The wonders of our great World War I doughboys continues-
Today is Day 4 of my journey to remember our veterans who have fought for our country. Memorial Day is just around the corner, so start preparing now for how you will remember our grandpas.
American veterans are just, well, all heroes in my book.
THE GAZETTE TIMES
Nov. 14, 1918
Charles J. Doyle
Special Correspondent of The Gazette Times in France
TALES OF HEROIC ACTS ARE TOLD AS ARMISTICE HALTS RUSH OF LEGIONS
Battle Stories Show Great Achievements of Western Pennsylvanians and West Virginians in Desperate Fighting During Closing Hours of War – Bullet Fails to Stop Determined Preacher.
With The American Expeditionary Forces, Nov. 11 – (Delayed)- Although the armistice which has ended the great war has silenced the guns and stopped the steady push of the American armies and their Allies, it is hard to realize that fact. Especially at night one still listens for the bombardment to commence and thinks in terms of war. One still hears little except battle yarns and incidents, and stirring charge, stubborn advance or study resistance to counter-attack, are what are most talked about. These, too, are the most vivid recollections.
Details are coming out regarding the recent operations of the Three Hundred and Nineteenth and Three Hundred and Twentieth Regiments, splendid young chaps from Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Keeping right up to the dashing (deleted) division on their immediate right, some 5,000 of these boys “jumped off” from the temporary stopping place on a farm along the Somme. Closely following their barrage they swept through the German defense line, captured the town of Imecourt, and gained their objective at Buzaucy.
And these are the boys who only about a year ago were hard at work in the mills and offices, the stores and fields of the old Keystone State, spending their leisure time largely in neighborhood athletics. Their admirable work in this sector, which led to some of the greatest open fighting in which the Yanks have yet participated, was their second great operation. As a result the One Hundred and Sixteenth Brigade, made up of the regiments named and under the command of Brig. Gen. Lloyd M. Brett, was given special mention by the commander of the First Corps.
There were remarkable deeds of daring during this plunging rush over wide rolling fields plowed and pitted with shell holes. The hero of one of them is a real fighting parson, Capt. T. W. Hooper, a Methodist minister from Culpepper, Va. While leading his company, K of the Three Hundred and Nineteenth, a machine gun bullet grazed his neck, inflicting a slight wound. The nervy parson flatly declined even to hesitate in his advance, but kept right up with his men, largely Allegheny and Mercer county Pennsylvanians. Needless to say his boys are devoted to him.
I heard the story – not from him however – when I came up with the regiment resting. I met him in a shell hole taking pot luck with his men when he could easily have been taking his well-earned rest in a safer spot. It was thoroughly typical of the men.
The Gazette Times correspondent spent one night at the headquarters of the Eightieth Division, barely a quarter of a mile back of the artillery line. There was not much sleep during the early part of the night because of the intermittent bombardment and we had just settled down when a vicious barrage was laid down. By 3 o’clock in the morning the ground fairly shook with the fury of the guns and the darkened horizon flared into brilliant flame. The doughboys crouched for three hours under the shelter of the protective fire of the American batteries and then, the two arms co-operating splendidly, the advance started.
By 7 o’clock I saw the first prisoners coming back, the wearied Boches trudging down the road guarded by two proudly grinning Yanks. In less than two hours the improvised cage held several hundred Fritzies, many of whom were openly rejoicing at their good luck in being captured. Before night more than 700 prisoners, including 30 officers, had been reported to the division headquarters.
Those of the boys whose duties took them near the cage did a thriving business in souvenirs. Nearly every Heinie had some souvenir that he was only too ready to “swap.” Bits of chocolate were the favored medium in these trades, the Germans taking them eagerly in exchange for trinkets, pictures, etc.
THE GENEROUS DOUGHBOY
“Unbeatable and uncomplaining.” That accurately describes the great American doughboy. And he is as generous as he is daring and resourceful. I came up with one company a few evenings ago. They were in open country, getting such shelter as they might in shell holes and a few old dugouts after a victorious drive of three miles, which included a good deal of open field fighting. The Yanks were hungry and cold, but there was no complaining.
Stumbling along with a lieutenant, who was acting as my guide, I met Private Brown. Not so long ago he was a member of a fast independent baseball team at Woodlawn, Pa. Now he is just as good an infantryman, with the same spirit that characterized his former sizzling battles for supremacy on the diamond.
The big field in which we met had been riddled with shells and Jerry was still sending over a good many. Most of the boys were sleeping in shell holes or darkened dugouts, where they were safe enough except for a chance direct hit, but Brown was pacing about the muddy field.
“Why don’t you lie down and get some rest?” the lieutenant asked. “Haven’t you had enough exercise today?”
Brown grinned cheerfully, but replied softly: “I’d rather walk, Sir. I’m tired and hungry and the dugout seems a bit oppressive. I feel better here.”
As it happened I had some chocolate in my bag. It was only a little piece; a baby would have made a mouthful of it. Yet when I have it to him Private Brown promptly broke it in half and wanted me to take one piece, saying:
“Probably you are hungry yourself.”
And he had had nothing to eat for 24 hours, the advance having been so rapid that the boys outran their supplies.
That’s the American doughboy.
Ahh, genealogy. Remembering our veterans is always in style- so take time to sit, reflect, and then pray for our brave warriors.
Special thanks to Lynn B for her gracious permission to have her transcriptions included here.
©2011 AS Eldredge