69th Artillery WWI

The History of the
69th Artillery C.A.C.
In the Great War

Orders were issued on May 17, 1918, for the formation of the 69th Artillery, CAC under the command of Colonel Robert F. Woods. On May 27, 1918, the Regiment was formed at Ft. Worden, which is located in Port Townsend, Washington along the Admiralty Inlet. The bulk of the enlisted men would come from men already serving in the Coast Defenses of Puget Sound, Washington. Once the regiment was at war-time strength they, on July 31, 1918, were moved across the country to the east coast to Camp Mills, New York before being deployed to Europe.

On August 15, 1918 the Regiment moved to Port of Embarkation Philadelphia and sailed aboard the Colier USS Jason, but there was not room for all the officers aboard the Jason and 34 of the officers of the 69th Artillery were assigned to the SS Demosthenes which was sailing from Quebec, Canada on August 17, 1918. The 34 officers had to get up to Quebec from Philadelphia in two days’ time in order to make the sailing of the SS Demosthenes. The Jason with Colonel Robert F. Woods and the bulk of the 69th Artillery arrived in Avormouth, England on August 31 and the SS Demosthenes with the Lt. Colonel Edward W. Turner and the other officers arrived in Liverpool, England two days later.

Once the entire 69th Artillery was in England they traveled to Southampton where they were loaded like cattle aboard a channel steamer and made the night dash across to Le Havre, France on the evening of September 2, 1918. As the morning of September 3rd began the 69th Artillery saw the sun rise on French soil for the first time and soon enough were traveling south to O&T Center No. 1 (Operations and Training), Libourne (Gironde), which was to be their training base. The 69th Artillery was one of three regiments under the command of the 36th Artillery Brigade,, CAC, with the other two regiments being the 68th Artillery who were assigned to the 6-inch American Seacoast guns, and the 63rd Artillery assigned to the British 8-inch Howitzers. The 6-inch seacoast guns were similar to the 5-inch and had also been removed from Coast Artillery fortifications in the States and shipped over to France.

The 69th Artillery came to France without any artillery pieces at all, but were to be assigned to American artillery guns. Very few of any of the American Coast Artillery Regiments then in France were assigned American guns, with all the American Coast Artillery regiments then in Action used either French or British guns. Throughout the summer and fall of 1917, all across America the Coast Artillery and the Navy were busy removing selected fixed artillery guns that could be spared.

The Army at the time had several of the Coast Artillery Forts using the 5-inch gun model M1897 and had seen that these guns could be dismounted and new gun carriages made for them for use in France. In all there were 52 of these type guns in place in several locations. To completely outfit one Coast Artillery Regiment for duty in France there would need to be 24 guns and with a few spares 28 total guns were identified for this purpose. The 69th Artillery was to receive these guns.

The guns located at Battery McGrath, which was part of Ft. Rosecrans located in San Diego, California is but one example of the 28 guns identified to be removed. There at Battery McGrath were two 5-inch rifles of the M1897 type, and on September 26, 1917, they were removed from the gun emplacements and sent to the Morgan Engineering Company of Alliance, Ohio. Morgan had the contract to design and build the new mobile gun carriages for all 28 rifles. Once they had the new carriages made they shipped the entire lot of 28 finished guns to France.

Meanwhile the 69th Artillery, CAC had arrived in France and was located in Libourne. The 28 guns and carriages arrived in Libourne and the men of the 69th started to train on these guns. The only problem with this was that there was no ammunition of the 5-inch type in France at all.

Needless to say a gun is not much good without any shells to fire. Within two-months’ of arriving in France the war ended and the 69th never got the chance to show what the 5-inch guns could do. If in fact the war would have lasted into the spring and summer of 1919 and shell and powder were available the 69th and their 5-inch guns would have been used to march deep into Germany.

After the war ended the M1897, 5-inch rifles were deemed obsolete by the Army and were never returned back to the states. The fate of what happened to the 28 rifles of the 69th Artillery is not known and likely were just turned in as scrap war material and turned into shaving razor blades. Back in America in the years following WWI the remaining 5-inch guns were now obsolete and were all removed and most were scrapped. Today there are only seven of the 5-inch rifles left as war memorials throughout the United States. None of the guns that had the mobile gun carriages survive today.

The men of the 69th Artillery left Bordeaux, France on February 4, 1919 aboard the USS Mercury and arrived at Newport News, VA on February 18, 1919, and went to Camp Stuart, and then to and Camp Eustis, Virginia where they were demobilized during the month of March 1919.

The Muster of the 69th Artillery

As I find information on men who were in the 69th Artillery I will list them on the Regimental Muster page. This page is devoted to telling the stories and history of the men who served in the 69th Artillery during WWI. If you have family members or know of someone who served in the 69th please e-mail me and I will add them to this page.

Officers of the 69th Artillery:

In August of 1918 when the 69th Artillery sailed to France the commanding officer of the Regiment was Colonel Roberty F. Woods. The officers of the regiment under his command were:

Lt. Colonel Edward W. Turner (Demosthenes)
Major Edmund P. Easterbrook, Regimental Chaplain (Demosthenes)
Major Charles E. Butts (Jason)
Major P. P. Marion (Jason)
Captain Charles C. Griffith (Demosthenes)
Captain Frank Emery (Jason)
Captain Shuey Earl Wolfe (Jason)
Captain John Briggs Day (Demosthenes)
Captain Harold H. Hilton (Demosthenes)
Captain Walter Cristian Thee (Demosthenes)
Captain James Frankland (Jason)
Captain Arthur E. Lindborg (Jason)
Captain Osgood Packard (Jason)
Captain Leslie A. Kibbe (Jason)
Captain Gwynne Gravelle McCaustland (Demosthenes)
1st Lt. Frederick Henry Bachman (Demosthenes)
1st Lt. Milton Heilfron (Demosthenes)
1st Lt. Ward E. Becker (Demosthenes)
1st Lt. James E. Eagleson (Demosthenes)
1st Lt. Sprague Riegel (Demosthenes)
1st Lt. John T. Hoyt (Demosthenes)
1st Lt. John V. Fenton (Demosthenes)

1st Lt. William Dinsmore (Demosthenes)
1st L. Richard McKay (Jason)
1st Lt. R. M. Smith (Jason)
1st Lt. Roy Nelles (Demosthenes)
1st Lt. Harry Rogers Lawton (Demosthenes)
1st Lt. Willard G. Herron (Demosthenes)
1st Lt. Charles N. Adams (Demosthenes)
2nd Lt. Norman J. Morrison (Demosthenes)
2nd Lt. Ross D. Alverson (Demosthenes)
2nd Lt. Edwin R. Harter (Demosthenes)
2nd Lt. Robert J. Madden (Demosthenes)
2nd Lt. Howard B. Gray (Demosthenes)
2nd Lt. Edward Rowe (Demosthenes)
2nd Lt. Roger T. Clapp (Demosthenes)
2nd Lt. Frank B. Post (Demosthenes)
2nd Lt. Duncan Llewellyn Smith (Demosthenes)
2nd Lt. Leon Hoyt Chamberlain (Demosthenes)
2nd Lt. Arthur Fitch York(Demosthenes)
2nd Lt. George Garland Hendricks (Demosthenes)
2nd Lt. Ernest Milton Sorenson (Demosthenes)
2nd Lt. Joseph Henry Davidson (Demosthenes)
2nd Lt. Louis O. Davis (Demosthenes)

Captain Harold H. Hilton returned to New York City on January 12, 1919 on board the USACT Abangarez that left Bassens Dock, Bordeaux, France on December 29, 1918. Captain Hilton was under orders for duty at Fort Monroe, Virginia and sailed home before the 69th Artillery sailed in February. Captain Hilton listed his wife Jewell Bell Hilton as the person to contact in case of an emergency on the passenger manifest of the Abangarez.

The 69th Artillery Band

Bandsmen Wayne Lucius Poland

Photo of the 69th Artillery Band taken after thier return from France. Wayne L. Poland is the 5th man from the left in the second row.

Photo of Bandsmen Poland taken while the 69th was in France. Another photo of Wayne L. Poland taken in 1917 before he went to France.

Battery C:

Pvt. Harry Hurst, Battery C, 69th Artillery, CAC, WWI.

Battery D:

Pvt. Calvin S. Rowan, 435707, Battery D. Pvt. Rowan was 23 years old when he enlisted into the National Army at Lebanon, Ohio on 12 March 1918. Rowan was an Ohio native and lived at the time at 35 Allen St. in Franklin Ohio which, was his city of birth. from his enlistment until 2 April 1918 he was stationed in the Coast Defenses of the Columbia at Ft. Stevens, Oregon. From 2 April to 24 May 1918 he was with the 21st Company at Ft. Canby, Washington. During May of 1918 the 69th Artillery was being formed and on the 24th of May he was formed into Battery D of the 69th Artillery. Pvt. Rowan sailed with the 69th Artillery to France and returned with the 69th and was Honorable Discharged on 10 March 1919.

PFC Frank Schumann 834646: Vince Cooper contacted me in June 2002 about the 69th Regiment in which his grandfather was a member of. The information Vince had given me about his grandfather and the 69th Regiment is what I have used to put together the history of the regiment. Vince supplied the photos of his grandfather and also confirmed the information I was able to put together on the regiment.

Vince writes:

My Grandfather went "Over There" with the 69th

Like many young boys who admired their grandfathers, I often wondered what my Grandfather did in the Great War. My Grandfather, PFC Frank Schumann 834646, enlisted in the U.S. Army on 02 April 1918 in Horicon, Wisconsin and was initially assigned to the 3rd Company of the 69th Artillery, C.A.C in May 1918. My Grandfather’s last duty assignment was with Battery D, 69th Heavy Artillery Regiment, 36th C.A.C. Brigade. The following is a short history of the 69th Artillery Regiment with an emphasis on it's formation and service during World War One. The specific 1918 and 1919 dates reflect those dates from my Pvt. Schumann's military personnel files and discharge papers.

Activation and Service in the Great War

The 69th Artillery Regiment of the Coast Artillery Corps (C.A.C) was initially formed on 17 May 1918 from men serving with various units of the Coast Defenses of Puget Sound headquartered at Fort Worden, Washington. The 69th was designated as a Heavy Artillery Regiment, and was comprised of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Companies based at Fort Stevens, Oregon. The role of 69th was to provide protection to the entrances of the Columbia River as part of the harbor defenses of the Columbia.

In August 1918 the 69th Regiment was moved to Camp Mills, New York and prepared to sail for France. On 15 August 1918 the Regiment sailed from Port of Embarkation Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After more than two weeks at sea, the Regiment disembarked at St. Nazarre, France on 31 August 1918. The Regiment trained at the Operation and Training Center (O & T) No. 1 located near Libourne, France. The firing range used by O & T Center No. 1 was at Camp de Sourge, France.

The Regiment was attached to the 36th C.A.C. Brigade, which also included the 63rd and 68th Regiments. The 69th Regiment was equipped with 5-inch American Seacoast guns that had been removed from the coast defenses of the United States. These guns, which had previously been used as stationary artillery pieces, were fitted with specially designed mobile mounts, and shipped to France. The 69th was the only C.A.C. regiment to receive this type of artillery piece.

Although the 69th Regiment was fully trained, equipped, and ready to take its place in the line, the Armistice was signed before the Regiment was able to see active service. On 03 February 1919, the regiment embarked for the United States where it arrived on 18 February 1919. The Regiment was then demobilized at Camp Eustis, Virginia. After demobilization Pvt. Schumann was mustered out of the Army at Camp Grant, Illinois.

Pvt. Schumann showing off his side arm. Pvt. Frank Schumann of Battery D of the 69th Artillery
Pvt. Schumann at Ft. Stevens, Oregon in May of 1918

69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade

The 69th Air Defense Artillery Group has served in time of threat and danger since May 17, 1918. It was originally designated the 69th Regiment (AA) Coast Artillery Corps, when activated at Fort Worden, Washington.

The 69th Coast Artillery Regiment (AA) was located at Fort Crockett, Texas as part of the defense of the Galveston Bay area just prior to World War II. The Regiment then moved to Camp Hulen, Texas, during the limited emergency before World War II and was located there at the time of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

The Regiment then moved to become part of the Air Defense of San Diego, Calif., in the early part of World War II. There it was re-designated the 69th Artillery Group. The Group subsequently went to the Pacific Theater to participate in the Saipan Operation. The 69th Artillery Group was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation for its participation in the Western Pacific Campaign.

On June 5, 1948, at Saipan, the Group was inactivated. In 1955, the Group was again called to active duty as the 69th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Group at Karlsruhe, Germany for two and one-half years.

On April 1, 1960 at Wurzburg, Germany, the 69th Artillery Group became the first HAWK missile unit in the U.S. Army. Currently, the 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, V CORPS is located in Giebelstadt, Germany with battalions in Ansbach, Hanau, and Kaiserslautern. It is the only forward deployed Air Defense Artillery Brigade in the U.S. Army.

Recent History and the Gulf War

Steve Smith shared with me the recent history of the 69th ADA Brigade:

We deployed in December 1990, not 1989. We were also the first and only Patriot battalion to follow VII Corps into Iraq during the war (my unit followed 1st Infantry Division thru lane echo...with the British). I was an infantryman assigned to do their recon (RSOP). In December of 1990, the 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, in conjunction with elements of the 32nd Army Air Defense Command, deployed a task force of over 1000 soldiers in support of Operation Desert Shield / Desert Storm. As the dedicated high and medium altitude air defense asset of the US Army VII Corps, Task Force 8-43 fielded four Patriot Missile batteries and two HAWK batteries. The task force provided critical protection to the VII Corps as it executed a classic flanking action and raced across Iraq. At the conclusion of the war, Task Force 8-43 was deployed well forward on the battlefield, providing integrated coverage against both hostile aircraft and ballistic missile threats.

Present Deployment

The 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade is presently deployed at Glebelstadt Army Airfield, Germany as part of the US Army's NATO contingent in Europe.

This page owned by Joe Hartwell ©2006-2019 and was last updated on:April 30, 2019

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