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Frank Carson Davidson, Jr.

Submitted by: Marianne (Dee) Dosch {granddaughter}

Frank Carson Davidson Jr. mugFrank Carson Davidson Jr. was born around 1894. Frank Davidson served in World War 1 with the United States Navy. The enlistment was in 1918 and the service was completed in 1919.

Story of Service

 

Frank Carson Davidson, Military Service Gunners Mate 3rd Class Ninth Naval District U.S. Naval Reserve Force

The First World War began in Europe on July 28th, 1914. As hard as the United States tried to stay out of WWI, President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to enter The Great War on April 6th, 1917. It turned out to be one of the deadliest conflicts in history as over 18 million troops and civilians were killed during the more than four years of fighting. The Selective Service Act was passed on May 18th, 1917 requiring men between the ages of 21 to 31 to register for the U.S. Armed Forces.

On this one hundred year anniversary of my country entering into WWI, I wanted to know more about my grandfather who served in the armed forces during this time. With the help of my Aunt, his daughter Diana Davidson Carter, I was able to learn some facts about his time in the U.S. Navy. In an old box in her attic were his military records with the information that I compiled together, along with some old photographs, to write this story.

Frank Carson Davidson, called Junior, was born December 26th, 1894, so he was 22 at the time he filled out the registration card in June of 1917. His address was listed as Cherryvale, Kansas and his occupation, a clerk for The American Steel Foundry, East Chicago, Indiana. He was able to avoid going into active duty until the following year when he would enroll in the U.S. Naval Reserve Force, April 19th of 1918 for 4 years. He enlisted as a Seaman, second class, at Kansas City, Missouri and it also stated that he would be a GM 3c or Gunners Mate, 3rd class.

There was an obvious typo on his enrollment record as it documented his age as 27 but he could only have been 23 at the time. It noted that he was 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighed 140 lbs. He had blue eyes, light brown hair and a ruddy complexion. I remember my granddad had a port wine birthmark on the left side of his face and nose. I didn’t notice it too much unless he was angry about something and then it would turn a deeper shade of red. When his grandkids would ask about it he would kiddingly tell them that was where he got shot during the war.

2 Frank Jr. was sent for his basic training to Great Lakes in Illinois and for additional training at Camp Logan Rifle Range in Zion City, IL. By this time the war had been going on for almost 4 years and the United States had been involved in the conflict for a year. Junior was then transferred to Charleston, South Carolina and assigned to the Navy Rifle Range in Mt. Pleasant S.C. to train the new recruits in the art of firing weapons and gun safety. According to my late father, his dad was very good with a gun and did well in rifle and pistol sharp shooting. Due to the multitude of trainees, some 5,000 at a time, most men slept in tents due to the lack of enough barracks accommodations. It was here that my granddad would advance in rank from coach, to assistant chief, and eventually to chief on the firing lines and the butts, or the mounds of earth behind the targets.

“According to The United States Navy, a gunners mate (GM) is a designation given by the Bureau of Navy Personnel to enlisted sailors who either satisfactorily complete initial Gunner's Mate "A" school training, or who "strike" for the rating by showing competence in the field of ordnance. The Gunner's Mate "A" school is held at the Naval Training Center Great Lakes, Illinois. In its early years, the school was very hands-on. Training focuses on the operation, maintenance, and troubleshooting of naval guns, missile launchers and torpedoes as well as a strong emphasis on basic explosives, guidance and tracking systems, small arms, safety and Naval ammunition classification. Upon completion of this basic training, enlisted members often continue on to a specialized "C" school, where they learn a particular weapons system. A GM will specialize in a multitude of weapons varieties; arms such as, shotguns, rifles, pistols, submachine guns, machine guns, explosives, both portable and large-scale, mounted weapons systems, and various rockets, torpedoes, and missiles. As well as this, GMs care for and assist in operating shooting ranges, armories, and the storage and maintenance of arms.”

Through the Grace of God, my grandfather was not shipped overseas but stayed stateside doing training and teaching exercises the remainder of the war. On November 11th, at 5a.m. in the morning, in a railroad car parked in a French forest, an armistice was signed with the Germans. The terms of the agreement called for the cessation of fighting to begin at 11am so on that 11th day in that 11th month of 1918, World War I came to an end. The whole world celebrated as The Great War was finally over. Frank went to Pensacola, Florida for some R&R.

Although the war was over, my grandfather had signed up to serve for 4 years and he’d only been in the navy for seven months. However, on a letter head report from the Headquarters of the Sixth Naval District, Peoples Office Building Charleston, S.C. dated February 15th, 1919 it indicated that Frank C. Davidson was relieved from active duty until such time as his services may be further required. There was also a Navy Transportation Report with the train schedule for his leave. He would depart Charleston S.C. at 11:40PM on the 15th and travel to Savannah, GA, where he changed trains for Birmingham, AL and then on to Springfield, MO where he boarded another train to arrive in Cherryvale, KS at 4:23AM the morning of February the 18th. He must have been an exhausted but happy man to be in Kansas. “There’s no place like home.”

On September 30th, 1921, Frank Carson Davidson received an Honorable Discharge form the Ninth Naval District of the United States Naval Reserve Force. He would not complete his four years but I know from his constant use of firearms, it affected his hearing. Perhaps he received an early release because of this. I used to feel sorry for my granddad as everyone was always yelling at him because he couldn’t hear very well. He was a 50 year member of the Chanute, KS Boerstler-May American Legion Post 170.

After a long and full life, my grandfather died from a stroke on June 6th, 1975 at 80. The photos below are how I fondly and lovingly remember him.

Frank Davidson image

5e1de0f04a5cc Frank Jr Seaman

5e1de0f04ae6e Frank Jr Gunners mate

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