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U.S. AUXILIARY REMOUNT DEPOT NO 333 WW1 AND CORPORAL ALFRED H. "SMOKEY" PHILLIPS
This page and picture is dedicated to Corporal. Alfred H. Phillips by his son Robert Phillips and to all the men that served in the Auxiliary Remount Depots in WW1.
Auxiliary Remount Depot No 333 in the middle of April 1918 at Camp Joseph E. Johnston Florida. Showed are the 305, 306, 307 and 308 Field Remount Squadrons in formation on the parade grounds. Major Stanley Kogh, Commanding. This photograph was rolled up and stored in a very dry atmosphere for the better part of 100 years
Corporal Alfred H. "Smokey" Phillips at Sinzig, Germany 1919 part of the Army of Occupation in Germany. Posted by his son Robert A. Phillips. Anyone who might recognize some of the insignia on my Father's uniform please e-mail us. Picture on the right, this is a picture I found in my Dad's effects. He had "Some of the Boys" as a title. My Dad is in the Center (kneeling) I have no clue who any of the rest of the fellows are, maybe someone will recognize one or all of them. I am not sure if this picture was taken oversea's or stateside.
NOTE: The following is from Bob Phillip’s book and because we are friends he has agreed to sharing it with the website and all of us. This is a fine piece of work by Bob on his father who was with the 306th Field Remount Squadron in France during WW1. In these two chapters taken from his book we see the movement of a typical remount squadron in the US Army in France during WW1. I’ll cannot thank Bob enough for all his help in the pass and now by sharing the below with us. As you know I am very free with sharing information on the website and it is very important for you to realize that the below is COPYRIGHTED material and cannot be reproduced in ANYWAY with the written permission from Bob. I hope everyone understand this
Thank you very much for all your help Bob
Greg Krenzelok – Veterinary Corps Website – November 25 2007
THE FOLLOWING IS AN EXCERPT FROM ALFRED H. "SMOKEY" PHILLIPS' AUTOBIOGRAPHY, "MY BAREFOOT JOURNEY" (©2007 Robert A. Phillips, all rights reserved; ISBN 978-0-945188-02-5)
THE ARMY 1918 - 1919
On Feb. 24, 1918 I entered the service at Boise City, Oklahoma. There were 22 of us. We had to go to Dalhart, Texas to entrain for Camp Travis, Texas. When we left Boise City it was still winter. Camp Travis is near to San Antonio and we found everything like spring. The trees were leafed out nice and green and the weather was warm.
The first planes I ever saw was while we were en route to Camp Travis, Texas. We stopped at Fort Worth and the army had an airfield there and they were training with some of the old two wing jobs.
When we arrived we were placed under quarantine for 21 days to find out if any of us would come down with any communicable disease. We were given a vaccination for small pox, shots for typhoid and of course we were starting to get our uniforms. The first pieces of uniform we got were a hat and an overcoat. They started to teach us soldiering, how to drill, salute, etc.
I had only been there a few days when I got the whooping cough and along with the typhoid shots it was rough. It seemed as if about the time our 21 days was over someone would come down with something and we would be stuck for another 21, like me with whooping cough. It is rough to get whooping cough when you are 21 years old.
One day we were called out for formation and divided up into squads. We were told to get our gear, by this time we had all our uniforms and had disposed of our civilian clothes. We were to return to the same squads. We were marched off to what we thought would be our outfits. I was assigned to Co. F 357 infantry. I was there only about a week and along with some others was told to pack up and fall out into formation. It was about the middle of the afternoon. We had all our clothes etc. in large cloth bags called Barracks bags. We sat around all the rest of the afternoon on these bags. Finally they told us to come to supper, eat and go right back. About dark a couple of officers told us to pick up our bags and fall in. We marched about 1.5 miles and we saw some railroad coaches. We were ordered aboard, and were assigned berths, two men to the lowers and one to the uppers. When all got loaded we were ordered to turn off all lights and pull down the blinds and we rolled out. We had no idea where we were going so we went to bed. The porter came through and instructed us how to make up out beds. Gave us sheets and pillowcases. We had our own issued blankets, two each.
The next morning we were in the yards at Houston. I forgot to mention we were assigned guard duty. We were given clubs and we took turns guarding each end of the coach, and told not to let anyone on or off the train, except the crew of course.
We got up and straightened out our berths and put them up and commenced to wonder about breakfast, but that was soon solved. They had placed two express cars in the train, one near the rear end and one not far from the front. We were told to get our mess kits and line up. As I was nearer the front end of the train so I lined up with the gang going forward. After eating we would clean out mess kits in a large G.I. can in the car vestibule.
We still did not know were we were going. Of course there was lots of rumors. Some said we were going to New Orleans to catch a ship for Europe, but none of us had had enough training as yet for front line service. Some said we were going to Panama to guard the canal.
Since leaving the Cimarron none of this had bothered me, however when we got to the place where we crossed the Mississippi River, I believe it was Baton Rouge, La. It was during the night I woke up and looked out window and they were pushing the coach on the train ferry. Somehow it gave me a nostalgic feeling. I was getting farther from my old stomping grounds than I had ever been.
A day or so later we came to a place called DeFuniak Springs, Fla. We were unloaded there and exercised. The town was built around a nice lake. We marched around the lake. The reason I remember this so well is… Some time before I had a subscription to a magazine and there was an ad in it. Land for sale at this place. 10 acre plots for $10.00 an acre. It interested me so I asked Mr. Hughes what he thought of it and said he thought it was a swindle. While I was there that day I talked to a native about it. He said it was no swindle. It was an estate that was being sold to satisfy the heirs. He said the $10.00 an acre land was cut over pine forest, but well worth what was asked for it and had all been sold.
It was Easter Sunday morning when we arrived at our destination, Camp Joseph E. Johnston, Fla. Our train pulled into the camp just after daylight.
We detrained and was marched about a mile to a place in the woods on the banks of the St. Johns River. There was a street laid out all paved and guttered, but nothing on either side but pinewoods and palmetto shrubs. We were stopped along the street and told to be at ease. We were hungry. We'd had no breakfast yet.
After a while some trucks came along and dumped off some pyramid tents. They will handle about five people also some cots. We were to clean off the ground and set up our camp. Oh yes, they also dropped off some shovels and rakes. Finally they brought us a large cook tent, stove, everything to cook and feed us, but it was late afternoon before we got anything to eat. Then we had a spoon-full of grits, two prunes and one slice of bread, but we did have plenty of coffee. Some of us who had lived in the west had to learn the art of living in a tent in a moist sandy country.
The ground was sandy and it was not hard to drive a tent peg in the ground. When we put up our tents we put them up real tight. We had them all lined up in nice straight rows, but the next morning most of them were down. We did not think that during the night we would have real heavy dew and the ropes and canvas would shrink and pull up the pegs. After the first night there we learned to loosen our guy ropes when we turned in.
There were a lot of alligators in the river at that place between sundown and dark one could look out over the river and see just their eyes sticking up out of the water like frogs sometime do, only the distance between their eyes was much wider.
Just east of us there was a bunch of Negro troops. Boy, they were really afraid of the gators.
We were not allowed out. We could not leave camp so they set up camp guards. We had no guns. We were furnished clubs somewhat like the police carry. We had orders not to let anyone out of our camp. Anyone in uniform could come in, but no one could go out.
There was a bunch of fellows, "farmer boys", from Illinois that came in the next day and a certain rivalry sprung up between us. We started calling them "apple knockers." They were mostly from southern Illinois, coal miners, etc. I learned later that those people from that area are called "apple knockers" because they do raise lots of apples there.
We worked on our camp until we really had a nice looking place, a regular park. Visitors from Jacksonville would come out and walk there, and remark how pretty it was. We built a nice path along the river and around through the woods.
We found out that alligators liked dogs. Every stray dog we could get we would tie up after dark to a tree on the edge of the river. The next morning the dog would be gone. Many a family pet disappeared at that camp.
One day a couple of officers lined us up. One of them started calling out names. When our name was called we formed another line. Then we were told to get our gear and follow them. We were marched to some wooden barracks. The next day we were given our official designation, "The 306 Field Remount Squadron".
A few days later we moved into tents again in another part of the camp. There we started our training. The learning to be a soldier was fine but we were given a bunch of horses and we were supposed to be trained on how to handle horses. It did not take us but a couple of days to find out the officers we had, except for a couple, did not know a thing about horses.
At first they issued us regular stock saddles. Then they started to show us how to saddle a horse. Some of us started to laugh and this one guy got mad at us and started to bawl us out. It so happened we had an old time cavalry sergeant who told him where we came from so he finally said, "All right, let me see you saddle a horse. All he had to go on was some book on horses, so when we showed him how he was satisfied. We also showed him we could ride. I believe it was sometime around the middle of April when the outfit was formed.
I had not been paid since entering the army, so the first of May, or the thirteenth of April in other words, I got paid. They were issuing passes so I got a weekender (Saturday noon until Monday morning) pass and went to Jacksonville. I met three other guys and we hired a car to take us to St. Augustine. We spent Sunday down there. We got back to camp about midnight Sunday night.
We were issued the old Enfield rifles. There was four outfits near each other, the 305, 306, 307, and the 308 Field Remount Squadrons. Each outfit was a unit of its own. We mounted our own guard. Each outfit was completely independent of the other.
If we wanted to go to town, Jacksonville was about ten miles away. There was taxis running all the time it only cost 50 cents each way into town. Sometimes if we could not get a pass we would slip out, if we could get by the guard. That was not hard to do because the guard was usually one of your buddies. One night I slipped out and went to town and did not get back until about 3:00 a.m. The next morning when reveille blew and I did not hear it. When I woke up the platoon sergeants were reporting. I was in second platoon. I heard Sergeant Rountree report, "Second platoon all present and accounted for". I slipped out of my cot and was putting on my clothes when who popped in but the First Sergeant O'Rourke. He looked at me and said, "Well, what the hell are you doing in here?" I was all dressed and was putting on my last shoe. I told him I had to drop out and see what was wrong with my shoe. I must have had a rock in it. He said, "a rock is it, get your fatigues (work clothes) on and report to the kitchen."
Besides our regular company cook we had one cook especially for the officers. He was a Greek. His name was Lyman Lymberry from Corpus Christi, Texas. He had a space in the supply tent for his equipment. On this day he baked two coconut custard pies for the officer's mess. There was another guy on K.P. with me. I can't recall his name off hand.
At any rate this other K.P. and I ate both of those pies, that day. Boy was he a mad Greek. He never did get over that. He never found out until we were discharged who ate the pies. He and I got to be very good friends and every time he got a few drinks in him he would say he would like to know who took the pies.
About the first of June we commenced packing our equipment and I was called up to the Captain's Office. He asked me if I had ever had any experience handling men. Up to that time I really hadn't so I told him I had always been a ranch hand. Well, he said, "I am going to promote you to Corporal".
I guess this would be a good time to name as many of our officers as I can remember. We had six officers, Captain Mordecai, 1st Lieutenant Harrison, 1st Lieutenant Dr. D. H. Garrison. We also had a 1st Lieutenant of Veterinary. Also two other line lieutenants, but I cannot off hand remember their names. The non-commissioned officers and men are not too necessary for this story, so as I go along I will only mention their names if their names have an interest to the story.
About the first of June we got orders to start getting ready to leave. We commenced to pack everything we were to take with us. One day about the middle of the month we were told to make up field packs and be ready to pull out. Field packs consisted of blankets, extra shoes, underwear, shirts, trousers, socks, mess gear, cartridge belt, rifle, bayonet, helmet, gas mask, etc. Early one morning we marched down to the railroad yards. There was some Pullman coaches waiting, we were told we would have to hurry but, as usual, it was the old army game. Hurry up and wait. We stood around there until nearly noon before we boarded the train. Immediately we posted a guard on each end of the car, no one was allowed to board or leave the train. Well, we finally pulled out and as before there was three men to a berth, two down and one up. Inasmuch as I was a non-com I rated to sleep in a lower.
We did not know it at the time but we were on our way to Camp Hill, Virginia, Port of embarkation for overseas.
On our way we stopped early one morning in Richmond, Va. I had a window open on my side. When the train stopped I looked out and there was a man standing there. I asked what place is this? He said, "Richmond, Virginia." At the same time he reached in his hip pocket and pulled out a pint of whisky and asked if I wanted it. I told him sure. Here I will give it to you, so you can pass it around. I have always liked Richmond, Virginia even though I have never been back there since.
We were coming from Florida and were wearing summer uniforms so when we arrived in Camp Hill they had us turn in those light clothes and issued us wool uniforms.
On the 29th of June 1918 we marched down to Newport News, Va. and boarded the army transport U.S.S. Tenedores. The troops were ordered aboard in companies. As each company approached the gangway their co-commander called each soldier in his outfit by name. As his name was checked he went aboard. There were sailors stationed at intervals that directed us on. My outfit went down in the hold, about four decks down. There were makeshift bunks down there. They were four high. I was wise enough to get a top bunk. I was glad I did after we got out to sea.
The whole area had a smell that we were not used to, dampness, tar, oakum, and human. Especially after the ship started to roll. Most of us got seasick. We sailed the afternoon of the thirtieth of June. It took us until the afternoon of the 13th of July to get to Brest, France.
They had us soldiers doing lookout duty even in the crow's nest on each mast. We must have gone way north because for a few days we had very little darkness. One could read a newspaper at two o'clock in the morning.
The first day out we had only a few transports and two or three Navy vessels, "destroyers," with us. The next day a large convoy fell in with us. We later learned that they had come out of New York. There were many more destroyers, also a cruiser. I believe it was the U.S.S. Chicago. These navy ships stayed with us until we were about half way over. A fleet out of European bases met us. They convoyed us on in.
We anchored in the harbor in Brest, France on the afternoon of 13 July 1918. Over on the shore was a series of rather high hills and there were roads winding around up the hills. Some one started singing, "There is a long trail a winding" and all took it up. There were ships loaded with troops all around us and it seemed as if they were all singing. It was beautiful. There must have been at least 10,000 voices singing.
July 14th is France's National holiday, "Bastille Day" so some outfits were assigned to help unload our ship. There were several carloads of frozen beef in the lower holds. As we could not dock they had to use lighters to take the meat ashore so we did not leave the ship until the fifteenth.
Then they hiked us out in the country about four miles and we pitched our pup tents in a field. We were only there two or three days when we were routed out early one morning and told we only had a short time to get down to town to entrain for other parts. Now be it understood we were never told where we were going. When we started out we just went. If we were told to get on a train we got on the train. If it was a ship so be it.
We rushed around and got to the yards by 9:00 a.m. and it was after 9:00 p.m. before we entrained. We stayed in those railroad yards all day and we were not allowed to leave the immediate area.
Finally a train of French boxcars came in; these boxcars were called "40 men – 8 horses." We were loaded on. There were some benches in the cars but they took up so much space that it did not take us long to throw them out after we got to rolling. We just sat on our packs or lay on the car floor just any way we could.
Somewhere along the line we picked up a dog. I think he was a "Heinz 57 Variety" breed. At any rate everyone was tired and trying to sleep. I was sitting in the door with my feet hanging out. All at once I heard a yelp in back of me. It seems as if one of the boys I think his name was Bill Smith, was laying stretched out on the floor sound asleep and the dog came along and stuck his foot in Bill's mouth. Bill must have been sleeping with his mouth open. Bill closed his mouth and bit the dog so he raised up and caught the dog and threw him off the train. That was the last we saw of the dog.
The next day we pulled into a place called St. Nazaire. We hiked out to what was known as camp #1. We settled in some old French barracks there. The first thing we had to do was get our hair cut short. Many of us had our heads clipped, a French barber came through camp. All he had was a comb, scissors, a pair of hand clippers and a box to sit on.
We were supposed to get paid on the last day of the month, but we sailed on the 30th of June and we were not paid. All the money I had on me was a nickel and I carried that all the way to camp- #1.
One day I was laying in my bunk taking a nap and someone asked me if I would take a chance on a violin. Incidentally we were all broke. This old boy needed money and he was out of another outfit. He said the chances were 5 cents. I gave him my last nickel, rolled over and went back to sleep. In a little while someone was shaking me and saying something about me having a violin. I told him I had no violin. "Well," he said, "you have now." I later sold it for about $5.00.
We moved into town. St. Nazaire is right on the coast where we took over a remount base from the French. Our duty was to receive horses, as they were unloaded off ships coming from the U.S. We stayed there about six weeks.
I was working a detail in the corrals one day and along with some other officers came old General John J. "Blackjack" Pershing himself.
Some of us went into the downtown section of St. Nazaire one day and we seen a sign, "Cheyenne Charlie's Bar" so we thought we would stop in and see what it was like. There were women waitresses and bar maids there, but the man running the place looked familiar. I asked him if he had ever tended bar for Carl Eklund in Clayton, New Mexico. It came about that we had a lot in common. He had worked for Eklund also Tom Grey, another saloonkeeper in Clayton. While I did not know him personally, he knew people I did. After that he never charged me for drinks. He assured me I was welcome at anytime, and not to be embarrassed about the free drinks. Every time I went there his girls would set a quart of Scotch whisky on the table. Sometime I would drink scotch, but most times I was content with just beer. If I went by myself he did not particularly like it and always told me to bring a friend or two.
About the first of September we loaded out again. As usual we had no idea where we were going. Another outfit came in and we turned all the horses we had over to them. We felt we were headed for the front.
One morning our train stopped in some yard. We were riding French 3rd class passenger cars at the time. We could smell fresh baked bread and it sure smelled good. Finally we spotted it. There was a French Army bakery a short distance away. Some of us thought we would investigate. When we got over there they were loading a French boxcar with fresh baked bread. The car was along side a loading platform. We crawled under the platform and reached up between the edge of it and the car and right within reach we were able to grab a loaf of bread. Their bread was baked in round loaves. We would wait until the Negro who was loading the car would unload his cart in the car and go back to the shop for more, then grab a loaf and run. Usually when we were moving we were on short rations and always hungry. The bread tasted real good. Finally some of the gang got caught so they shut the car door until we left.
Eventually we arrived at a placed called Toule and hiked out to some old French barracks, called Marshal Ney. They were old French artillery barracks. We then received horses that had been shipped to us from all over France. At Toule we were close enough to the front that we could hear the guns. We could also see aerial battles and we came under bombing a couple of times, although we were never hit.
I have not explained why we had the horses. At that time nearly all transportation depended on horse drawn equipment. We did have trucks, cars, etc., but they were no good near the front as there were no roads. And if a motor vehicle got off the road it was done for. It was usually muddy and the ground was boggy. We moved horses to the front, brought out sick or crippled ones to dispose of, or cure. We turned those over to a veterinary outfit. We were there until the armistice was signed.
I will never forget that day. There was a continuous roar of big and small guns for days. All at once it ceased. The silence cannot be explained. I have heard it said that the silence was deafening, but I am sure that does not explain it.
That evening the captain told us he would not hold us responsible for anything we did for the next 24 hours. He did say he hoped there would be enough of us around to care for what we had. We went into town. Every Frenchman we seen had a bottle and one had to drink with him. There was a period of time, oh at least a couple of days that I don't know what happened and even then I was in a sort of daze for over a week.
One day I was told to take a detail of men and go to the railhead for food supplies. The supply sergeant went along. In other words we went with him. We got a supply of food. Finally the ration sergeant of the supply dump told me to take my men and wagon and go to a car and get a quarter of beef. After getting the beef we were to meet our supply sergeant at a certain place in town.
We drove to the car and there was no one there and the door was out of sight of the supply dump sergeant. We got ten quarters instead of one. We had a cover on the wagon so it could not be seen.
Our supply sergeant said after he saw what we had done. "Boy, if that guy at the dump catches up with us we will all go to the brig." However there were other people who got meat right after we did. In fact there were several wagons pulled up as we were leaving. We were lucky to be by ourselves when we were loading the beef. It came to good use before we got any more.
One day before the armistice was signed I was in Toule. I went into a place for a beer and I sat down at a table with a French soldier. He could talk some English and he had a bottle of wine he asked me to share it with him. I bought him a beer. Wine was just about the same as beer. It was not long until we were both feeling good. That was when he gave me a cigarette lighter he had made from a German "Minniewurffer" shell. I still have the lighter.
Another time I was walking down the street in Toule and I heard someone say, 'Hey, Corporal." I looked across the street and a 1st Lieutenant was waving me to come across the street. I went over and he said, "Do you know where I could find Lieutenant General Hennessey?" It took a minute for it to soak in so I said, "Yes, come on." He had just come out of the lines so I took him into a place and bought a bottle of Three Star Hennessey Cognac. He had not been paid and he was thirsty. I don't remember to this day how I got back to the outfit.
During the St. Mihiel offensive we got orders to deliver a trainload of horses to an artillery outfit near Belfort on the Swiss border, in the Vosges Mountains. We loaded eight horses to a car with one man to each car. The trip down there was uneventful. After we loaded and turned them over to the artillery outfit and were ready to start back to our base, we found ourselves hard pressed for transportation. However after waiting nearly twenty-four hours we did get out. Our officer along with a colonel from the artillery prevailed on the local train officials to put a coach on a freight train going our way.
Now, anyone who has never ridden a French train in wartime has missed a treat. They don't run on schedule and one never knows when he will get to his destination. It only took us over night to go from Toule to Belfort, but coming back it took us nearly 36 hours. We expected to get back as fast as we went so we were only given two cans of corned beef, one can of tomatoes for each two men and a box of hard tack. Before noon the next day those rations were gone. We would roll a while and then we would pull up on a siding and sit there for a couple of hours.
The French shipped their red wine in hogsheads, on flat cars. It so happened we stopped on the next track to a train with some of the wine cars. We got the idea we could get some of this wine. We could smell it seeping through the pores of the wood. We all carried 45 caliber automatics so we just shot a hole in the side of a hogshead and one in the top and filled our canteens. After we got what we wanted, even both officers, a Lieutenant by the name of Worth and the Veterinary officer, we whittled a couple of wooden plugs and stopped the leaks. After we did that it did not take long for the train to move and it didn't take long to get to Toule. We had hardly anything to eat when we got the wine and we were all getting pretty well wound up while filling our canteens. That plus having a full quart to finish up, we were really loaded when we got in, officers and all.
I must mention while on our march into Germany we spent Thanksgiving at a place called Conflons Jarny in Northern France. The Germans had occupied this place for several years and had farmed some of it. There were several fields of cabbage around there so for Thanksgiving dinner in 1918 we had boiled cabbage, English hard tack and coffee.
A few days after the Armistice was signed we got orders to move again. It was the 16th of Nov. This time we took horses with us. We rode one and led two. We went up through the St. Mihiel and the Argonne. We caught up with the Germans near the Luxembourg border. We had to hold up at a place called Battenberg, in Luxembourg until they got out of our way.
At a place called Trier we crossed the Moselle River into Germany on November 30, 1918. We were among the first U.S. troops to enter Germany. We hiked into the city of Trier the last day of November in 1918. We really did not know what was going to happen to us as we rode down through the streets of the city. I expected the Germans, who were left there to start shooting, but there was no young men there. Only women, kids and old men and they were hungry.
We camped at what had been a dairy, but there were no cows there at the time. We had to kill a horse because he was gassed. We asked the old man who was taking care of the place where we could dispose of him. He said he would be glad to take care of it. They skinned and ate that horse. Women and kids carried big chunks of that meat away in pans.
From there we followed the Moselle River downstream toward the Rhine. The Moselle River Valley is beautiful, high hills on both sides all terraced with grape vineyards covering the hillsides. They make some of the world's best wines, Moselle red and Moselle white wines are some of the best.
We were traveling on the south side of the river, so on the second day after leaving Trier we crossed over on a pontoon bridge at a place called Cochim. We were using mules on our wagons so in crossing this bridge a lead mule got scared and jumped off the bridge into deep water. I happened to be near so I cut him loose from the wagon as he was getting tangled in his harness. One of the officers came up and asked why I cut him loose. I told him to give the mule a chance to swim out, which he did. Then he gave me hell for cutting the harness. I asked him if he would rather of lost the mule and harness or just have to repair the harness.
We spent the night at Cochim and about everyone got drunk on Moselle wine. The next day we went into the town called Mayen, but only stayed there over night.
On December 16th one month after leaving Toule, France we got to our destination, a small slate mining village called Mosella-Schacht. Here we spent the rest of the winter. We lived in the German houses, each house had to furnish as much room as they possibly could for us.
A fellow by the name of Schwartz and I had a room on the third floor of a house occupied by a family by the name of Nolte. They had two young daughters about 10 and 11 years old. They were pretty nice to us and we to them. Mrs. Nolte would wash our clothes for what soap there would be left. Schwartz and I would steal bacon and sugar out of the kitchen and bring it to them whenever we could. Mrs. Nolte kept our rooms clean, blankets washed, etc.
On the march in there we camped at times where German and French troops had camped and we all got lousy but Mrs. Nolte soon cleaned us up. Schwartz and I would buy wine and steal sugar from the kitchen and give it to Mr. Nolte so every morning about a half hour before reveille he would come wake us up with a couple of glasses, like our tumblers. He would have them half full of wine with a teaspoon of sugar. Then he would fill them with hot water. Of course we always had to have him have one with us. We had lots of snow on the ground that winter and it got pretty cold. We was out in it all the time, but neither Schwartz nor I caught even a cold but when spring came our faces were really red.
About the first of April a directive came out saying that there was a motor school to be started at a place called Brohl. Brohl was about 50 kilometer from where we were so I put in for it. I did not know anything about automobile motors and wanted to learn. Also it gave me a change of scenery. There was several German trucks there, but all had been more or less disabled. Timing had been changed so they would not fire. They all operated off a magneto, and they did have the best magneto made at that time, "The Bosch".
We were attending classes in the morning and fooling around with the trucks in the afternoon. They had no rubber tires. Some of them had just plain iron wagon tires, others had double tires, an iron tire shrunk on the wheel with a large tire and large coil springs between them. They all had enclosed cabs over the driver's seat and all kinds of lockers, cupboards, gun racks, drawers, etc.
One day I found a lemon type hand grenade in one of the drawers. It was a dud. I was standing out in front of one of the trucks and looking at the hand grenade when I dropped it. Just as it hit the ground the truck behind me backfired. Well it just scared the devil out of me. I was sure that grenade had gone off. We learned a lot and got the trucks running. We also did a lot of goofing off.
While we were there I met a man that had come over from the 201st engineers. He was a "mess sergeant" named Ray Covo. He was from Fall River, Mass. More about him later.
When the six weeks were up we went back to our outfits. My outfit had moved to a place across the Rhine River from Coblenz called Ehrenbrietstein. We stayed right on the river in an old German Artillery barracks. This was not a bad place. Coblenz was a nice large city and there was plenty to do there.
In July we were ordered to move again. This time to a place about 35 kilometers from Coblenz to a place called Kripp. There was four outfits there, the 301, 303, 305 and 306 remount squadrons. We commenced to receive horses from all over the occupied territory. At one time we had more than 2,000 head of horses and mules. When outfits started going home they turned their horses over to us. We were to dispose of them. We sold them to anyone who would buy them. We sold some to the British, French, Polish, and Belgians. We also sold a lot to individuals. Many of them went for food. A good deal of horsemeat is eaten in Europe. I ate it, but it is more red and coarser than beef, maybe a little sweeter.
Summer along the Rhine was enjoyable. The weather did not seem to be too hot. There were fruit trees all along the roads, apples, peaches, plums and all you had to do was stop and help yourself. They also grow some of the nicest strawberries you ever saw.
We had to patrol Kripp as it was on the edge of the occupied zone. It was on the rivers edge, and just across the river was the unoccupied zone. The people who lived on our side where not allowed to go over to the other side without a permit. That also applied to those on the other side who wanted to come over our way.
There was a man who ran a saloon on our side who would slip over on the other side and get his liquor. We only patrolled from 6:00 a.m. until midnight. We had a room where we stayed from midnight until morning. One night we caught him coming in with his boat loaded with liquor. He had to unload his barrels on the shore and roll them about a block to his place of business. We watched him go into his shop then we went the other way with a smaller barrel. We hid it in some bushes along the river. The next day we had the boys who were cleaning corrals with a wagon pick it up. It was about 15 gallons of good cognac. We took it up to the outfit. We had some times until it was gone. That did not take long.
In Feb. of 1919 we were given a chance for leave. We could go to Paris for five days not counting travel time or go to a place in the south of France called Auxeles Bains. I chose Paris.
A few of us started out. We first had to go to Coblenz as we were stationed near Mayen at the time. In Coblenz we caught a troop train called a leave train. We rode that thing all night and all day the next day and all night again and we were still not in Paris. We also had to forage for our food. The second morning we came to a French camp. We got off the train and went over there. We seen a line up of French soldiers and found out that there was a sort of canteen there where we could buy crackers, sardines, and bottles of wine. We got in line, but we did not seem to be getting anywhere. We finally saw why. Those damn frogs were slipping in ahead of us.
There was only five or six of us and too many for us to jump. We were really mad, but what could we do. However, luck was with us, a French Major who could talk English came along and stopped and talked to us. It did not take him long to see what was going on. He asked us how long we had been in line. We told him about an hour. Boy, he called that line to attention and I could not understand what he said, but we were ushered up to the head of the line. We got plenty of food. Our train was still over on a siding. We asked him if we could get a faster train into Paris. He told us there was a Paris express due through later in the day. We walked to a town about three kilometers away where the train stopped. We didn't try to buy a ticket, because it was a first class train and enlisted men would not be sold a ticket. We were only supposed to ride in second and third class trains so we climbed aboard without tickets. After we got on and the train was rolling the conductor came through. Boy, did he set up a howl! But again, we could not savvy French. We did find out how much our fare would be and paid him in cash. That satisfied him.
It only took us about a couple of hours to get to Paris. We never did see the troop train again. We reported into leave headquarters and got our papers. We were told when we were to leave Paris. My partner was a fellow from Datil, New Mexico by the name of McPhaul.
We got a room in a place called Family Hotel in what was known as Saint Denis District. We went everywhere anyone recommended us to see. Saw most places of interest.
One night we were returning to our quarters after seeing a local show and as we started in to the hotel a couple of Australian soldiers stopped us and asked for the loan of five francs each. They said they would see us and pay us back the next morning. They asked us what was our room number and we told them. We gave them the ten francs. We never expected to see them again. Early the next morning they brought a couple of bottles of cognac and paid us our money. I have liked Australians ever since.
About the first of November 1919 we were told we would soon return to the U.S. We had to pack everything we would turn in there to give to whoever relieved us. On Thanksgiving Day we left Germany and returned to Brest, France. We had to go through a sort of staging process, also take physical examinations, turn in all our French money and get paid in American money. We were paid all we had coming. We were there nearly two weeks getting cleared.
We finally boarded the U.S.S. Powhatan, a troop transport. It took us 14 days to get to New York. It was a rough crossing. I got real seasick. We were on the second deck. To go down to our quarters we had to go forward through the well deck. The galley was in the forepeak amidships. There was a passageway alongside the galley.
One day another guy and I were on our way below and as we passed the door of the galley there was a box of hot boiled franks sitting there. We picked it up and went below with it. The galley door was closed so the cooks did not see us. These franks I suppose were for the crews mess. We got down in our compartment in a corner out of sight. I almost foundered myself eating franks. I had been seasick and had not eaten very much and they tasted so good. I got over my seasickness right then. I have liked boiled franks ever since.
We arrived in Hoboken, N.J. on the 20th of Dec. 1919. I was assigned a detail and was told to get the company baggage when it was unloaded, and bring it to Fort Dix, New Jersey.
The baggage was not available until the next day. That night I went ashore. Right across the street at the end of the dock was a café. I walked over there and in the window was the most beautiful coconut custard pie one ever seen. I had not eaten a piece of pie since we left the states. I went in and asked the waitress how much she wanted for that pie. I believe she said 75 cents. I told her to bring it on and coffee with it. I ate the whole pie. It sure was good and I still like coconut custard pie.
We got our baggage off the ship and on to a train the next day. We went to Fort Dix. On Dec. 24, 1919 I received my discharge from the army. It was snowing at the time so four other fellows and myself hired a man to drive us to Camden, just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia where I caught the train to Clayton, New Mexico.
RETURN HOME 1919
I went to the railroad station and bought a ticket to Clayton, New Mexico. Also got a berth on a Pullman to Chicago. I asked for a lower, but could only get an upper berth.
The train pulled out about 11:00 P.M. but I never seen who had the lower berth until the next morning when I returned from breakfast. By that time the berths were made up and I found that the occupant was a U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer. I later learned his name was Hallahan, a chief carpenters mate.
This was Christmas morning and we stopped awhile in Pittsburgh. We had to change trains in Chicago from the Pennsylvania line to the Santa Fe line. When I asked for a lower berth to La Junta, Colo. I could only get an upper. Again I got Hallahan for a berth partner. More about Hallahan later.
At La Junta I had to change trains and take a local to Trinidad then stay overnight to get a Colorado and Southern train into Clayton.
I arrived in Clayton about noon on the 27th of Dec. 1919. I got my dinner and started a walk down the street to look the town over and who did I meet but Mr. Tooker.
I walked up to him and asked him if he knew me. I was still in uniform. He said yes. I asked him if he remembered whipping me with a buggy whip and I asked would he like to try whipping me again. I also asked him if he was man enough. We went around the corner off the main street on a side street. I took off my overseas cap and slapped him across the face with it. He put his arms over his face and whimpered like a baby. I called him a damned coward and walked off.
I went to find a telephone to call Kenton and was told to go to the telephone office. There I ran into Ed Geer's cousin Dora McClary. She had not heard from Ed for years. She was working at the office. I called the Hughes and told them I would be in Kenton the next day. The next day I went to Kenton on the mail stagecoach.
While I was gone Mr. Hughes got one of the Cochran boys to take my place, Clarence the son of George Cochran. He understood I would get my job back when I returned so I went back to Cold Springs. My salary was to be $45.00 a month. This was Jan. 1920.
In June we branded calves and when that was done I asked to be off for a couple of weeks. I was getting restless. When I first got back I was glad to settle down and get away from people. I had been back six months and I felt as if I must do something.
I went to Lawton to see my sisters. I had been gone 13 years and this was the first time I had seen them. They were living with their father, Mr. Dauner. He started to give me a long tale of woe about how hard it was to raise two girls. Of course he was right because they were only 8 and 10 years when our mother died.
He started to make apologies for me leaving home in 1907. It finally wound up by me letting him know that I felt he was responsible for the whole thing.
I have always felt glad that it all came about as it did. I only spent a few days there and I returned to the Cimarron Country. I stayed at the ranch until the fall work was finished. Then I resigned and went back to Lawton.
As I said I was restless and had come to realize that there was no future working on a cow ranch unless one owned it so I made arrangements with the Hughes to take care of my equipment until such time that I could send for it. I had sold my horse. They sold my saddle, etc.
I went back to Lawton intending to find out what I could do in town in 1920-1921. I got a job at the cotton oil mill, the same one where I got in trouble years before. I found a place to board. The folk's name was Daniels. They had a boy who was in the Navy during the war. He had served on a destroyer on the West coast. He told me a lot about the Navy.
I managed to make a living and got by the winter. Work was getting scarcer and I saw I would have to do something else so on the 24th of April I went down to Dallas, Texas and joined the Navy.
THE END OF THE CHAPTER
NOTE: Please visit the following website dedicated to Corporal Luther Leonard Wragg. If you can help identify the Men in the photographs any information you can supply would be greatly appreciated. Corporal Wragg soldiered with my Father and was the source of a roster listing all these men however it is difficult putting names to the faces.
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THE ARMY VETERINARY SERVICE DURING THE GREAT WAR, WW1
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The Army Veterinary Service During the Great War, WW1
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SERGEANT LEONARD MURPHY VETERINARY HOSPITAL NO. 18, A.E.F., WW1
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Leonard Murphy in WW1
POLK COUNTY WISCONSIN THOSE THAT SERVED IN WW1
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Polk County Wisconsin in WW1
FORT ORD U.S. ARMY STATION VETERINARY HOSPITAL (HORSE) WW2
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Fort Ord U.S. Army Station Veterinary Hospital (Horse) WW2
11TH CAVALRY PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, 1919 TO 1940
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11th Cavalry Presidio of Monterey, 1919 to 1940
76TH FIELD ARTILLERY REGIMENT PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, 1922 TO 1940
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76th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Battalion
U.S. ARMY VETERINARY CORPS HISTORICAL PRESERVATION GROUP
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U.S. Army Veterinary Corps Historical Preservation Group is a group of individuals that are concerned about the preservation of the History of the Veterinary Corps, Remount Service and Cavalry or wherever our country’s history is being lost in conjunction with our beloved “Horse and Mule”. There is no cost to join and membership is for life. We believe by uniting together in numbers we will be a more powerful force to be heard. Our membership list is private and only used to contact our members. Email us and become a member.
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