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Ohio in WW1 - Articles

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, Ohio History Service Corps Member

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 at Belleau Wood June 1918

By John Haas, Manuscript Curator, Ohio History Connection

 

One hundred years ago the Battle of Belleau Wood took place in France.  Why were Ohio men there?  How many were there and what did they do?  What happened at Belleau Wood and what was the result?  Where is Belleau Wood located in France? 

Belleau Wood is near the town of Chateau-Thierry on the Marne River about 40 miles east of Paris.   In May of 1918 the German Army launched the third in a series of massive offensives to try and crush the allies and end the war before fresh American forces could reinforce the tired French and British Armies. 

How were the Germans able to carry out extensive offensive operations after three and a half years of brutal warfare?  The Germans had ended their operations on the Eastern Front against Russia.  The Czar had been overthrown and the revolutionary governments were in chaos.  Eventually the Bolsheviks took power and sought peace at any price.  This freed up hundreds of thousands of German troops that could be sent to the Western Front. 

In the spring of 1918 the first two offensives hammered the British Armies in Belgium and Northern France and the third offensive broke through the French Army along the Aisne River and reached the Marne River and was threatening Paris.  Thousands fled Paris, the government planned to move to Bordeaux, and the French Army seemed near collapse.  (See map below)

American troops were rushed to the front and plugged the gap along the Marne River on either side of the town of Chateau-Thierry including the sector near Belleau Wood.  That area was assigned to the 2nd U.S. Infantry Division.  The 3rd U.S. Infantry Division, commanded by Ohioan Maj. Gen. Joseph Dickman, was on their left, and earned their nickname, “The Rock of the Marne”, at this time. 

The 2nd Division contained an interesting unit, a non U. S. Army unit.  Its 4th Infantry Brigade was composed of the 5th and 6th Regiments and 6th Machine Gun Battalion of United States Marines!   The other combat formations in the 2nd Division included the 9th and 23rd U.S. Army Infantry Regiments, the 12th, 17th, and 15th Field Artillery Regiments, the 2nd Engineers and many other supporting units.  From May 30th to June 5th the 2nd Division and its Marines defended the Marne River-Chateau-Thierry sector against German assaults and stopped them cold and ended their third offensive. 

West Point Atlas WWIMap credit: West Point Atlas of World War I

The Ohio Connection to Belleau Wood

There are dozens of excellent accounts of the intense fighting in and around Belleau Wood:  Hill 142, the wheat field, Bois de Belleau, Bouresches, Vaux, and Chateau-Thierry.   Many of these accounts can be found just by searching the internet but for more in-depth accounts see: Through the Wheat: The U.S. Marines in World War I. by Edwin H. Simmons and Joseph H. Alexander, Naval Institute Press, 2008.  

When the US entered World War I the United States Marine Corps contained about 14,000 Officers and enlisted men.  During the War the Marine Corps enlisted about 57,144 new officers and recruits and created many new units.  Among these new recruits were 4,968 Ohio men, second only to New York with 6,782.  Following Ohio was Illinois with 4,959 and Pennsylvania with 4,365.  And among the new units were the 5th and 6th Marine Regiments and the 6th Marine Machine Gun Battalion who fought at Belleau Wood. 

6th Marines 1Map credit: A Brief History of the 6th Marines, by Lt. Gen. William K. Jones, USMC (Retired), Washington D.C., 1987.

The Numbers at Belleau Wood

During the month of June 1918 the 2nd Division suffered 1,811 battle deaths and of those 1,062 were Marines, and about 90 of those were Ohio men.  The 2nd Division suffered 7,252 additional casualties, of which 3,615 were Marines.  Consequently about 350 or more of those additional casualties would have been Ohio men.  When they entered the Battle of Belleau Wood the three Marine units in the 2nd Division numbered about 9,000 men.  As you can see from the numbers above they suffered 4,677 casualties in that battle. 

 There are several sources that list the names of the Ohio men who served in the Marines during World War I.  Volume 22 of the Official Roster of Ohio Soldiers, Sailors and Marines in the World War 1917-1918 lists the names of all the Ohioans that served as Marines in the war.  Volume 23 of the above source, pages 904-934, contains List of Burial Places of Those Whose Bodies Remained in France.

Volume 1, History of Ohio, by Charles B. Galbreath, pages 669-708, lists the names of all 6,777 Ohioans who died in the war.  It is arranged by county and branch of service.  Pages 669-704 are Army, pages 704-706 are Marines, pages 706-708 Navy and page 708 Army Nurse Corps.

Ohio Losses by County and Day

The worst day for Ohio at the Battle of Belleau Wood was June 6th.  Ohio suffered 24 fatalities that day, followed by June 8th and 13th with 7 on each of those days. On June 12th Ohio lost 6 men, followed by June 3rd, 7th, 11th and 15th with 5 deaths on each of those days.  There were only eight days of the month of June 1918 when Ohio suffered no fatalities at Belleau Wood. 

Of the large Ohio counties Hamilton and Summit suffered 19 fatalities at Belleau Wood, and Cuyahoga lost 16.  Ten Ohio counties suffered only one Marine death during the war and it occurred at Belleau Wood: Clark, Darke, Erie, Fairfield, Medina, Hancock, Noble, Pike, Richland and Wayne.   

Other Ohio Connections

A famous book named Through the Wheat, is a novel by Thomas Boyd.  Boyd was born in Defiance Ohio on 3 July 1888.  He enlisted in May 1917 and served with the 6th Marines at Belleau Wood.  According to F. Scott Fitzgerald: “Through the Wheat” is not only the best combatant story of the Great War but also the best war book since the Red Badge of Courage.” Fitzgerald also noted: “At first the very exactitude of the detail makes one expect no more than another piece of reporting, but gradually the thing begins to take on significance.”  Boyd wrote: “The whistle blew and the men advanced, stepping out in the open where the risen sun made them hideously conspicuous. The field separating the woods stretched far on either side, and was covered with green-stemmed wheat that reached hip high.”

The Ohio History Connection has the Thomas Boyd manuscript collection among our Archives Library materials.

Legends of Belleau Wood

According to Marine Legend during the attack on the morning of June 6th 1918 heavy fire pinned down one Marine unit and its Gunnery Sergeant Dan Daly said: “Come on you sons of bitches! Do you want to live forever?”  According to Gunnery Sergeant Daly what he actually said was: “For Christ’s sake men-Come on!  Do you want to live forever?”

Another Belleau Wood incident involved Capt. Lloyd W. Williams, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines.  On June 2nd Capt. Williams and his company were taking over positions from the French Army units that were retreating and a French Colonel told him to retreat as well, the Germans were coming.  Williams looked coldly at the Frenchman and said: “Retreat, hell! We just got here”.   Capt. Williams died of wounds suffered on June 11th.  When approached for care by medics he said: “Don’t bother with me. Take care of my good men.”  He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. 

Immediately after the battle the French Army changed the name of the wood, or bois, from Bois de Belleau to: “Bois de la Brigade de Marine.” All three Marine units were honored with unit Croix de Guerre award from the French Government.   

Belleau WoodMap credit: A Regiment Like No Other: The 6h Marine Regiment at Belleau Wood, by Lt. Commander J. Wayne Hill, U.S. Navy, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, 2012. That author got it from: Through the Wheat: The U.S. Marines in World War I. By Edwin H. Simmons and Joseph H. Alexander, Naval Institute Press, 2008. 

  6th Marines 2Map credit: A Brief History of the 6th Marines, by Lt. Gen. William K. Jones, USMC (Retired), Washington D.C., 1987.

Sources:

A Regiment Like No Other: the 6th Marine Regiment at Belleau Wood, by J. Wayne Hill, 2012, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

A Brief History of the 6th Marines, by Lieut. Gen. William K. Jones, 1987.

The United States Marine Corps in the World War, Major Edwin N. McClellan, 1920.

The American Battlefield Monuments Commission web site lists all the Ohio Marines buried in French cemeteries.  There are 27 Ohio Marines that were killed during the Battle of Belleau Wood buried in the Aisne-Marne Cemetery in France. 

History of Ohio, Vol. 1, Charles B. Galbreath, 1928.  Pages 633 to 710 cover Ohio’s role in World War I.

Official Roster of Ohio Soldiers, Sailors and Marines, In the World War, volumes 22 and 23.

Through the Wheat: The U.S. Marines in World War I. by Edwin H. Simmons and Joseph H. Alexander, Naval Institute Press, 2008. 

 

More Little Stories of the Great War

By Kristen Newby, WWI Project Coordinator, Ohio History Connection 

HCHGSM Wardwell 07 01Doyen Wardwell (back row, fourth from the right) is pictured here with other members of the 1917 class of pilots at Wilbur Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio. Courtesy of Hocking County Historical and Genealogical Society and Museum.

When’s the last time you visited the World War I in Ohio Collection on Ohio Memory (http://www.ohiomemory.org/cdm/wwi)? Through the Little Stories of the Great War: Ohioans in World War I project, generously funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, new content from the archives at the Ohio History Connection, as well as other cultural heritage institutions across Ohio, is added regularly!

Women played an important role in the Great War, both overseas as nurses and military personnel, as well as on the home front. Women answered the call to wartime service by working in factories that manufactured equipment and other supplies used by the Armed Forces, as well as growing war gardens, volunteering with the Red Cross, and selling war bonds. A series of National Woman’s Liberty Loan Committee pamphlets from the archives at the Mac-A-Cheek Foundation in West Liberty, Ohio, highlights women’s role in raising war funds. These pamphlets were published in 1919, after the armistice, to generate enthusiasm for the Victory Liberty Loan. The Victory Liberty Loan was the fifth and final Liberty Loan drive, designed to raise enough funds to offset debt accrued during the war, however it was met with resistance from many, as the war was over and many Americans had difficulty understanding why the government still needed their money. Some of these pamphlets, like this one written by journalist and suffragist Mabel Potter Daggett, emphasized that this final loan drive would bring home the last of America’s soldiers, and was a chance for women to make a difference, now that they had their own money in their pockets from working factory jobs.

The title Little Stories of the Great War, truly speaks to the main goal of our project—sharing the little stories of ordinary Ohioans who made important contributions to the war in a variety of ways. One such example is Doyen P. Wardwell from Logan, Ohio. Doyen “Dink” Wardwell was born in Kirkwood West Virginia, but moved to Logan at age two. When the United States joined the war, Wardwell left Ohio State University during his junior year to enlist. After completing his ground training at Fort Harrison, Indiana, Wardwell joined the Aviation Corps and trained at Wilbur Wright Field in Fairfield, Ohio, as a combat pilot with the 12th Aero Squadron. During the war, he conducted reconnaissance, pursuit, bombing, and escort missions in France as part of the 103rd Aero Pursuit Squadron, 185th Pursuit Escadrille. After the war, Wardwell returned to Logan and eventually moved to Caspar, Wyoming, with his wife and children where he became president of the Wyoming Airways Corporation in 1928. Tragically, Wardwell was killed when his plane caught fire in the air and crashed. To learn more about Wardwell’s story, and to see his uniform and other military equipment, visit Ohio Memory or the Hocking County Historical and Genealogical Society and Museum.

Over the course of the next year, project staff will add new materials to the digital collection. Check back soon to view World War I treasures from across the state!

 

American Field Service Volunteer Ambulance Drivers for the French Army - 1915-1917

By Brooke Anderson, MAPS Museum

15 ambulance

The American Congress declared war on Germany April 6, 1917. Prior to that declaration, America had maintained a position of neutrality; this was strictly a European war. However, many young American men and women were eager to join the fray, regardless of their Government’s official position. There were many reasons; some wanted to fight, others saw war as a romantic crusade. Germany’s brutal attack on and occupation of Belgium angered others to the point of volunteering. Plus, the 1915 sinking of the Lusitania by a German submarine, with the loss of 128 American lives, as well as many women and children was not to be forgotten. And, many remembered the aid a young America received from the French during our own Revolution; this was a very strong feeling, and many wanted to repay what they felt to be a debt to France for their aid in our victory over the British.

As German troops stormed into France in the fall of 1914, the large American colony in Paris inaugurated a volunteer ambulance service to transport the wounded from the front lines to the American Hospital on the outskirts of Paris. In January, 1915, A. Piatt Andrew - a former Harvard professor and future Congressman from Massachusetts - arrived in France as a volunteer ambulance driver. He soon began to transform the service from a subsidiary of the American Hospital to an independent organization that transported the wounded from the front lines to aid stations to the rear. His effort was supported by another American volunteer organization, the Norton-Harjes Ambulance Corps.

At its height, the American Field Service (AFS) numbered 2,500 volunteers and operated not only on the Western Front in France but also in the battle areas of Italy, Greece, Serbia and Albania. This is one of the many incredible stories of WWI. The volunteer drivers were primarily university men from all over America; the ambulance of choice was a Model T chassis with a purpose-built body. The ambulances were provided by fund drives; schools, clubs, towns, individuals all collected and donated the funds necessary to purchase these vehicles. With America’s entry into the war, these units became a part of the US Army Ambulance Service, which continued to serve the French and Italians, as had the AFS. The AFS participated in every major French battle, and carried munitions, supplies, and more than 500,000 wounded soldiers from both sides of the war.

Among the many AFS volunteers were six men from Akron, OH: Paul A. Cahill, TMU 184; David Darrah, TMU 397; Chester A. Elliott, SSU 9; Russell J. Henderson, TMU 397; Harry R. Karnaghan, SSU 14; Harry C. Roth, SSU 14. As the French needed truck drivers as well as ambulance drives, AFS volunteers drove both. SSU units drove ambulances; TMU units drove trucks. All drivers were close to the Front on a daily basis, often in the middle of artillery barrages and even enemy attacks. When America joined the war, AFS volunteers, already battle veterans, were given the choice of leaving the service with honor, or enlisting in the U. S. military; five of the six Akronites chose to stay. Mary Gladwin also from Akron, was another dedicated medical volunteer, serving overseas in the International Red Cross.

 

The Lynching of Robert Prager and the Sedition Act of 1918

By Becky Preiss Odom, History Curator, Ohio History Connection

Spy War PosterAmericans feared that German spies had infiltrated their communities and workplaces from the beginning of the war. The Espionage Act and later the Sedition Act sought to punish both spies and disloyal Americans. From the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, World War I Poster Collection, https://lccn.loc.gov/93515950.

It was just after midnight. The bright headlamps of several automobiles illuminated the mob of about 100 people gathered around the tree. Several men pulled fiercely on a rope thrown over the tree limb, and Robert Prager flew up in the air, gasping and grabbing at the rope around his neck. The men released the rope, and Prager’s struggling figure fell to the ground. Someone in the crowd produced a handkerchief, and another man stepped forward and bound Prager’s hands behind his back. Thus restrained, the men pulled the rope, and Prager rose into the air again. Suspended, without his hands to pull at the noose around his neck, Prager kicked his feet until suddenly he went still. The men tied off the rope, and the crowd slowly dispersed, leaving Prager’s dead body hanging from the tree limb in the darkness.

Robert Paul Prager, a German immigrant accused of uttering disloyal remarks against the U.S. government and President Woodrow Wilson, was lynched just outside of the small town of Collinsville, Illinois, at about 12:30 in the morning on April 5, 1918. He was the first person suspected of disloyalty during World War I to be killed in the U.S. by a vigilante mob. [1]

The war against Germany increasingly generated fears of disloyalty and spies. In early June 1917, President Wilson directed all U.S. government agencies to root out German spies. He issued the directive, in part, because members of Congress claimed that German spies in the U.S. Navy and War Department supplied Germany with information to give it a tactical advantage over the U.S. in the war.[2] The Espionage Act, signed into law later that same month, prohibited and punished acts that threatened the safety of the U.S., undermined U.S. military actions, or interfered with recruitment for or enlistment in the U.S. military.[3] This law infringed on Americans’ right to freedom of speech in order to ensure the successful defeat of Germany in the war, and it resulted in the close scrutiny of German-Americans for potential German loyalties and the persecution of any American who spoke out against the war or the federal government.

Sedition ArticleThis article in The Democratic Banner (Mt. Vernon, Ohio) calls for stricter punishments for disloyal Americans during World War I. Ironically, the article was published on April 5, 1918, the same day Robert Prager was lynched and the Senate voted in favor of the Sedition Act. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88078751/1918-04-05/ed-1/seq-1/

President Wilson, his Cabinet, Congressional representatives, and other public officials used Prager’s lynching as evidence of continued, rampant disloyalty in the U.S. and argued for laws to punish disloyal speech. The President and his Cabinet blamed Prager’s death on Congress, claiming that its failure to pass adequate laws prohibiting and punishing disloyalty forced citizens to take justice into their own hands. U.S. Attorney General Thomas Gregory concurred, saying in a statement to the press, “It cannot be condemned. The department of justice has repeatedly called upon Congress for the necessary laws to prevent just such a thing as happened in the Illinois town.”[4] The attorney general explicitly blamed Congress for Prager’s lynching, and, more importantly, he condoned the mob’s actions.

Congress addressed Prager’s lynching and the motivations of the vigilante mob on the Senate floor later that same day. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge argued that Prager’s death signaled the need for stricter laws against disloyal speech, and Senator William Borah explained, “…[U]nless these people were dealt with in an orderly way and a legal way the mob would undoubtedly deal with them.…I simply call attention to the fact that I have received notice by telegraph that at Collinsville, Illinois, April 5, a mob of 300 men lynched a man by the name of Prager for disloyalty.”[5] Despite inflating the size of the mob, the Senator’s words were heeded by his fellow Senators who voted in favor of amending the Espionage Act of 1917 to outlaw all disloyal speech against the U.S., its government, and its armed forces in what was commonly called the Sedition Act.[6]

Sources:

“Collinsville man killed for abusing Wilson,” St. Louis Daily Globe-Democrat, April 5, 1918.

“Will comb for German spies,” St. Charles [MO] Daily Cosmos-Monitor, July 6, 1917.

Charles Cheney Hyde, “The Espionage Act,” The American Journal of International Law 12, no. 1 (Jan. 1918): 142-146.

“Investigation waits on inquest Monday,” New York Times, April 6, 1918.

Senator Lodge of Massachusetts and Senator Borah of Idaho, speaking for the amendment to the Espionage Act of 1917, on April 5, 1918, to the Senate, H. R. 8753, 65th Cong., 2d sess., Cong. Rec. 56, pt. 5: 4645.

 Sedition Act of 1918, Public Law 150, 65th Cong., 2d sess. (May 16, 1918), 554.

 

[1]“Collinsville man killed for abusing Wilson,” St. Louis Daily Globe-Democrat, April 5, 1918.

[2]“Will comb for German spies,” St. Charles [MO] Daily Cosmos-Monitor, July 6, 1917.

[3]Charles Cheney Hyde, “The Espionage Act,” The American Journal of International Law 12, no. 1 (Jan. 1918): 142-146.

[4]“Investigation waits on inquest Monday,” New York Times, April 6, 1918.

[5]Senator Lodge of Massachusetts and Senator Borah of Idaho, speaking for the amendment to the Espionage Act of 1917, on April 5, 1918, to the Senate, H. R. 8753, 65th Cong., 2d sess., Cong. Rec. 56, pt. 5: 4645.

[6]Sedition Act of 1918, Public Law 150, 65th Cong., 2d sess. (May 16, 1918), 554.

 

World War I, Memorial Day, and Small-Town Ohio

By Paul LaRue, Ohio World War I Commemoration Committee

New Holland Memorial Day 2017The 2017 Memorial Day Procession in New Holland, Ohio. The American Legion post in New Holland was named for the four New Holland men who lost their lives in WWI. Photo courtesy of Paul LaRue.

The origin of Memorial Day dates back to shortly after the Civil War, when Decoration Day was established. My earliest memories of Memorial Day are of World War I commemorations in rural, southern Ohio. My mother would take my brothers and I to the Memorial Day service at a nearby small town. Each year an elderly woman – I believe a widow of a World War I soldier – would slowly walk to the podium, unfold a faded sheet of paper, and begin reading: "In Flanders Fields the poppies blow / between the crosses row on row."

As we commemorate the service and sacrifice of our nation's veterans on Memorial Day, some of the connections to World War I have faded. The World War I Centennial provides an opportunity to reconnect with Memorial Day. Memorial Day commemorations in small towns and villages in Ohio, and around the country, are unique. Small communities often share key components of the commemoration (e.g. Honor Guard and high school bands). This is accomplished by staggering the times of the events. Local Veterans organizations generally organize the events.

This year, I will be participating in three events on Memorial Day, located in Frankfort, Clarksburg, and New Holland. These three communities have a combined population of less than 2500. The ceremony in Frankfort begins at 10:00 a.m., and the Honor Guard that will be present is from the Frankfort American Legion Post #483. The Frankfort American Legion Post #483 is the Joseph E. White Post. Joseph White served in the Rainbow Division, was killed in action, and was a recipient of the Croix de Guerre for bravery.

The next community, the smallest of the three, is Clarksburg with an 11:00 a.m. service. Clarksburg lost two of its sons in World War I service to pneumonia. Bugler Glen Ater, also from the Rainbow Division, was a recipient of the Silver Star for gallantry in serving as a trench runner. Glen Ater is buried in Clarksburg.

My last commemoration of the day will be with New Holland. The New Holland American Legion ARCH Post #477 was named by taking the first letter from the first name of the four sons New Holland lost in World War I. The "C" in the acronym ARCH is for Clyde Zeller, killed in action September 30, 1918, and buried in France. The New Holland ceremony is now organized and coordinated by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #8041, with assistance by the Frankfort Honor Guard. The procession in New Holland starts from the center of the Village at 12:30 p.m. Any and all, young and old, some on tractor, some on foot, proceed from the center of town to the cemetery. The community has decorated the graves of all Veterans, following the traditions set in most communities, large and small.

The ceremonies are brief in length, but impactful. Following the services, Veterans and members of the community linger to visit, and often walk around looking for the graves of family and friends. And oh yes, I forgot to mention – I will conclude my comments at each by reading a poem that begins: “In Flanders Fields the poppies blow / between the crosses row on row.”

 

The Men They Carried: Dogs in World War I

By Kristen Newby, World War I Project Coordinator, Ohio History Connection

 P395 B01F01 007Eddie Rickenbacker (lower left) and other 94th Aero Squadron officers outside an aircraft hangar. The squadron’s mascot, a dog named Spad, stands on the plane. All images via Ohio Memory.

With the Armistice Day Centennial only seven months away, Americans remember the sacrifices made by the men and women who served in World War I, as well as the hard work required on the home front to support the war effort. The quick mobilization and training of troops is certainly one of the more impressive feats the United States accomplished during its involvement. When considering the manpower utilized by the U.S. alone, the numbers are staggering, with an increase in Armed Forces personnel from 350,000 in April 1917 to nearly 4 million at the war’s end in November 1918. Military units on both sides of the conflict did not rely on manpower alone, as animals such as horses, mules, and carrier pigeons played important roles at camps, during travel, and on the front lines. However, let us not forget the sacrifices made by the some of the creatures whose unwavering friendships we hold closest to our hearts—dogs.

SA1947AV B05 F04 08Sometimes dogs would return with the helmets of wounded soldiers to signal that they had found someone needing medical attention. All images via Ohio Memory.

Armies recognized that many of the qualities our furry friends possess—exceptional sense of smell and heightened hearing, intelligence, and admirable loyalty— make them excellent recruits. Trainers preferred larger, more durable breeds that could survive in harsh weather conditions and traverse rugged terrain, like German shepherds, retrievers, pointers, and Airedale terriers (not to think any less of Chihuahuas and dachshunds!). Dogs were trained in a variety of skills. Sentry and scout dogs were trained to detect and signal soldiers when the enemy was advancing or close by, especially at night. Sometimes dogs were stationed in the trenches where they alerted soldiers to oncoming attacks from opposing lines. Due to their size and mobility, dogs were easily kept safe in the trenches and were more reliable than horses and mules to successfully deliver ammunition and other supplies.

SA1947AV B05 F04 07This Red Cross dog drags an injured soldier to a safe location where medics can treat him.

One of dogs’ most important duties was identifying and retrieving wounded men from the battlefield. These medical dogs located wounded and dying men who were often unable to crawl to a spot where they would be easily found. Unfortunately, injured soldiers were sometimes not recovered because they were in crater holes or dugouts in isolated areas and were never found by their comrades. Both the Army and Red Cross trained these dogs to carry medical supplies in a box on their backs, enabling injured soldiers to treat themselves on the spot once discovered. The dog would tear off a part of the man's uniform and carry it back to camp to let handlers know they found someone. They then led medical personnel to the injured soldier for transport to a hospital for more advanced treatment. Other duties included guarding prisoners of war and carrying mail from post to post. Sadly (albeit infrequently), dogs were sometimes sent with timed explosives into enemy trenches, although this seems to have only been done in dire circumstances. Dogs sometimes lived with soldiers as unit mascots, no doubt providing therapeutic and emotional support as a comforting companion.

As we remember the various ways Americans contributed to the war effort, may we remember the dogs who died alongside their companions during the Great War, and the families who said goodbye to their beloved pets, surely knowing that their dogs’ bravery would make them proud.

 

Ohio Humanities Announces WWI-Related Funded Projects

By David Merkowitz, PhD, Assistant Director, Ohio Humanities

HayesPh3 B10F03 004Dated November 1917, this photograph shows Colonel Webb C. Hayes standing with nine Italian military men in Padua, Italy. Learn more about the Hayes family and WWI by visiting the Hayes Presidential Library & Museums. Image via Ohio Memory.

World War I was an epoch defining event in world history. Ohio’s role in the war and the ways that the war and its aftermath shaped the history of Ohio continues to be significant and thoroughly underappreciated. Ohio Humanities, the state-based partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities, is pleased to be able to support the public humanities and history programming of history organizations across the state as they explore the history and its continuing impact of World War I on Ohio. In 2018, Ohio Humanities has invested $45,000 in four projects.

Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont is carrying out the project, “Patriotism & Protest: Engaging our Veterans.” The centerpiece of the project is the exhibit: “A Family of Service: The Hayeses in World War I.” This new exhibit commemorates the one hundred year anniversary of World War I, and seeks to interpret the history of the average soldier and public support and dissent towards the military action.

A consortium of organizations in Summit County - Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, The University of Akron Archival Services, the Akron-Summit County Public Library, and the Summit County Historical Society – have come together to produce the documentary film, “Summit County and the Great War: In the Words of Those Who Served.” The film brings 100-year-old letters, photographs, memoirs and other World War I-era documents housed in local collections to life through stories told via dramatic readings sandwiched between context-setting narration and on-camera expert interviews.

The Columbus Historical Society is developing an exhibition entitled "We Shall Remember Them: How Columbus Remembered The Great War."" This endeavor seeks engage the public in a discussion about how the city has chosen to remember World War I since its end in 1918.  "We Shall Remember Them"" will reveal the ways that Columbus residents shaped and communicated the war's memory, through the construction of memorials, monuments, cemeteries, and an urban landscape that reflected the names and events related to the war itself. The project will also consider the role veterans played in postwar Columbus society.      

The Kent Historical Society in partnership with the Kent Free Library is developing the exhibition, “Kent and the Great War” to commemorate the 100th anniversary of WWI.  The exhibition examines the war from soldiers’ and nurses’ points of view and contrasts that with the view put forth by the federal government and the U.S. military.  A wide array of artifacts will be exhibited including military uniforms and paraphernalia, photographs, newspaper articles, war posters, souvenirs, and postcards. The exhibition also premiers many outstanding, never-before-exhibited collections of photographs taken by soldiers, personal diaries, and letters to and from the front.

To learn more about these projects, please visit ohiohumanities.org in the coming months.

 

The Creation of the 37th “Buckeye” Division

By Cyrus Moore, Ohio History Service Corps Member, Southeast Ohio History Center

Co C 135 MG Camp SheridanCompany C, 135th Machine-Gun Battalion, 37th Division. during Training at Camp Sheridan. Co. C was formed from the Machine-Gun Company of the 7th Infantry, Ohio National Guard. Photo courtesy of the Southeast Ohio History Center. 

Ohio was one of only a few states to have its National Guard form a complete division in the First World War. Because of its pre-war origins, the 37th Division became known in the military as the “Buckeye” Division, and it adopted the bullseye from the Ohio state flag as its insignia. However, its composition was like that of other divisions, and contained many men who had not been part of the pre-war Ohio National Guard (ONG). The Ohioans who formed the core of the division were fortunate to be able to preserve their state identity in the massive Federal Army created by the War Department.

Before the Ohio National Guard entered Federal service in 1917, it was organized by a regimental system, with each regiment and its individual companies coming from a certain geographical area. It consisted of nine infantry regiments, one independent African-American infantry battalion, two artillery regiments, engineer companies, a signal battalion, ammunition trains, military police, and headquarters troops. Despite the variety, the ONG bore a closer resemblance to the volunteer armies of 1861 than the massive armies waging war in Europe in 1917. The crucial difference was the ONG’s use of brigades as self-contained formations, which contained two to four regiments and a few thousand soldiers. Armies in Europe were fighting on a much larger scale. Divisions were the standard formation, which consisted of multiple brigades and with tens of thousands of soldiers. To fight effectively in Europe, the ONG, along with the rest of the US military, had to reorganize on a divisional system.

Ohio began mobilizing its National Guard in the Spring of 1917. Existing ONG companies recruited to full strength as new recruits full of patriotic fervor joined up while new companies and even a new regiment were formed. The pre-war ONG lacked the artillery necessary to form a division, so cavalry and some infantry companies were converted to artillery. Through the influx of additional soldiers, expanding the artillery, and Ohio Governor James Cox’s heavy lobbying, the War department allowed the Ohio National Guard to enter the federal army as its own division, one of only a few states to do so.

General Pershing created a division model for the American Expeditionary Force, known as a “Square Division” due to the four infantry regiments at the core. To compensate for the soldiers inexperience, Pershing and his staff made the regiments and divisions much larger than those of European armies. A typical US regiment would number over 3,000 men, while a division would be around 27,000.

In September and October of 1917, the Ohio National Guard began leaving its home state, bound for Camp Sheridan, Alabama. At Camp Sheridan the ONG entered the federal army and reorganized into a division. The Ohio National Guard became the 37th Division, known as the “Buckeye” division.

73rd Infantry Brigade

74th Infantry Brigade

145th Infantry Regiment

146th Infantry Regiment

135th Machine-Gun Battalion

147th Infantry Regiment

148th Infantry Regiment

136th Machine-Gun Battalion

62nd Field Artillery Brigade

Divisional Troops

134th Field Artillery Regiment, 75mm guns

135th Field Artillery Regiment, 75mm guns

136th Field Artillery Rgmt, 155mm howitzers

112th Trench Mortar Battery

134th Machine-Gun Battalion

112th Engineer Regiment

112th Signal Battalion

Headquarters Troop

Table 1: Order of Battle (component units) for the 37th Division

           

Significantly, the regiments and battalions of the new divisions lacked any state designations. They were numbered according to their position in the Federal Army. State origins remained but only in the nicknames, which soon became official. Though some state regiments were renumbered and stayed mostly together, often men from the various state regiments were scattered across the division to raise the new regiments to strength. To further augment division strength, soldiers from other states and draftees from across the country were added to the constituent regiments.

Ohio National Guard officers were scattered even more than their men. The War Department wanted experienced Regular Army officers in high ranking positions, but National Guard officers could not be dismissed without causing resentment. Guard officers were used to fill lower positions wherever needed, and were thus often sent far from their original outfits.

When compared to the pre-Federalized composition of the Ohio National Guard, the 37th Division is much more robust; it was better balanced in terms of infantry to other troop types, and contained equipment necessary for modern warfare, such as machine-guns and heavy mortars. Though heavily restructured, the division contained many Ohioans and preserved its state identity.

Bibliography

Cole, Ralph D. and W. C. Howells. The Thirty-Seventh Division in the World War, 1917-1919. 2   Vols. Columbus, OH: The Thirty-seventh Division Veterans Association. 1926.

Grotelueschen, Mark E. The AEF Way of War: The American Army and combat in World War I. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press. 2007.

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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