charleston, SC. I volunteered in the American Expeditionary Forces for overseas service. From there I went to New York, then to Glasgow, Scotland, and from there to Winchester and Southampton, England. We boarded ship for LeHarve, France. From there we went to the Marne, and we were attached to the French 8th Army. Then we were ordered to the Front on or about April 3, 1918 and I was on the Front until November 15, 1918. On or about September 12, 1918 I was gassed at Bernecourt [sp] and I was treated for same at the First Aid Station there. November 15, 1918 we were ordered back home, but there were no trains available for us. So we marched from the city of Pont-a-Mousson on or about November 15, 1918 until sometime around the first of January 1919 to the city of Wasce [sp]. There we board a train for Brest, France. From that long hike I had, I was bothered with my feet, for which I was treated at the Infirmary at Brest. Then we sailed for the States the last part of January 1919, and we landed in Hoboken, NJ. From there we went to Camp Mills, and from there to Ft. Hamilton, NY. On account of my feet disability I was detailed as a Switch Board Operator. Later in June I was sent to Camp Grant, IL to be furloughed to the Regular Army Reserve. I came out of service unable to do any work of any kind, and was under the doctor’s care, for which I have affidavit here. I was receiving twelve dollars every six months as Reserve pay of which I only received two checks amounting to twenty-four dollars in all. Then I believe Congress passed a bill that there would be no more Reserve, so I received a special delivery letter from Washington with my honorable discharge. I received my medal with three clasps, The Meuse Argonne, St. Mihiel Drive and the Defensive Sector. I am married and have a baby one and one-half years old, and I do not see any way I can support them. In the latter part of 1919 I was sent to the Marine Hospital with unimproved discharge. In September of 1921, I was sent to the 47th & Drexel Hospital. Transferred from there to the Speedway Hospital, and the Doctors at all three hospitals could do nothing for my Trench Feet, which they call it, and which was caused in France by the wet mud and water and exposure that I have been through. Lt. Colonel Niles of the 51st Coast Artillery and Private Meyers of my Company could give me affidavit stating that I was gassed and having trouble with my feet, but I can not locate these men, that is why I can not furnish affidavits from comrades of my Company.
Signed Fred W. Grohn.
Fred Grohn was the son of Henry P. and Fredericka Kessler Grohn. Fred was born on June 7, 1898. In the spring of 1910 the Henry Grohn family lived on Dearborn Street in Chicago, IL. At the time Henry and Fredericka had 4 children, eldest son Fred, daughter Helen and sons Clarence and Harold.
In early 1920 while Fred Grohn was still in the Army Reserves he was married to Lillian Pearl Goddard. In January of 1920 Fred and Lillian lived in the home of Lillian’s parents, Charlie and Alice Goddard on Drake Avenue in Chicago. Charlie Goddard was English and worked as a paper cutter in a print shop and Fred Grohn was working as a conductor for the Chicago street railway system.
By 1930 Fred and Lillian were now renting a home on West 64th Street in Chicago. Fred was now a policeman working for the States Attorney’s Office. Fred was a Chicago policeman from October 22, 1922 until he retired on June 26, 1949. At the time they had one daughter named Frances who was born about 1920. Fifteen years later Fred and Lillian had a son named Wayne who contacted me for help in piecing together his father’s service history. Frances and Wayne would be the only children born to Fred and Lillian. Later in life Lillian passed away and then Fred remarried. Fred’s second wife was named Mae Murphy.
During Fred Grohn’s Chicago police career he made at least one arrest that made the Chicago Daily Tribune news. On November 6, 1930 Sergeant Fred Grohn was off duty and heard of a woman being attacked over the police radio. The woman was 24-year old Mary Ruane who was working as a maid in the home of Judge Howard Hayes who was a Chicago Municipal Judge. Miss Ruane had been attacked by Willie Crochran a 27-year old male in an alley near Judge Hayes home at 4840 Kimbark Avenue. Upon hearing the report on his radio Sgt. Grohn came to her aid and then arrested Crochran at the corner of 47th Street and Kenwood Avenue. Miss Ruane then identified Crochran as her assailant.
All through out his life Fred Grohn was trying to get the army payday mistake with his middle name cleared up. On September 22, 1942 he had Fred H. Raddaty, a schoolmate who had known him for the past 34-years, write a notarized document stating that his name was in fact Fred John Grohn.
Fred “W” John Grohn would pass away on March 15th 1971 in Hollywood, Broward County, Florida. He is buried in the Cedar Park Cemetery in Chicago, IL. Mae his second wife would survive until her death in April of 1977.
Fred Grohn circa 1920 shown in his streetcar conductors uniform. The child he is holding is likely his daughter Francis.
Fred Grohn’s Chicago Police Retired Shield. Badge No. 870
Photos of Fred Grohn his WWI Victory Medal and Police Shield were shared by his son Wayne Grohn.
Robert A. Ramsey was born about July of 1895 in Great Falls, Montana. On September 22, 1917 Ramsey enlisted into the Regular Army at the Columbus Barracks in Columbus, Ohio. Ramsey sailed for France December 26, 1917 aboard the President Grant as a Private with the 21st Engineers, which was a light railway unit. While with the 21st Engineers Ramsey fought in the St. Mihiel and Muse-Argonne actions. Six days before the end of the war on November 5, 1918 he was transferred to Battery B of the 51st Artillery, CAC. He would return to the States with the 51st Artillery on February 3, 1919. Ramsey was Honorably discharged on February 25, 1919.
Julius James O'Hara was born on March 25, 1894 in Macon, Georgia. When he enlisted into the Army on December 8, 1916 he was living in Cleveland, Ohio. He entered the army at the Columbus Barracks and was assigned to the Coast Artillery Branch of the Army. Pvt. O'Hara was then assigned to the 3rd Company at Fort Greble, Rhode Island until July 15, 1917 when he was reassigned to the 2nd Company at Ft. Greble. He was with the 2nd Company until August 10, 1917 when he was assigned and sailed overseas on August 13, 1917 with the 6th Provisional Regiment, Coast Artillery Corps. While in France the 6th Provisional Regiment was reorganized and formed the 51st Artillery where Pvt. O'Hara was placed into Battery B of the 51st Artillery then on the line in France. The 51st Artillery returned to the States on February 3, 1919 and Pvt. O'Hara was with Battery B of the 51st Artillery until September 6 of 1919 when he was sent to the 2nd Heavy Mobile Ordnance Repair Shop. He was advanced from Private to Private First Class on January 10, 1919 and advanced to Wagoner on June 11, 1919 then back to Private First Class on June 20, 1919 and finally advanced to Corporal on November 13, 1919. Pvt. O'Hara participated with the 51st Artillery in the St. Mihiel actions, and the Defensive Sector.
Julius J. O'Hara was Honorably Discharged from the Army on June 4, 1920. O'Hara passed away on November 2, 1954 and is buried in Section J, Site 171 of the Ft. Logan National Cemetery in Denver, Colorado.
Dog tag of Julius J. O'Hara
This side reads
"51 ART C.A.C. 148147"
Julius J. O'Hara
Fifty-six years after the death of Julius J. O'Hara a man in Chicago was using a metal detector in a Chicago Park and finds a square flat object. After cleaning off the dirt he finds it is the dog tag of Pvt. Julius J. O'Hara. How his dog tag was lost in the Chicago park so many ears later will forever remain a mystery but if it were not for his dag tag being found his story may have never been remembered.
Perry S. Johnson was born about 1882 in Doniphan, Missouri. Just at the start of the Spanish-American War in 1898 Perry S. Johnson enlisted into the United States Volunteers and fought in Luzon, Philippines with Company B of the 38th Infantry USV during the Philippine-American War, or commonly known as the Philippine Insurrection, which lasted from February 4, 1899-July 4, 1902. U.S. Volunteer units raised specifically for the Philippine Insurrection were the Eleventh U.S. Volunteer Cavalry and the Twenty-sixth through Forty-ninth U.S. Volunteer Infantry. African Americans served in the Forty-eighth and Forty-ninth U.S. Volunteer Infantry.
Once his volunteer service was ended with the army Johnson returned to civilian life in the Portland, Maine area. On November 22, 1917 at the age of 35, Perry Johnson enlisted for a second time into the Regular Army at Fort McKinley, Maine as a Private. At Ft. McKinley he was placed into the 1st Company, and was advanced to Sergeant on January 9, 1918. While at Ft. McKinley his unit was transformed into the 6th Provisional Artillery Regiment and was part of the first 3 Army Artillery Regiments made up of Coast Artillery Corps men to sail to France. The 1st Company at Ft. McKinley was transformed into Battery A, 6th Provisional Regiment.
On August 14, 1917 the 6th Provisional Regiment sailed aboard the HMS Andania with 108 officers and 1,745 enlisted men. Once in France the 6th Provisional Regiment was reorganized and became the 51st Artillery, CAC. Sgt. Perry Johnson would have been in Battery A, 51st Artillery, CAC.
Sgt. Johnson remained with the 51st during the St. Mihiel, and Meuse-Argonne Offensive actions as well as when the 51st was on the line in the Defensive Sector. Once the war ended Sgt. Johnson returned to the States on February 4, 1919. On April 11, 1919 Sgt. Johnson was stationed at Fort Williams, Maine. On May 5, 1919 he was Honorably Discharged and then re-enlisted back into the regular army. Sgt. Perry S. Johnson died on July 18, 1921 at Fort Williams, Maine, and family legend has it that some of the effects of the war were partially responsible for his death.
He was buried in the Fort McKinley, Maine Cemetery in plot B27. Later his body was moved to the Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale, NY, Section O, Site 37533.
Orville Everett Burnworth was born on January 23, 1896 in Wabash, Indiana to Lavina J. (1870-1937) and Doremus ‘Dora’ Burnworth (1868-1939).
Orville was the third son born of Lavina and Dora. In 1910 the Dora Burnworth family had moved from Wabash, Indiana and were now living at 1508 Third Street in Kalamazoo, Michigan where Dora was working for a paper mill in Kalamazoo.
Orville joined the army during WWI on April 26, 1917 and was serving in the Coast Artillery Corps at Ft. banks in Boston. In September of 1918 a draft of men to be sent to France was selected from the Coast Defenses of Boston Harbor and Pvt. Burnworth was among the men in the September Automatic Draft Company No. 6 from Fort Banks.
Likely just before Pvt. Burnworth was to ship out for France, he was married. At an unknown date he married Margaret Mary Brady (1896-1982) who was from Massachusetts. And she was then living at 22 Minot Place in Dorochester, Massachusetts.
On September 23, 1918 Pvt. Burnworth was aboard the USS Mongolia with his company and they began the trip to France. On the passenger manifest of the Mongolia Pvt. Burnworth listed his father Dora of 1508 Third Street in Kalamazoo as the person to contact in case of an emergency. Each soldier aboard the Mongolia would have also filled out a pre-printed post card where they were only to write their name, the name of the company they were with and an address to send it to. Anything more would be against the sensor rules. The purpose of this post card was once they were filled out by the soldiers they would be collected and taken ashore and kept until the army gave word back in the States that the ship did in fact make it to France. Then they would be mailed to the address on the card and the family member would at the least know they made it across the Atlantic alive.
Once in France Pvt. Burnworth was assigned to duty with Battery E, 51st Artillery, CAC. The 3rd Battalion of the 51st Artillery, which consisted of Batteries E and F were using the 8-inch howitzers and were then on the front-line firing in support of the III Corps as they made attacks on the Germans during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. Pvt. Burnworth became a Bugler for Battery E and he would have seen combat as the 51st was then engaged in the Meuse-Argonne areas.
At the end of the war in November 1918 Pvt. Burnworth alone with Battery E were in Brest, France in the last part of January 1919. They were awaiting ship transportation back home to the States. On January 26, 1919, units of the 51st Artillery, which included Battery E and Pvt. Burnworth boarded the USS Agamemnon and sailed for home. Pvt. Burnworth on this trip listed his wife Margaret as the person to contact in case of an emergency. They arrived in Hoboken, New Jersey on February 3, 1919 and then went to Camp Mills on Long Island, New York where they began the demobilization process. Pvt. Orville Burnworth was Honorably Discharged from Active Duty on February 14, 1919.
Orville returned back home to 1508 Third Street in Kalamazoo, where he had quite a large family waiting for him. At the time his eldest brother Joseph had moved away on his own, but living in the home with his parents Lavina and Dora, were his brother Wesley and his wife Ethel, his sisters Verna, Willnetta, and Ruth, and Orville’s wife Margaret. Orville took a job in a local factory and both Dora and Wesley were working for the paper mill.
Margaret and Orville began their family with the birth of a son on May 8, 1920 who they named Norman Joseph. By at least 1935 they had their own home which was located at 728 Washington Ave. in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Orville was working for the Monarch Division of the Allied Paper Mill, as a machinist. In 1940 Orville and Margaret’s son Norman who was then 18-years old was working as an apprentice in a machine shop.
Orville and Margaret would live the rest of their lives in the Kalamazoo area. On May 5, 1973 in Oshtemo, Michigan Orville passed away. He was then buried in the Riverside Cemetery in Kalamazoo. Margaret passed away in 1982 and was buried next to Orville.
Orville. E. Burnworth
In 2012 Fred Gleaton located the grave stone of his grandmother’s brother Lillius Rudolph Barry. Family stories told to Fred when he was a young boy were that Lillius had suffered from “shell-shock” as a result of being in combat with a heavy artillery unit during WWI. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is not a new disorder, and in fact is likely as old as combat is. It was in WWI that the term “Shell-Shocked” first came into our vocabulary. This is a profile of a soldier who suffered from the wounds that cannot be seen.
Lillius Rudolph Barry was born on April 23, 1897 in Dooly County, Georgia to Lydia Ava Williams (1871-1949) and James Robert Barry (1873-1904) who were both born in Georgia. In 1900 the Barry family was living on a farm in Dooly County where James Robert was farming to make a living. At the time the family consisted of Lydia and James Robert, Son Lillius Barry and daughter Gladys Barry, and three daughters from a previous marriage Erma L. Culpepper, Arletta Pansy Culpepper and Joanne Elizabeth Culpepper.
Lydia gave birth to James Reginald Barry about 1903 which made a total of six children she had given birth to. It was during 1904 that James Robert passed away leaving Lydia to raise the family. Sometime after the death of her husband, Lydia moved the family to a home located on Blackshear Road, which runs north east out of the town of Cordele. Lydia who was then 39-years old in 1910 ran the family farm, and 13-year old Lillius had quit school in the 7th grade to help his mother run the farm. At home was his sister Gladys and brother Reginald and half-sisters Erma Arletta and Joanne Culpepper. Erma was then 21-years old and was a school teacher in Cordele. Additionally, in the home was a boarder, Henry A. Everson who was 25-years old and single and helped out on the farm.
When Lillius was 20-years old on August 4, 1916 he travelled to the Columbus Barracks in Columbus, Ohio to enlist into the Regular Army. The reasons why he joined the army are unknown, it may have been to gain a better life for himself and or his family, or to just get away from the family.
Private Lillius Rudolph Barry was assigned to the Coast Artillery Corps of the army and served in the 5th Company, CAC. This designation can be found at three different Coast Artillery Fortifications; the 5th Co. at Fort Adams, Rhode Island; the 5th Company at Fort Andrews, Boston; and the 5th Company at Fort McKinley, Maine, so, it is not known which 5th Company this was.
It is a known fact that Pvt. Barry was serving in Battery F of the 8th Provisional Regiment, CAC in August of 1917, and so, it can likely be concluded that he may have also been serving in the 3rd Company at Fort Hamilton, New York as that company was formed into Battery F of the 8th Provisional Regiment when they were formed in the summer of 1917. On April 6, 1917 the day America entered the war in France, Pvt. Barry was advanced to Private First Class. By the time that the 8th Provisional was ready to sail in August of 1917, PFC Barry had been advanced to Corporal. Of the twelve Corporals in Battery F, Cpl. Barry seems to have been the second ranking Corporal.
August 25, 1917 was the day that the 8th Provisional Regiment sailed aboard the SS Pannonia, Battery F was under the command of Captain Geoffrey Bartlett, 1st Lt. John D. Rice and 2nd Lt. H. L. Wallen. On the passenger manifest of the sailing of the Pannonia, Cpl. Barry listed his mother, Lydia Barry of Route A, Cordele, Georgia, as the person to contact in case of an emergency.
Once in France the 8th Provisional Regiment went through several organizational changes before it in the end, became the 51st Artillery, CAC. The three Battalions of the 51st Artillery during the war acted almost as three independent units, with the 3rd Battalion consisting of Battery E and F assigned to the British 8-inch howitzers. The 3rd Battalion saw heavy action at the Verdun Sector from April 22 through September 11, and then were moved to the great St. Mihiel drive September 12-16. And then again back at the Verdun Sector from September 17 through October 26. For the final drive of the war they were in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive from October 27 through the end of the war.
For a simple farm boy who only had a 7th grade education from central Georgia and likely had only seen pigs butchered on the farm, the experiences of what men could do to other men in combat was likely an eye opener for Cpl. Barry to say the least. We will never know what sort of stresses from combat during WWI in a heavy artillery unit were like. Daily bombardments with the heavy concussions of the guns being fired, seeing death and bodies of all states of destruction and the smell of death was more than he could handle. Lillius Barry likely had never been out of the county he had been born in and likely only ever killed a rabbit or possibly a deer, and now half a world away he, as a soldier, was killing men.
We do not know when or what the exact circumstances were but at the end of the war in November of 1918, Cpl. Barry was off the line and in a hospital unit suffering from some sort of “Shell Shock.” Cpl. Barry did not return to the States with the 51st Artillery so, it can be surmised that he had been removed from the 51st Artillery and put in the hospital to be cared for. Cpl. Barry was in the last week of January 1919 in Brest, France where he was in Detachment No. 20 under the command of Major James A. Livingston, MC (Medical Corps), consisting of walking wounded cases requiring no dressings, Class B.
Major Livingston’s detachment on January 28, 1919 went aboard the USS Saxonia then in the harbor in Brest, France, which was the ship they returned to the States on. The Saxonia arrived in New York Harbor on February 7 and Major Livingston’s detachment was sent to Debarkation Hospital No. 5.
According to Cpl. Barry’s WWI Georgia Statement of Service Card, it indicated that Barry was Honorably Discharged from Active Duty on March 13, 1919. So, it can be concluded that although he was suffering from some issue, the Army saw him as zero-percent disabled at the time and he was discharged. PTSD was something new and not understood at all at the time and although Cpl. Barry had no outward scars he had been wounded inside.
Now out of the Army and back in the States, it appears that Lillius Barry may have stayed in the New York area for at least the summer of 1919. This is known from the fact that on June 26, 1919 in Tarrytown, New York he married Martha L. Dunworth. She was born in North Dakota about 1897, and her father was born in New York State while her mother had come from Ireland.
By January of 1920 Martha and Lillius had made their way back to Georgia and his family. Once home he may have had moments of adjustment from the battlefields filled with the smell of death and cordite powder of the guns to the quiet pace and the fresh smell of the pines of Georgia. The Barry family by then was living on Cordele Road just on the edge of Vienna, Georgia. This is likely present-day Highway 41 running 9 ½-miles between Vienna and Cordele, Georgia. There in the home lived Lydia who was then 49-years old and widowed, Lillius and his wife Martha, and Lillius’s younger brother James Reginald.
James Reginald during his life went by “J. R.” or sometimes just “Reginald” and he was 17-years old at the time and had a job as an auto mechanic in a local garage, and as such he likely got his brother a job helping at the garage. This would be a trade that Lillius would work at for many years. The marriage between Lillius and Martha had its ups and downs and likely do to stresses from the experiences during the war, the marriage ended in a divorce. The exact date this marriage ended is not known but it must have taken place before 1929.
The ten-year period between 1920 and 1930 is a dark spot in the history of Lillius Barry as little is known of that period. The next event is gleaned from information on the 1930 Federal Census form. It tells the story that on April 24, 1930, the day the form was filled out, that Lillius had, recently within the last year, been re-married. His second wife was Lois E. and she was born in Tennessee about 1912-13. Her father was from Georgia and her mother was from Tennessee.
Lois and Lillius were then living in a boarding house ran by Winnie A. Binion located at 310 Commerce St. in Albany, Georgia. Winnie Binion was a 50-year old widow and her 20-year old son who was a brick mason lived in the home. The boarders were Joseph Hamlin who was 47 and was a carpenter, Edgar Hammel who was 25 and was working as an auto mechanic in a repair garage, along with Lillius and Lois Barry. Lilluis was working with Edgar Hammel as an auto mechanic, and Lois was then an operator with Bell Telephone in Albany.
The next ten years were much better years for Lillius Barry. By at least 1935 he and Lois had moved about 90-miles from Albany to Valdosta, Georgia. This possibly was because Lois worked for Bell Telephone and while living in Valdosta she was still with Bell Telephone so, they likely moved there due to her job.
But while living in Albany the niece and nephew of Lois and Lillius were also living in Albany. This is not known if the niece and nephew were from Lois or Lillius’ side of the family. But when they moved to Valdosta the niece and nephew came to live with Lois and Lillius. In April of 1940, Eleven-year-old George L. Leaford and 10-year old Shirly Leaford were living in the home located at 500 Jackson Street in Valdosta. At that time Lillius who was using his middle name of Rudolph was then a meat cutter in a local grocery store and Lois still was working as a telephone operator for Bell Telephone.
Lois and Lillius never had any children of their own and it was not known how long they took care of George and Shirley Leaford. It was on January 7, 1949 that Lillius’ mother Lydia passed away back in Cordele, Georgia. Likely about the same time Lois and Lillius appear to have moved back to Cordele, Georgia.
At the young age of 56-years, Lillius Rudolph Barry passed away in Cordele, Georgia on July 26, 1951. Lillius was then buried in the Ebenezer Baptist Church Cemetery in Cordele, Georgia. After his death Lillius’ younger brother James Reginald needed to honor his brother’s service to our country by having a military grave stone place upon his grave, a soldier who had given part of his life and carried those scars of battle deep within his soul, this was the least his brother could do to remember him with. On November 2, 1951 James Reginald Barry signed the paperwork to order a flat granite marker to be placed upon his grave. On December 10, 1951 from Columbus, Georgia that grave stone arrived at 19th Ave. E. in Cordele, Georgia, the home of James Reginald Barry. And shortly thereafter it was placed on his brothers grave, marking a spot where finally an American soldier could rest in peace, with the internal scars of war now fully healed.
This is the grave stone place upon his grave.
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