First Lieutenant Vivian Roberts:The Georgia National Guard's only POW of WWI
By Maj. William Carraway, Historian, Georgia Army National Guard
via the army.mil web site
MACON, Ga. -The United States observes National Prisoner of War / Missing in Action Recognition Day on the third Friday in September. This day allows provides a moment of pause to remember those who have been held as prisoners of war during our nation's conflicts and those listed as missing in action. One hundred years ago, the only Georgia Guardsmen held as a POW during World War I began his long journey home to Macon, Ga. from a prison hospital in Germany.
Vivian Hill Roberts Sr. was born September 29, 1887, in Jackson Ga. He enlisted in the Macon Hussars, then Company F of the 2nd Georgia Infantry Regiment as a private July 26, 1906. Roberts served in every enlisted rank, culminating in a stint as the first sergeant of Company F before accepting a commission as a second lieutenant March 1, 1915. He was working as a bookkeeper for Benson Clothing Company in Macon when the Georgia Guard was deployed to the Mexican Border in August 1916. Returning with his regiment in 1917, Roberts company was redesignated Company A, 151st Machine Gun Battalion and assigned to the 42nd Division which sailed to France in October 1917.
As a platoon leader, Roberts led his machine gun sections from the Baccarat Sector near the southern terminus of the Western Front through the fiery Champagne Marne Defensive. He was promoted to first lieutenant May 15, 1918.
On July 28, 1918, Roberts' Company was heavily engaged while supporting infantry assaults on German positions near Sergy France. The men of the 151st MGB were ordered to move forward with the Infantry Regiments of the 84th Brigade, 42nd Division. As the machine gunners were already overly burdened with heavy machine guns and ammunition, Roberts ordered the men to remove unnecessary gear -- including packs and canteens. In the assault, the men would only carry ammunition and gas masks.
Roberts recalled moving forward with four machine guns and establishing firing positions for his sections. Unable to proceed due to the presence of enemy machine guns positioned near the crest of the hill upon which he was advancing, Roberts requested infantry support which came in the form of a company from the 167th under command of Capt. Wyatt. Roberts recalls what happened next.
Read the entire article on the army.mil web site.
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