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Ohio in WW1 - Articles

 

The Long Road Home

African American WWI Veterans return to their communities

By Paul LaRue, Ohio World War I Centennial Committee

 

World War I concluded on November 11, 1918, but in many ways, the war never ended for African American Veterans returning home to a segregated, racist America. In 1919 seventy-eight African Americans were lynched in the United States. Eleven of the seventy-eight lynched were ex-soldiers; two were still wearing their World War I uniforms.

In World War I, 380,000 African Americans would answer the call to serve, and 200,000 of these men would travel to France as part of the American Expeditionary Force. While serving in France, African American Soldiers were exposed to poison gas, machine gun fire, and high explosive shells. These soldiers also experienced a paradox while serving; the men received better treatment by French citizens and the French Army than their own Army.

Image LaRue Paul 372nd Infantry Columbus 1919The 372nd Infantry Regiment on parade in Columbus after returning from Europe in 1919. Via Ohio Memory

As soldiers returned to their communities they brought with them the visible and invisible scars of their war. Cincinnatian Lewis Higgins, while serving as a member of the 369th Infantry Regiment (better known as the Harlem Hellfighters), was severely wounded in action, and thus declared as 30% disabled. Sarah Good, of Cleveland, and also a widow of a Civil War soldier, described her son's condition following his World War I service:

“... My son who used to help me, went to the World War and came back, all a total wreck, and no health to do any work scarcely. They gave him eight dollars a month for a few months after his return home and then they taken that away ....”  

The examination of data from the Ohio Graves Registration Cards of 165 World War I Veterans, buried in the Historic Union Baptist Cemetery between 1918 and 1940, reveals an interesting narrative. Twenty veterans’ records list tuberculosis as cause of death, while another twenty records list their cause of death as homicide. Two veterans’ cause of death is listed as suicide. It is impossible to know all the challenges these veterans faced in their post war experience, but life for African Americans in the 1920's and 1930's was not easy.

But even with the obstacles facing these returning veterans, many found success. Private Wilber Page of the 317th Engineers returned from France in 1919. Later that year, Private Page would become Reverend Page, Pastor of the Historic Union Baptist Church in Cincinnati. Reverend Page would lead the church for the next sixty-six years. Lieutenant Charles C. Jackson of the 370th Infantry Regiment (better known as the Black Devils) a decorated combat officer, moved his family from Akron to Cincinnati to become a successful independent realtor.

The service and sacrifice of African American World War I servicemen seemed to quickly fade from most Americans’ memory. After the parades welcoming the returning soldiers home were over, the stories of bravery and sacrifice were left to be told at African American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars Posts. Few monuments or memorials were erected to African American World War I Soldiers and Sailors. One of the first monuments erected was by an African American combat regiment to commemorate its dead. The 372nd Infantry Regiment raised more than 10,000 francs before leaving France for home for the construction of a monument. The 372nd asked the monument be erected near a public highway, near the point of farthest advance by the regiment. Today the monument to the 372nd stands by a road near Monthois. The monument is not an official United States memorial, so appropriately it is maintained by the French and private funds.

Image LaRue Paul 372nd MonumentMonument to the 372nd Infantry Regiment in Monthois, France. Photo credit to Lillian Pfluke, Founder American War Memorials Overseas

We can continue to honor the memory of African American World War I servicemen in our communities and classrooms. The World War I Centennial has provided opportunities for teachers and students to learn more about the service and sacrifice of African American World War I Soldiers. The Ohio World War I Centennial Committee and the Ohio History Connection offer several lesson plans on African American World War I Service:

1.) African American Combat Troops

http://www.ohiohistoryhost.org/ohiomemory/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Searching-for-Homer-Lawson-Lesson-Plan.pdf

2.) African American Labor Regiments

http://www.ohiohistoryhost.org/ohiomemory/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/African-Am-Labor-for-Victory-Lesson-Plan.pdf

3.) Technology and the 325th Field Signal Battalion

http://www.ohiohistoryhost.org/ohiomemory/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/TechnologyWWI_NEHLessonPlan.pdf

4.) Veterans Organizations

http://www.ohiohistoryhost.org/ohiomemory/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/CaptainMarx_NEHLessonPlan.pdf

 

Names on a Wall

Documenting Ohio's World War I Deaths in Service

By Paul LaRue, Ohio WWI Centennial Committee

 

Most Ohio counties honor their community's World War I service members with a list of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. My county, Fayette, is no different. On the Fayette County Courthouse lawn is a monument with two plaques containing the names of Fayette County's World War I dead.

 The United States number of deaths in World War I was approximately 116,000. Ohio's eighty-eight counties contributed more than 260,000 soldiers, sailors, and marines to the war effort. Sadly, more than 6500 of these service members never made it home. I became curious about the sources available to locate or identify my community’s WWI deaths in service. These sources and data will vary from county to county. Here are the sources I used to develop a database of Fayette County's WWI deaths in service.

First, I started with the names on our local WWI memorial. Consult your county's veteran organizations and County Veterans Services for plaques and lists of WWI service members. Your local historical society can be helpful in locating local plaques, and/or memorials. Our local plaques (Fayette County) were dedicated May 27, 1919 and list the names of forty-four service members from our county that died in service. These names would have been collected from available local sources.

Second, local period newspapers are extremely helpful. Your local library or genealogical society can be an excellent source of local newspapers. The Ohio History Connection has an excellent collection of Ohio newspapers (Link: http://catalog.ohiohistory.org/Presto/home/home.aspx?ssid=Newspapers ). I used Fayette County's weekly newspaper of the time, the Ohio State Register. The paper contained an article listing the names of the local deaths in service as of December 6, 1918. The newspaper listed twenty-six names as deaths in WWI service. If you have been following my data, you should quickly see a problem. There are eighteen more names on the memorial plaques than listed in the newspaper. Following World War I, the United States government went to great lengths to identify and recover the dead in Europe. Initially, a large number of soldiers were classified as missing in action. The December 6, 1918 issue of the Ohio State Register reflects this fact. Lieutenant Paul Hughey, the namesake of Washington Court House American Legion Post 25 was shot down over Tronville, France on September 14, 1918. At the end of the war his death was classified as missing in action. Lt. Hughey's body was later recovered and buried in France before ultimately being returned to our community for burial in 1921. So, don't be surprised if the number of war dead from your community will vary from source to source.

LaRue Paul Image Ohio State Register Fayette County War DeadFayette County's War Dead listed in the Ohio State Register

My third source was shared with me by the Manuscript Curator for The Ohio History Connection, John Haas. In the source, Charles Galbreath's History of Ohio, Volume #1, Ohio's WWI dead are listed by county beginning on page 699. The listing includes both the date of death and the town or community the service member was from. Galbreath lists thirty-three names of deaths in service from Fayette County. Still, this number does not match either the plaques or local newspapers.

Next, I cross referenced the names from the three sources – local WWI War Deaths in service plaques, the local newspaper article, and Galbreath's Vol. 1 – against two other sources. The first additional source was the Ohio Roster of Soldiers, Sailors and Marines of the World War 1917-1918. The Ohio Rosters are extremely useful. The twenty-two-volume series contains the names and key data on the more than 260,000 Ohioans who served in the Army, Navy, and Marines. The names are arranged alphabetically, and contain information on the regiment, place and date of enlistment, race, and birth. Death in service information is also provided—the date, place, and next of kin notified. Volumes 1 - 19 contain the names of soldiers, volumes 20 - 21 contain the names of sailors, and volume 22 contains the names of Marines. These volumes can be found in most public libraries genealogy section, as well as online.

Finally, I used the database by the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) ( https://www.abmc.gov ). The ABMC was established by Congress in 1923. It operates and maintains twenty-six American Military Cemeteries and twenty-seven Memorials in sixteen countries. The ABMC maintains a database of more than 200,000 names of United States service members from World War I through the Vietnam War. More than 35,000 names are of WWI Soldiers and Sailors. The database provides name, rank, regiment, state, and location of burial in an ABMC Cemetery. Roughly 30% of American Service members from WWI whom died in service never returned to the United States for burial. This makes the ABMC database extremely useful.

Once I had cross referenced the names, I was left with three names I could not verify in the Ohio Rosters, which bothered me. I reached out to an excellent genealogist in Cincinnati to get his thoughts. He suggested I look at the local death indexes, then check the local newspapers. I located two of the names this way. One soldier's name was misspelled on the memorial plaque and actually was in the Ohio Rosters. The second soldier's death was chronicled in our local newspaper. The newspaper article described his enlisting in Michigan, which would explain his not being listed in the Ohio Rosters. Only one name listed in the Galbreath records went undocumented. The service member served in the Navy, and I never could find a direct connection to our county.

LaRue Paul Image Fayette County Court House with WWI MemorialThe Fayette County Court House with World War I Memorial in the foreground

I also added several names to the database. Homer Lawson served in the 372nd, and was killed in action. He is the namesake of American Legion Post 653 in Washington Court House. Lawson's name was omitted, (I speculate) because his mother had moved her young family (including Homer) to Columbus long before the outbreak of the war. Homer Lawson's service is documented in Galbreath, listed from Franklin County. The Fayette County African American community claim Homer Lawson as a local son whom made the ultimate sacrifice. Private Lawson is also profiled in a book, The Gold Star of Victory Memorial. The text honors Franklin County's war dead, and can be found through the Columbus Metropolitan Library. This also highlights the value of seeking out local history sources.

I also included two names from the Village of New Holland. New Holland, like numerous towns and villages in Ohio, straddles two counties. Three quarters of New Holland is located in Pickaway County, and one quarter is located in Fayette County. The New Holland community lost four of its sons in the war. Following WWI the ARCH Post #477 American Legion was organized in New Holland. The name ARCH was an acronym created by taking first letter from the first names of the four fallen soldiers. Two of the four names appear in the Fayette County data. I chose to include the other two names, though technically they are from Pickaway County. I wanted a comprehensive list to honor as many service members sacrifice as possible.

My final database of Fayette County deaths in service lists forty-eight names. Eighteen of the forty-eight names list pneumonia as the cause of death. Fourteen of the forty-eight were killed in action. Two never left Ohio, dying at Camp Sherman and the Wilbur Wright Field. Ten of the forty-eight are buried in ABMC Cemeteries overseas, including four names listed on the tablets of the missing. The earliest death was in April 1917, the latest death was in July 1919. One death was of a soldier killed in a railroad accident in France, and one death was a sailor drowned in the North Sea when his ship hit a mine and sank. Each service member's story demonstrates incredible personal sacrifice.

My hope is that my trail of resources can assist you with your own research. Help Ohio commemorate the World War I Centennial by documenting and recognizing the service members that made the ultimate sacrifice from your community.

 

 

        

 

Teacher Resources Now Available: Technology and World War I

The Ohio History Connection is pleased to announce the third release of free World War I lesson plans, resource guides, and classroom activities as part of the Little Stories of the Great War: Ohioans in World War I project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Learn about technological advancements during the war, and bring STEM into the history classroom, by engaging students with primary sources focusing on communication, aviation, weapons and artillery, and warships and submarines.

SA1947AV B01F02 004Photograph showing a soldier operating a radio station inside a truck in France, with two observers using binoculars to detect aerial threats. Via Ohio Memory.

Through photographs and letters in the World War I in Ohio Collection on Ohio Memory, the World War I Technology Impacts Ohio lesson plan explores wartime communications, the role of African American soldiers in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, and Ohio’s impact on the growth of wartime aviation.  The Technology of the First World War classroom activity includes four activities that require students to think critically about how soldiers’ needs and the new fighting style of trench warfare led to technological developments. The First Modern War resource guide provides sets of primary sources focusing on various aspects of technology that teachers can adapt for a variety of activities and assignments.

If you have any questions, please contact project staff at ohiomemory@ohiohistory.org.

Click here to download the lesson plan.

Click here to download the resource guide.

Click here to download the classroom activity.  

 

 

 

 

Christmas 1918

On December 25, 1918, thousands of Ohioans were in Europe, serving as United States soldiers in the Great War. With the Compiegne Armistice of November 11 fighting ceased on the Western Front, but a formal peace had yet to be signed, and the soldiers remained near the battlefields on which they had fought. When Christmas came, Ohioans of the 37th “Buckeye” Division infantry were in Belgium, not far from the Scheldt River where they had been when the war ended. Artillerymen of the 37th were in France, close to the Meuse-Argonne where they saw action in the closing days of the war. Some, like the soldiers in the 166th Infantry Regiment and contingents of the 83rd Division, enjoyed Christmas in Germany as part of the Army of Occupation. Still others were scattered around France and Italy. Wherever they were, Ohioans made the best of celebrating the holiday while serving overseas, with gifts from home or organizations like the YMCA, and by blending their own traditions with local customs.

In Belgium, the infantrymen of the 37th Division spent Christmas near their billets. Packages from home arrived for many of the men, and the YMCA and Knights of Columbus stepped in and provided candy and cigarettes for those who did not receive anything. Celebrations were largely left to individual commanders, and the festivities were lavish for some units, with hot cocoa and gifts for everyone around. Their holiday celebrations mostly reflected American traditions, although with some improvised adjustments. In France, the 37th’s field artillery decorated their accommodations with locally-collected trimmings and feasted on chickens procured by their mess sergeants. They were also able to secure barrels of French beer to help warm their spirits. The highlight of the holiday season for soldiers of the 37th Division were the ample leave passes issued by headquarters. During and after Christmas, Ohioans took the opportunity to travel to the south of France and even Italy.

Article Moore Christmas 1918 Image Hayes CardYMCA Christmas Card sent to Colonel Webb C. Hayes depicting Santa Claus as a French soldier. Via Ohio Memory.

For the Ohio soldiers of the Army of Occupation, Christmas came while they were keeping watch on the Rhine. Though part of an occupying force, the men were able to benefit from the generosity of German civilians in Coblenz, Oberwinter, and other towns in the Rhineland. In December, the Americans were still under orders not to fraternize with German civilians, however. The history of the 166th Infantry clearly summarizes how the men felt about fraternization: “Fraternizing? Well, what of it? Orders said not to fraternize, but who is going to gruffly refuse the proffered hand of friendship or the gift of cakes or fruit at Christmas time?” The history of the 308th Engineers shares similar sentiments, stating that quite often men spent the holidays in homes with new friends despite orders prohibiting fraternization. The men of the occupation were not offered the leave passes of the divisions in France, but they were able to celebrate the holiday with new friends, who had only months before been hated enemies.

Article Moore Christmas 1918 Image LetterLetter written by Ralph Roesch while in Italy on Christmas Day, 1918. Via Ohio Memory.

Even for all of the festivities, soldiers longed to return home. In a letter to his sister, Private Ralph Roesch wrote “I had the blues a good many times. But I never had them as bad as I did today. Every time anyone says ‘Merry Xmas’ it makes me feel like… I want to sit down and have a good cry.” At the time he wrote the letter, Private Roesch was serving with the 332nd Infantry in Italy. He also wrote of the YMCA providing chocolate, lemon drops, and cigarettes to the men, who were likely as homesick as Roesch. Fortunately for Ohioans who spent Christmas of 1918 in Europe, they had survived the fighting and not long into 1919 the War Department began bringing them home.

Sources

Cheseldine, Raymond Minshall. Ohio in the Rainbow; official story of the 166th infantry, 42nd division, in the world war. Columbus; The F.J. Heer printing co., 1924.

Cole, Ralph D. and W. C. Howells. The Thirty-seventh division in the world war, 1917-1918. Columbus; The Thirty-Seventh Division Veterans Association, 1926.

Roesch, Ralph. Ralph Roesch to Pearl Schalf, December 25, 1918. http://www.ohiomemory.org/cdm/ref/collection/p16007coll51/id/8151

With the 308th engineers from Ohio to the Rhine and back, 1917-1919. Cleveland; 308th Engineers Veterans Association, 1923.

 

"Where Do We Go From Here?"

World War I Veterans at Home

By Kristen Newby, Projects Coordinator, Ohio History Connection

Newby Kristen Image MSS1612AV B01F11 001The War Camp Community Service and other organizations published booklets like this one to help returning soldiers transition from military life. Via Ohio Memory.

November 11, 2018, marked the World War I Armistice Centennial, and Americans remembered the honorable men and women who served in the Great War. These types of anniversaries often inspire us to learn more about soldiers’ and sailors’ training regiments and daily life, as well as the harsh conditions they survived and the treacherous landscapes they traversed. But, another important aspect of World War I, or any armed conflict, is what happens to servicemen once they return home. After the parades and overjoyed welcomes from beloved family and friends, what resources were available to help the 4.7 million World War I veterans readjust to civilian life?

The history of government funded veterans benefits dates back to 1776 when the Continental Congress established the United States’ first pension law, granting half pay to Revolutionary War veterans suffering from serious disabilities. After the ratification of the constitution in 1789, the federal government assumed responsibility for veterans’ pensions, which were previously disbursed by state governments. Federal officials revised U.S. pension laws several times over the following decades, including a need-based service pension for Revolutionary War veterans. The almost 2 million Civil War veterans initiated more progressive laws and programs, including compensation for diseases incurred during service and a large-scale national effort to provide medical care for veterans.

Newby Kristen Image MSS1612AV B01F21 03This passage comes from an American Red Cross pamphlet titled “When You Get Home” which helps soldiers adjust to civilian life and covers topics including insurance considerations, legal advice, and government compensation. Via Ohio Memory.

Prior to America joining World War I, the Sherwood Act (1912) granted pensions to all veterans, regardless of disability, at age 62. Once the U.S. joined World War I, the unprecedented enormity of mobilized troops forced the federal government to ensure the well-being and financial stability of servicemen and their families. Originally passed in 1914 to insure American ships and their cargos, and later expanded to include men killed, captured, or injured while aboard merchant ships, the War Risk Insurance Act was amended in 1917 to offer three basic benefits—to support servicemen’s families through allotments and allowances; to compensate families in cases of death or disability; and low-cost insurance coverage.

This Act marks the first time the federal government offered family allowances to protect their finances while the main bread-winner is away. Servicemen paid insurance premiums out of their monthly pay, but could also pay a $15 monthly allotment so that the government would send monthly allowances of no more than $50 to their dependents, with the allowance amount based on family size. If injured or disabled, the government provided monthly compensation for men and their families. Soldiers and sailors received $60 upon honorable discharge, and were then responsible for maintaining their insurance coverage by continuing to pay their monthly premiums. Five years after honorable discharge, servicemen could decide whether they wanted to continue their coverage or start a policy with a private insurance company or employer. However, private companies often would not sign on men with serious war-related health conditions and charged more expensive premiums.

Although the provisions within the War Risk Insurance Act protected soldiers’ families during the war, veterans returned with physical and emotional scars, many of them permanently disabled and unable to work. The government paid for medical, occupational, and rehabilitative care for injured and disabled veterans, as well as monthly compensation. Veterans could enroll in government funded vocational training through the Federal Board of Vocational Education, and receive a training stipend of $65 per month or more.

Newby Kristen Image 0688This article from the July 5, 1918, issue of the Morrow County Republican describes the protections given under the War Risk Insurance Act (1917) and the benefits of enrollment. Via Ohio Memory.

Many organizations like the Red Cross, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, and the War Camp Community Service distributed literature detailing how to receive proper medical and rehabilitative care, collect due compensation, find jobs, and how to handle financial situations that occurred while they were away, like lapsed mortgages and pre-war insurance policies. These organizations, particularly the newly formed American Legion, fought for veterans’ rights and pushed for increased educational benefits to help disabled veterans learn new hirable skills so they could work. Although partially disabled veterans received compensation through the War Risk Insurance Act, many veterans suffered financially because monthly disability compensation was often not enough to make up for the individual’s loss in earning power, as he could not return to work making his pre-war income. In 1917, the Red Cross opened the Institute for Crippled and Disabled men in New York to train amputees and individuals with decreased mobility, and by the war’s end most of its patients were veterans. The War Camp Community Service worked with companies to hire veterans and those whose war work jobs were now terminated. Many companies hired back previous employees once they returned from the service, and tried to open other positions to keep workers who temporarily replaced servicemen.

Newby Kristen Image SL JobsForFightersThis poster encourages veterans to visit the U.S. Employment Service, operated by the Bureau for Returning Soldiers, to find a job. Courtesy of Sandusky Library via Ohio Memory.

Despite these combined efforts, veterans often did not receive the care and assistance they needed to reintegrate into society and gain financial stability for their families. Unfortunately, unemployment and poor housing conditions were realities for many veterans, not to mention the blatantly unwelcome reception of returning African American soldiers, leading to the 1919 race riots and the eventual Bonus March in 1932.

Although far from a success, one might consider the World War I era to be the United States’ first concerted effort to care for veterans and meet their needs. The government failed these men in many ways, but that doesn’t dim our gratitude and reverence for the men and women who served.

Newby Kristen Image VFM4667 002Ohioan Clarence Matlack submitted an affidavit complaining of lung trouble after gas exposure during World War I. Via Ohio Memory.

Sources

American Red Cross, When You Get Home. http://www.ohiomemory.org/cdm/ref/collection/p16007coll51/id/1025

Department of Veteran Affairs. VA History in Brief. https://www.va.gov/opa/publications/archives/docs/history_in_brief.pdf

Douglas, Paul H. “The War Risk Insurance Act.” Journal of Political Economy, May 1918. Accessed 12/13/2018. https://www.disabilitymuseum.org/dhm/lib/detail.html?id=3008&page=all

Meloney, William Brown. Where Do We Go From Here? War Camp Community Service. http://www.ohiomemory.org/cdm/ref/collection/p16007coll51/id/1016

Reft, Ryan, “World War I: Injured Veterans and the Disability Rights Movement,” Library of Congress Blog, December 21, 2017. Accessed December 31, 2018. https://blogs.loc.gov/loc/2017/12/world-war-i-injured-veterans-and-the-disability-rights-movement/.

 

 

 

Colonel Charles Young was not Alone

The systematic destruction of the African American Officer Corps in World War I

By Paul LaRue, Ohio WWI Centennial Committee

The story of Colonel Charles Young's service, sacrifice, and disappointment at not leading African American Troops in France during World War I has been well documented. Unfortunately, his story was not unique; large numbers of African American World War I officers were systematically denied or pushed out of leadership positions. World War I was fought during the backdrop of Jim Crow and in a blatantly racist America. I suppose it should come as no surprise that African American World War I officers were treated extremely poorly. The level of institutional racism encountered by African American officers is shocking.

Charles YoungCharles Young wearing the uniform of the 9th US Cavalry. In 1917, the War Department forcibly retired then-Colonel Charles Young rather than risk having white soldiers serve under his command in France.

African American soldiers served both in the 92nd and 93rd Divisions. The 93rd was an incomplete division comprised of four infantry regiments. The 93rd Division was given over to French Command. The 92nd Division was a complete division which stayed under American command. The 370th Infantry Regiment was formed around an Illinois National Guard unit, and was part of the 93rd Division. The 370th is unique amongst African American regiments for being able to keep its African American command structure largely intact. Unfortunately, this was an exception for African American World War I regiments. Ohioan Lt. Charles Jackson served as an officer of a machine gun company in the 370th, and was decorated for bravery in combat.

It is hard to imagine the impact the destruction of the African American Officer Corps had on African American World War I soldiers and their service. One of the best descriptions of service by an African American World War I officer was written by Charles H. Houston for the Pittsburgh Courier in 1940. Houston, a prominent attorney and lead counsel for the NAACP, had served as a First Lieutenant in 368th Infantry, 92nd Division. He wrote a thirteen-installment series on being an African American officer in World War I. Houston masterfully chronicles the racism and bias faced by himself and his fellow officers. The insidious nature of racism is reflected in things both small and large. Lt. Houston reflected on the disparity Black Officers faced in camp "...The Negro Troops were not as well supplied with Coal as the White Troops..." Worse still was the attitude reflected by the senior command.

At Fort Des Moines, 1200 African American officer candidates went to train for service in World War I. Lt. Colonel Charles Ballou was the commander at Fort Des Moines, and later would serve as commander of the 92nd Division. Houston wrote: "... Colonel Ballou told the regiment that the camp was an experiment and the future of Negro Officers in the American Army depended on the record we made at Fort Des Moines; that he expected us to vindicate our friends and justify the decision to make the experiment of training Negroes as Officers by staying out of anyplace where our presence right or wrong might cause friction..." Apparently Colonel Ballou was not aware Colonel Charles Young, the third African American to graduate from West Point, had led the men of the 9th and 10th Cavalry in combat for decades, and was a far more logical choice to command both Fort Des Moines and the 92nd Division!

Many of the same attitudes toward African American Officers was found at the regimental level. Historian and author W.E.B. DuBois wrote of the 317 Engineers, a regiment organized at Camp Sherman, Ohio. "... There were two battalions and all the officers were colored, except four field officers. The Commanding Officers, however, were from the first determined to get rid of the Negroes. On May 10 the colored captains were relieved ... On July 22 all the remaining colored officers, except two Lieutenants, the chaplain and the medical officers, were relieved at the repeated requests of Colonel Brown of Georgia..." There seemed to a belief (at least by some) that white southerners were better suited to command African American troops.

Co D 317 EngineersPanoramic Photograph of Company D, 317th Engineer Regiment, taken at Camp Sherman. No officers appear appear in the photo.

This belief and practice continued into World War II. Robert Renshaw, an African American World War II Veteran from Dayton, Ohio, reflected on his experience in the Army: "... If you want the truth, now I'm going to give you the truth. We had four white, non-educated officers from Texas - very prejudiced, couldn't read and write. Our outfit was made of boys from Ohio, Detroit and Chicago ... We had education, they didn't ..."

The impact of institutional racism on the African American World War I Officer Corps is hard to measure. We can evaluate the impact by examining the exceedingly small number of honors and medals received by African American World War I soldiers. Putting aside the generous recognition by the French government, a disproportionately small number of African American soldiers received medals or commendations for their wartime service. Fortunately, the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission, along with the Congressional Black Caucus, are looking into this long overdue aspect of the story of the 380,000 African Americans that served our nation honorably in World War I. It is critical that their voices and stories are heard, including in our nation’s classrooms. Resources for teachers are available, such as the National Park Service's Teaching with Historic Places series that features a lesson plan focusing on the World War I service of Colonel Charles Young. Also The Black History Bulletin, Volume 80, Number 2: Titled: African Americans in Times of War. This issue provides educators resources and lesson plans that include content on: Colonel Charles Young, and Lieutenants Charles Houston and Charles Jackson.

Teaching with Historic Places lesson plan on Colonel Charles Young's WWI Service:

https://www.nps.gov/subjects/teachingwithhistoricplaces/lightning-lesson-002_charles-young-house.htm

 

Saving the World for Democracy, by Charles H. Houston for the Pittsburgh Courier in (13) installments 1940: August 10th, 4th installment

Same as above; July 27, 2nd installment

An essay toward a history of the Black Man in the Great War by W.E.B. DuBois, The Crisis, June 1919

Robert E. Renshaw (Collection AFC 2001/001/49811), Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

 

 

 

Spirits of Ohio’s Doughboys

Viquesney Spirit of the American Doughboy Statues across Ohio

By Cyrus Moore III, Ohio WWI Centennial Committee

Statues are a common feature of town squares and parks throughout Ohio. Often they are dedicated to local men who served in the Civil War, and feature soldiers, sailors, and depictions of liberty embodied. These statues reached the peak of their popularity in the early 1900s, when Cleveland and other cities erected enormous monuments covered with sculptures and reliefs. By the time the First World War ended such massive memorials were on the decline. In their stead came statues of an individual soldier representing the American fighting spirit. One design epitomizes the First World War statue, E. M. Viquesney’s Spirit of the American Doughboy, and Ohio is fortunate to have as many as fourteen throughout the state.

Viquesney’s statue shows a US infantryman charging through no-mans land in the First World War. In a pose reminiscent of the statue of liberty, he is holding a grenade as he moves forward. The Spirit of the American Doughboy is perhaps the most iconic of First World War statues in the United States. Viquesney sought to portray a soldier in combat—with rifle, bayonet affixed, and the ever-precious gas mask—showing as best he could the realities of war. Viquesney used not one model for his statue, but combined the features of some fifty veterans to create a composite soldier that represented all of America’s fighting men.

Viquesney came from a family of French lineage who had been stone carvers since the early 1800s at least. Born in 1876, Ernest Moore Viquesney, known as “Dick,” grew up in Spencer, Indiana, where he learned to carve stone. After serving in the Spanish-American War, Viquesney moved around the country, but spent the years between 1905 and 1922 in Americus, Georgia, before returning to Indiana. It was in Americus that he created Spirit of the American Doughboy.

Akron, Crooksville, Fostoria, Gallipolis, Marion, Newark, New Philadelphia, Swanton, Woodville, Zanesville all have statues that bear Viquesney’s name. St. Bernard in Cincinnati has a statue with the name of Viquesney’s business partner Walter Rylander. Blue Ash in Cincinnati and Warren both have copies made from Viquesney’s molds but by different foundries.

Photo Oct 16 2 10 44 PMViquesney Doughboy Statue in Newark, Ohio

Ohio’s Viquesney Doughboy statues began with Crooksville in 1922 (according to researchers Earl Goldsmith and Les Kopel). Many were dedicated in the late 1920s and early 1930s, and the last came in 1941 when the town of Warren dedicated its statue. Though anyone could purchase a Viquesney Doughboy, many were purchased by veteran organizations, like American Legion posts (New Philadelphia, Woodville), Auxiliaries (Gallipolis), and even the Veterans of Foreign Wars (Newark). Naturally, dedications usually occurred on or near Armistice Day (Akron, Crooksville, Fostoria, Marion, and New Philadelphia).

Though iconic, Viquesney’s Doughboy portrayal was not the first. Mere months before Viquesney began marketing his statue, sculptor John Paulding debuted a realistic Doughboy statue, Over the Top. If not for Viquesney’s aggressive marketing, Pauldings statue—an example of which can be found in Chillicothe—might have become the most iconic Doughboy statue to honor the war. Owing to their similarities, however, Over the Top statues are often confused for and referred to incorrectly as a The Spirit of the American Doughboy.

When you are traveling through Ohio, admiring its many historic monuments and statues, keep an eye out for Spirit of the American Doughboy.

Doughboy Viquesney Gallipolis 01Doughboy Viquesney Statue in Gallipolis, Ohio

This article borrows heavily from the excellent work found on the E.M. Viquesney Doughboy Database by Earl Goldsmith and Les Kopel https://doughboysearcher.weebly.com/

 

 

 

Angels of World War One: Nurses from Washington County, Ohio

By Jane Young

Ella Kathleen Hoff

In August 1914, the American Red Cross saw the conflict in Europe as a great humanitarian crisis and decided on a mission of neutrality, by providing medical aid to wounded soldiers on both sides of the war. Their plan was to ship medical personnel and supplies to Europe and then to disperse them in small groups to areas of need. The S.S. Red Cross left New York in September 1914 and headed to Europe. On board were 30 surgeons and 125 Red Cross nurses. The ship also carried 10,000 tons of medical supplies contributed by the American people. On the passenger list of nurses was E.K. Hoff, of Washington County, Ohio

     Ella Kathleen Hoff served in a reserve hospital in Vienna, Austria. Ella had attended the Cincinnati Training School for Nurses and was working at the Cincinnati City Hospital when she joined the Red Cross Nursing Service. Ella and several of her coworkers were on the Red Cross mission to Europe. Nurses accepting this medical mission agreed to a 6-month contract and received $60 per month. On arriving in New York, the nurses received uniforms and other items needed for hospital work. The nurses were to wear their uniforms, including their Red Cross badges, on board ship for their protection as “neutrals.” During the voyage, the nurses attended classes taught by the surgeons to prepare them for the work ahead. The classes included the metric system and language instruction. The nurse’s lectures also included appropriate moral conduct. The Red Cross wanted to avoid any appearance of impropriety in the formal cultures of Europe. At various ports in Europe, the medical teams of 3 surgeons and 12 nurses disembarked, destined for France, Germany, Russia, Belgium, Serbia, and Bulgaria. Ella and her team served in Vienna, at that time part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. There these medical teams began treating the wounds, infections, mustard gas burns and emotional injuries—shell shock—of the soldiers. By mid-year 1915, the Red Cross medical teams were called home due to lack of funds to continue the mission, along with the German blockade of Allied ships making it difficult for the Red Cross to send supplies needed by their teams. Ella Hoff is listed on the passenger manifest of the S.S. Frederik VIII. Ella traveled with seven other nurses from Cincinnati on the return trip. Ella had gotten sick while working in Austria and she died of tubercular pneumonia a month after returning home. Her obituary stated, “Nurse Dies a Heroine.”

Ella Kathleen HoffElla Kathleen Hoff’s photo included in the WWI Memorial in the Marietta City Hall building

Alice M. Young

    After the United States declared war against Germany in April 1917, Red Cross nurses were called to work in training camps. City fathers of Charlotte, North Carolina, successfully lobbied for a camp, which they hoped would bring economic benefits to the city. Planners designed Camp Greene to support about 40,000 troops in training at any given time. However, the Army constructed the camp hastily which, as reported by the Representative from New Hampshire, resulted in very poor living conditions for the soldiers. The report cautioned about these conditions and the potential for infectious disease to flourish. This occurred in 1918 when the Spanish Flu epidemic hit Camp Greene. It was particularly deadly for those who cared for the sick. Washington County Ohio Red Cross Nurse, Alice Young was at Camp Greene in October of 1918.

     Alice was born in New Matamoras, Ohio. She died, age 41, of pneumonia in October of 1918 while she was working in the hospital in Camp Greene. On Alice’s grave in New Matamoras, there is an outline of a Red Cross, with “Army Nurse Corporal,” and the Latin phrase, “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.” (It is sweet and honorable to die for one’s country). There are two photos of women in the memorial to those from Washington County who served and died during WWI. One is Ella Hoff, and the other is in a white nurse’s uniform is Alice Young.

Alice M YoungAlice M. Young's photo in the WWI Memorial in the Marietta City Hall building

     During the Great War, 23,822 nurses served with the American Red Cross, and of those, 19,931 were on active duty overseas with the Army, Navy, US Public Health Service, and the Red Cross. One hundred ten nurses died overseas due to illness and 186 died in the U.S. Many of the nurses were awarded medals of honor from Britain, France and other countries, including the United states. In researching the patriotic service of the Red Cross Nurse in the Great War, I found this metal sign that was inspired by the knowledge of the sacrifices made a generation ago by Red Cross Nurses. I think these nurses were truly angels to those they cared for during the Great War.

https://shop.worldwar1centennial.org/World-War-I-metal-tin-signs-red-cross-gifts-nurses

References

ancestry.com

Conditions of Camp Greene. Speech of Hon. Sherman E. Burroughs of New Hampshire in the House of Representatives, February 22,1918 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1918) (http://docsouth.unc.edu/wwi/burroughshs/burroughs.html)

Contributions of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps in World War I (https://e-anca.org/History/Topics-in-ANC-History/Conributions-of-the-US-Army-Nurse-Corps-in-WWI)

Davidson, Henry P., The American Red Cross in the Great War. New York: Macmillan. 1919.

Middleswart, Bell. History of the Washington County, Ohio, Chapter American Red Cross, April 10, 1917- April 10, 1927. Paper presented by request of Women’s Centennial Association and read, in part, before that organization in commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the Washington County Chapter of the American Red Cross, April 10, 1027).

Sandusky Ohio Daily Register, July 16, 1915, page 3 column 2 “Nurse Dies a Heroine”.

S.S. Red Cross Passenger List 13 September 1914. gjenuick.com/PassengerLista/Hamburg-AmericanLine/Eastbound/1914-09-13-PassengerList-RedCross.html

www.findagrave

 

 

 

Belgian citizens remember Ohio Doughboys

Veteran of 37th Division, interred in European cemetery, recently honored in his Ohio hometown along with other natives who died in WWI

Story by Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Mann
Ohio Army National Guard Historian

BREMEN, Ohio — Located a little over 4,000 miles east of this Fairfield County village is the Flanders Field American Cemetery in Waregem, Belgium. At this peaceful site rest 368 American dead, including 61 Ohioans, who gave their lives in liberating Belgium during World War I.

In the first row of plot C at Flanders Field American Cemetery lies the remains of Sgt. Willis L. Burnworth of the 145th Infantry, 37th Division, Ohio National Guard. Back in the Grandview Cemetery in Bremen is a stone cross wrapped in red flowers also inscribed with the name of a fallen Soldier: Sgt. Willis L. Burnworth.

BurnworthONLYSgt. Willis Burnworth, a member of the 145th Infantry, 37th Division, Ohio National Guard, in a photo circa 1917-18. On Oct. 31, 1918, after successfully leading his platoon in capturing a German machine gun nest near Olsene, Belgium during World War I, Burnworth was killed when a large caliber shell exploded nearby. (Courtesy photo)

One hundred years after his death, nearly 50 people gathered at the Bremen Bethel Church to remember Burnworth and seven other Bremen natives who died during World War I. In the church was Peter Stassen and his wife Collette, two Belgian citizens who adopted the grave of Burnworth in 2014 and served as the driving force behind the ceremony in his hometown.

“Earlier this year I received a letter from Peter asking what Bremen was going to do to remember Sgt. Burnworth this year?” Bremen Mayor Mike Henwood told the audience. “I said I don’t know, but we need to do something.”

Stassen, a retired Belgian army sergeant major, said he and his wife, a retired Belgian navy master chief petty officer, visit the grave about once a month and place flowers at the grave regularly, and always on his birthday and the anniversary of his death.

180805 Z AN559 006Retired Belgian army Sgt. Maj. Peter Stassen and his wife Colette stand behind the grave of Sgt. Willis L. Burnworth at Flanders Field American Cemetery Aug. 5, 2018, in Waregem, Belgium. The Stassens adopted Burnworth’s grave through a campaign by the American Legion Flanders Field Post BEO2 adoption program that began in 2014. Burnworth, a member of the 145th Infantry, 37th Division, Ohio National Guard and a native of Bremen, Ohio, was killed on Oct. 31, 1918, near Olsene, Belgium during World War I. (Ohio National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Mann)

Burnworth was killed on Oct. 31, 1918, near the town of Olsene, Belgium. After successfully leading his platoon in capturing a German machine gun nest, a large caliber shell exploded nearby. The concussion killed Burnworth without placing a single mark on his body, Stassen told those gathered. 

In 1919, his body was disinterred from its battlefield grave and the U.S. government gave Burnworth’s parents the option to have his body returned to Ohio or move it to the American Cemetery in Flanders. “His parents wanted his remains to stay in Belgium, as they felt his body would be taken care of,” Stassen said.

When Soldiers from the Ohio Army National Guard’s 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team visited Belgium this summer to commemorate the centennial of World War I, they were greeted by Stassen and a number of other locals who adopted 37th Division Soldiers and look after their graves. More recently, leaders of the 37th IBCT and the 1st Battalion, 145th Armored Regiment greeted Stassen here in Ohio and placed wreaths on white crosses at Grandview Cemetery to remember the eight Soldiers.

“These Soldiers gave their all for our tomorrow.” Stassen said. “We can live in freedom, but the price was very high. All they would ask is that we should never forget what they gave.”

181103 Z AN559 004Command Sgt. Maj. Jeff Schuster, command sergeant major of the 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Ohio Army National Guard, places a shoulder sleeve insignia of the 37th IBCT on a marker for Sgt. Willis Burnworth Nov. 3, 2018, at Grandview Cemetery near Bremen, Ohio. Burnworth, a member of the 145th Infantry, 37th Division, was killed near Olsene, Belgium on Oct. 31, 1918, during World War I. Ohio National Guard Soldiers participated in a ceremony in Bremen to remember the eight Soldiers from that village killed during World War I. (Ohio National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Mann)

 

 

 

Eddie Rickenbacker

By Megan McCoy

Immortal. Hot-headed. Business savvy. Ace of Aces. Eddie Rickenbacker accumulated many adjectives on his way to becoming a larger-than-life legend, but he began with humble beginnings.

Born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1890 to Swiss immigrants, Rickenbacker lived most of his childhood in a home his parents built on the east side of the city.  The Rickenbacker family lived a simple life, and seven siblings crowded into the tiny home raising much of their own food on the surrounding land.  There was no lack of excitement in young Eddie’s life however, as he quickly became known as a rowdy daredevil child who led a local gang of fellow rebels. Rickenbacker racked up near misses with death and the law despite his father and mother’s strict discipline.

That would all change, however, when Rickenbacker’s father died in 1904. After promising his mother to change his behavior, he quit school to work odd jobs and earn income for his struggling family. Eventually, Rickenbacker would find his way into a local car shop where he would begin by sweeping floors and work his way up to driver. He would go on to race cars for manufacturers and ultimately make a career of it. By the time the United States entered World War I, Rickenbacker was already wealthy and famous as a race car driver.

He had bigger dreams, however, and enlisted in the American Expeditionary Service hoping to serve as a pilot. Unfortunately, due to pilot requirements regarding age and college education, Rickenbacker was not qualified to fly. Instead, he served as a driver for various officers in France. A combination of luck and skill would lead to him driving Billy Mitchell, the commander of the Air Service, and the man who would help him skirt the regulations to become a pilot.

In his autobiography, Rickenbacker reflects on his training for flying – noting that he had an immense fear of heights and a tendency for motion sickness, both elements that made his work training as a pilot more difficult. Nevertheless, Rickenbacker quickly learned the ropes and was commissioned as a lieutenant. Rickenbacker joined the 94th Aero Squadron, better known as the “Hat in the Ring Squadron” as they were the first American unit to fly in combat. His first experiences in aerial combat were harrowing, and Rickenbacker quickly recognized that success in aerial combat would require shrewd intellect and careful calculation. After first flying with hand-me-down French Nieuport 28s that struggled to keep up with German planes, the A.E.F. would upgrade to the more advanced French Spad XIII. Rickenbacker, like other pilots, worked with his mechanics to give his plane distinctive style and modify his plane and guns to better serve his style of combat.

P395 B01F13 002 1 Dated 1917-1918, this photograph shows Eddie Rickenbacker, a fighting ace in the 94th Aero Squadron, sitting in a plane cockpit while stationed in France during World War I

American pilots quickly became locked in a race to the top of the score charts, each one vying for the coveted title of “Ace of Aces”. Rickenbacker received his first confirmed aerial victory in April of 1918. By May of 1918, Rickenbacker had been awarded the Croix de Guerre and achieved “ace” status after getting his 5th confirmed aerial victory.

Though older and with less formal education than many of the other pilots, Rickenbacker made friends with other famous aces like Quentin Roosevelt and Frank Luke. Rickenbacker noted in his autobiography that their deaths, as well as others like Raoul Lufbery, would change his approach to combat making him more circumspect about how he ran future missions to the front, a quality he adamantly tried to instill other pilots who were new to the front.

As American forces pushed north toward Sedan during the Meuse-Argonne offensive, Rickenbacker and his fellow pilots began accumulating aerial victories at a faster rate than ever before. In the fall of 1918, Rickenbacker ascended to command the 94th Aero Squadron and achieved the rank of Captain.  Rickenbacker would also be assigned the title “Ace of Aces”, and by the end of the war, he had accumulated more than 24 aerial victories.

The Ohio History Connection preserves a piece of his famous Spad XIII in its collection, stripped from the fuselage by Rickenbacker before leaving France and donated to the museum shortly after the war. The other half was proudly displayed in Rickenbacker’s Eastern Airlines office.

Om1486 1500269 001 1This section of fabric came from the French-made Spad XIII fighter plane that was flown by Captain Edward "Eddie" Rickenbacker. On the right is the Hat in the Ring insignia of the 94th Aero Squadron, one of the first American air squadrons to fight in German territory during World War I.

In the 1930s, Rickenbacker received the U.S. Congressional Medal of Honor for his service in World War I. Rickenbacker would go on to run Eastern Airlines and survive several more brushes with death, including more than 21 days at sea after a plane crash into the Pacific Ocean during a top-secret mission in World War II.  Rickenbacker’s business acumen and seeming immortality, alongside his status as the American “Ace of Aces” in World War I, would make Rickenbacker a legend of Ohio history.

Sources:

Fighting the Flying Circus  - Eddie Rickenbacker

Eddie Rickenbacker: An American Hero in the Twentieth Century – W. David Lewis

Eddie Rickenbacker Papers – Auburn University Special Collections and Archives

Buckeye Brigade Soldiers return to France, Belgium

Story by Sgt. First Class Joshua Mann
Ohio Army National Guard Historian

MONTFAUCON, France — As the U.S. Army commemorates the centennial of the Meuse-Argonne campaign this week, Soldiers from the 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team are reflecting on their visit to France and Belgium this past summer to learn about and pay tribute to the 37th Division’s role in World War I.

The eight Buckeye Brigade Soldiers, including Col. Cory Lusk and Command Sgt. Maj. Jeff Schuster, the 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team’s commander and command sergeant major, joined about 50 other Army National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers Aug. 3-9 in northern France and Belgium as part of the Army’s Road to Armistice event.

“The history and lineage of the unit is always something that’s stressed to be important. But the specifics of the individual campaigns, the difficulties that these Soldiers faced and the adversities that they overcame were not a reality for me, personally, until I got a chance to visit the battle sites and walk the fields they fought across,” said Staff Sgt. Ryan Davis of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 37th IBCT.

180806 Z AN559 002 adjustedStaff Sgt. Gregory Morris (left) of Battery B, 1st Battalion, 134th Field Artillery Regiment, 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Ohio Army National Guard, carries the American flag at Flanders Field American Cemetery Aug. 4, 2018, in Waregem, Belgium. Morris, along with other members of the 37th IBCT, conducted a flag raising ceremony at the cemetery’s main flag pole. Army National Guard Soldiers were in France and Belgium Aug. 3-9, taking part in the U.S. Army World War I Centennial Commemoration. (Ohio National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Mann)

The event began in Belgium, where the Soldiers visited Flanders Field American Cemetery and were asked by the superintendent to conduct the morning flag raising ceremony. From there, the group followed the route the 37th Division traveled in November 1918, which ended in Eyne, Belgium at the Escault (Scheldt) River, where the 37th crossed under fire on Nov. 2. The Soldiers visited the Ohio Bridge, which was built after the war by the Belgians as a tribute to the Buckeye Division’s heroic deeds. The gratitude of the French and Belgians is something Davis said still holds true today.

“They were very excited to have us there. The people that were directly associated with American cemeteries and war memorials specifically, went above and beyond to try and connect with us and just really share with us the significance of all that the allied forces have done for them and how important that is to them still one hundred years later.”

The Soldiers then returned to France, where they were led on a tour of the 37th’s sector in the Meuse-Argonne Campaign by Charles Bowery, executive director of the U.S. Army Center of Military History. While there, the group visited the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, which contains a total of 14,246 graves; the largest number of American dead in Europe.

180806 Z AN559 006Soldiers from the 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Ohio Army National Guard look at a photograph in a book pointed out by Charles Bowery Jr., executive director of the U.S. Army Center of Military History, Aug. 6, 2018, near Iviory, France. Near this location, 2nd Lt. Albert Baesel of Company B, 148th Infantry, 37th Division, earned the Medal of Honor Sept. 27, 1918. Soldiers from the 37th traveled to France and Belgium Aug. 3-9 as part of the U.S. Army’s World War I Centennial Commemoration. (Ohio National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Mann)

“The cemetery at the Meuse-Argonne was probably the most impactful because of the volume of graves that are there,” Davis said. “It really made the reality of the loss of human life involved in World War I something that was tangible and comprehensible for me.”

Davis said since returning to his unit he has had greater opportunities to share the impact with fellow Soldiers and relay the importance of wearing the 37th insignia on his uniform.

“For me, the unit patch was more of an organizational identifier, it was an administrative embellishment on my uniform. After that trip it’s a source of pride. To look down and to know what was accomplished in World War I and to know the history, to know the sacrifice, to look down on my sleeve and see that, it’s a sense of pride, it’s a sense of belonging. It’s something to be proud of.”

The 325th Field Signal Battalion:

 Elite African American World War I Soldiers

By Paul LaRue, Ohio WWI Centennial Commemoration Committee

Nearly 400,000 African Americans served in World War I. One of the elite groups of African American Soldiers was the 325th Field Signal Battalion. Organized at Camp Sherman in Chillicothe, Ohio, the Battalion was composed of men from 35 states and the District of Columbia. Ohio was well represented, though Georgia had the most soldiers in the Battalion. Other states supplying significant numbers of men to the 325th included: Massachusetts, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia. The 325th was considered to be one of the best educated battalions in the Army. Many soldiers in the 325th were graduates of the nation's best colleges and universities. On June 10, 1918, four hundred and forty-four members of the 325th sailed from Hoboken, New Jersey on the U.S. Navy Transport (U.S.N.T.) Orizaba for France.

325th Signal Battalion Camp ShermanPanoramic photo of men belonging to the 325th Field Signal Battalion at Camp Sherman. In front of the group, semaphore flags are arranged to look like the Signal Corps emblem above a Cam Sherman pennant. Ohio Memory World War I Collection.

The Signal Corps was responsible for creating and maintaining communications for the Army. Advances in technology had created new communication methods such as the telephone, radio, and aerial mapping, but the Signal Corps still depended on traditional communication methods such as carrier pigeons and semaphore flags. The Field Signal Corps maintained communications between the front lines and the division headquarters. The 325th Field Signal Battalion was part of the 92nd Division. The 325th was divided into three companies: Co. A was the radio company, Co. B was the wire company, and Co. C was the outpost company. Collectively, the three companies worked to create and maintain lines of communication. Often this meant operating under enemy fire. The 325th functioned efficiently and bravely. By the end of the war, the 325th was the recipient of General Order Number 38 from Colonel Allen J. Greer, recognizing the exceptional bravery of two soldiers from the 325th.

Ohio's role in the 325th Field Signal Battalion was highlighted to me as I was researching this exceptional group of soldiers. I initially came across the name of Corporal Earl Belsinger, Co. A, 325th Field Signal Battalion, while researching World War I veterans buried in the Union Baptist Cemetery in Cincinnati. This piqued my curiosity about the names of other Ohioans that served in the 325th. A friend of mine, who is a much better genealogist than am I, showed me the records of the names of the men from 325th being transported on the Orizaba. This record listed the names and addresses of the men in the battalion. It was a pleasant surprise to read the name of Private John H. Burns, Co. C, from my hometown of Washington Court House, Ohio. I guess this reinforces the message that these forgotten heroes are literally in our own backyard!  I hope the World War I Centennial encourages you to see what connections are in your community. The Ohio History Connection has just released a lesson plan on World War I and technology that includes information on the 325th Field Signal Battalion.

http://www.ohiohistoryhost.org/ohiomemory/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/TechnologyWWI_NEHLessonPlan.pdf

John Burns 325th Sig BnGrave marker of John Burns, who served with the 325th Field Signal Battalion

Sources used for this post

Books:

1.) Circuits of Victory by A. Lincoln Lavine

2.) Getting the Message Through by Rebecca Robbins Raines

3.) The American Negro in the World War by Emmett J. Scott

Newspapers:

The Camp Sherman News: January 10, 1919

Miscellaneous Documents:

1.) Passenger list USNT Orizaba June 9, 1918

2.) Washington Cemetery Records (email to/from Cemetery Supt.)

3.) The Official  Roster of Ohio Soldiers, Sailors and Marines in the World War 1917 - 1918 (various volumes)

 

More Little Stories of the Great War

By Kristen Newby, Projects Coordinator, Ohio History Connection

When’s the last time you visited the World War I in Ohio Digital Collection on Ohio Memory to view recently added material? Through our Little Stories of the Great War project, generously funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Ohio History Connection is digitizing World War I collections from our archives as well as other cultural heritage institutions across the state! With the Armistice Day Anniversary quickly approaching, we invite you to visit Ohio Memory to learn more about the many ways Ohioans supported the national war effort.

Miner ID cardHerve W. Miner ID card: Captain Herve W. Miner’s A.E.F. identification card includes his name, rank, and unit, along with his photograph. Courtesy of the Ohio History Connection. Via Ohio Memory.

Ohio native Herve W. Miner returned to the Buckeye State after his World War I service in Company C of the 146th Infantry Regiment, 37th Division. Miner was commissioned as a captain on July 7, 1917, and along with the rest of the 146th Infantry, trained at Camp Sheridan (Alabama) and Fort Dix (New Jersey) before sailing for France in June 1918. In France, the 146th Infantry saw combat in the Ypres-Lys, St. Michiel, and Meuse-Argonne offensives, and Miner was honorably discharged on May 1, 1919, as a Major. Before and after the war, Miner worked for the Canton Daily News in various editorial positions and in 1929 was promoted to publisher and general manager. When owner and former Ohio Governor James M. Cox sold the paper in 1930, Miner accepted a position with The Public Ledger in Philadelphia. In addition to his identification card, the Herve W. Miner Papers includes Miner’s Second Liberty Loan allotment form, proficiency certificate in field engineering, his honorable discharge, and combat instructions.

Dayton Wright Aviation CompanyThis photograph shows employees installing engines on DH-4 planes in the Fuselage Department at Dayton-Wright Airplane Company.

When many people think of Ohio history, we often look back to the Wright Brothers and Dayton, Ohio, where technological advancements were developed that would change the scope of travel and transportation for the world. Considering this, it might come as no surprise that Ohio played an important role in manufacturing aircraft during World War I. A group of Ohio businessmen, including Charles Kettering and Edward Deeds, founded the Dayton-Wright Airplane Company after the United States officially joined the war in 1917. Although the company’s name is misleading, Orville Wright did not have any direct connection to the company, but is included in the name to connect the company to Dayton’s aviation history. The Dayton factory was housed in the Wright Brothers’ old facilities, although the main factory was located in Moraine, Ohio, with another factory in Miamisburg. The federal government contracted work to Dayton-Wright to build DH-4 planes, an obsolete British observation plane. Although employees at the Dayton campus produced more than 4,500 planes, most of these were finished in mid-1918 and were not shipped overseas in time for use during the war. To learn more about aviation in Ohio during World War I, examine issues of The Flier or Aviation Weekly, newsletters produced for men training at Wilbur Wright and McCook Fields; pilot Major Doyen P. Wardwell’s uniform, equipment, photographs, and medals; this panoramic photograph of U.S. Signal Corps aviation mechanics in training at Rankin Technical College in St. Louis, Missouri; or the Eddie Rickenbacker Photograph Collection.

Check back with us soon to discover more little stories of the Great War!

 

Ohio's Harlem Hellfighters and Black Devils

By Paul LaRue, Ohio WWI Centennial Commemoration Committee

Jim Huchett graveThe grave of Harlem Hellfighter Jim Hughett in France. Photo courtesy of Aurelie Kieffer, ABMC.

The most well-known African American World War I combat regiments are the famed Harlem Hellfighters and Black Devils. These regiments were largely built from New York and Illinois National Guard Units. The 369 was nicknamed the Harlem Hellfighters, and the 370 was nicknamed the Black Devils. What you probably don't know is that Ohioans served in both of these regiments. Not only did Ohioans serve; several made the ultimate sacrifice in combat.

Ohio had its own African American National Guard unit that served as the foundation for the 372, also a decorated combat regiment. The majority of the 8500 African American Ohioans served in labor regiments; however, institutional racism barred advancement in the Army for these men. The French Army was much more progressive and accepting of African American Troops. This attitude, plus the incredible need for manpower, created opportunities for African American Ohio Soldiers.

The 317 Engineers was an African American regiment which organized and trained at Camp Sherman (Chillicothe, Ohio). In France, the majority of the work by the 317 included repairing roads, building trenches, etc., yet several soldiers from the 317 served in the Harlem Hellfighters. Ludlow Luther, born in Glendale (Ohio), served in the 317 Engineers, Co. C, until he was transferred to the 369 as a Wagoner. Private Luther was killed in action July 15, 1918. His body was returned to Ohio and buried in Beech Grove Cemetery (greater Cincinnati).

George Scott, like Private Luther, was from Cincinnati and began his service in the 317 Engineers Co. C, before being transferred to the 369, Co. I. Private Scott died of wounds from combat October 1,1918. Private Scott was buried in the Union Baptist Cemetery in Cincinnati.

Jim Hughett was born in Tyler, Texas, and would later move to Columbus, Ohio. Hughett began his service in the 317 Engineers Co. E before being transferred to the 369 Co. H. Private Hughett was killed in action September 26, 1918. Private Hughett is buried in the Meuse Argonne American Cemetery. Other Ohioans also served in the 369. Privates Luther, Scott and Hughett made the ultimate sacrifice for their country in the most decorated African American regiment, the Harlem Hellfighters.

Frank Williams graveThe grave of Frank Williams in France. Photo courtesy of Hubert Caloud, ABMC.

The 370, known as the Black Devils, had the most African American officers of any U.S. African American combat regiment. Many African American WWI Officers were dismissed or demoted before reaching France. Several Ohioans served in the 370. Frank Williams, born in Piqua, served in the 370. Private Williams was killed in action September 28, 1918. Private Williams was buried in the Oise - Aisne American Cemetery in France.

Lieutenant Charles C. Jackson was born in Rendville, Ohio, an important African American coal mining town. Lt. Jackson's parents moved their young family to Akron. Charles Jackson went through basic training at Camp Sherman. While at Camp Sherman, Jackson was identified for his leadership skills and would be one of only three African American Officers to come out of Camp Sherman. Most African American WWI Officers were trained at Fort Des Moines. Lt. Jackson would serve as an officer in a combat machine gun company. Lt. Jackson, in a letter printed in the Akron Beacon Journal stated, " ... I had the distinct honor of being on the front lines during the last 20 miles of the drive ...." Lt Jackson was a recipient of the French Croix de Guerre for his bravery in combat. Following the war, Lt. Charles Jackson returned to Akron before moving to Cincinnati to raise his family. He was active in his community and became a life member of the Disabled Veterans of World War I.

The Harlem Hellfighters were the first African American regiment to enter combat in France. They also served for the longest time period in combat and received more commendations than any other African American regiment. The Black Devils helped lead the French and American armies in the last drive of the war. Ohioans proudly served and sacrificed in these famous African American regiments.

Note: If you'd like to learn more about Ohio's African American history, celebrate Ohio's Emancipation Day on September 22 with these resources

Sources:

1.) The Official Roster of Ohio Soldiers, Sailors and Marines in the World War 1917 - 1918 (various volumes)

2.) Ohio Graves Registration Cards

3,) ABMC Burial database

4.) Akron Beacon Journal: January 13, 1919

5.) Cincinnati Enquirer: November 28, 1980

6.) The Stars and Stripes: April 4, 1919

 

Ohio’s Connections to the 322nd Field Artillery

By Cyrus Moore III, Ohio WWI Centennial Committee

332nd flag

The story of the 322nd United States Field Artillery Regiment began in the summer of 1917 at Fort Benjamin Harrison, outside of Indianapolis, Indiana. There, as part of the officer training program, future officers trained intensively in all aspects of modern war, including artillery. When the men finished their program in August and commissioned as lieutenants, many were sent to Camp Sherman, outside of Chillicothe, Ohio, where a training camp for Ohioans drafted under the Selective Service Act of 1917 would soon be ready. On September 5, 1917, the first draftees arrived at Camp Sherman.

More and more men arrived at Camp Sherman throughout the Autumn of 1917, filling the ranks of the 322nd Field Artillery and other regiments then taking shape. In Camp Sherman the men, until recently civilians, grew accustomed to military life and learned skills necessary for war. They trained on artillery pieces, learned how to measure trajectory of shots, and practiced firing in the hills south of Chillicothe. By the end of May of 1918, the 322nd Field Artillery was ready to leave for France; by June 4, the entire regiment was on its way.

At Camp Sherman the 322nd had trained with and been part of a single division, the 83rd “Ohio” Division. The division travelled to France as a group, but once in France, General Pershing and the American Expeditionary Force decided to break apart the 83rd. Three infantry regiments were converted to depot regiments and trained replacements for combat divisions. The War Department sent one regiment, the 332nd, to Italy to bolster the Italians in their fight against Austria. The 83rd Engineers and Signal Troops were attached in time to the III Corps and did not serve in a division. The 83rd Division’s artillery brigade, including the 322nd, remained in tact and served their role as combat artillery on the Western Front, though attached to different divisions. When they arrived in July their artillery training continued.

By September of 1918, the 322nd was ready for service on the Western Front. Recently, General Pershing had formed his US divisions into a field army and was preparing to open an offensive, which would be known as the Meuse-Argonne. On September 26, the 322nd Field Artillery, attached to the 32nd Division and in support of the 37th, 79th and 91st Divisions, opened fire on German positions near Montfaucon. The 322nd continued to support divisions around the Montfaucon area as infantry took ground from the Germans. The artillerymen continued until October 3, when they received orders to relocate.

Taken out of action only temporarily to rest and resupply, the 322nd was soon again fighting on the western Front in support of US troops advancing in the Meuse-Argonne. Though each US division had on paper its own artillery brigade, in practice artillery was slower to move and resupply, and was often detached from the infantry. The 322nd was able to fight in support of many divisions during the Meuse-Argonne, including at times the 37th “Buckeye” Division, which consisted of Ohio National Guard soldiers. By the end of October, the 322nd found itself again attached to and supporting the 32nd Division. It served with the 32nd until the Armistice went into effect on November 11, 1918.

The Imperial German Army laid down its weapons on November 11, 1918. The soldiers, disarmed, demobilized and returned to their homes. A formal treaty ending the war was still a long way off, however. The War Department thus created the US Third Army to continue to serve in Europe and keep the Germans from re-entering the war before they signed a peace treaty. The Third Army became the US Army of Occupation and entered Germany in December of 1918, then quickly went into garrison in and around the city of Koblenz.

The 322nd Field Artillery, still nominally attached to the 32nd Division, became part of the Army of Occupation. Batteries of the regiment were stationed in small towns that surrounded Koblenz. The men wintered in Germany, taking the opportunity to visit sites and capture pictures of the countryside. Spirits were high among the victorious soldiers, but as Spring approached the men yearned to return to the United States. Facing pressure from congress to demobilize, and with the Treaty of Versailles under negotiation, the War Department began bringing US regiments home. The Army of Occupation dwindled to a token force of a few hundred by the summer of 1919.

The return journey for the 322nd Field Artillery began in March of 1919. The 322nd’s brigade was detached from the 32nd Division (which caused the men to give their brigade the nickname “The Lost Brigade” as they never seemed to have a permanent home with any division during their time in Europe) and, though quickly reattached, in April the brigade boarded trains destined for French ports. After an uneventful crossing, the men disembarked in New Jersey and continued to Camp Sherman. On May 27, 1919, after training, traveling to France, fighting on the Western Front, and occupying Germany all in the span of less than two years, the men of the 322nd received their Honorable Discharges and returned to civilian life.

Taken mostly from:

History of the 322nd Field Artillery. Yale University Press. New Haven, Connecticut. 1920.

 

“The time has come for Art to do its bit in our war:” The Art Academy of Cincinnati During the Great War

By Kristen Newby, WW Project Coordinator, Ohio History Connection

 

As part of the Little Stories of the Great War: Ohioans in World War I project, a two-year grant funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Ohio History Connection has digitized archival collections from the Cincinnati Art Museum relating to the Art Academy of Cincinnati’s role in World War I, and the many ways its students supported the war effort on the home front and abroad. These archival collections include letters, postcards, and photographs from former students while stationed at training camps or serving overseas; submissions for a patriotic poster competition and national call for posters; and correspondence between the Academy’s director and various organizations seeking wartime publicity materials.

postcardCharles Schlapp, a former Academy student, sent this photographic postcard to the Academy while he was training at Camp John Wise in San Antonio, Texas. All images courtesy of the Cincinnati Art Museum via Ohio. Memory.

After the United States joined World War I, nearly all of the Academy’s male students enlisted and many museum staff either enlisted or left their positions to pursue other war work. Many women at the Academy withdrew as well, taking on factory jobs. Remaining students made surgical dressings, knit sweaters and socks, and were able to put their more specialized skills to use by painting topographical maps, technical pieces, large landscapes for use as range-finding targets at artillery training schools, and perhaps most importantly, war posters.

Joseph H. Gest, director of the Academy and the Cincinnati Art Museum, maintained regular correspondence with Oliver Dennett Grover from the Division of Pictorial Publicity of the Committee on Public Information. As the chairman of the Middle West, and a well-established painter and art instructor himself, Grover asked Gest to recruit artists from Cincinnati and the surrounding areas to contribute to the national call for war posters. The U.S. Government charged the Division of Pictorial Publicity with recruiting artists to design posters that promoted patriotism and encouraged Americans to support the war effort in a variety of ways, including conserving food and fuel, purchasing war bonds, growing produce in war gardens, and volunteering with organizations like the Red Cross and Knights of Columbus.

wss poster• This poster was submitted by a student in the Cincinnati area to the national poster competition for war savings stamps.

In addition to the national call for posters, the War Savings Committee and the American Institute of Graphic Arts hosted a national poster competition to secure the best advertisements for the 1918 war savings stamps campaign. Artists were encouraged to highlight in their designs themes like the importance of thrift, thrift as a patriotic duty, and financing the war. The competition was open to students in grades 7-12, as well as art school students at the college level. Archival collections documenting the competition and Ohio’s participation include the competition rules and guidelines, correspondence between Gest and the Ohio War Savings Committee and other competition spokespeople, entry tickets, and black-and-white photographs of poster submissions from students in the Cincinnati area.

posters are needed• This headline from a flier distributed by the Art War Relief Committee calls artists to submit war poster designs.

In a letter to Gest, the chairman of the Ohio War Savings Committee writes “The time has come for Art to do its bit in our war and the Public Schools of Ohio are truly now in the service.” Language like this emphasized the importance of fulfilling one’s patriotic duty and reminds us that Americans in every trade could share their talents and expertise to support the war, beyond serving in the more traditional sense as a soldier.

Visit the World War I Collection on Ohio Memory soon to learn more about Ohio’s role as we continue to add more little stories of the Great War!

Ohio World War I Centennial Committee

Contact: Cyrus Moore, Ohio History Connection: cmoore@ohiohistory.org

Committee Members:

Ron Chapman, American Legion Department of Ohio

Steve Ebersole, American Legion Department of Ohio

Shannon Kupfer, State Library of Ohio 

Paul LaRue, High School History Teacher (Ret.)

Dr. Paul Lockhart, Wright State University

Pete Lupiba, Ohio Department of Education

SFC Joshua Mann, Ohio Army National Guard

David Merkowitz, Ohio Humanities

Colonel Thomas Moe, United States Air Force (Ret.)

Cyrus Moore, Ohio History Connection

Toivo Motter, Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens 

Becky Preiss Odom, Ohio History Connection

Kyle Yoho, The Castle Historic House Museum

 

 

 

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