On December 10, 1917, the Army wrote orders detailing the formation of the 61st Artillery Regiment, CAC for service overseas in France. In late December 1917, and early January 1918, orders were issued to various Coast Artillery Companies to be formed into the 61st Artillery.
The Headquarters Company, and Batteries A, and B came from transfers of men then serving in the Coast Defenses of Charleston, South Carolina service at Fort Moultrie, South Carolina. Batteries C, and D along with Battery F were formed from transfers of men serving in the Coast Defenses of Savannah, Georgia, and assembled at Ft. Screven, Georgia. Battery E was formed from transfers of men in the Coast Defenses of Pensacola, Florida and assembled at Ft. Barrancas, Florida. On March 9, 1918, the entire 61st Artillery was assembled at Ft. Moultrie, South Carolina for the first time.
The 61st Artillery was moved to Ft. Monroe between February and June of 1918, and on June 15, 1918, the regiment moved to Camp Eustis, Virginia, to stage for transportation to France. On July 18, 1918, 61st Artillery, CAC, boarded the USS Wilhelmina, and at noon they started their voyage across the Atlantic from Newport News, Virginia. Arriving in the port city of St. Nazaire, France on July 31, 1918, then going to Castillon, France on August 7.
While in France the Regiment went to O & T Center (Operation and Training) Center No. 1 at Libourne, France. The firing ranged used by O & T Center No. 1 was at Camp de Sourge, France. The entire 33rd brigade C.A.C. comprising of the 60th, 61st and the 62nd Regiments took their training here. The 60th Regiment used the 155mm G.P.F. guns and the 61st and 62nd used the new 6-inch seacoast guns.
These 6-inch seacoast guns were removed from Coast Artillery fixed mounts from the United States and also spares from the Navy. These guns had special mobile mounts made for them and when the Armistice was signed 72 complete units of the 6-inch type and 26 units of the 5-inch had been sent to France. None of these guns ever made it to the Front lines.
The 61st Artillery at the time of the signing of the armistice was still conducting its training and therefore never saw any action on the front lines in combat.
The Regiment returned to the States sailing aboard the Italian liner Dante Aligihieri from Marseilles, France at five o'clock on January 30, 1919 and landed in Jersey City, New Jersey, on February 15, 1919. The men of the 61st Artillery were demobilized that same month at Camp Upton, New York. National Guard and National Army personnel were discharged from service and most all the Regular Army men went back to active duty at Fort Moultrie, South Carolina.
The 61st Artillery was under the command of Colonel William Faysoux Stewart. His Field and Staff officers of the 61st Artillery were:
|Lt. Colonel Lewis Turtle
Major Roy Robert Lyon
Major George Cuthbert Heyward, Jr.
Major Austin Garfield Frick
Captain Lawrence Albert McLaughlin
Captain Harry Walter Capper
Captain Ernest Cleveland Bomar
Captain Hunter Perry
1st Lt. Frank Meredth Thompson
1st Lt. John Vickers Ray
|A 6-inch, 50 calibres Seacoast Rifle mobile mount. This one is named "Krupp Krumbler" our Big Gun. The lack of a traversing mechanism made this a very cumbersom gun to handle. It is laid by moving the entire gun by hand.||Bringing our guns from Libourne to Castillion|
Above are two views of the type of 6-inch seacoast guns that were assigned to the 61st Artillery. The guns themselves were removed from Coast Artillery forts in America and also spares from the U. S. Navy, and they were mated to quickly put together mounts consisting of a set of large steel casson wheels, and very little recoil mechanisim. Because the crudly fashioned casson was not able to be traversed, this meant that the gun would have to be laid and aimed by hand, and to top that off the lack of a suitable recoil system also meant that when fired the entire piece would move backwards and have to be reset all over agin before discharging the next round. The guns them selves were accurate on thier own but when coupled to the casson it made for a very unhandy piece. Very few of these guns were in use at the end of the war.
|This is an example of the type of cards that were used for the troops to communicate with family members back home to let them know that the ship that the soldier sailed overseas made it safely. Due to war time censorship these cards were designed to let the soldier address to the person who they wanted to notify and on the back side they were only permitted to state their name and unit. There were several general types of these cards but this one provided by the American Red Cross seems to be the most common one seen. The person this was sent to was Mrs. Charles A. Vogler, in Winston-Salem, NC.||This card was from Lt. Gilman J. Drake of the 61st Artillery, C.A.C. Lt. Drake served in Battery C and Battery D of the 61st Artillery during the war. The way these cards worked was that on embarkation on the ship each soldier and officer filled out one of these cards. They were then kept until word was received that the ship had safely arrived at its intended destination. They were them mailed to the address on the card, relieving the tension of the family letting them know that their loved one had at least made the journey across the ocean. Although the information on the card did not say much it must have been good word for the folks at home to receive it.|
If you have family members who served in this unit please e-mail them to me and I will add thier names.
Homer P. Werner entered the Regular Army at Columbus Barracks, Ohio on 15 December 1917, at the age of 21. He was born in Swanton, Ohio and at the time he jioned the Army lived in Berkey, Ohio. He was advanced to the rank of Private First Class on 2 July 1918 and on 4 February 1919 was made Cook. He served overseas with Battery A from 18 July, 1918 until the regiment landed in New York February 15, 1919 and was Honorable discharged on 11 March, 1919.
Gordon Gillmore Williams was born in Mandan, North Dakota in 1892. He worked as a freight agent for the Northern Pacific Railroad, and enlisted in the Army at Bismarck in December, 1917. He took Basic Training at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri before being assigned to Battery A, 61st Artillery. He was overseas from July 1918 to February 1919, and was discharged as Private First Class at Camp Zachary Taylor, Kentucky in July 1919. He died in Los Angeles in 1943.
On June 5, 1917, Edward James Lynch who was then 23-years old, registered as he was required to do, for the Federal Draft during WWI. On that day in the 13th Precinct of Anderson County, Tennessee he filled out the required form. He listed his address as Briceville, which was a small village in Anderson County as his home of record. He was at the time married and was a tall, slender man with Grey eyes and Black hair. His date of birth was August 19, 1893, and was then working as the Assistant Mine Surveyor for the Cross Mountain Coal Company.
Briceville was a coal town and almost everything that went on there was centered around the coal mines and specifically the Cross Mountain Coal Company. Briceville also played an important role in three major incidents related to the region's coal mining activities; the Coal Creek War in 1891, the Fraterville Mine disaster of 1902, and the Cross Mountain Mine disaster of 1911.
After Edward had registered for the Draft he may have stayed on his job at the Cross Mountain Coal Company for several months before he entered the Army. Likely by the fall of 1917 he would have been serving in the Army and was placed into the Army’s Coast Artillery Corps. Lynch would likely have been serving in one of the Coast Artillery Companies from the Charleston, South Carolina Defenses, as the men from the Headquarters Company and Batteries A, and B of the 61st Artillery had originally come from the Charleston Defenses.
It was on December 10, 1917, that Orders were written for the formation of the 61st Artillery Regiment and they would be sent to France. Pvt. Edward Lynch was mustered into Battery A, of the 61st Artillery on March 9, 1918 at Fort Moultrie, South Carolina.
On July 18, 1918, at Noon the entire 61st Artillery had been loaded aboard the USS Wilhelmina for transportation to France. The Wilhelmina left Newport News, Virginia and landed in St. Nazaire, France on July 31, 1918.
While in France Pvt. Lynch had the job of Wagoner, which was basically a truck driver to haul the supplies and material of the Battery, but did not include the hauling of ammunition as that fell under a different group. The Wagoner held the equivalent grade of a Private. The 61st did not see any action on the front lines and on January 30, 1919, in Marseilles, France were loaded aboard the Italian liner Dante Alighieri. At 5:00 PM that evening they set sail for New Jersey. It was on February 15, 1919 they landed in Jersey City, New Jersey, and were offloaded and went to Camp Upton for demobilization.
Edward James Lynch was born on August 19, 1893 to Ida Bell (1875-), and Patrick Frank Lynch (1864-1904) in Dayton, Rhea County, Tennessee. After his Honorable Discharge from the Army in 1919, Lynch went home to Tennessee to begin his life again. Likely he would have gone back to work for the coal mines. In 1920, he met and fell in love with Miss Laura Belle Hill (1898-1964) and they were married on Christmas Day of 1920 in Anderson County, Tennessee.
Laura and Edward would raise two daughters, both born in Tennessee. By 1940 the Lynch family was living in Loyall, Harlan County, Kentucky where Edward was working as a gas station attendant. In the spring of 1940 the Lynch home was located on a hill above the main road on Loyall which is a very small community nestled along the Cumberland River. Living with the family were Laura’s parents, Mary and David Hill.
Laura and Edward would live in Loyall, Kentucky for many years. Edward worked for the railroad for several years while living in Loyall. It was on December 17, 1964 that Laura passed away. Sometime there after Edward moved back to Tennessee, where he passed away in Clinton, Anderson County Tennessee on June 2, 1980.
Wagoner, Torence G. Vanderford, Service No. 715662,
Torence Going Vanderford was born on August 19 of 1893 or some sources list his year of birth as 1894. He was one of five children born to Mary Twedie Mitchell (1864-1948) and Walter Waddy Vanderford (1868-1908) in Union Township, Union County, South Carolina. Mary and Waddy had been married about 1880 and Waddy was a farmer. At the turn of the century Mary and Waddy had five children, William, Harriet, Torence, Maud, and Willie.
By 1906 the Waddy Vanderford family had now grown to include four more, Pete, Benjamin, Barth and Walter. It was in 1908 that Waddy passed away and left his wife Mary to raise the children alone. Two years after Waddy’s death the family had moved into a home on South 3rd Street in Lockhart, South Carolina. To make ends meet Mary and the four eldest children, William, Harriet, Torence, and Maude, all worked at a local cotton mill in Lockhart. Torence during his life was also known by the nickname of “Shine” and there does not seem to be known why or what the nickname was in reference to.
About March of 1917 Torence had joined the South Carolina National Guard serving in the Coast Artillery Corps. Vanderford was a Private likely serving in one of the Companies in the Coast Defenses of Charleston, South Carolina, possibly at Ft. Moultrie. On June 5, 1917 during the first call up for the Federal Draft, Torence Vanderford registered in Lockhart. On the draft form, he stated that he was living in Lockhart, South Carolina, and was then working as an automobile driver for Anna Barnes of Lockhart. According to the 1910 Federal Census Anna Barnes was in fact Anna G. Barnes the wife of Wade H. Barnes, who owned and operated a general merchandise store in Lockhart. Also on the draft form it stated that Torence had grey eyes and brown hair and was of medium height and weight. Family stories of Torence Vanderford are told how that he had owned the first automobile in Lockhart. Possibly this may have been the car he drove for Anna Barnes.
When State Guard units began to be Federalized for service during the war the Guard Company Vanderford was then serving in was formed into Battery B of the 61st Artillery, CAC. His stated enlistment date was July 25, 1917 and this may have been the date his Guard unit was Federalized as he was already serving in the Guard prior to this date. Because Vanderford knew how to drive a vehicle, his skill was put to good use in the Army. At the time, very few men were exposed to or knew how to drive a car or truck, so his skill was something the Army was looking for. He was assigned the job of a truck driver, which was known by the rank of Wagoner. This would have been the equivalent of a Private First Class. In an Artillery Regiment the Wagoners would have driven trucks or tractors hauling the artillery guns, and also hauled ammunition to the gun emplacements.
The 61st Artillery was formed at Ft. Moultrie, SC, and on July 18, 1918 they had boarded the SS Wilhelmina in New York for transportation to France. On the passenger manifest, Wagoner Torence G. Vanderford, service No. 715662 of Battery B, 61st Artillery CAC listed his mother, Mary Vanderford of Lockhart, SC as next of kin. At noon on Thursday July 18 the Wilhelmina with the entire 61st Artillery left the dock and were on their way to France.
Vanderford would serve throughout the war with Battery B, and being the 61st Artillery arrived in France during the mid-summer, and their training period lasted until the last weeks of the war, they did not see any actual combat on the front lines. It appears that at some point in late November or early December 1918 that Wagoner Vanderford was injured somehow. He did not return to the States with the 61st Artillery, but instead was returned aboard the USS Aeolus on December 17, 1918. The passenger manifest of the sailing of the Aeolus from Bordeaux, France shows Wagoner Vanderford was in a Casual Company of sick and wounded men. The passenger manifest listed him as a Private from Battery B, 61st Artillery, CAC and he had a new Army Service number 7156610. He again listed his mother of Lockhart, SC as next of kin. The Aeolus was then bound from Bordeaux to Newport News, Virginia.
Once back in America little is known of what happened to him once he got off the Aeolus. It is known that he was honorably discharged from the Army on February 6, 1919. After his discharge, he returned back to his home in Lockhart, South Carolina, and in 1919 married Maude Ophelia St. John (1900-1983).
By 1930 Maude and Torence had a home on South Main Street in Lockhart, SC where Torence still worked in the cotton mill in Lockhart. Maude and Torence’s first child, a daughter named Louise was born in 1920 and died as an infant. The second child was named Lois Laverne who was born in 1922, followed in 1925 with a son named Edward Arthur, and in 1927 a daughter named Inez. In 1931, another daughter named Mabel was born, and 1934 a son named Haskell was born, which was followed in 1937 with another son named Billy. When the 1940 Federal Census was taken in Lockhart on April 22, 1940 Maude had just given birth to a newborn yet un-named son, which they later named Frank, and was their eighth child. In April of 1940 Torence was still working at the cotton mill, but had the job of section man.
After the end of the Second World War in 1948, Mary Vanderford, Torence’s mother passed away. Torence and Maude would live the rest of their lives in Lockhart, and Torence worked until he retired for the cotton mill. Torence on December 8 of 1974 passed away in Lockhart. He was buried in the Wesley Chapel Cemetery in Union County, South Carolina. Maude would pass away on March 21, 1983 and today they both lay resting in peace next to each other with a gray granite headstone marking their graves. Torence also has a bronze military marker on his grave.
George Benton Derrick was born in Little Mountain S. C. on April 1, 1895, and he died on March 21, 1965 in Carlsbad N.M.
|PFC James L. Rogers, Battery B, 61st Artillery CAC
Service No. 715527
James L. Rogers was a Private First Class, Service No. 715527, in Battery B of the 61st Artillery, CAC during WWI. He was born on May 9, 1898 and Passed away on June 4, 1936, and was a South Carolina native. He was burried in the Fairview Cemetary in Albemarle, NC., next to his wife, Sadie Drye (b. July 26, 1896 d. Nov 7, 1993). James Leroy Rogers enilisted into the United States Army on May 27, 1917, and was honorably Discharged on MArch 3, 1919. After the 61st Artillery CAC was formed PFC Rogers was placed into Battery B, and remained with Battery B his entire time he was in the 61st. The 61st Artillery sailed to France on July 18, 1918 aboard the USS Whileimina, and returded from Marseilles, France aboard the Itilian liner SS Dante Alleghieri on January 30, 1919. PFC Rogers listed his father Sylvanus L. Rogers of Route 3, Gaffney, South Carolina as next of kin. They arrived in Jersey city, New Jersey on February 17, 1919 and went to Camp Upton where they began the demobilization process. On November 27, 1941 James Rogers wife, Sadie filled out paper work to have an upright marble military headstone placed upon his grave site. On April 7, 1942 the United States Government shipped the stone to the Fairview Cemetarty and it was placed over his grave.
|Bronze grave marker of PFC Rudolph "Rudy" Miller|
Miller was from Pennsylvania born on February 17, 1906 and died on February 22, 1959. PFC Miller would not have served with the 61st Artillery while it was in France as he would have been too young to be in the army. It is likely that he served with Battery B, 61st during the time it was re-activated in 1921 or after. Battery B was active as these units during the 1920's: At Fort Monroe, VA in July of 1921: Battery B, Machinegun Battery redesignated 8th Company (CD) Chesapeake Bay, formerly 4th Co. Virginia National Guard. Redesignated 61st Coast Artillery (Anti Aircraft) Regiment June of 1924 and then reassigned to Fort Sheridan in May of 1930.
I was contacted by Keith Bridgman about facts on the 61st Artillery. At the time I had no information on them. Keith told me that his grandfather Robert Bridgman was in Battery B of the 61st Artillery C.A.C. Keith was kind enough to share the information he had about the 61st and his grandfather. All the photos on this page were from his grandfather and he had kept a diary. Below are some excerpts from it. Keith did say that his grandfather’s handwriting was bad and some of it was not readable. I have tried to edit it and fill in the blanks, so to speak.
Keith writes about his grandfather:
I remember as a young boy playing with grandfather's old helmet, and trying on his uniform. He still had an old gas mask, but he would never let me use it because it may have contained some poison residue. I don't know all of the details about what or where it happened to him, and there is no mention of it in his notebook, but at one time or another he fell victim to some poison gas, which messed up his lungs for the rest of his life. Sometime after my grandfather died, in 1974, my grandmother donated all of his stuff to a local museum in Southeastern Oklahoma (at least I think she did). I wish now I could have gotten my hands on all of that.
Robert L. Bridgman (Bob) was born in the Indian territory in I believe 1898 (my dad says 1896) and grew up in the shadow of Cavanal Mountain in Southeastern Oklahoma in the sleepy town of Poteau. Poteau is a few miles from the Arkansas state line. Along with his brother he helped in the family hardware-furniture business established by his father in 1896 in Poteau (which is still operating under the Bridgman name). When the war came along, he, like so many others did their duty. I'm not sure why he was assigned to the 61st C.A.C. and not one of the Texas/Oklahoma divisions (the 36th and 90th) but that is where he ended up. I do not know the circumstances behind the incident, but somehow he and several others were injured by poison gas while overseas which messed up his lungs for the rest of his life. By the age of 45, he was an old man because of it. I vividly remember my grandfather telling me stories about being in France and all the children and families he saw who were having a tough time of it. As most young men who undergo an adventure such as that, the impact of those few short months in France had far reaching affects on him. As he grew older and more senile, his most vivid memories were of being in France and he spoke of those days as though only a few months had passed. He died in 1974, a well-respected, kind and gentle man.
One story I remember the most my grandfather relayed to me was about how his outfit, Battery B out foxed a French general. Apparently, they were to camouflage one of their large guns as a training exercise. They brought in a large stack of hay and camouflage nets and set up a fake cannon underneath, then proceeded to hide the real gun elsewhere, I don't remember exactly where, but I believe it was in the nearby woods. The French general came around and saw the stack of hay and fake cannon from a distance and began chewing them out because it was so obvious there was a large gun underneath and the Germans would detect it with no effort. They all snickered, and got in more trouble and some of the men accompanying the general began to dismantle the fake camouflaged area. When it became apparent it was a fake, he demanded to know where the real gun was, and no one would tell him, demanding that he try to find it. He never did, and being the pompous French General that he was, stormed off in indignation.
Some of the diary was unreadable and every effort was made to determine what was written, but some just could not be made out. In an effort to keep the true feelings of the diary we have placed ... to indicate words or letters that can't be read.
Special note from Keith Bridgman.
Attitudes were different then and although my grandfather was a very religious man, certain racial attitudes were a common vice then. There were times after the war and during the depression when families who were down on their luck, both black and white, would come to my grandparents dry-goods store needing shoes and clothes for their kids to go to school. My grandparents always made sure those kids had what they needed with no consideration as to how they were to be paid for. More often than not, they received a basket of tomatoes or homegrown corn or eggs for payment.
Sailed from Newport News on July 17, 1918 and landed at St. Nazarre, France on July 30.
"The Dopey News"
W.L. Gaffney... Editor
Hard Boiled Jim... Society Editor
W ... Gaffney The W...
John Helem... Bouncer
Clyde Heal ... Reporter
Hugh Ashmore ... Religious Editor
Coy Compton ... Cartoonist
The office force of the paper put out for the benefit of the barracks of Battery B while stationed at St. Nazarre, France.
Who can smell and take a bath in cold water in the open in the wettest and misty rainy day.
Sober up boys and see France.
Sat. Nov. 9, 1918
Latest latrine dope:
Well about five o'clock we sighted the rock (Gibraltar) and saw the big end of a ... Spain first and then it got larger so ... ... from where we saw it the thing was big and great ... just a big hulk large and ... ... looked like concrete... ... from falling away. Guns were always on all of the boys and the ... we heard the ... ... ...(undecipherable)
Why do non-coms eat first?
Three fourths of the Battery got drunk thinking peace had been declared and now are broke and won't be able to celebrate if it's declared this month. Tough on the boys?
Gun section numbers sure deserves to be called the stevedore bunch.
Who can talk to a French girl who eats garlic?
How to make 60 franks do till next pay and also get x-mas presents sure is some job believe me.
The fourth and fifth gun sections voted that the barn not be used as a garage anymore as some fool honks the cars all hours of the nite.
Those Camp ... boys kept us awake with their barrage.
What would be worse, All kinds of stuff to buy and now am broke.
A barber told me ... is a grand expression now.
Ask a fella what the rain did for his last nite and at New York they say ... sure hope so.
Who got Major May? ... Who refused to dance with officers? Who said ... isn't having a great time? Who is ... ... ... Who wants to stay on deck from six to eleven? Who ... ... officers? Why don't we ... ? The 61st division emblem one ... When do we eat? When do we get to ...? Who wants to learn the band any way?
The boys of the barn have the ... at the chateau ... and now call themselves hard-boiled.
The Battery extends its sympathies to Doug Green, Dave Caldr...W...Gaffney, ... Murphy and ... as these guys married while over here. Who is next? All are afraid.
A ... is a fellow who always wants to read you what the best girl in the world has to say.
Those niggers claimed to be American Indians and went with those French girls ... here.
Wanted: some one to wash clothes: Apply to Bert B. Price no consideration.
Who can wash his blue denims and let it rain on them and have them ready to wear next day. Captain take notice.
Came over from Marseilles on Jan 30, 1919 at five o'clock.
Who said we don't get spaghetti. The wops sure are slow. The rock of Gilbralter is all right but sure wish we would ... and get away.
Who got the "Y" paper?
Who eats Carrots?
Who likes grits?
Bread and grits and grits and bread tomorrow. Some change.
Battery A dropped two shells and they did not go off. Some lucky crowd.
The latrine quartette has been broken up on account of the flu.
(***This could be an indication of the poison gas problem my grandfather and others ran into. My dad said that the doctors told them they had the flu and quarantined them for a short while until they determined what the cause of their symptoms were***).
November 10, 1918
Drunks in night and the crowds celebrate before wine. The French are sure getting ready to pull off some great stunts. The favorite question, "ligare finis" and the answer: "demain levar".
November 11, 1918
When do we go home?
Who put on guard?
Who sings "le dyiny"? Hobo so be awful.
Robert L. Bridgman taken shortly after the armistice
Label from Bridgman's Christmas package that he recieved while stationed at St. Terre, France.
Harvey, Smith and Small. Just some C.A.C. kids my grandfather knew.
Castillion, France. Near our "Cow Stalls" (Tent camp) July, Aug., Sept., Oct., 1918.
Post Card of Bordeaux, France. "Passed thru this street many times with our trucks. Some town and oh you pretty girls."
In December of 2017, a nearly 3-foot wide photograph that was taken likely in February of 1919, is placed on the back of a red Ford truck and photographed. The photo is of Battery B, 61st Artillery, CAC, taken after their return from France after the end of World War One. The grandson of one of the men in the photograph, which shows its age with nicks and scratches in the frame, and missing bits of the photo along its edges, looks at all the faces trying to find his grandfather, Walter Samuel Compton. Who was Walter Samuel Compton, one of the soldiers of Battery B?
Walter Samuel Compton was born on October 26, 1898, and was the eldest son of Alice D. McGee (1875-1923) and James Nelson Compton (1873-1956). There is some confusion as to where Walter was born, as on the 1910 Federal Census it states that Walter was born in South Carolina. But on the 1920 and 1930 Federal Census they state his state of birth as North Carolina. Walter’s WWII Draft Card, states, “Clyde” as the town of birth, and “Haywood” in the section for State. Clyde is in fact located in Haywood County, North Carolina, and so being the WWII Draft card was written by Walter, then it is fair to say that he was a North Carolina native.
Sometime between Walter’s birth in 1898 and the taking of the 1910 Federal Census, the James Compton family had moved and was living near Laurens, South Carolina. Laurens is located in Laurens County, South Carolina, and is rooted deep within our Country’s history having the distinction of being the place that the British Regulars were defeated by the Colonial Militia for the first time at the Battle of Musgrove Mill, during the American Revolution.
James Compton was working as a cotton mill weaver at the time to support his wife and two children. After the Civil War the area in and around Laurens became a center for industry, which was centered around the textile and glass making industries. The Lauren Cotton Mill was founded in 1895, and the Watts Cotton Mill was founded in 1902. It was with one of these two mills that James Compton was working for. Likely when Walter became of age he too may have worked at the mills.
America in the spring of 1917, had entered into the war in Europe, and that summer Walter Compton entered the Army, just 3-months shy of his 19th birthday. On July 25, 1917, Walter enlisted into the U. S. Army and he was placed into the Army’s Coast Artillery Corps. Walter was most likely serving with one of the Coast Artillery Companies from the Coast Defenses of Charleston, South Carolina, either at Fort Moultrie or Fort Sumpter. When the 61st Artillery CAC, was formed, the men who made up Battery B, came from transfers of men then serving at Fort Moultrie or Fort Sumpter.
It is known from research into other men of the 61st Artillery, that Walter would have been at Fort Moultrie, serving as a Corporal in Battery B, on March 9, 1918, as that is the date that the entire 61st Artillery was mustered together for the first time.
Corporal Walter S. Compton, Service No. 715499, sailed with the 61st Artillery aboard the USS Wilhelmina for France on July 18, 1918. Arriving in France in mid-summer of 1918, the 61st Artillery began its training period, all the while waiting for the guns that they would use at the front, if they ever got there at all. For the American Army, Artillery guns were in short supply, and the 61st drew the 6-inch guns. These were 6-inch rifles taken from Coast Artillery fortifications or spares of U. S. Navy guns, and hastily assembled onto a simple carriage. Which, made for a very un-handy gun to handle, although the guns were very accurate, the carriage system made the gun very hard to set and fire.
By the time training had been completed the war ended and the 61st did not get a chance to show the Germans what could be done with their guns. After the war, the 61st was sent to the south of France and there they waited for shipping space to take them back home to America, the Country they were to defend if they would have made the front lines.
On January 30, 1919, in Marseilles, France the 61st Artillery boarded the Italian liner SS Dante Aligihieri, and headed out westward towards America. On February 15, 1919, the Dante Aligihieri reached Jersey City, New Jersey, and the 61st Artillery was sent to Camp Upton, New York, which is the likely location of the 3-foot wide photograph was taken of Battery B, 61st Artillery.
Walter S. Compton was Honorably Discharged on March 3, 1919, and returned back home to Laurens County, South Carolina. At the beginning of 1920, Walter was living on the family farm with his mother and father and two sisters. Walter and his father were both farming the home farm. This was located in Scuffletown Township on Ridge Road leading to Laurens.
The next big event in the life of Walter Compton took place in Craven, North Carolina on February 26, 1926. It was there that he married Bonnie Estel Martin. About 1928 they had a daughter they named Mary. In the spring of 1930 Walter and his wife were both working for the Eliada Orphanage in Asheville, North Carolina. Walter, Bonnie and Mary also lived on the Orphanage grounds. Walter worked as a book keeper and Bonnie was working as a Matron for the orphanage.
The Eliada Home orphanage was opened in 1906 by Eliada Reverend Lucius B. Compton in a small cabin about five miles from Asheville, North Carolina. Land was acquired through purchases and donations until the campus swelled to over 1,200 acres, and buildings added. The children and staff maintained the property in a variety of ways: they bottled and sold milk from Dr. Compton’s prize Guernsey cows, they kept chickens, sold eggs, grew much of their food, canned and pickled the produce, and helped with the maintenance of the land and buildings. It is not known if Walter Compton was related in any way to Rev. Lucius B. Compton.
By February of 1942, the Walter Compton family was then living in Barnardsville, which is a small unincorporated village in Buncombe County, North Carolina. On February 16, 1942, Walter S. Compton registered for the Draft during WWII. He at the time was not working, and Walter was described as being 5-feet, 11-inches tall, weighing about 170-pounds with blue eyes and brown hair.
Bonnie and Walter would live the rest of their lives in Buncombe County. Bonnie passed away on July 29, 1984. She was buried in the West Memorial Park in Weaverville, Buncombe County, North Carolina. Walter would pass away on November 27, 1988 and was buried next to his wife Bonnie.
Sparkman enlisted into the Regular Army on April 17, 1917 at Ft. Screvens, Georgia at the age of 21. He was born in Campville, Florida and at the time of enlistment lived in Princeton, Florida. Pvt. Sparkman (719285) was in the 4th Company C.A.C. at Ft. Screven from enlistment until 1 November 1917 when he was moved to the 3rd Company, Ft. Screven. On 1 January 1918 he was promoted to Pvt 1cl and was transferred to Battery C, 61st Artillery C.A.C. On July 17, 1918 he sailed with the 61st Artillery from Port of Embarkation Newport News, Virginia and landed July 30th in St. Nazarre, France. Pvt. 1cl Sparkman returned to the States with the 61st Artillery sailing from Marseilles, France on January 30, 1919 at five o'clock and landed in New York February 15, 1919. He was demobilized on 4 March 1919 at Camp Upton, New York.
Wildes was born about 1898 in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. He was first stationed in the 3rd Company at Ft. Screven, Georgia until 1 January 1918 when he was transferred into Battery C, 61st Artillery, C.A.C. On 27 June 1918-9 July 1918 he attended the Coast Artillery School at Ft. Monroe, Virginia, where upon completion he rejoined Battery C and on the 17 July 1918 he sailed with the 61st to France. Paul returned to the States with the 61st and was released from the 61st Artillery on 25 February 1919 and reported to the 1st Company at Ft. Screven, Georgia where he served until discharged on 25 March 1920. Paul J. Wildes died at the age of 82 in Hueytown, Alabama.
In the southeast parts of Ohio in Washington County is a city named Belpre, which takes its name from the French word meaning “beautiful meadow.” In Belpre on June 16, 1888 Thomas M. Riffle’s wife Katie A. (Barrows) Riffle gives birth to a son who they named John Franklin Riffle. Little is known of his early years but by the summer of 1900, twelve-year old John F. Riffle was living with his 64-year old widowed grandmother Charlotte Riffle in a home on Virginia Ave. in Canton, Ohio. Young John was attending school in Canton, and the only other person living in the home was a boarder by the name of Earnest Muzzy who was 23-years old.
By the spring of 1910 John, now a 21-year old single man was living in a boarding house ran by 45-year old Caroline Pelirs. The house was located on Center Street in Elkins, West Virginia, which is located in northeast West Virginia. John Riffle was then working for the railroad as a brakeman.
When America needed young men to fill the ranks of the Army to fight in Europe, John Riffle on June 5, 1917 registered for the Federal Draft, as he was required to do. On that day in Ohio County, West Virginia John Riffle a medium built man with brown eyes and dark brown hair stated he was living at 535 Warwood Ave. in Warwood, West Virginia. He was working as a foreman for the Wheeling Wall Plaster Company in Wheeling, WV.
John Riffle enlisted into the National Army on December 20, 1917 in Wheeling, WV. As many new Artillery units were being formed the 61st Artillery, CAC was forming in May of 1918 at Fort Moultrie, South Carolina. Private John F. Riffle, service number 719393, was placed into Battery C, of the 61st Artillery, and he would sail to France with this unit on July 18, 1918. He remained in Battery C during the duration of the time the 61st was in France. Private Riffle would return to the states on February 16, 1919 and would be Honorably Discharged on March 5, 1919.
After the war John Riffle moved back to West Virginia, settling into the County of Raleigh. In January of 1920 Riffle, according to the 1920 Federal Census, was now a 31-year old married man, and he was living in the small-unincorporated community of Amigo, which is located on West Virginia Highway 16 at the confluence of the Guyandotte River and the Winding Gulf. On the census form it was noted that he was a married man but there is not a wife listed. Possibly John and his wife were separated as about 1934 he married a woman named Edith, so this may have been a failed first marriage. John was working as a carpenter at the time and had a 19-year old boarder named Carl Trent living with him who was also working as a carpenter and it was likely they worked together.
Sometime about 1934 John Riffle married for a second time. His wife’s first name was Edith and she was born in West Virginia about 1906, and nothing more is known of her except that she passed away sometime between 1940 and 1958. It is likely that John and Edith did not have any children. But what is known is that in April of 1940 John and Edith were living in a home on Ohio Highway 555 in Belpre, Ohio. The couple had been living in this house from at least 1935. John was then 51-years old and was working as a laborer on a road construction project.
Just after America entered the Second World War, men born between 1877 and 1897 were to register for service if called. John Riffle did so and his registration card number was U1373. On the card he states that he is living in Little Hocking, in Washington, County Ohio. Additionally under the section for who would always know his address he lists Mrs. Hattie Dexter of Little Hocking, Ohio. Hattie M. Dexter was John’s neighbor on Highway 555 in Belpre. She was a widow, and her 26-year old son was also a laborer on the same road construction project John was working on. This might also indicate that John’s wife Edith had passed away by this time. The United States Engineers then employed John, so it is likely this was still the same road construction project indicated on the 1940 census.
John F. Riffle would live in Washington County, Ohio for the rest of his life. At his home on December 11, 1958 John F. Riffle passed away and was buried in the Rockland Cemetery in Belpre, Ohio. His grave is marked with a flat bronze marker from the Department of Veterans. On December 16, 1958 a C. B. Riffle of 408 Washington Blvd., Belpre, Ohio signed the application form for the bronze marker to John Riffle’s grave. “C. B. Riffle” is likely Charles B. Riffle who was born about 1893 and was likely a family member in charge of John’s final affairs.
William H. Youngstrom born about 1897 in Illinois. His mother was named Ida D. Youngstrom who was of Sweedish heritage, and in 1910 she was a divorced woman aged 36 years. In 1910 they lived in Hennepin, Putnam County, Illinois. There was also a younger brother named Richard T. born about 1903. In 1930 William H. Youngstrom was married to a woman named Ingrid, aged 28 years and born in Ohio. She had parents that were also from Sweeden. They had no children. Ingrid was born 24 Feb, 1902 and died in August of 1981 in Barrington Lake Illinois, a suberb of Chicago. William H. Youngstrom was a tool and die maker for a machine shop and he and Ingrid lived in Chicago, IL. He was listed as being a veteran of WWI, so I believe this may be the man who made this inscription in the German Helmet.
|Susan and Rod Shaver had discovered a German helmet in an antique store in Chandler, Arizona with writing from an American soldier on the inside of the helmet, "W H Youngstrom, Battery C, 61st ARTY CAC., American EF"||This is the German M-16 helmet Youngstrom brought back as a WWI souvenir.|
Andrew McCaskill related about how his great-great uncle, Harry L McCaskill served in Battery D of the 61st Artillery, CAC. Harry McCaskill enlisted into the Georgia National Guard and when his Guard unit was federalized McCaskill came to be in the 61st Artillery, CAC. While serving in France with the 61st, Corporal McCaskill served as an interperter as he could speak fluent French. Once the war was over he returned with his unit aboard the Italion liner Dante Aligihieri, and was demobilized in Savannah, Georgia in 1919. Harry L. McCaskill today lies burried in the Greenwood Cemetery in Caddo Parish, Shreveport, LA.
Aaron Louis Bradley was born on May 11, 1898 in Georgia. On April 4, 1917 Bradley enlisted into the army at Ft. Screven on Tybee Island Georgia. He was assigned to Battery D, 61st Artillery, CAC and sailed aboard the SS Wilhelmina on July 18, 1918 from Newport News, Virginia with the 61st Artillery. On the passenger manifest he listed his father Simon Bradley of 121 Drayton St. in Savannah, Georgia as next of kin.
PFC Bradley's service number was 719538 and he would serve with the 61st Artillery throughout the time the 61st was in France. They did not see any combat. The 61st Artillery returned to the States and sailed from Marseilles, France aboard the Italian liner Dante Alighieri on Janiary 30, 1919 and reached Jersey City, New Jersey on February 17, 1919. PFC Bradley was Honorably Discharged from Active Duty on March 1, 1919 at Camp Upton in New York.
Aaron L. Bradley's wife's name was Hannah and together they had four children: Milton Joseph; Edwin, Joy and William Houdini. Aaron was the owner of the Bradley Lock and Key Company, which was began in 1892. They sold safes, made keys, repaired guns and sold bycicles and was a three-generation family run business. Aaron Louis Bradley passed away on October 17, 1963 and is buried in the Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia.
PFC Aaron Louis Bradley, 719538 Battery D, 61st Artillery CAC
James Corbett Lecy was born on May 9, 1895 in Carter County, Kentucky. He served in France with Battery E of the 61st Artillery and was Honorable Discharged on February 15, 1919. James C. Lacy passed away on November 1, 1956 in Bellaire, Antrim County, Michigan. He was awarded the WW I Victory Medal with "France" Clasp, and the Army of Occupation of Germany Medal.
Stephen P. Barrett contacted me about his uncle Lawrence Barrett who was in Battery E, 61st Artillery. This is what Stephen had to tell me about his uncle.
"I have recently discovered that my uncle served in the 61st Artillery. The source of the information is from a post card recently sent to me by my cousin, his daugther. The post card apparently was furnished by the American Red Cross. (like the one from Lt. Lake above) The front of the post card states "Soldiers' Mail," No Postage Necessary, and it addressed to my grandmother, Mrs. O. W. Barrett 132 Pine Ave., Chicago, Illinois (Austin Sta). The cancel stamp imprinted the following" "Soldier's Mail____Mail Censor____U. S. Army Base____," and nothing appears in the blanks.
Someone in my family has written on the card: "Received Aug. 5, 1918." The text is as follows:
"THE SHIP ON WHICH I SAILED HAS ARRIVED SAFELY OVERSEAS.
Name: Lawrence Barrett
Organization: Battery E, 61st. Arty C.A.C via New York
American Expeditionary Forces"
Bert T. Moore was a Wagoner in Battery F. A Wagoner was a rank in the Army and during WWI the artillery units had several Wagoner who's job it was to drive trucks loaded with the artillery piece and supplies. Additionally they whould have also moved shells and powder to and from the guns once they were set up. Today Bert T. Moore is burried in the Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas Cemetery. On his stone is enscribed the following;
Bert T. Moore
BTRY F 61 ARTY CAC
WORLD WAR 1
Thomas Roy Bullock (III) tells a seemingly unbelievable story of his father Thomas Roy Bullock, Sr. The story begins in Honea Path, South Carolina where Thomas R. Bullock, Sr. was born. At the age of 15-years old during WWI Bullock joined the United States Army, somehow, likely lying about his age.
He served as a cook in the 61st Artillery, C.A.C. since he was the only one who could cook a mule so soldiers could eat it. Bullock stayed in France after the war and went to French culinary schools but he would not become a world-class chef until many years later.
When Bullock got back home to the States he first became a border patrolman in Texas. He was issued a dog, a horse, a gun, and a book of blank arrest warrants. Family lore tells that Bullock was a tough man and it was said “Bullock brought back an ear from everyone who didn't survive a meeting with him.” Bullock was said to have repeated the line “But I never cut off both ears,” when telling stories of that time. Once while serving a lawman in Texas Bullock was given a 44-calibre gun from the governor of Texas as a token of his good work.
Always a restless soul Bullock next raced and demonstrated motorcycles for the Indian Motorcycle Company all over the west. After the excitement of the motorcycles wore off Bullock became a rodeo rider specializing in bulldogging. He even competed in knife and battle-ax competitions in Mexico, becoming an expert in knife fighting. Bullock married his first wife and they had a son who was named Thomas Roy Bullock, (II).
Bullock was one not to stick to anyone thing too long and during World War Two saw the sea as his next adventure. Bullock entered the United States Merchant Marines serving as a Lt. Commander and commanded oil tankers for the Esso Oil Company in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. He was sunk twice by U-boats. He was sunk once right off Perth Amboy, New Jersey. The tanker broke in two, and Bullock was lucky to be on the half that didn't sink. He was subsequently promoted to full Commander. At the end of the war he was appointed Port Steward of the Port of New York.
While working in New York, Bullock was injured and spent 5-years on crutches. Sometime during his sea service he became divorced and he married his second wife in 1945 and had another son who was named Thomas Roy Bullock (III). Bullock finally settled down a little bit and was the head chef at the Roger Smith Hotel in New York City, which was known as the United Nations hotel.
Bullock’s second wife had committed suicide at 28-years of age, with Bullock being 55-years of age at the time. Because of the suicide of his wife he began drinking heavily and finally passed away in 1963. When Bullock was 58-years old he was in an automobile accident being rear-ended by 4 young men. The police report stated three of the men who hit Bullock were taken to the hospital in critical condition and one had to be resuscitated.
Thomas Roy Bullock, Sr. is buried in the veteran's cemetery at Beverly, New Jersey.
The spirit of true adventure was passed down the family lines where his second son named Thomas Roy Bullock (III), served 20-years total in the National Guard, 3-years overseas, 17-years in the States as a tank commander. The children of Thomas R. Bullock (III), took after the spirit of adventure of their grandfather and a daughter spent 10-years in Air Force Special Services, mostly in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, a son has 16-years in the Coast Guard, another son was a Marine. The half brother of Thomas Roy Bullock (III), the other Thomas Roy Bullock (II), served in the Korean War.
Thomas Roy Bullock (III) states about the adventures of his father, “It all sounds like a work of fiction but I assure you it's the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”
According to Millard Addison Pownall's discharge papers he served as a Corporal, 1st Class Gunner with the 61st Artillery in France. Pownall was a sales Manager for the Cincinnati Cordage and Paper Company before the war and was born in Loveland, Ohio in 1897. He enlisted at Chicago, IL on December 12, 1917, at 20-years of age. Corporal Pownall sailed with the 61st Artillery to France on July 18, 1918, although it is not known what Battery he served in. He was promoted to NCO Grade of Corporal June 1, 1918, and held the qualification of Gunner, 1st Class. Cpl. Pownall returned to the States with the 61st Artillery on February 16, 1919 and went to Camp Upton, NY. The 61st Artillery was demobilized and Cpl. Pownall was discharged from Camp Zachary Taylor, March 6, 1919. Pownall was issued the Bronze Victory Medal with France May 25, 1921 and he passed away on Fedruary 2, 1941.
In April of 1917 when America declared war with Germany, the American Army was ill equipped in both men and material to fight a war on the European Continent. And as such the top brass at the War Department knew the ranks of the undermanned Army would soon be swelling to a million men or more. And they also knew that they would have a shortage of qualified officers to lead the vast amounts of new recruits into this new Army. The Army saw that they would have a steady supply of men who were in college at the time who could be called upon to become officer candidates and be trained rather quickly. Once such man was named Erich Wellington who in the spring of 1917 was then attending Tulane University in New Orleans, LA.
Erich Wellington was born in Houston, Texas on September 23, 1894 to Meta and John A. Wellington. Living in Houston, John Wellington worked as a sales representative for Sharp and Dohme, a drug company from Baltimore, Maryland. John’s sales territory was all of the Southwest States. John’s earnings enabled the family to employ a servant, which was common among middle class families in the South at that time. John and Meta had three sons George Louis, John’s son from a previous marriage, Erich and Winfield.
Sometime between 1900 and 1910 the Wellington family moved from Texas to New Orleans. The Wellington home was located at 1938 Octavia Street, which was a short distance south east from Tulane University. The home still stands today and is located on the south west corner of Octavia Street and Loyola Ave.
Erich Wellington would have spent his high school years in the New Orleans area. After graduating from high school, Erich applied and was accepted to Tulane University in New Orleans to study architectural engineering.
Erich graduated from Tulane early so he could attend Officers Candidate School at Ft. Logan H. Roots in North Little Rock, Arkansas. Erich Wellington was entered into the First Officers Candidate School, that was to begin on May 10, 1917. Just over a month after Erich was in school his father, John A. Wellington, passed away, leaving his mother who was in poor health to care for the family and his younger brother Winfield. So, Erich Wellington asked the Company Commander at Ft. Roots, to allow him to be discharged provided that he could be in the second OTC class, so that he could go home and take care of the urgent family needs. The Company Commander agreed to this and Erich was discharged on July 23, and went home to take care of the family.
Once the needs at home were taken care of Erich Wellington again enrolled in the OTC school, this time at Leon Springs, Texas on August 26, 1917. He graduated and was commissioned a First Lieutenant in the Coast Artillery Reserve Corps on November 27, 1917 at Ft. Winfield Scott, at the Presidio of San Francisco, California.
As America was tooling up for the big fight in France, the Coast Artillery Corps all across America, was forming new units that would go to France and become American’s spearhead that would be thrust into the fight. In February of 1918 at Fort MacArthur, California a new unit known as the 52nd Ammunition Train was forming. The essential duties of this unit would be to handle shell and powder for the American Artillery units that would also be forming at the same time. First Lt. Wellington was then detailed for duty with Company B, 52nd Ammunition Train, and he reported for duty early in February. Once the 52nd was at war time strength they were moved from the West Coast to Camp Merritt, New Jersey in preparation to sailing to France. On May 26, 1918, they were loaded aboard the auxiliary cruiser, which was a passenger liner, the USS Von Stuben then at the docks in Hoboken, NJ. 14 officers and 374 enlisted men, along with other army personnel were boarded. The Von Stuben sailed in convoy with 15 other troopships, they were the USS America, USS Mongolia, USS Mercury, SS Karoa, USS Huron, USS Tenadores, USS Siboney, USS Henry R. Mallory, SS Ulna, USS President Lincoln, SS Talthybius, SS Ajax, SS Burma, SS Arawa, and SS City of Peena. This was to be one of the largest convoys to date that the American’s had sent across in the war.
Once in France the Coast Artillery Corps began to plan out how it would conduct its self and underwent an almost daily transformation. As such 1st Lt. Wellington did not remain with the 52ndnAmmunition Train.
Back in Newport News, Virginia the 61st Artillery Regiment, CAC, was then loaded aboard the SS Wilhelminia on July 18, 1918 and arrived in France on July 30, 1918. It is a known fact the Lt. Wellington was serving with the Headquarters Company of the 61st Artillery at war’s end so it can be assumed that he joined the regiment sometime after July 30 when they arrived in France. The 61st began their training but by the time they were ready for the front lines the war was over. Both the 61st and 62nd Regiments used the 6-inch seacoast guns that were removed from Coast Artillery fixed mounts from the United States and also spares from the U. S. Navy. These guns had special mobile mounts made for them and were quite crude and this made for a gun that was very unhandy to aim and fire.
In mid-January 1919, the 61st Artillery was moved to Marseilles, France on the southern Mediterranean coast in preparation to sailing back home. There they awaited a ship that would take them home. On January 30, the entire regiment was loaded aboard the Italian passenger liner SS Dante Alighieri and steamed out to Gibraltar where the ship waited for coal. Once re-coaled they headed out westbound for America and arrived in Hoboken, New Jersey, with their final destination to Camp Upton where they would be demobilized and the men discharged.
Erich Wellington was Honorably Discharged from the Army on February 28, 1919, and returned Texas to live with his mother, Meta and his youngest brother Winfield. Erich, within a short time after the war, had moved out to Southern California, in late 1919. Erich had taken a job as an Architectural Engineer in Los Angeles, CA. He also took his mother and younger brother with him. By 1923 Erich had returned back to Houston, Texas and there he met Meriel Day Sherwood, who was a local Houston girl, and they fell in love, and were married on December 29, 1923.
In 1930, Erich and Meriel with their son Frederick Sherwood, who was born on September 9, 1927, along with Erich’s mother and brother, were living in Berkeley, California on Euclid Avenue. At the time Erich was still working as an architect, and his brother Winfield was also working for an architectural firm which was likely the same firm Erich was working with. On the 1930 Federal Census form it was noted that both Erich and Winfield had served during the First World War, but family history states that Winfield was not accepted due to his flat feet.
By 1940 the Wellington family was still in the Berkeley area, now living at No. 98 Codornices Road. Erich at the time was working for the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers as a structural Engineer. In the home with Meriel and Frederick was their daughter Jennifer Jane who was born in 1931. Also living with them were Meriel’s mother Marie Sherwood who was a 64-year old widow, and Meriel’s 30-year old brother Byrne who was single and worked as a clerk for an oil drum manufacturer.
In 1934 Erich served as the vice-chairman for a survey taken on behalf of the U. S. Department of Agriculture. This survey was to determine the living conditions on farms in rural California and to determine what employment was held during the winter months.
Throughout his life Erich was an avid sportsman, with a keen love for fishing and hunting. In 1935 Erich was elected as the President of the Berkeley Rod and Gun Club. And in 1936 was elected to serve as chairman of District Council No. 3 of the Associated Sportsmen of California.
Erich would work as a civil engineer for the Corps of Engineers, San Francisco office, until his retirement in 1963. Erich Wellington would pass away on July 18, 1972 in Greenbrae, California.
First Lieutenant Erich Wellington’s Officer Identity Card. It is written that he was a member of Company B, 52nd Ammunition Train, which was later crossed out in blue ink pen and written 61st Art.
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