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E. Reynold Thomas

Submitted by: Margaret Thomas Buchholz {daughter}

E. Reynold Thomas

E. Reynold Thomas served in World War 1 with the United States Marine Corps. The dates of service are: Known jan 1918 to early 1920.


My father, Corporal E. Reynold Thomas, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 4 November 1898. His maternal ancestors were Quaker and came to this country with William Penn. He enlisted in the Marines (serial # 305258) just after his 19th birthday on 4 January 1918. He left Atlantic City High School a semester before he would have graduated.

Thomas revered his grandfather, J. Warner Kinsey, who had served in the Civil War, and when he was a boy scout went with him to a memorial reunion at Gettysburg (1905).

After basic training at Parris Island he was sent to France in April 1918, and was assigned to the 55th Company, 2d Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. He fought at Belleau Woods through the month of June and at Soissons 18 and 19 July.

It was after Belleau Woods that he wrote the letter to his mother telling how awful it was, “a living hell” – he was one of a small percentage of his battalion to survive. The battalion was at Les Mares Farm on 3 June where they stopped the Germans at the point closest to Paris the Germans would come in the war.

A few days later his battalion was selected to try to take the woods, and made a supreme effort on 11 June. On the 12th Lt. Col Fritz Wise led his men forward when they moved all companies further into the woods and created a large enclave in the upper eastern part of the woods, with the 55th Company furthest into the German territory. Somehow, the badly depleted battalion managed to make a stand and repelled numerous attacks.

The Marines had, by this time, been in action for over two straight weeks. That was more than the French would allow their forces and Gen Harbord finally got AEF to get them some replacements in line.

The next major engagement my father fought in was on July 18, fifty miles north, at Soissons. After Soissons he went into the Marbache Sector with his unit remaining there during the month of August.

After the armistice, he said he marched all the way from France to Coblenz, where he stayed on with the Army of Occupation and worked in an office either near or at Pershing’s HDQ. He billeted with a German family there. He came home in 1920. I found a 1927 letter that indicated he considered re-enlisting in the Marines, but Maj. Ralph Keyser, the officer advising him, suggested he go to college instead, telling him that he was "no doubt" to old for a commission.

The crash of 1929 ruined the family business, and in 1933 he moved with his pregnant wife to Harvey Cedars NJ, where he spent the rest of his life, and was Mayor from 1955 until he died in 1983.

5a0b1976881a9 reynoldthomas1918


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