Born April 9, 1885, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. [Son of Hugh M. and Elizabeth J. Hannah. Educated Scranton schools and Mercersburg Academy, Class of 1907. In business with Unity Coal & Coke Company, Berwinsdale. Entered real estate business for himself, 1913, Scranton. Joined American Field Service, July 9, 1917; attached Section Seventeen to September 20,1917. Enlisted as private U. S. A. Ambulance Service with French Army. Croix de Guerre. Killed by aeroplane bomb at Deuxnouds-aux-Bois, north of St. Mihiel, September 20, 1918. Buried at Souilly, Meuse. Body to be transferred to Dunmore Cemetery, Scranton, Pennsylvania.
WHEN a comrade was killed near Montgobert in June, 1918, Fred A. Hannah would not allow the brancardiers to make a hasty burial there, and refused to budge from the heavily shelled poste until the body was given to him. Then with greatest care and reverence "Shorty" drove back where a fitting funeral could be held. Hardly more than three months later he himself was killed. They buried him at Souilly, with military honors, and the men, with whom he had stood by that other grave, grouped now sadly about him, yet proud in their grieving.
Fred was extremely reticent and never discussed his personal affairs, perhaps feeling them of small interest to others in so large a world. As his sister says, "It never occurred to him that he had ever done anything more than his duty." One entry in his diary is especially characteristic: "Have been lucky enough to be recommended for the Croix de Guerre. Don't know what for." But those who had worked beside him knew, and were glad. He always did more than his share. If a man lagged from exhaustion, somehow, without any fuss, "Shorty" was in his place doing the extra tasks. If a man had trouble, Fred was sure to be found helping him out of his difficulty. In fear, however, of appearing better than he thought himself to be, Fred tried to hide behind a crust of gruffness and a biting, sarcastic tongue, his bigness of heart, unselfishness, and sensitiveness. And yet he was remarkable in "his unassuming modesty, his simple straightforwardness, and his hatred of all sham, hypocrisy, and pretense." "Shorty" had, too, an amazing fund of dry humor and an ability to recount his own adventures with a laughable twist that was irresistable.
Fred was over draft age when war came, and below standard army height, being not quite four inches over five feet tall. Neither these facts, nor the unusual activity of his business that spring weighed with him. In less than a month Fred wound up his affairs and was a volunteer in the Field Service, representing the Scranton Presbyterian Church, but meeting his own expenses. He joined Section Seventeen in the field, and served with it as a driver until his death. He had intended, in justice to his business, to remain only six months; but Fred, who would have scouted the idea of heroism or sacrifice, decided that personal interests must wait. The recruiting officers, however, rejected him for dental defects, and only after considerable treatment, a letter from Field Service headquarters, and a very informal examination, could he get himself accepted. His own accounts of this were excruciatingly comic. Yet what more truly heroic and pathetic than this lonely little man fighting to secure the privilege of dying in service.
"His letters were cheerfully optimistic," writes his sister . .. . . . . . with never a complaint of hardships; filled with the doings of the section and nothing of his own achievements." An old friend speaks of "his wonderfully clear vision of his duty," and Fred entered upon it not as an enthusiastic, careless youth, but with the mature judgment of a man who has counted the cost and will not be deterred. He became ". . . . one of the best drivers in the section . . . . . distinguishing himself by his devotion to duty and the extreme gentleness and consideration he showed his wounded." "The biggest little man I ever knew," said a companion.
On the night of September 20, 1918, at Deuxnouds, not far from St. Mihiel, Fred was returning from duty when a German plane let fall a number of bombs. The first one landed close to " Shorty," wounding him terribly, and he lived only a few minutes. He had made his decision long before, and he was not afraid now. In those last moments he smiled, as a great man may, and went to meet death smiling, perfectly content to die for his ideals.
Born January 6, 1894 in Farmington, New York. Son of John A. and Addie Hamlink Buckler. Home, Rochester, New York. Educated West High School, Rochester, and three years Rochester University, Class of 1917. Publishing business, Buffalo, and Curtis Aeroplane Company. Joined American Field Service, December 18, 1916; attached Section Four to summer of 1917. Attached Field Service Camp, May-en-Multien. Enlisted U. S. A. Ambulance Service with French Army. First Sergeant. Reassigned Section Four (627). Died September 19, 1918, of pneumonia, in Urbes, Alsace, and buried there. Body to be transferred to Mount Hope Cemetery, Rochester, New York. Croix de Guerre.
THE quiet heroism of Leon H. Buckler shines out so steadily and warmly from the simple narration of his services, that the following letter from a co-worker reveals the man with a sincerity and completeness difficult to equal.
"The first time I met Buckler was in the late fall of 1916, when he joined Section Four of the American Field Service. He arrived at Ippécourt in the Verdun Sector when the snow was on the ground and the weather conditions the worst that had been seen in France in twenty years. He was a small, slight figure of a man, looking so delicate that one wondered whether he would have the physical strength and stamina to go through the War. We were living in Ippécourt in brushwood compartments made by German prisoners, with very little protection from the weather.
"It happened that I took Buckler up with me as orderly on my car to Esnes on his first trip to the front. We drove back and forth most of the night through a blinding snow storm in the bitter cold, with the usual amount of shelling on the road, as this post and sector were always pretty active. Buckler showed remarkable courage and no nervousness under the shell fire, and seemed as keen as mustard for the work. He exhibited an extraordinary amount of wiry strength in helping carry the wounded to and from the car, and in helping push the car through the snow and mud. Altogether we had a very strenuous night, and when we got back to Ippécourt for breakfast in the morning we were ready for a few hours' sleep. However, I found that I had to go at once to a hospital for a wounded man. I said nothing to Buckler, supposing he would want to finish his breakfast and get some sleep. Before I could get away he came out and volunteered to go with me so as to learn the roads to the hospitals. This showed the kind of a man he was, and his reputation with the Section was established from that time on.
"He was a quiet, unobtrusive fellow, always on the job. He invariably kept his car in good order and showed a surprising strength for one of his slight build. A few months later, as Chef of the section, I considered Buckler a driver upon whom I could always depend, and yet we worried about him because of his delicate constitution.
"Finally in the spring of 1917, after having been through a winter at the front of terrific cold and exposure in which many of the section were taken sick, Buckler came down with severe pneumonia. In the hospital at Bar-le-Duc, owing to the best of care by the French, he was just able to pull through. What a welcome he received in his Section after his convalescence!
"When he recovered, I insisted at Headquarters that Buckler be sent to help in conducting the training camp near Meaux, that he might be less exposed to the cold and inclement weather for I feared that at the front he might again contract pneumonia. Buckler was, therefore, sent to May-en-Multien, much against his will.
"Later, in the fall of 1917, he enlisted in the United States Army Ambulance Service with the French Army, was made a first Sergeant, and on his own very insistent request, was sent back again to the front with his old Section. Here he continued the faithful record he had always made in the old volunteer days, but in the late summer of 1918, when the Section was working in the mountains of Alsace, he contracted another case of pneumonia, and from this he died on September 19th, in the little village of Urbes in Alsace Reconquise."
"He left behind him many devoted friends and a record of courage and service and devotion of which all his friends and family may well be proud."
Born March 29, 1896, in Bayville, Long Island, New York. Son of Arthur Clifford and Clara Evans Kimber. Home, Palo Alto, California. Educated Palo Alto High School, and Leland Stanford University, Class of 1917. Joined American Field Service, May 14, 1917; attached Section Fourteen to September 24, 1917. Enlisted U. S. Aviation. Trained Issoudun and Cazeau. Commissioned First Lieutenant; attached 22d Aero Squadron, 2d Pursuit Group. Served with French Spad Escadrille 85. Killed in combat over Bantheville near Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, September 26, 1918. Body as yet unrecovered.
To the memory of Arthur Clifford Kimber, of California, killed in action over Bantheville, France, is linked the distinctive honor of bearing the first official American flag to France after the United States joined in the Great War. These pioneer colors, dedicated at an impressive ceremony under the auspices of the Friends of France, in San Francisco, Kimber unfurled before Section Fourteen, drawn up with a company of French veterans, near Ligny-en-Barrois.
When the Field Service was taken over by the United States Army, Arthur Kimber decided to enlist in aviation, and trained hoping to become a chasse pilot. This ambition he later realized, and during the heat of the great battles over the fields of France, in the summer of 1918, he was doing his share of the work as a fighting scout. He took part in three great battles while with the Americans: the Argonne, St. Mihiel, and Sedan drives. It was while he was so flying, and after a record of splendid achievement, that he was killed behind the German lines, September 26, 1918.
Of Kimber's achievements, Mr. Henry D. Sleeper writes: "His death is equally mingled with tragedy and glory. It is the eternal epic of high-spirited and patriotic youth. The finest blood of a nation is always ready to give the fullest sacrifice. Those who are willing and fit to give the most to life are also willing to give the most to death."
Kimber left behind him at Stanford University an enviable record. Of his life as a student, Chancellor David Starr Jordan said, "The character of this young man was typical of the best in America, wise, resourceful, and resolute, yet at the same time gentle and idealistic. It was my fortune to know him well as a student and to recognize his noble qualities. That war insistently devours such men as Clifford Kimber is its final indictment at the bar of civilization."
Kimber was born at Bayville, Long Island, on March 29, 1896. He was a senior at Stanford when he offered himself to France for war service. Of his death his colonel, E. C. Whitehead, has written:
"Arthur Kimber, of the 22d Aero Squadron, who was killed in action September 26th, stands out markedly as one of the bravest Americans that fought in this war. Even before he came to join the Second Pursuit Group at Toul in August, he had an enviable record among Americans serving in France with the Ambulance Corps and while attached to a French escadrille before joining an American squadron.
"On the 26th of September he set out on a patrol with his squadron. The pursuit planes were equipped with two light bombs. The mission was to "strafe" roads between Grandpré and Dun-sur-Meuse. The group of three led by Lieutenant Kimber went to the region of Romagne. Lieutenant Kimber dived toward the railroad station. His machine suddenly blew to bits. It is, of course, unknown whether the shells of artillery from either side or a bullet from the ground striking the bombs caused the tragedy. He was a remarkable pilot; a strong adherent to the requirements of duty; an outstanding type of American air service officer."
Born August 29, 1895. Son of Thomas Newbold and Katherine Rhinelander. Home, Lawrence, Long Island, New York. Educated St. George's School, Newport, Rhode Island; Thatcher School, California, and Harvard University, Class of 1918. Joined American Field Service, July 11, 1916; attached Section Nine in France and Ten in Albania until July 16, 1917. Enlisted U. S. Aviation. First Lieutenant, November, 1917. Trained Tours and Clermont-Ferrand; attached 20th Day Bombing Squadron. Killed in combat, September 26, 1918, at Murville, over German lines southeast of Longuyon, near Audun-le-Roman. Buried Murville, Meurthe-et-Moselle.
PHILIP RHINELANDER, with his boyish spirit, and his charm, the embodiment of a fine inheritance, was always a favorite in whatever group he mingled. Courteous and thoughtful of others but always with a playful smile on his lips, he won the affection, admiration, and confidence of everyone who knew him. Life seemed to hold everything for him, and yet one knows instinctively that he faced death with that same playful smile hovering about his lips.
On September 26, 1918, the first day of the great Argonne offensive, the Twentieth Aero Squadron, of the First Bombardment Group, was ordered to bomb, by daylight and at all costs, the railway bridge at Dun-sur-Meuse north of Verdun. Fourteen aviators crossed the lines to carry out this mission. "Phil" Rhinelander was one of the eleven who never came back.
It was"Phil's" first trip over the lines. He was piloting a DH4 bombing plane equipped with a Liberty motor. Near the village of Dun the flight to which he belonged beat off an equal number of Boche avions, and over Longuyon was again attacked, this time by about twenty German pursuit planes of the famous Richthofen Squadron, and a running "cat-and-dog fight" ensued.
"We lost most of our best men," wrote Lieutenant Sidney Howard, the Flight Leader, "among them Rhinelander . . . . . .. And Lieutenant Clarkson Potter, who was, decorated with the D. S. C. for his part in this raid, and later himself shot down and killed in aerial, combat, wrote in a letter home: "Several times during the fight I saw Rhinelander and Preston blazing away with their guns as fast as they could fire." An intelligence officer attached to the Air Service of the Fifth German Army has described the onrush of the Richthofen "Fokkers," and writes: "In the ensuing general fight three Americans, who probably wanted to cover the retreat of the others, were cut off. One of these was Rhinelander . . . . . Three to five German planes pounced upon each of these, separated from the rest, in order to force them to land or to shoot them down. The three Americans put up a bitter fight and gave us hard work. The hopeless fight may have lasted ten minutes. The numerical superiority of the Germans, and their fighting routine, overcame their young adversaries." French eye-witnesses agreed that there were five Boche avions attacking his plane when "Phil" fell.
Rhinelander left Harvard to join the Field Service in the summer of 1916 and he remained with it as a volunteer for more than a year. He was at first attached to Section Nine, then working in the mountains of Alsace Reconquise. Afterwards he was one of those who volunteered to make up Section Ten, which was being sent out, at the especial request of French Headquarters, to work with the French troops in the Balkans. He returned to France in the summer of 1917 and enlisted in the American Air Service, receiving his preliminary training at Tours and his finishing training as a bombing pilot at Clermont-Ferrand.
The many friends "Phil" made during the war were not confined to his own countrymen. His bubbling gaiety endeared him as well to the French soldiers and officers with whom he came in contact. It was as impossible not to feel attracted by his eagerness, liveliness, and grace as it was not to admire his intense loyalty and his unfailing anxiety to do his best. He fell to his death that day, close to the pre-war boundary of German Alsace-Lorraine, with the same high, finely-tempered spirit with which he had faced every experience that devotion to duty had brought him.
Born July 24, 1898, in Chicopee, Massachusetts. Son of George and Lillie King Dresser. Educated Phillips Academy, Andover, Class of 1917. Plattsburg Camp, 1916. Joined American Field Service, June 25, 1917 ; attached Transport Section 526 to November 18, 1917. Enlisted U. S. Tank Corps. To front, September 6, 1918. Killed by shell, September 27, 1918, in action in Vauquois Woods, near Varennes, north of Sainte-Menehould, and buried there.
GEORGE EATON DRESSER, powerful, athletic, and as modest as he was popular, was among the first to volunteer from Phillips Andover Academy and thus help bring the war home to his school community. Enlisting in the American Field Service, he joined Camion Unit T. M. U. 526 B which was made up mainly of Andover men and he served from June 25th to November 18, 1917. At the first opportunity offered him he entered the Tank Corps, and it was in this branch of the service that he met his death.
While driving his tank through the Vauquois Woods in the first wave of the attack which crumbled the German line, the front of his machine was hit by a shell, and he was instantly killed. Taken sharply in battle, while in the act of highest service, his death was truly a fitting consummation to so active and brave a life.
In his school he possessed a rare combination of leadership both in studies and athletics. He excelled in all kinds of sports, and stood high in his scholarship. For this "all-roundness" he received the Yale cup in his senior year at Andover. He also found time to sing in the Glee Club, and to act on the governing board of the Society of Inquiry, the religious society of Phillips Academy. Yet, to those who knew him best, modesty was his outstanding characteristic --- incompatible as that may seem with his great gift for leadership.
Big, husky, and blonde, he was universally loved and deferred to. It has been said of him that he "represented the highest type of boy, and gave promise of a remarkable future. He excelled in anything he undertook, and at the same time he kept his head."
"Having been in charge of the Andover Unit, of which Dresser was a member," writes Frederick J. Daly, "I can truthfully say that he was on the job at all times, and gave his best, which was always above the average."
He was born July 24, 1898, in Chicopee, Massachusetts. He entered Phillips Academy in 1915, and shortly after his graduation, two years later, he joined the American Field Service.
George Dresser was one of the Phillips Academy men to whom this tribute in the memorial volume of his school, is particularly applicable:
"Willingly enough they gave their youth, and their right to the light of life and friendship. We who knew them, and all that they were, realize the fullness of that offering. They never looked back but to quicken those who followed, and so, perhaps, led more surely than they knew. Out of their dreams they have left us great realities --- and many tasks to make worthy these days that are still ours."
Born October 25, 1895, in Newton, Massachusetts. Son of George W. and Eugénie Stafford Brown. Home, Newton Centre, Massachusetts. Educated Newton High School and Dartmouth College, Class of 1919. Plattsburg Camp, 1915. Joined American Field Service, March 12 1917; attached Sections Seventeen and Nineteen, until October 18, 1917. Enlisted in French Aviation, July 21, 1917. U.S. Air Service, January 21, 1918. Commissioned Second Lieutenant. Attached Acceptance Park, Orly. Killed in accident at Hargeville, September 28, 1918. Buried American Cemetery, Suresnes, Seine.
WITH all the zest of youth and an adventure-loving nature, Stafford Leighton Brown went abroad a month before the United States declared war, and entered joyously into the precarious life of war: "It's certainly fun and excitement --- something I've always wanted." He was young and utterly unselfish at heart. He wrote home, "If I should happen to get killed don't blame yourself, I will die having a good time," yet in the next breath he could beg his mother to be gay: "Your letters are altogether too sad. You keep speaking about death, but we all feel that if one is fighting for the United States, dying is not to be feared --- in fact it is quite an honor." To Stafford it was all a big, fine adventure. He could not realize that war was a thing of fears and forebodings for those who waited across the sea for news. The expectation of combat and great moments, even should they bring an end to living, was to him glorious anticipation. To his mind there was no cause for worry except in delays and idleness. He made sincere if unsuccessful efforts to relieve his family's anxieties, writing in his last letter: "Don't worry about me, I am as safe as though I were back in Newton Centre," then at once effaced his reassurances by adding that an aviator friend had been killed a few days before.
Upon his arrival in France Stafford helped drive chassis from Bordeaux to Paris, then left with Section Seventeen for the front as an ambulance driver, to be transferred shortly as mechanic to Section Nineteen. His duty it then was to keep the whole section fit to "roll," besides which he drove truckloads of wounded and supplies, and in "rush" times took his turn with an ambulance.
In August he went on leave and was released to enter aviation in the Lafayette Escadrille. "Expect to be chasing the Boche around up in the clouds in a few months --- or being chased," he wrote. After training with the French, he enlisted in the American service, being breveted on May 2, 1918. Having driven almost every make of plane, he was placed at Orly delivering machines to squadrons at the front. He grew "pretty sick of this 'ferry' job," writing: "It looks bad now for me. I'll probably be stationed here for the duration of the war, because I know all the routes to the front and schools."
He wanted his people to be proud of him "for having done something worth while or for dying while trying to do the same." "But that," he said, "is the feeling we all have over here, so it's nothing new." Typical of Stafford's unconscious generosity are his words, "I received your Christmas box. Everything was there and was finished in fifteen minutes. The fellows who shared the box with me send their thanks, too." However thoughtless of himself he felt keenly for others. He disliked testing and approving planes: "I wouldn't mind so much going out and getting killed myself, but I don't want to be responsible for someone else's death."
On September 22, having "a chance to go to a large factory and test planes," he did not accept because it would be for "duration." So "Staff" went on, hoping always that he might be sent to a squadron, and feeling, as he expressed it, "pretty much of an embusqué to be only driving machines out there for them to take and get killed in," until six days later his plane fell at Hargeville and he was carried into the Chateau where he died. Not in combat, but in making tests that others might not die needlessly, and in furnishing them means of fighting, Stafford did his part, and in the end joined the ranks of the fighters who died in those same planes for their country.
Born October 9, 1896, in Princeton, New Jersey, Son of Professor John Howell and Edith F. Sampson Westcott. Educated Hoosac School, New York; Hill School, Pottstown, Pennsylvania; and Princeton University, Class of 1918. Joined American Field Service, November 11, 1916; attached Section Nine until May 6, 1917. Returned to America. June, applied for aviation and enlisted in 7th N. Y. National Guard Regiment. Records for aviation lost. Trained Spartanburg, South Carolina, as private. Sailed May, 1918, with 107th Infantry (ex-7th N. Y. N. G.), 27th Division. Served with British Fourth Army. Killed by machine gun fire, September 29, 1918, in action near Bony, south of Le Catelet. Buried Bony, near St. Quentin, Aisne.
No greatness can surpass the greatness of simplicity, and it is before such greatness that we stand humble in reviewing the war service of John Howell Westcott, Jr. There is nothing dramatic in it, nothing spectacular, just the faithful performance of what he considered a simple duty.
In Brussels when the Germans invaded Belgium, Jack Westcott came into close contact with the war at its very inception. In October, 1916, during his junior year at college, he slipped off to Canada to enlist in the British army, feeling that he must offer himself as a recruit. Being under age he was told that he must obtain his father's consent. In deference to his father's wishes, and to get more quickly to work, he consented to go to France as an ambulance driver. He served six months at the front, then hastened home to enlist in our own army, in June, 1917.
Arriving too late to enter the officers' training camp, and impatient of any delay, he applied for admission to the aviation branch. Fearing that he might not succeed in this effort, and in order to lose no time, he also enlisted as a private in the old New York 7th National Guard Regiment so that he might be drilling while waiting a decision. All of which is significant and characteristic in the face of his personal friendship with President Woodrow Wilson, from whom he sought no favors in all his eagerness to get into active service.
He finally passed all of his examinations for aviation and was told he would soon be assigned to his new duties. No further notice came, and at length, he learned that the records had been lost. Being then at Spartanburg, South Carolina, with his regiment, he decided to remain in the infantry. The regiment sailed in May, 1918, and very soon joined the British army in French Flanders, where it was almost constantly in action for five months. Thus he had the satisfaction of working side by side with the British, to whom he felt attached by bonds of deep and inherited sympathy, his mother being a direct descendant of John and Priscilla Alden, and had also the happiness of fighting for the France he loved.
His last battle was fought at Le Catelet. He was killed in action while returning from delivering a message for his captain. Acting as an interpreter for his company, Westcott had been offered the position of interpreter on the Divisional Staff, but refused, hating anything short of what he considered his full duty. He died, at the age of twenty-one, a private in "L" Company of the 107th U. S. Infantry.
The very human, lovable boyishness of him is well expressed in the following letter from a "buddy": "Westcott was not as well known in the company at first as most of the boys. He was quiet, reserved, and did not seek the companionship of the others. He waited for them to come to him. When they finally did come to know him there was not a better liked nor more highly respected man in the company. After one really got to know 'West' his reserve seemed to disappear entirely. His sense of humor was of the finest, and with his keen wits he continually kept us amused. I never heard him grumble."
From a Princeton man comes the following appreciation: "Jack Westcott had one of the most perfectly balanced characters I have ever known. In serious discussions his opinions, because of their soundness, generally won out. In more frivolous pursuits Jack again usually set the pace. In fact, he seemed naturally to possess all the qualities which go to make a young man popular with everybody. I never knew a more honorable and straightforward fellow. You could depend absolutely on his friendship being unfailing and sincere."
Born May 31, 1895, in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Son of Reverend Frank A. and Marion Gatchell Gilmore. Home, Madison Wisconsin, Educated Madison schools and University of Wisconsin, Class of 1919. Joined American Field Service March 12, 1917 attached Section Sixteen to November 1917. Enlisted as Cadet in U.S. Aviation. Trained Tours, St. Maixent, Voves, Avord, and Issoudun. Commissioned Second Lieutenant. Died October 3, 1918, of pneumonia, while training at Aviation Instruction Center, Issoudun. Buried Issoudun, Indre. Body transferred to Winthrop, Maine.
ALBERT FRANK GILMORE left the University of Wisconsin in the middle of his Sophomore year to enlist in the American Field Service. He reached Paris in March, 1917, and was attached to Section Sixteen, which left for the Verdun front about the middle of April. One of the members of the Section has said of its personnel: "The Section was composed entirely of men who had come to France before America had entered the war, and the bond that united them from the very outset was their love for France." It was this love of France which made Albert Gilmore quick to see and appreciate the sacrifices that the French were making. In one of his letters home he wrote: "Everywhere in this beautiful country one sees the black dress or the black arm band, and yet, every day there are hundreds more giving their lives gladly for France."
Endued with the same readiness to serve a cause and a nation which he esteemed so highly, he started work at the front and shared with his comrades the long summer of preparation for the final attack of August 20th at Verdun, where the Section made a name for itself at Avocourt. He remained with the Section until it was absorbed by the American Army in November, 1917. Even before leaving the Field Service he was impatient to render greater service, and a few days after he left Section Sixteen, he enlisted in American Aviation.
There followed the long delay with months of weary waiting at Tours and St. Maixent. Then at length came the eagerly awaited flying orders and training began. After Voves and Avord came Issoudun. Although he had had a bad cold for some weeks he refused to allow it to interrupt his training.
It was this fidelity to duty and this zealous preparation for active service that cost him his life. He died of pneumonia at the 3d Aviation Instruction Center Hospital on the morning of October 3, 1918. In a letter written to his Mother at the time of his death, his Commanding Officer said: "Lieutenant Gilmore had just fairly started his flying at this center and was progressing nicely when he contracted his fatal illness. He had an excellent record and was universally held in high esteem by his brother officers. His death was a sad blow to all of us. You may always have the satisfaction of knowing that your son was a good officer and a true gentleman, a higher tribute than which there is none. He was intent upon preparing himself to play an important part at the front when the unfortunate sickness overtook him. His life was dedicated to his country and he left with his fellow officers an example of earnestness and faithfulness which will live long."
It is from one of his own letters, however, that we glean the best evidence of that quiet, happy assurance and absolute fearlessness that characterized him at all times. It is a letter written to his parents in May, 1918, shortly after the death of his brother Bob at the Pelham Bay Naval Station, New York. ". . . . . This morning when I was up at 2,600 meters I felt as every fellow feels, that there is no one up there but himself and God. It's a queer sensation ---one doesn't dare even think a cuss word when something goes a trifle wrong with the motor. Before I came down at the end of my hour --- I had been thinking of Bob --- I could almost hear him calling from the edge of a big fluffy cloud just ahead of me: 'Hi! Al, you bum aviator, I got across all right.' I know he did, and I don't mind much where I pass out if I can get across to him all right too."
Born July 12, 1896, in Lebanon, Kentucky. Son of Waller Lisle and Margaret Dugan Harrison. Educated Lebanon High School, Louisville Training School, and Oberlin College, Class of 1919. Joined American Field Service, February 14, 1917 ; attached Section Twelve in France and Three in Balkans to November 6, 1917. Enlisted U. S. Aviation. Commissioned Second Lieutenant. Killed in aeroplane accident, October 3, 1918, while training, Aviation Instruction Center, Issoudun. Buried American Cemetery, Issoudun, Indre.
WALLER LISLE HARRISON, junior, died October 3, 1918, as the result of an aeroplane accident, and his body lies buried in the American Cemetery at Issoudun, France. "Harry was good as an aviator as in everything else he tried," writes one of his comrades, "and his death was caused by his overzealousness in doing his duty. He went into the air when he was feeling badly and should have rested, because he felt that he must fly in order to get in his work and not hold up the classes. His idea was most commendable, the result of it most disastrous, but it just went to make up the calibre of the boy."
While a sophomore at Oberlin College, three months before America entered the war, he became interested in the work which the American Field Service was doing in France and determined if possible, to enlist. He was at the time but twenty years of age and it was necessary, before his application could be accepted, that he obtain the consent of his father, who objected to his enlistment on account of his youth and his uncompleted course at college. So great, however, was his tenacity of purpose and determination that he obtained his father's unwilling consent and sailed for France on February 14, 1917.
His father has written of him: "Early in life he developed qualities which indicated that he thought for himself, drew his own conclusions, and was true to his convictions regardless of consequences."
From February until November, 1917, he served with the American Field Service, first on the western front, as a member of Section Twelve, and later with Section Three in the Orient. Of a particularly attractive personality, --- popular, daring, and with many choice friends, --- he quickly made a place for himself in both Sections as the following quotation from one of his companions proves: "Unselfish, generous to a fault, he was truly a man among men and the example of living that he set helped us all."
When, in November, he was released from the Field Service on his return from Albania, his greatest desire was to be accepted in the Aviation Service of the American Army. Although he might easily have returned to America, or enlisted in some other branch of service in France, he waited for six long weeks for his application to go through, working, in the meantime, at such odd jobs as he could find in Paris, making enough to buy a scanty allowance of food, and sleeping on the floor, with his army blankets as his only bed, yet never for a moment regretting his decision to hold out for aviation.
He was the type of lad destined to serve the world and he served it to his utmost. Not only did he give his service and his life to the cause for which his country was fighting, but more than this, he bequeathed to his comrades the memory of a character and personality which must always be an inspiration to them. As one of them has written of him: "His was the supreme sacrifice and such a man was he that he met it as only a gentleman and a good soldier could meet it, for that was Harry throughout his life. His memory will never pass, for he was chief among us in giving the true conception of what real life is like. We are weighed down with the sadness of his passing, but such was the man and such the cause for which he died that the sadness can be only for the lonesomeness we feel. He has shown us the way, the hardest way that we shall ever have to go, and with the memory of his graciousness in doing his duty, our duty seems easy."
Born January 15, 1886, at Echo Point, near Wheeling, West Virginia. Son of John D. and Sallie T. Culbertson. Home, Sewickley, Pennsylvania. Educated Hill School, Pottstown, Pennsylvania, and Princeton University, Class of 1911. Business, National Tube Company, Pittsburgh. Joined American Field Service, March 11, 1916; attached Section One to November 16, 1916. On torpedoed Sussex en route to France, 1916. Returned to America. Enlisted U. S. Infantry; trained Fort Niagara, New York. Commissioned First Lieutenant, attached 318th Regiment. To France with 80th Division. Killed in action, October 4, 1918, near Bois des Ogons, north of Nantillois, Argonne. Buried American Cemetery, Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, Meuse.
"TRULY none but the bravest of noble men could have had the determination and the physical strength and the nerve to lead a front platoon into what he knew was awaiting him at that place," wrote a friend of "Ting" Culbertson, describing the way the latter led his company up Hill 274, in the Meuse-Argonne offensive, October 4, 1918.
In that advance the Lieutenant was killed, but his spirit went marching on, as one of his privates testified in the following words: "Such an influence as the Lieutenant had cannot end, but has left its impress on every man, and his name will be on the tongues of our children's children for what he meant to his men."
"Ting" Culbertson felt the full force of the principles for which he fought. Early in March, 1916, he went to France to join the Field Service, being upon the Sussex when she was torpedoed in the Channel. He served a year with Section One of the ambulance service, for the most part in the long battle around Verdun. Culbertson returned home in November and subsequently went into training at the officers' camp at Fort Niagara. Soon he was back in France with the Eightieth Division, in the 318th Regiment of Infantry.
Major J. C. Wise has described graphically the battle in which Culbertson lost his life, in a letter to the Lieutenant's parents:
"At 5.45 A.M. your son led his company's advance platoon against the enemy. As the battalion jumped off, the counter barrage fell upon us, literally tearing the forward platoon to shreds. But the rear wave kept on toward the Bois des Ogons. Passing over a gentle crest, we met a tremendous barrage, and those who entered the Woods were unable to hold their ground, falling back to the crest. Somewhere between the crest and the woods your son was last seen advancing. Of my sixteen officers four were killed and nine wounded.
I consider it an honor to have commanded your son. I shall write no eulogy of his character. I admired him as a man, trusted him as an officer, liked him as a comrade in arms, and know that he was greatly beloved by his fellow officers and men. Once I had occasion to reprove him most harshly. His bearing was what it should have been had he been really at fault. I later discovered that he assumed knowingly the blame due his company commander. I shall regret all the days of my life that an opportunity never presented itself when I might without prejudice to discipline convey my amended understanding to him."
The nonchalant and characteristic attitude Culbertson displayed toward discomforts that overtook him in war is evidenced whimsically in the following extract from one of his letters: "Turning off the main road we took a trail through the woods, ankle deep with mud. About an hour before daylight we reached our camping place. I rolled up in a blanket under a tree. It was cold and water was coming down through the leaves, but I was soon asleep. Trifle wet when I woke up in the morning, but that was a usual matter. This is a hard outfit by now and little things like sleeping on wet ground in the rain have long ceased to trouble us."
In the letter from an officer in the same company, Lieutenant Petters, the writer said that the men of Culbertson's command wept when informed of his death . "They lost an officer who had endeared himself to them during their period of training by his personality and conduct and had inspired them during combat by his leadership and personal example."
Born June 9, 1897, in Pueblo, Colorado. Son of Charles L. and Emma Bolard Lindsley. Home, Marietta, Ohio. Educated Marietta High School and Mercersburg Academy, Pennsylvania. Banking business, Marietta. Joined American Field Service, May 26, 1917; attached Transport Section, 184 to November 20, 1917. joined American Red Cross in Italy. Enlisted U. S. Aviation, May 5, 1918, at Foggia, Italy. Trained there, and from July at Tours and Issoudun, France. Commission arrived three days after death. Killed in aeroplane accident at Issoudun, October 5, 1918. Buried American Cemetery, Issoudun, Indre.
PAUL WARREN LINDSLEY made his last flight at Issoudun, France, October 5th, just before his commission as Second Lieutenant arrived, which would have entailed the immediate service at the front which he had so eagerly awaited.
Just five months from the day he had enlisted in the air service his name was inscribed on the nation's Roll of Honor. Returning one day from a two-hour flight, his machine suddenly made a nose dive and crashed to the ground. The cause of the accident was never learned, though it is the belief of some that he fainted.
Young Lindsley, then only twenty-one, whose life ended so abruptly and prematurely, had already seen service in the war. He left the United States in May, 1917, a member of the Marietta College Unit, with which he served six months in France.
His term of enlistment expiring, Lindsley joined the American Red Cross, then in need of help to carry on its work behind the Italian army, at that particular time the principal field of its operations. When the German-Austrian onslaught there was stopped, Lindsley secured his release and went south to Foggia, where many American aviators were training.
Enlisting there on May 5, 1918, he was soon working for a chasse pilot's commission. Here, after flying but thirteen times with an instructor, he was given his plane to fly alone, thereby lowering the camp record of fifteen flights with an instructor before solo work.
In July he was sent to Tours in France, and shortly afterwards to Issoudun to finish his training. There, just as he was completing his hard and rapid preparation, he met his unfortunate death.
He was buried near the great American aviation camp at Issoudun with full military honors. Of the impressive ceremony, Lieutenant Ben Putnam, a boyhood friend of young Lindsley from Marietta, wrote his parents: "I have just come back from 'Sol' Lindsley's funeral. I was the officer of the funeral and since the day of his death I have been a boy with a broken heart. It came as a mighty blow to this most magnificent of all flying schools, where deaths are a common occurrence, when the game, jolly, little fellow from Ohio was called upon to give his life for his country.
"On the night of my arrival here, among the first to meet me was Paul. I had n't seen him for almost a year. He was exactly the same little fellow, a real man."
Putnam wrote of Lindsley's courage and his clean-cut devotion to duty, that it was the same which his school boy chums in Marietta High School and Mercersburg Academy had known: "You can tell Mr. and Mrs. Lindsley that, standing beside the grave of their son, through the tears that I couldn't have stopped had I tried, I uttered a vow, and that with God's help I'll carry it out. No son can give more, and no real son will ever be satisfied until he has made the same sacrifice or the dark mantle of war is lifted from this country."
The "Marietta Observer" gives the early history of young Lindsley:
"Paul Lindsley was born at Pueblo, Colorado, and when a young boy he came with his parents to this city where he has since made his home. Clean, energetic, and courageous, he was a favorite among a wide circle of friends, who to-day mourn his death.
"He attended the Marietta High School and afterwards attended the Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania. Paul has made the supreme sacrifice. His was the spontaneous joy of living, and his influence will be greatly missed by those who knew and loved him."
Born August 11, 1896, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Son of F. D. and Florence Moore Forbush. Home, Detroit, Michigan. Educated Detroit Schools and Interlaken School, Indiana. Business with U. S. Tire Company. Joined American Field Service, April 25, 1916; attached Section Eight to October 24, 1916. Returned to America. University of Vermont. Enlisted U. S. Naval Reserve. Eleven trips to France on U. S. S. De Kalb. Died of pneumonia, October 6, 1918, in Philadelphia hospital. Body cremated at Detroit, Michigan.
FREDERIC FORBUSH's home, except for the first three years of his life, was Detroit, Michigan. Here he spent most of his school days and here he worked for nine months in a branch of the U. S. Tire Company, prior to his departure for France. His mother has written of this period of his life: "He was just the average happy, adventurous, fun-loving boy. He had a very keen sense of humor and often had amusing experiences in his association with all types of men and boys. He made friends easily and his greatest enjoyment was in the company of his many boyhood friends."
In the early spring of 1916 he enlisted in the American Field Service and sailed for France in April. The Section to which he was assigned, S. S. U. 8, did not leave for the front until the following month and for the intervening weeks he was quartered in the American Hospital at Neuilly. Here he first saw the results of the struggle which France was making and a letter written home at the time shows how tenderly he reacted to it: " received my first shock of war yesterday as I was climbing the stairs to my dormitory. A French soldier was descending and his face was the most terrible thing I have ever seen,---all twisted and creased and wrinkled, and one eye and ear gone. He wore the Croix de Guerre, and when I saluted he came to attention and gave me a fine salute. Just that one short glimpse of him seemed to hit me awfully hard and when I got to the dormitory I just had to bawl,---I could n't help it."
His Section left Paris the 25th of May and first took up work in Champagne. By the middle of June, however, they were actively engaged in the Verdun sector, where they remained with but short periods of rest until September. Of the sort of work Forbush did during the summer, the following letter, written by his Section commander some months later, is sufficient evidence: "At the time when we had our hardest and most trying work at Fort Tavannes, I remember him as being one of the foremost to volunteer for any particularly hard run. When Keogh was hit, our one casualty, he was the one to volunteer to take his place and continue the run at the beginning of which Keogh was wounded. I can but say that I am awfully sorry to see him leave."
On October 24, 1916, he resigned from the Field Service and returned to America. Desire to be near his fiancée prevented him from carrying out his original intention of returning to France and instead he entered the University of Vermont to complete his education. When war was declared in the following spring he enlisted immediately in the Navy and on the De Kalb, formerly the German raider Prinz Eitel Freidrich, made eleven round trips to France. Shortly before his first voyage he was married, and a year and half later a son was born who bears the father's name.
He died at Philadelphia, October 6, 1918, of pneumonia, at the age of twenty-two years, but in his life, short as it was, had been crowded the experiences denied in a long lifetime to many older men. His mother has written of him: "Even as a little boy he was of the fearless, happy-go-lucky type, and he retained those characteristics, even though sobered by his work in France, well calculated to make him thoughtful. He expressed always a deep admiration and love for France and a great satisfaction in having served her,- --and for his own dear land he made the supreme sacrifice."
Born February 28, 1896, in Newark, New Jersey. Son of C. Weston and Sara Armour Bailey. Home, Glen Ridge, New Jersey. Educated Peddie Institute, New Jersey, and Stevens Institute of Technology. Joined American Field Service, June 25, 1917; attached Section Seventy. Enlisted U. S. Army Ambulance Service, Section 636. April 11, 1918, transferred Artillery Officers' Training School, Saumur. Commissioned Second Lieutenant, July 10th. Attached 102d Field Artillery, July 18th. Killed in action, October 9, 1918, near Château-Thierry. Buried American Cemetery, Thiaucourt, Meurthe-et-Moselle.
LIEUTENANT KENNETH A. BAILEY, 102d Field Artillery, began his military career with the American Field Service. He enlisted in June, 1917, and was assigned to Section Seventy, which left for the front, July 15, 1917. After a summer spent in the recently evacuated country around Noyon and in active participation in the Battle of Malmaison on the Chemin des Dames, he was transferred with most of the personnel of this Section to S. S. U. 636 under the U. S. Army Ambulance Service. One of his fellow members of the Section writes of him in the American Field Service Bulletin: "'Bill' Bailey, as we always called him, had the happy faculty of making friends of all with whom he came in contact. We knew him as one who could be depended upon to do his part and more, whether work or a frolic was on hand, and we remember the long evenings when he would cheer the barracks with his large stock of Scotch songs. These same qualities caused him to be known, during his short career in the artillery, as one of the most efficient and popular junior officers of the regiment."
It was characteristic of "Bill" that he never grumbled, no matter what the hardship or task might be, that he could be always counted on to do his duty and more, and that nothing ever seemed to upset or quell for a moment his prevailing good humor and ready wit. He was exceedingly popular among his fellow members of the section and held from the beginning the deep respect and affection of his officers.
During the winter of 1917-18, spent in the Champagne Secteur des Monts, "Bill" began to turn his thoughts toward a combatant branch of the service. As he wrote in December, after seeing the heroic work of the French and the dastardly work of the Germans, he wanted "to get where he could throw things at Fritz and not pick up what he had messed up." Much of his spare time when en repos during the early months of winter while others of his comrades were amusing themselves as best they could, he devoted to studying any available text book he could procure to fit himself for the work he had in view. Nor did this study prevent him from joining wholeheartedly in the life of the Section, for he was an excellent all-round good fellow.
In April, 1918, he was recommended for the American Officers' Artillery Training School at Saumur, France, and received the appointment. Here he made rapid progress and was graduated with honors, receiving his commission as Second Lieutenant on July 10, 1918. Eight days later he was assigned to Battery B of the 102d Field Artillery and was sent immediately into position near Château-Thierry. From then until his death,---he was killed in action, October 9, 1918,--- he gave himself devotedly to his chosen work and took part in some of the hardest fights of that memorable summer. One tribute which he pays to his fighting countrymen must be quoted: "I never in the wide world can express the profound respect I have for the American doughboys. They have nothing in them that even resembles fear and are as irresistible as a forty-two centimeter shell. My hat is off to a doughboy every time." His point of view makes it easy to understand why he was so universally liked by the men under him and what his loss meant to both his subordinates and superior officers in the Battery.
Nowhere did the news of his death come with a greater shock than to the members of his old ambulance section. We who had known him well as a soldier and a comrade, knew also the promise which life held for him, had he lived, and not one of us but has since faced life with a little more determination, and a little more desire for real service and self-sacrifice because of his example.
Born January 13, 1895, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Son of Henry Lane and Margaret Noble Wallace. Educated Hill School, Pottstown, Pennsylvania, and Yale University, Class of 1917. Joined American Field Service, June 17, 1916; attached Section One to November 27, 1916. Returned to America and College. Enlisted Marine Corps, July 5, 1917. Appointed Second Lieutenant, Quantico, Virginia, August 27th; attached 34th Company, 1st Replacement Battalion. Sailed for France, February, 1918. Army School, Gondrecourt; attached French Division; attached 83d Company, 6th Regiment, June 11, 1918. Wounded, Vierzy, July 19th. Promoted First Lieutenant, September 6th. Battalion Scout Officer. Killed by shell, October 9, 1918, in action near St. Etienne, Champagne. Buried between St. Etienne and Somme-Py, Marne. Body transferred to Crawfordsville, Indiana.
"HE bartered Youth for Immortality," quoted a noted author in writing of his young friend, William Noble Wallace, who was killed in action near St. Etienne, Champagne, carrying high that standard of devotion which guided the lives of his ancestors. The first of his father's family in America was Peter Wallace, Scotch-Irish, who immigrated in 1724, while on his mother's side was General Arthur Sinclair, who came from Scotland with Admiral Boscawen in 1758. His grandfather was General Lew Wallace, the Mexican and Civil War soldier and author.
"The knightliest of the knightly race
Who, since the days of old,
Have kept the lamp of chivalry
Alight in hearts of gold,"
"Such was this dear boy," continues the writer. "The General came instantly into my mind when the dark news came, and we, who know the fine quality of both, may ponder how the elder comrade saluted with fine courtesy the Knight of his own house, in the green valley where, beyond these voices, there is Peace."
Lieutenant Wallace's war record begins with his enlistment in the American Field Service. With Section One he served in the vicinity of Verdun from June to late November, 1916. Returning to the United States, he secured his degree of A. B. with his class at Yale in June, 1917. Graduating from the Officers' Training School at Quantico in November, he was assigned to the 1st Replacement Battalion and sailed for France on the U. S. S. Von Steuben. His organization landed at Brest and moved immediately to the training area near Chatillon.
Wallace graduated from the 1st Army Corps School at Gondrecourt at the head of his class, which allowed him ten days at the front with a French Division. On returning he served as Battalion Adjutant until transferred to the famous 6th Regiment. With it he fought through Château-Thierry and Belleau Wood. On July 19th, while leading his men in the attack before Vierzy he was wounded and evacuated, but rejoined his regiment on October 7th.
October 8th his company was withdrawn for replacements, but Wallace remained, having volunteered to reconnoiter the front line. His mission accomplished with great skill and daring, he was returning in the early dawn, when he was struck by a shell and instantly killed. The Distinguished Service Cross and Navy Cross were awarded Wallace for "extraordinary heroism in action" at this time. At the moment of his death he was a First Lieutenant, having been promoted September 6th, but he died without knowledge of this recognition of his service. His ambulance section had received the Croix de Guerre with Palm and his Marine regiment the French fourragère.
The Indianapolis Star in a memorial editorial for Lieutenant Wallace said: "'Whom the gods love die young.' He was a soldier worthy of his traditions and he had the fatal speed of those about to die young . . . . . that absorption of a lifetime in an hour, which we find in those who hasten to have their work done before noon, knowing that they will not see the evening. He carried the torch borne by his brave ancestors, and did them honor. Friends who mourn his early death may cry, 'The pity of it,' but if he echoed in his heart the poet's wish, 'A short life in the saddle, Lord, not long life by the fire,' then indeed he had the career he wished."
WILLIAM CLARKSON POTTER
Born July 31, 1896, in Dinard, France. Son of Clarkson and Mathilde Allien Potter. Home, Paris, France. Educated Wixenford Preparatory and Harrow Schools, England, and Princeton University, Class of 1919. Joined American Field Service, June 10, 1916; attached Section One until December 10, 1916. joined Norton-Harjes Ambulance Corps. Croix de Guerre. Enlisted U. S. Aviation, August, 1917. Trained Tours, Issoudun, and Clermont-Ferrand. Commissioned First Lieutenant, November, 1917. September, 1918, attached 20th Day Bombing Squadron. D. S. C. Killed in action over lines, near Dun-sur-Meuse, October 10th, 1918. Buried by Germans at Barricourt, Ardennes, near Stenay. Body transferred to Suresnes, Seine.
IT seems only yesterday that Clarkson Potter came to Headquarters in Paris and asked if he could not get to the front a little more quickly than any new Field Service man had ever gotten there before. He explained that he had just finished his Freshman year at Princeton, that he had spent about half his life in France, that he had his parents' permission, and that, in short, "the war had been going on long enough without him."
So he was sent to Section One, where almost immediately he became known as "young Potter." Small, slender, with frank eyes and a boyish laugh, he looked hardly a match for the grim work of war. But appearances were misleading. He was ready to drive "anything on wheels"; he was keen to tackle any sort of road, and he seemed to consider skirting shell craters on a black night the best game he had ever played.
He remained with Section One, doing good work through several attacks, until December, 1916, when, in order to be with some close friends, he asked to be transferred to the Norton-Harjes Ambulance Corps. By this time he was a seasoned as well as a daring driver. "Permanently at an advanced post," read his citation for the Croix de Guerre, "Clarkson Potter made eighteen consecutive trips without a rest in thirty hours and, in spite of the bombardment of the road by the German artillery, he enabled a great number of wounded to reap the benefits of rapid transport."
In August, 1917, he enlisted in the American Air Service as a cadet and was sent to Tours for his preliminary training. Upon finishing his course and receiving a First Lieutenant's commission, he went to Clermont-Ferrand, where he was given advanced instruction as a bombing pilot, and in September, 1918, he was assigned to the 20th Day Bombing Squadron.
His first mission was to take part in a daylight raid over Dun-sur-Meuse on September 26th, the first day of the great Argonne offensive. Only three of the fourteen men who that day crossed the lines with him returned. The remaining eleven, including "Phil" Rhinelander, a former Field Service man and Potter's best friend, were killed or brought down wounded and captured. Lieutenant Howard, the Flight Leader, and also a former Field Service man, has said that he owed his escape to Potter.
"We were jumped," he wrote in the North American Review for November, 1919, "just after the bombing. Fokkers, five or six, came from behind, a second group from above, and a third from in front and below. They came out of peace and nothingness and were on us in an instant, diving through and flying as part of our formation. Bullets hit my plane as though somebody had been peppering me with a handful of gravel. I believe I should have given up and tried a landing, had not Potter stuck. And how he stuck! And in the end, when we did get back, three out of fourteen, one team and a half out of seven, Potter was as cool as --- I have no simile."
For his work that day Potter was given the D. S. C. "By his courage and disregard of danger," read the citation in General Orders, "Lieutenant Potter saved the life of his leader and brought his machine safely back to our lines."
But he did not live to receive this honor. He was struck, October 10th, by an "Archie" while over the German lines at a height of eleven thousand feet. He was seen to turn and start gliding towards the American trenches, but, at about six hundred feet, he apparently encountered a strong German barrage which riddled his plane with bullets and killed both him and Lieutenant Wilmer, his observer.
Born September 22, 1895, in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Son of Archibald and Maude Donahue. Home, Gloucester, Massachusetts. Educated Gloucester High School, Class of 1916. Business, and Arkansas Law School, Little Rock, Arkansas. Joined American Field Service, September 13, 1917; attached Section Sixty-six, which became Section 623 U. S. A. Ambulance Service. Died of pneumonia. October 12, 1918, at Clermont-Ferrand. Buried American Cemetery, Clermont-Ferrand, Puy-de-Dome. Body transferred to Gloucester, Massachusetts.
LEON DONAHUE's mother writes of him: "Leon was gifted with an unusually happy disposition." And it is this quality which seems to have been one of the keynotes of his character. During his early days in the Gloucester High School his teachers always knew where to look for the source of any joke or amusing episode which transpired, and it was the principal himself who gave him the name of "Eternal Donahue" by which he was known throughout his school years. There was nothing the least bit malicious about his fun-making, nor did it prevent his winning the sincere respect and affection of his teachers and fellow students through his earnest work in the various school activities.
On completing his high school course, in June, 1916, he determined to go west and after visiting several cities he at last located in Little Rock, Arkansas. Here he obtained employment with The Wear Ever Aluminum Company and at the same time attended Arkansas Law School. He spent a busy and profitable winter, but in the following spring, when war with Germany seemed imminent, he wrote: "It looks like war and I feel as if I must come back and enlist from my own State. I can not keep my mind on work,---my thoughts are all of war." He returned to Gloucester, full of enthusiasm, to find that he could not pass the physical examination owing to the fact that he was under weight and of rather a frail constitution. After a heart-breaking summer in which he tried without success to enlist in various branches of the service, he was at last accepted as a volunteer in the American Field Service.
He arrived in Paris late in September, just as the Field Service was being taken over by the American Army, and enlisting in the U. S. Army Ambulance Service, was assigned to S. S. U. 623. With his Section he took an active part in the offensive on the Chemin des Dames during the fall and early winter of 1917, and in the defensive operations of the Aisne in the following spring. His unfailing good humor and general adaptability made him exceedingly popular with his comrades. As one of them wrote: "He could do anything from filling the cook's place, when needed, to entertaining us with his mandolin." And another said of his work: "I have often admired him for his courage, his straightforwardness, and the way he thought continually of those back home. Leon was manly to the core. I well remember how one day up near Soissons, he volunteered to go to a poste, the road leading to which was covered by German machine-gun fire, not to speak of artillery; also how another time he carried food to us up past places which were close to and in plain sight of the Germans."
During the course of the offensive in Champagne in September, 1918, he fell ill with influenza and was evacuated through various hospitals to Clermont-Ferrand. Here he died of pneumonia on October 12, 1918, and his body was buried in the army cemetery at that place. In his last letter home he wrote of some of his friends who had been killed in service: "It's sad to see so many of our fine young men giving up their lives, but we must expect to suffer as France and England have suffered, and are suffering now." It was in this spirit that he faced death, glad to take his share of the burden whatever it might be. And as one of his most intimate friends has said: "I hope when I die that I will leave behind me as clean a record as Leon's."
Born April 23, 1896, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Son of Clay Harvey and Justina Merrick Hollister. Educated Middlesex School and Harvard University, Class of 1918. Joined American Field Service, February 25, 1916; attached Section Three in France and Balkans to May 9, 1917. Croix de Guerre. Returned to America. Army Service School, July. U. S. Infantry, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, November. Commissioned Second Lieutenant, February 25, 1918; attached 61st Infantry, Camp Greene, North Carolina. Sailed for Brest, April 15, 1918. Attached 137th French Division, to August; Battalion Scout Officer, 61st Regiment. Killed by shell, October 12, 1918, in action east of Cunel, at Bois-de-Forêt, and buried there. Cited, 5th U. S. Division. Body transferred to Argonne American Cemetery, Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, Meuse.
"IN him I seem to see my dearest ideals realized. What strength and vision, what health and vigor of mind and body his genuineness a constant spur to those near him . . . ." These words which to us so well describe George Merrick Hollister, he wrote of his young brother. They express something of what he felt a youth should be, and as accurately, although he could not know it, the feeling which his many friends had for him. Though visioning deeply he never preached; his conduct bespoke the stalwartness of the high personal ideals he held. He was modest and unselfish, withal the most humanly alive person imaginable. His was the simplicity, the lack of all pretense, which is the heritage of great souls. He saw nothing of beauty or heroism in his own manner of facing actualities, but the example of his life and death has left us a guide to cherish forever.
In 1908 George came east from Michigan a frail, lonely lad, but eight years later was at Harvard, strong in body, rich in friendships, and having made an enviable success, when, in the middle of his sophomore year, he went quietly away to drive the Middlesex ambulance in the American Field Service. With veteran Section Three his youth and zest, his reliability and unfailing good humor made George both loved and admired . Yet all he experienced impressed him deeply. "It is hard to say what the last two weeks have meant to me," he wrote after the first Battle of Verdun . ... . . . . to see all that is finest in life and all that is most damnable. . . Now, with it safely over, life takes on a new glorious splendor. I do not even try to explain to myself why my share seems done, probably it is not . . . . " His share was not done; his future held yet much of service, of suffering, and of sacrifice.
After more than a year as a volunteer driver, George returned and secured a lieutenancy in America, going back to France with the 61st Infantry as Scout Officer, where, "the best known officer in the Brigade," he was loved and trusted as are few military leaders.
On October 13th in the woods near Cunel, having located some Boche positions under a raking fire, George was killed by a shell. Perhaps the words in all the tributes to his memory which he himself would most have cherished are those of his orderly, a Greek, Nickolas Gouzoulis, "good soldier and good citizen."
". . . . He was my officer . . . . . and wherever he would like to go, he had always use to take me with him for I was a sniper, also a confidential friend to him. . . . . George got severely wounded . . . . . he call me and I crawls over and sees him in bad condition . . . . . He don't last long for he died in my arms . . . . . I wish you will be more than proud, for you had a son with plenty of courage and nerve, in fact, he was one of the best officers I have ever seen since I have been in France."
Lieutenant Considine's story completes the picture of how George Hollister was beloved. "I had what was left of the Scouts George commanded, take both bodies to the southern edge of the wood and the exhausted men began to dig a grave . . . . . Ordered back, the last thing we did before leaving that shell-torn strip was to wrap the bodies of those two friends in blankets, and with bared heads and a prayer we buried them not far from where they fell . . . . . It was quite dark when we left after putting wild flowers over them, and the remnants of two companies with exhausted bodies and aching hearts left to their last rest two of the finest, coolest, and most courageous officers who ever faced and accepted death for our Flag."
Alphabetical Index of Names
Table of Contents: History of the American Field Service in France.