68th Artillery, CAC

68th Artillery, C.A.C.


The 68th Artillery Regiment, Coast Artillery Corps was under the command of Colonel Joseph L. Knowlton. The officers of the field and Staff under his command were:

Lt. Colonel Henry F. Ayres
Major Clarence T. Marsh
Major Stephen T. Smith, Jr.
Captain George W. Hovey
Captain William W. Savage
Captain Harry C. Meserve
Captain Charles H. Hull
Captain Clarence C. Tracy
Captain James L. Hoyt

Captain James L. Hoyt, who was one of the officers in the above list, after the return of the regiment to the States in 1919 wrote for the "Liasion, the Courier of the Big Gun Corps" which was a monthly magazine published by and for the men of the Coast Artillery Corps, the following history of what the 68th did "Over There" during the war.

History of the 68th Regiment, C.A.C., By Captain James Lindsay Hoyt, C. A.


The 68th was as fine a regiment as any Colonel could care to command. Unfortunately for me, I joined it but a few weeks before it sailed for home. Unfortunately for the Regiment, it arrived on the scene in France too late to get into action. From the acquaintance I gained of the officers and men of the Regiment, their capabilities, experience and general excellence of their performance of duty, I am sure that, given the opportunity the Regiment would have made an enviable record in action, and I only regret that I did not have the pleasure of commanding it on the line.

Colonel. C. A.


The 68th Artillery, C. A. C., was organized in the Coast Defenses of Long Island Sound the first of June 1918. The officers had been designated earlier in the War Department orders, and though not relieved of their commands, set about in earnest in the selection of the men for the Regiment. The spirit, energy, and discipline, which, throughout the Regiment's entire career, brought so much commendation from all sources, started from the beginning. One thing in particular which fostered it more than anything else, was the fact that only those men were taken who expressed a keen desire to go overseas. Each one was asked: "Did you want to go across?" "Yes Sir" was the only reply that put a man on the list. "I don't mind," or "I'd just as soon," were not sufficient. None was wanted who had any doubts whatever.

Organizing the Regiment

Regimental Headquarters were organized at Fort Terry, as also the Medical Detachment, Headquarters Company, Batteries "A," "B," and "C." Batteries "D," "E" and "F" and the Supply Company were at Fort Wright. Lieutenant Colonel Henry Fairfax Ayres was in charge of the units at Ft. Wright. The Regiment was to be equipped with the tractor-drawn 6-inch seacoast gun on wheeled mount, better known as the "Six Inch Terror."

Real work began as soon as the men were established in their new organizations. Before it began, however, all the officers and non-corms were assembled and given a lecture by Lieutenant Colonel Ayres on discipline, dress, personal bearing, salutes, and squad movements. Col. Ayres is a West Pointer, and it was evident that he had lost none of the snap required at the Point.

While the Batteries were hard at work at drills and target practice the Supply Company was also hard at work issuing overseas equipment and bogging for what was needed but apparently wasn't to be had. The men were finally equipped with Class "C" equipment, had both suits tailored to a perfect fit; tags sewed on barracks bags; and all heavy baggage in shape ready to leave at once, when word was received that Class "A" was the last word in European styles. With many a sigh the men parted with their fine wardrobes. So long as they were still booked for abroad they were happy.

When the Regiment had obtained its full quota, the transfer of pro rata shares of Post Exchange and Company funds was made. Due, however, to the efficient manner in which the 56th Artillery, C. A. C., had filled its coffers from the same sources only a few mouths before; little was left for the 68th.

Orders to Move

All were practically "all in" when they returned from a parade, which was held one day in New London, Conn. The day had been a sizzler; about seven or eight men were prostrated. But, tired as they were, spirits went skywards that evening when they were told that they would leave in the morning.

Taps meant nothing that night. Too much had to be done. By morning packs had to be rolled, letters written, quarters policed and all records checked by an officer from the Embarkation Office. The Government harbor boats, "Greene" "Ayres" "Pickering" and "Rowell" took the men to New London, where they were served refreshments by the Red Cross ladies before entraining for they knew not where. Rumors hail it that we were going to Hoboken, Boston, Halifax.

It was a slow, roundabout, tiresome journey to Boston. We detrained on the Cunard docks and after receiving sandwiches, coffee and cigarettes from the Red Cross ladies, and an inspection from the Medicos; we boarded the British ship Leicestershire, a boat of about five thousand tons manned by a Hindu crew. Once aboard all knew that there was to be no return until it was "over, over there."

The men were lead down into the hold. One fellow afterwards wrote: "We thought we were going there to check our baggage and imagine our surprise when we were told that it was to be our home, sleeping quarters, and mess hall combined. Hammocks were slung from the ceiling at night, rolled up and stored away in the daytime. The men made the best of their lot and settled down for the voyage they had so long looked forward to. Most of the men preferred to sleep on deck in clear weather. Newspaper accounts of submarine activities off the New England Coast only a few days before had no effect oilier than to arouse curiosity. A perfect trip had to include subs, storms, icebergs, whales and about everything else.

The Voyage Across

A heavy fog delayed our departure from Boston and we lost our convoy. However, in company with another transport and a few sub chasers, we left, we thought, for France. After sailing north, east, south, and west and with all the combinations thrown in we passed the bright lights of Coney Island and the next evening dropped anchor off Staten Island in New York Harbor. We had our Sunday papers a little ahead of time the next morning and again departed but this time in company with six other ships, destroyers, chasers and a dirigible; Late the next the destroyers and sub-chasers left us alone save for an old gun boat.

We must have maneuvered in every formation known to man, for no sooner were we well on our way in one formation than whistles blew and we were off another way. It was no use trying to use your compass. The morning of the fifth day out we caught up with the rest of our convoy, six transports and a British cruiser, which had sailed from Halifax. Except for a returning convoy, which passed us in the night, no other ships were seen until the escort of British destroyers met us two days before we reached England.

It was on the trip going over that our famous "Yell" or "Battle Cry" originated. Called from their afternoon tea, the officers were assembled in the "lounge" for the purpose of getting up a yell. All had a hand in it and about every college yell was listened to for inspiration. It was agreed by all that the curt and forceful "Gang-wah" so often uttered by the Hindu's, as well as the number of the regiment must be incorporated into it. "GANG-WAH! SIX-EIGHT! HOO-EAH!" was the result. From then on the slack in the chests of our O. D. blouses gradually disappeared. The "Gang-wahs" did it.

As luck would have it, one of the British destroyers that escorted us to England was the "68." Once as she darted across the bow of the Leicestershire the yell, so fitting to the destroyers, was given for her. The commander sent us a message of thanks, the men cheered and cheered.

Welcome in Merry England

The sight of land once more was a pleasing thing to behold after fifteen days at sea. The grass never seemed greener than it did near Folkestone Dover, or along on the Thames as we slowly moved up to the Tillsbury Docks. As we swung into the harbor every craft and factory tied down its whistles and gave us a thundering welcome. Our band was turned out and assisted by several "GANG-WAHS" tried to return the compliment. All the war songs were played and sung and the British seamen surely knew that we wouldn't "go back till it's over, over there."

Hardly had we been admitted into the docks and the hawsers thrown out than what seemed to be a thousand Klaxon horns broke loose, sending wharfingers helter skelter. It was the announcement of an approaching air raid, the last to be attempted in England. Though warned, the men could not get up on deck fast enough to see how they worked. The sky immediately became brilliantly lit up with searchlight beams. Nothing happened and soon the "Recall" signal was sounded - the Huns had been turned back in France.

We debarked the following morning, and were officially welcomed to England by King George in the form of an engraved letter of welcome and God-speed from His Majesty, which was handed to each one as he stepped off the gangplank. Sandwiches and cigarettes were also distributed and then we entrained in the tiny coaches of the British railways for our first "Rest Camp" at Romsey, England. Traveling around London and through a most picturesque country, we reached Romsey at about 4 P.M. and marched through pouring rain for about a mile to the camp. Their extra blankets were hastily issued to the men and they were quartered twenty-three to a tent.

Rest Camp at Romsey. It did nothing but rain the entire time. There was little to do and worst of all, little to eat. We lived, or rather existed, on the British ration: goldfish, bread, jam and tea, and not much of that. Four days of it and then we were off on a ten mile hike to Southampton. We reached a park on the outskirts of Southampton just before noon and rested. The British Red Cross issued coffee and sandwiches to the men.

We Meet an Old Friend

Shortly after lunch the Regimental Staff and half of the Regiment marched to the docks and boarded the old Central Vermont R. R. steamer Narragansett, which had been tied up at the docks in New London for a long time. The 72nd Artillery, C. A. C., of Portland, Maine, embarked on the same ship leaving at about five P. M. We arrived at Le Havre, France, without mishap about four the following morning. As we were debarking the rest of Regiment, which had left at midnight, pulled alongside of the Narragansett and debarked with us. The accommodations crossing the channel were the worst of all. The men had nothing better than standing room and precious little of that.

In France, At Last

On the dock at Le Havre we saw for the first time German war prisoners. They were at work unloading lighters and we all marveled at the laxity of the holders who were guarding them. Little we knew that they had no desire to escape, or even to attempt it. The next thing attract our attention was a long American Red Cross train that was just pulling in near by. It was loaded with wounded; bandaged arms, hands and heads were sticking out of all the windows. The sight of it brought the horrors of war closer to us. Just then a rumor went the rounds that they were all heavy artillerymen. That was pleasant.

From the anchorage in the harbor we had all admired the wonderful hill in back of the city. Little we dreamed that we would have to climb up it, but climb it we did. After passing through the old city we started our hike up the hill. It seemed a hundred miles long. We made a halt a short distance from the center of the city and were received by a delegation from that part of the city. The spokesman of the delegation made an address of welcome to Colonel Knowlton, after which he handed him an embossed copy of it together with a beautiful bunch of roses tied with the tricolor ribbon. The band then played "La Marseillaise" to the great pleasure of the people, and then the "Star Spangled Banner." Just then, with fifers and drummers at their head, in martial array came about fifty schoolboys, dressed in black and carrying the colors of the allied countries. It was impressive and displayed the martial spirit of the French.

Rest Camp No. 1 was finally readied and the men assigned to their tents-also trenches. Yes, real trenches, in which to dodge the aerial bombs that the Fritzes dropped on the camp occasionally. An air raid had been made on the camp only a week before and an officer, who had not taken shelter, was seriously wounded. We were there but a day and a half and no one was sorry. It gave us all a chance to get a bath and do a little laundering, which we were unable to do at Romsey.

Their First Trip in Side Door Pullmans

We left the camp at about 11 P. M., August 30, 1918, and marched silently down the long hill and through the back streets, illuminated only here and there by small blue lights that hardly gave any light at all. We reached the train sheds at about one o'clock, A. M., and then the fun began. The men were introduced for the first time to those unforgettable side door Pullmans that, bore the inscription "40 Homes, 8 Chevaux." It was amusing to hear them bleat; moo, neigh and grunt, as forty were crowded into the small boxcars. There was so little room that only half could lie down at once. They had to take turns at it. As usual, they took it all in good nature and thought it a great joke.

The train pulled out about 2:30 A. M., and then we all got our first real impression of French railway systems. Some thought that all the wheels were square, others marveled at the "woow-woow" whistle instead of our ear spitting one. The meals consisted of "bully-beef" gold fish, hard tack, bread and jam, which the men carried on the train, and coffee, which was served at the railway stations by the French Red Cross. On Sunday afternoon, September 1, 1918, at about 4:00 P. M., we arrived at Libourne, O & T Center No. 1. There the regiment was split up and billeted in different towns: the 1st Battalion going to St. Denis de Piles, the 2nd Battalion to St. Pardon, the 3rd Battalion to Arvayres, and Regimental Headquarters, the Headquarters Company and Supply Company to Vayres.


The billets consisted of old vacant stores, houses, barns and sheds also cafes that had gone dry. After assignment to billets the men were ordered to police up and make the best of it. The cooks and K. P.'s got busy and before long coffee, bully beef and hard tack was served. The men lived on hard tack, bully beef, beans and coffee for about a week, until the commissary got in working order and got out the regular rations. Several of the men, who had either saved or won a little money, patronized the local cafes and made their first acquaintance with "omlettes," "pommes de terre frites," also the old standbys, "vin blanc" and "vin rouge." They proved to be real favorites of the men until they saw the peasants making it in the real old French way: tramping on the grapes with their bare feet. Then a decided wave of prohibition spread over the camp.

At Vayres the Regimental Headquarters was established in a small chateau and liaison made with the battalions by telephone. The Regimental Staff, befitting its dignity, lived in something approaching regal pomp and luxury in the ancient Chateau de Vayres, famed for having offered hospice to Louis III in days gone by, and still showing the scars made by British cannon balls on its massive walls. It dated from the 12th Century, and looked it.

More Training

About a week after we arrived all the officers were examined in the use of logarithms. Beginning September 16th all officers were obliged to attend a heavy artillery course which was conducted in each battalion by an American and a French officer. The course continued until November 4th. It made us all work and took us from our commands from eight in the morning until five in the afternoon. It was a good course and made us realize how ill equipped we really were for the method of artillery warfare that was then being conducted. Real field problems were worked out in detail.

No sooner had the Regiment become settled than details of officers and men were sent away to specialists schools such as, Anti-aircraft, Machine Gun, Gas, Mechanics, Master Gunners, Orientation, Radio, Aerial Observation and Engineer. This took men away from their units for from two to eight weeks and greatly interfered with the manning tables of the batteries.

The Six-inch Terrors Turn Up

Until the guns arrived the men had only calisthenics, the manual of arms, infantry drill, and hikes. It was seen to that no loafing was allowed and the men were kept fit. Then came our guns, slowly moving along the road from Libourne trailing behind snorting tractors, six-inch seacoast guns mounted on massive carriages. They looked far more formidable on their new carriages than they did at the forts. The men were put to digging emplacements, maneuvering the guns in and out of the pits, and then gun drill, including traversing, which required that the trail be moved. Gas drills, gun drills and hikes wearing the mask, were also upon the daily schedule.

Bathing seemed to be one of the hardest necessities to provide for and many were the difficulties to overcome. All sorts of contrivances were invented, including standing under a pail of water to jumping into a fountain after dark. The 2nd Battalion had the best. It joined hands with an Engineer unit that was building a dock at St. Pardon, and built a bathhouse and fitted it with perforated tin cans. After the Armistice the place was torn down and the men had to march to St. Sulpice four miles away.

News of the Armistice

Excitement ran high throughout the Regiment when the first inklings of the possibility of an armistice were received. All papers, French and English: La Petite Gironde, N. Y. Herald, Chicago Tribune and The Stars and Stripes, were carefully read for more "dope." Betting started. The lid blew off on the afternoon of November 11th when word was received that an armistice had actually been signed. The 12th was given over to a fitting celebration of the occasion. A parade was held in each Battalion, which was reviewed the French Mayor, Lieutenant Colonel Wright and staff and the entire French population.

From then on the day's schedule consisted of calisthenics, infantry drills, hikes and athletics, merely enough to keep the men in good physical condition. The guns and gas masks and steel helmets were turned in to the "Center." The last we saw of our guns was when they were enroute from Libourne to St. Sulpice to be parked and await shipment home. We had been ready to go to the range at Camp de Souge for target practice, and orders had been received for us to move to the Front on December 12th, but, as the men remarked, we were "S. O. L."

Preparations to Go On the "First Available"

About November 24, a new commotion arose in Camp, greater than that caused by the signing of the Armistice-orders had just been received to prepare for return home on the "First Available" transport. Of course everyone thought that that would be the first one in port and how they did "snap out of it" and work getting rid of surplus equipment and cleaning up. It was a race to see which battalion would report ready first, and another race to see which regiment would be first. Those mentioned in the orders were: 61st, 62nd, 68th, 69th, 45th, and 46th, all C. A. C. I think the 68th was second. Stoves, bed sacks, surplus kit bags, surplus rations, and in fact all but the barest necessities were turned in. Then we all waited for the word to move, but it didn't come. Soon the stoves were brought back, bed sacks re-filled, and all settled down once more for an indefinite sojourn in rainy, muddy France. It was then raining all the time and at all times of the day. It would rain without any provocation whatever, and out of a clear sky. Everyone who was fortunate enough to secure a pass to Bordeaux came back with the word that there were six or seven big boats at Bassens. The chaplain generally gave out the information.

Because of the rush order, Thanksgiving was observed ahead of time by most units, chiefly in order not to miss the occasion of a "big feed." The neighboring country was scoured for "dindon" as the French called our National Bird and a large number were secured. The following menu of the Headquarters Company may be taken as a fair sample of what the men had to eat:

Roast turkey, dressing, gravy,
Mashed potatoes, green peas,
Celery, bread, butter, jam,
Pumpkin pie,

The Band Keeps Things Jazzed Up

The constant rain almost put an end to drills as well as athletics and time began to weigh heavy on the men. No mail was received bearing a date later than December first. That hurt too. Right at that period the Band did its best work in putting new spirit into the men. According to schedule, when transportation was available, the Band went to each battalion one day in a week, played for a parade and retreat, when possible, and after supper played a concert and always played to overflowing houses. Under the able direction of its leader it had won two first prizes at Libourne in competition with all the bands in the training center.

In its sanitation and health the 68th has an enviable record. Inspections in France by Generals Callan and Kilbourne brought high commendation from those officers. At the Bordeaux Embarkation Camps the 68th stood at the head of the list each day. At Fort Wadsworth a letter was received from the C. O., Camp Mills, commending the regiment on its sanitation and police; In spite of the ravages of the "flu" among the French with whom we lived, thanks to the preventative measures taken by the unit commanders and the fine work of the Medicos, but five men died in the entire Regiment. One of these was a casual who had been in the water four hours after his boat had been sunk in a collision in Irish Sea, and who came to the Regiment in bad health. Dr. Hillyer often worked overtime keeping the men's teeth in good condition. He did such good work that he was retained at Bordeaux after we returned.

Changes in the Regiment

After its organization the 68th had quite a few changes of officers. In the latter part of September 1918, Lt. Colonel Ayres was transferred to an ammunition train; Major C. T. Marsh was promoted to Lt. Colonel and left the Regiment. Captain C. E. Jones became a Major; Captain Lohman also became a Major. In the latter part of October, Colonel Knowlton, who had been commanding the 36th Brigade, C. A. C., was sent to tin Heavy Artillery School at Angers, Lt. Colonel A. G. Wright was transferred from the 36th Brigade, C. A. C., to the 68th Artillery, C. A. C., and assumed command. On December 25, Chaplain Meserve sailed for home, having secured orders to that effect. Lieutenant Cody was temporarily assigned to us in his place. Early in December Colonel Knowlton returned from school but remained at Brigade Headquarters until his return home in January 1919. Lieutenants William C. Fergusson and John W. Loveland (since deceased) were promoted and assigned to the Railway Artillery Reserve.

On January 8, 1919, Colonel T. C. Barnes, C. A., was transferred to the regiment and took command.

The delay of the embarkation officials at Bordeaux became so exasperating that one day Colonel Barnes went to Bordeaux to see what was the trouble. He had been told that we would leave "next day sure" for over two weeks. When he asked the official in charge what was holding us up that official replied: "You should be in no hurry, you are comfortably settled." Colonel Barnes replied: "Men have no beds, no stoves, not enough blankets, are living from hand to mouth and getting sick because of it." The official reported to General Walsh and then returned and said: "Come down tomorrow." We moved on the morrow, January 23, 1919, Colonel Barnes tried hard to take Lieutenant
Cody with us but was unable to de so. Lieutenant Cody had seen service in the trenches as a sergeant for seven months and five more as a commissioned officer. We all wanted to adopt him.

Embarked For Home

Little need be told of the one day spent in the bitter cold at Embarkation Camp No. 1, or the nine at No. 2, of the delousing, the constant fatigue details that kept all busy and the tiresome waiting of the news of the sailing of the "First Available." At the Salvation Army tent one could procure such unheard and undreamed of delicacies as Nabisco's, Fig Newton's, Hershey's and Peter's Nut Bars, Life Savers, and the like. It made us feel a lot nearer home, anyway.

On February 3, 1919, thanks again to the persistency of Colonel Barnes, we left Gennecourt for Bassens docks and the "First Available," the S. S. Matsonia, It was a happy day for the men to be actually on board ship. No tears were shed, although we had had a fairly comfortable time of it for the past five months, when one thinks of what the boys at the Front went through.

The voyage home was just as rough as the one going over had been smooth. At one time an eighty-five mile gale was weathered for three days. The majority of those on board were sick, and some so sick that they would rather have had the boat sink than prolong the agony. The men were fed two meals a day. Some claimed that they had four, two down and two up. In one of the mess formations, which ran up to seven per meal, arose another 68th remark: "You can't stand there." Someone was blocking the passage when Lieutenant Cooper gave the order. Most of the men sang Major Smith's praises for getting fed at all.

Debarked, Deloused, Delighted

Great indeed was the rejoicing when on the morning of the fifteenth, of February 1919, we emerged from a heavy fog and passed Lightship No. 2, for which we had been heading, only fifty miles from New York. We had been startled with rumors of shortage of oil (the Matsonia was an oil burner) and of the necessity of making for Halifax or drifting to Bermuda. Soon we passed Coney Island, up the Narrows, past Fort Wadsworth, the Statue of Liberty, and dropped anchor off Fiftieth Street at about 5:00 P.M. The next morning we docked at Hoboken, after the Leviathan had pulled out, and ferried to Long Island City and then to Camp Mills.

The men unanimously agreed that the only Rest Camp that considered their comfort was Camp Mills. To find a hot meal awaiting their arrival at the end of a long journey was too good to be true. The Cooks and Bakers School ran the mess and the meals furnished were fit for a king. The barracks were provided with regulation army spring cots, and there were also plenty of shower baths and hot water. The men got a real delousing there. At least their shrunken clothes looked it. Leaves required only the asking and almost every man saw New York more than once. None went A. W. O. L.


On February 21, 1919, the Regiment left Camp Mills for Fort Wadsworth, to be demobilized. On the 25th the Illinois detachment left for Camp Grant and it looked as if the entire Regiment was going there. They boarded a Government boat and with several "Gang-Wahs" and cheers they steamed for Jersey City. The others drifted away gradually until all were gone.

On the evening of the first of March 1919, the officers of Fort Wadsworth tendered a dance to the officers of the 68th. It was a fitting farewell to the Regiment that ceased to exist that evening at midnight.

Muster of the 68th Artillery

If you have family members who were in the 68th Artillery please e-mail me at: Joe Hartwell

Pvt. Harold F. Quinn, HQ Co.

HQ Co. 68th Artillery, C.A.C. Overseas 9 August 1918-16 February 1919. Discharged 27 February 1919 at Camp Wadsworth, NY. Born? Died 26 March 1925, Sayre, PA. Buried Waverly Twsp. Tioga County, New York.

Pvt. Ernest Bosque, Service No. 596874, HQ Co.

Ernest Bosque was a Private serving in the Headquarters Company of the 68th Artillery, CAC during WWI. Bosque was born in 1885 in California and enlisted into the Army on April 18, 1918. He served with the 68th Artillery during WWI and was honorably discharged on March 5, 1919. Bosque passed away during 1925, and is burried in the Phillips Cemetery in Streator, IL. His bronze grave marker was installed on his grave in December of 1931.

Pvt. Thomas W. Smith, HQ Co.

Colonel Bob Lilly, USAF (ret) contacted me about his Father-in-Law Pvt. Thomas W. Smith who was in the Headquarters Company of the 68th Artillery 1918-1919. Col. Lilly has in my possession a small red pocketbook which is a brief history of the Headquarters Company of the 68th Artillery, AEF France, 1918-1919. Col. Lilly states that in addition to the history of the period from the organization of the Headquarters Company to its sailing on the Leicestershire, arrival in England, then on the Narragansett across the Channel to France, train trip to the Bordeaux region and the end of the war, it has a full roster of the company and the Band.

Above photo shows Pvt. Thomas W. Smith, HQ CO. in the center. The caption reads "Overseas Sammies" Representing Streator, IL Pvt. Langan who was a barber; Pvt. Smith from West Winfield, NY who was a MP; Pvt. Fitzgerald from Minonk, IL who was an Orderly. The letter on the right was given to each soldier while they were staying in England before going to France. This letter was from King George thanking the soldiers and wishing the soldiers of the United States God Speed on their coming mission.

It reads: "Soldiers of the United States, the people of the British Isles welcome you on your way to take your stand beside the armies of many nations now fighting in the Old World the great battle for human freedom. The allies will gain new heart and spirit in your company. I wish that I could shake the hand of each one of you & bid you God speed on your mission." Dated April 1918 from Windsor Castle and signed George R.I

Cpl. Casimir A. Truszkowski, Battery A

Tim Trusk (Lt Col, USAF, Retired) shared this information about his grandfather who was a Corporal in Battery A, 68th Artillery. Tim relates about his grandfather; My grandfather’s name was Casimir A. Truszkowski, Corporal, USA, Battery A. 68th Artillery, C.A.C. He was a Polish immigrant who arrived in the United States with parents around the age of 2 and was raised in Depue, Illinois. He was drafted in 1917 at age 22, the oldest of 9 kids.

While with Battery A, he had the job of assistant camouflage tech. When I knew him 50 years later, I would quiz him about the war like any curious 9-year old. He loved to talk about his experiences, and would joke that it was one of the best memories he had as a young man. Since Battery A did not see combat, they spent the days training, drilling, site seeing, and swimming in the ocean!

Upon his return, he married and moved to Chicago where he used his Army training and personal talents to become a commercial artist. One thing the Army taught him was that he was very proud to be an American and he did all he could to rid himself of his accent (which he was teased about) and changed his name to Charles A. Trusk (more American!) He even went so far as to write the Secretary of the Army just prior to WWII (1941) to have his records changed to reflect his “new” name. This was denied. (Unfortunately, this is all my 9-year old brain remembered!)

Cpl. Truszkowski, Battery A , 68th Artillery, CAC
Photo of a group of men from Battery A that was in Cpl. Truszkowski items. Cpl. Truszkowski is standing back row 4th man from the left side. Three doughboys shouldering arms in front of Head Quarters Company barracks, likely to be at Ft. H.G. Wright, NY.
Photo of a group of men from Battery A. Cpl. Truszkowski is standing back row first on the right side. Photo of a group of men in front of thier barracks from Battery A that was in Cpl. Truszkowski items

Pvt. Frank H. Parmelee, Battery A

From Essex, Connecticut. He was born about 1887. He enlisted in Connecticut National Guard at New London, Conn. on May 19, 1917 and was in 1st Co. Conn. Coast Artillery National Guard, which was the 32d Co. Long Island Sound stationed at Ft. Terry NY. Was in Battery A, 68th Artillery C.A.C. until Discharge. Overseas 9 August 1918-16 February 1919. Discharged 27 February, 1919 at Camp Wadsworth, NY

Private Edward Coyne, Battery A

Pvt. Edward Coyne was the author of the following Marching Songs from Battery A. These were written by Private Edward Coyne, Battery A, 68th Artillery, C.A.C., on 22 July 1918.

To the Tune of "Long Boy"

A bunch of farmer and miner Boys,
From away out west in Illinois.
We all left our happy homes,
To go "Over There" with Captain Jones.
Some of us are fat, and som are lean,
But everyone You'll find true blue,
This is the word we leave with you.

Good bye Old Lonesome Isle,
We're going to leave you with a smile.
We all want to get away,
That's why we're going with Battery "A".
And Oh! You Home Guard's don't you fear,
We'll do the fighting you stay here,
When we come back,
You all will say,
I wish I went with Battery "A".

To The Tune of "Dixie Volunteers"

Hip-Hip-Hip_Hooray, We are going away,
We are leaving old Fort Terry,
And our hearts are light and cheery.
We are glad to go, and we want the Huns to know.
We're coming...We're coming.
And you bet we won't be slow.
Some of us ain't worth a cuss,
But we will do our share.
We will show them how to fight,
When we get "Over There".
When the smoke has cleared away,
Then all the folks will say,
Now let's all give three cheers,
For the boys from Battery "A".

Cpl. William E. Parmelee, Battery B

From New London, Connecticut. Was in the 32d Co. Long Island Sound stationed at Ft. Terry NY to 1 June 1918. Assigned to Battery B, 68th Artillery CAC to discharge. Wagoner to 1 June 1918 made Corporal 1 November 1918. Overseas 9 August 1918-16 February 1919. Discharged 27 February, 1919 at Camp Wadsworth, NY

This is Battery B of the 68th C.A.C., likely taken in France.

Pvt. Richard Wheeler, Battery C

Daryl Wheeler contacted me about his father, Richard Wheeler who was a private in Battery C, 68th Artillery. Daryl related about his father; "He passed away in 1981, but my wife and I were going through some old papers and things and found what unit he was in so started searching on line and found your page. I was reading his notes on the trip to France and reading your account and the route and dates matched exactly. Thanks for such an interesting page. I really appreciate being able to find the information."

Sgt. Fremont Daniels, Battery D

Fremont Daniels was a Sergeant with Battery D of the 68th Artillery, C.A.C. during WWI. Fremont was born on December 16, 1894 in New London, CT to Charles F. and Eda A. Daniels.

Fremont’s father Charles was born in November of 1857 in Connecticut and was a carpenter by trade. His mother Eda was born in Sweden in July of 1867 and had come to America about 1879 and was naturalized in 1889.

At the turn of the century the Daniels family lived in New London, CT in the home of Fremont’s grandparents, William (b March 1829) and Mary (b Feb. 1836) Daniels. The family then consisted of grandparents William and Mary, their son and daughter-in-law Charles F. and Eda Daniels, with their three children, Ruth, Fremont and Harris L.

As America began to feel that they would be pulled into the war in Europe the State of Connecticut felt it should take prudent steps in gathering information on the young men of that state should they be called upon to raise men for a draft. So on February 7, 1917 Governor Marcus H. Holcomb directed that a questioner be obtained on it young male population.

Fremont Daniels twice filled out one of the questioners, once on February 15 and again on March 29. In the document he states that he was living at 244 Vauxhall Street in New London and was working as a carpenter, a trade he took up from his father. Fremont was 22-years old at the time and was 6-feet tall and weighed 169 pounds.

On the form it asked if he had ever served in the military before. His answer was yes. He had served 3-years in the Connecticut National Guard. He had served as a Corporal in the Coast Artillery. Also on the form it asked if he could do any of the following and he answered as follows: Can you ride a horse: Yes, Handle a team: yes, drive an automobile: no, ride a motorcycle: no, understand telegraphy: no, operate a wireless: no, any experience with a steam engine: no, any experience with electrical machinery: no, can you handle a boat: no, any experience in simple coastwise navigation: no, any experience with high speed marine gasoline engines: no, are you a good swimmer: fair.

So by the questions on the form the State of Connecticut was looking for men who had served in the military and could perform certain jobs related to military duties. Fremont was one of the young men they were looking for.

By June of 1917 America was at war and a Federal Draft was called for. On June 5, 1917 in the first call Fremont Daniels registered in New London. He was at the time working for H. R. Douglass as a carpenter. Drafted into the Army and due to his prior service in the Coast Artillery Corps he was again sent to the Coast Artillery branch. At Fort H. G. Wright on Fishers Island, NY the 68th Artillery was forming for overseas duty. Fremont was a Sergeant with Battery D and sailed to France in August 1918 with the 68th. He remained throughout the duration of the war with the 68th and returned to America in February of 1919.

After discharged from the army Fremont went back to New London to the house at 244 Vauxhall Street. There in the house was his mother Eda who was now widowed and his sister Ruth. Fremont was the sole supported of the family and was again working as a carpenter. Also in the house were two boarders Harry and Beatrice Griffin. Harry worked as a clerk in the shipyard. The house on Vauxhall was a two story house with several rooms on a bit of a hill. The front porch was over a walk out lower level and there were two rises of concrete steps to get up to the house. So it seemed there was ample room for the 5 persons living in the house.

12 years had passed since Fremont was discharged from the army and he was still single, and still lived in the same house on Vauxhall St. His mother Eda and sister Ruth were still living with him in the house. But now Eda’s brother-in-law George L Daniels lived with them. George was 63 and single and was working as a clerk for a local New London company. Fremont was still working as a carpenter and his sister Ruth who was also single worked as a winder in a silk mill in New London.

By 1940 Eda, Ruth and Fremont were still living in the house on Vauxhall Street. Eda was now 73-years old and Ruth and Fremont were both still single. Sometime between 1940 and 1942 Fremont had been married. His wife’s first name was Edith and they lived in the house on Vauxhall Street.

Fremont would live the rest of his life in the house on Vauxhall Street until he would pass away on May 28, 1949 at the age of 54 years.

Ernest Hart, Battery D

From Bridgeport, Connecticut. Volunteered for the army during World War I and was stationed at Fort H. G. Wright in New York in 1917. He served in France with Battery D, 68th Artillery. Overseas 9 August 1918-16 February 1919. Discharged 27 February, 1919 at Camp Wadsworth, NY.

PFC Joseph Moews, Battery D

Pvt. Moews spoke fluent German, being 2nd generation US German, he did some duty with POW's. This was told to me by his grandson who has a picture of Battery D. However, it is 43 inches by 9 inches. He has found no one who can guarantee that they can scan it and reduce it with out damage. Submitted by Joe Moews, SSgt USAF (ret), Grandson of Joseph Moews, Battery D, 68th CAC.

Pvt. Frank Roosevelt Shaffer, Battery F

Tom Shaffer shared this story about his father, Frank R. Shaffer who was in Battery F, 68th Artillery.

Frank Roosevelt Shaffer was born 13 January 1902 in Valier PA, a tiny coal-mining town. Frank's wife proceeded him in death and he died on 4 October 1988 at the age of 86 years in Youngstown, Ohio. Frank's father was superintend of schools for that area and a very mean man who wouldn’t give Frank 5 cents a day to ride the train to high school in Punxsutawney so he kept him back after 8th grade to avoid the expense. Frank and a friend of his stole a horse and wagon and drove all night to a town about 25 miles away where they were not known and joined the Army in May of 1918. Frank was sixteen and lied about his age to get away from home. He was very proud of his service in 1918 and talked about it all his life and it was the only thing he wanted mentioned at his funeral in 1988, when he died at age 86 in Youngstown Ohio where he had worked most of his life in the steel mills. It was clearly the adventure of his life. I remember there was a picture of him and Battery F, 68th Artillery in his house all his life. It was a huge narrow thing about 3 or 4 feet long.

My father and I didn’t get along well as a child since he drank heavily. Later in his life I talked with him about the war and he always mentioned the huge waves they experienced on the boats. He told my nephew about his adventures while on leave in France but he never told me. I do know he drank heavily of the local wines in the Bordeaux region while he was there. He must not have had too bad a time because in 1922 when he needed work he took a 1-year enlistment in the Army. I believe that this was in Kittery Maine.

I have traveled to many of the WWI sites on many trips to Europe and have a small collection of WWI memorabilia. I now intend to go to Libourne, France since I never knew where in France he was until I found your website. Thank you so much for all you have done. You will never know what it has meant to me to gain this information.

Best Wishes, Tom Shaffer, son of Pvt. Frank Shaffer

Above is an embroidered pillowcase, which reads: "U.S. Army Greetings from Camp Knox KY" and it has the cross cannons of the Coast Artillery Corps with 68 over a D for 68th Artillery, Battery D

Captain Ernest Bowker Wood, Battery Commander, Battery F

Captain Ernest Bowker Wood, Battery Commander, Battery FThe Battery commander of Battery F, 68th Artillery, CAC was Captain Ernest Bowker Wood. Like many of the new officers who were during the First World War, coming into the Army from the civilian ranks, was a college educated man with engineering or leadership qualities. Because the United States Army during 1917-1918, was rapidly expanding because of the war, its officer corps also needed to expand. And as such the need for qualified officers who would lead this rapidly growing force of men was in desperate need. Men who were then in college were sought after as a ready source of officer candidates and Ernest Bowker Wood was just who the Army was looking for and this is his story.

Ernest Bowker Wood was the second son born to Millicent Bowker (b. July 1852) and Arthur W. Wood (b. Sept. 1856) and was born on a farm in Bradford County near Herrick, Pennsylvania on October 17, 1888. His father Arthur was a farmer and the first son born was named Willie A. born in July of 1887. By the summer of 1900 the Arthur Wood family consisted of Arthur, his wife Millicent and two sons Willie and Ernest, and Millicent’s mother also named Millicent who was born in December of 1816 in Connecticut.

Ernest Bowker took his middle was his mother’s maiden name. It seems that the Bowker family may have been of some prominence in Herrick, Pennsylvania area as according to the 1910 Federal Census the Arthur Wood family was living on a farm located on Bowker road just outside of Herrick. Arthur Wood was a successful farmer and in 1910 employed one female servant in the home. Her name was Bertha A. Baker who was just 16-years old and was likely a local Bradford County girl. Both boys, Willie and Ernest who were 23 and 21-years old were still living at home on the farm at the time. Willie worked the farm with his father Arthur and Ernest was then a school teacher in the Bradford County schools.

By 1917 Ernest Wood had left the farm and his family and was teaching school in Ithaca, New York for the Cascadilla School. This was a boys’ tutoring and college preparatory school founded in 1876 for Cornell University. At the time many Universities typically required students to be proficient in Latin and Greek. However, students from rural areas often did not have access to instruction in these subjects. Some early members of the Cornell faculty became concerned about the quality of education available to such students and founded the Cascadilla School in Ithaca to address this inequity. However, students also pursued athletic activities such as football and crew and created yearbooks to record their activities.

While teaching at the Cascadilla School Ernest Wood was single and living in Johnson City, New York. This was about 50-miles south and east of where the Cascadilla School in Ithaca was located. In the early Spring of 1917 America had entered the war in Europe that had been raging for three long years. And about this same time Ernest Wood had asked for and was granted a leave of absence from his position at the Cascadilla School to join the Reserve Officers Training Corps. It is not known if Ernest joined on his own will or if recruiters came to the school looking for men who would be suitable officer candidates. It is known that by the time America enlisted the first call-up for the Federal Draft in June of 1917 Ernest Wood was already serving at the Madison Barracks in the 3rd Provisional Regiment R. O. T. C. And in fact, he had reported there on May 13, 1917.

When the First Call up was instituted on June 5, 1917 Ernest Wood registered in Binghamton, New York which was the closest draft board to his residence in Johnson City, NY. On the draft form he noted that he was already serving at Madison Barracks in Scackets Harbor, NY in the R. O. T. C. Madison Barracks was built after the war of 1812 and housed about 600-men.

Wood would have graduated from Madison Barracks in the summer of 1917 and was entered into the United States Army at Fort Monroe, Virginia at the rank of Captain on August 15, 1917. He was assigned to the Coast Artillery Corps and stationed at Fort H. G. Wright in New York.

During late 1916 and early 1917 Ernest Wood began a courtship with Sarah Frances Cook. She and Ernest were married at the Wyalusing First Presbyterian Church in Wyalusing, Pennsylvania on May 11, 1918. Sarah and Ernest made their home in Wyalusing which was only about 55-miles west of where Ernest was born.

The Coast Artillery Corps during 1917 and early 1918 were busy forming new artillery regiments for duty in France and as such, the war department in June of 1918, ordered the formation of the 68th Artillery Regiment from the Coast Defenses of Long Island Sound, NY. Lieutenant Colonel Henry Fairfax Ayres was charged with the formation of this new regiment under his temporary command. Colonel Joseph L. Knowlton would soon arrive and take command of the Regiment. The men for Battery F would come from men serving at Fort H. G. Wright and Captain Ernest B. Wood was selected to become the Battery Commander of Battery F.

The officers of Battery F under the command of Captain Wood were; 1st Lt. Wilbur S. Vaughan, 1st Lt. John W. Loveland, 2nd Lt. John F. Seal, 2nd Lt. Dudley R. Burnes. By late summer 1918 the 68th was ordered to sail to France and on August 9, 1918 the entire regiment was on the docks in Boston, Massachusetts boarding the SS Leicestershire. On the passenger manifest with the listings of names for Battery F at the bottom of each page the Battery Commander was to sign and Captain Ernest B. Wood’s signature appears on the bottom of each page of the manifest for Battery F.

On Sunday afternoon, September 1, 1918, at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon the regiment arrived at Libourne, France, which was known as Operations and Training Center No. 1 to the men. There the regiment was split up and billeted into different towns: the 1st Battalion going to St. Denis de Piles, the 2nd Battalion to St. Pardon, the 3rd Battalion to Arvayres, and Regimental Headquarters, the Headquarters Company and Supply Company to Vayres.

Captain Wood set up operations of Battery F in the town of Arvayres. The officers started courses in artillery training and the enlisted men also attended specialty schools until the guns arrived. They were 6-inch guns that had been removed from seacoast forts and had mobile mounts constructed and put under them so they could be hauled to where they needed to go. These guns were ok in as much as they were accurate, but because of the hasty engineering job in order to make them mobile they were a bit un-friendly to set up, aim, fire and bring back into firing position again. But just as they began to get the hang of the operation of the guns the war quit right out from underneath the 68th Artillery. Now they would not have the chance to show what they could have inflicted onto the Germans.

The 68th was put on first available status for ship space to be returned back to the States. That opportunity came and on February 3, 1919 at Bordeaux, France along the Gironde River the entire 68th Artillery consisting of 36 officers and 1,786 enlisted men along with the 151st Field Artillery Brigade Headquarters and several casual units, all totaled there were 72 officers and 3,268 that boarded the SS Matsonia that day.

The Matsonia was built in 1913 and 501-feet in length and 16,800-tons, built for the Matson Navigation Company as an ocean liner. On the passenger manifest for the February 3, 1919 sailing the commanding officer of the army troops aboard for that trip was Brigadier General Richmond P. Davis of the 151st Field Artillery Brigade. He made a note on the manifest of the conditions aboard the ship for the trip across the Atlantic. This was his comment upon arrival in the States:

“Quality and quantity of food: excellent. Facilities for serving food: inadequate for 3,200-men. Accommodations for troops: excellent. Sanitary conditions: excellent, except that bathing facilities are inadequate for 3,200 men. Damage to ship’s property: none. Deaths: none. Other information: Capacity should be limited to 2,500 men unless messing and bathing facilities are increased.” Signed, Brigadier General Richmond P. Davis.

So, from the comments of the General, the living conditions aboard the Matsonia must have been a bit on the congested side. Next to where General Davis wrote his comments was a section where the commanding officer of the ship could write his comments about the voyage. The following words were typed: “Nothing to report.” Signed W. Rind, Lt. Commander USN. It seems that there may have been a bit of differences between how the Army and the Navy saw things aboard the ship.

The Matsonia arrived in Hoboken, New Jersey on February 16 and unloaded her passengers. The 68th Artillery went to Camp Mills, New York and then to Fort Wadsworth, New York where the 68th was demobilized from Active Service. Captain Wood once all demobilization had taken place was Honorably Discharged on March 4, 1919.

Captain Ernest Wood then returned back to his wife and returned to school teaching. Ernest’s wife Sarah had conceived in the same month that Ernest had left for the war in France. It was not known if when Ernest sailed that he knew she was pregnant or if she found out after he had sailed and had to let him know in a letter while he was in France. But within a month of returning home about April of 1919, Sarah gave birth to the couple’s first child, a daughter they named Mary.

By January of 1920 Ernest, Sarah and little Mary were living in Brooklyn, New York in an apartment building on Classon Avenue. There were about 11 families living in this building at the time. Ernest was then working as an instructor at a school, likely in or near Brooklyn.

Sometime after, the family had moved from Brooklyn to Chatham, New Jersey, because Ernest had taken a job working for Bell Telephone. During 1922 Ernest and Sarah added to the family when a son named Darrin was born. This was followed in 1925 when another son named Philip Warren was born, also in New Jersey.

At least by the spring of 1930 Ernest had purchased a home at 102 Fairmont Avenue in Chatham, New Jersey and there the family lived along with Ernest’s father and mother. The family in the spring of 1940 consisting of Ernest and Sarah and their three children along with his parents who were still living and then in their middle eighties, were all still at the home on Fairmont Avenue in Chatham. Ernest was still working for Bell Telephone.

On April 26, 1942 Ernest Wood again had to register for the Draft during another war. At the Draft Board in Madison, New Jersey Ernest Bowker Wood registered as he was required to do. He listed his employer as Bell Telephone Laboratories, Inc. 463 West St., New York, NY. Wood was 5-feet, 10-inches tall weighed 165-pounds and had brown eyes and gray hair. Under the section of other physical characteristics, it was stated that his left index finger was short. He was 53-years old at the time and did not serve in the military during the Second World War.

Sarah on November 16, 1944 passed away of unknown causes. Ernest and Sarah had cemetery plots in the Merryall Cemetery in Wyalusing, Pennsylvania and she was buried in Section C, Plot 122. Ernest would eventually re-marry after Sarah’s death. His second wife’s name was Cordelia Strong who was born in New York on August 5, 1898.

Ernest would work the rest of his working days for Bell Telephone. In his retirement years Ernest and Cordelia moved from New Jersey to Tangerine in Orange County, Florida. There in Florida Ernest and Cordelia would live out their lives. In Dade County, Florida on July 27, 1970 Ernest Bowker Wood would pass away. Ernest was taken back to Pennsylvania where he was buried next to his first wife in Plot 122 in the Merryall Cemetery in Wyalusing. After Ernest’s death Cordelia moved back to Medford, New Jersey where she passed away on February 28, 1986 and was buried next to Ernest and Sarah in Plot 122 in the Merryall Cemetery in Wyalusing.

Captain Ernest Bowker Wood’s military grave marker in the Merryall Cemetery in Wyalusing, Pennsylvania.

Captain Ernest B. Wood, Battery F, 68th Artillery, CAC, Commanding Officer, shown in dress uniform likely taken in 1918.

Photo likely taken after the Captain’s return from France in 1919. Captain Ernest B. Wood on the left with his wife Sarah on the right.

Sgt. Harry Edward Schaffer, Service No. 596596, Battery B

Harry Edward Schaffer was a Sergeant with Battery B of the 68th Artilery during WWI. Schaffer enlisted into the Army about a month after America declared war on May 5, 1917 at Governor's Island, New York. He was first assigned to a Quartermaster Detachment at Fort H. G. Wright in New York. It was on June 10, 1918 that Schaffer was transfered into the Supply Company of the newly forming 68th Artillery, CAC. About a month and a half later on July 22, 1918 Sgt. Schaffer was again transfered over to Battery B of the 68th Artillery.

Sgt. Schaffer sailed with the 68th Artillery on August 9, 1918 aboard the British ship Leicestershire and served in France through out the end of the war with Battery B. At wars end the 68th returned to the States aboard the SS Mastonia and when the Mastonia reached New York on February 16, 1919, Sgt. Schaffer stepped back once again on American Soil. On February 27, 1919 Sgt. Schaffer was honorably discharged from Active Duty and returned to civilian life.

Sgt. Harry E. Schaffer is shown in front of an Army tent likely in 1917 at Ft. Wright before the 68th Artillery was formed. He is on the left end marked below as "H.E.G.S" The other soldiers are identified as: Charles Holson, Jimmy, Whitie Wacncke, Jimmy Whelen.

 Date this page was created on 21 September, 2001 and last modified on March 29, 2019

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