Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
As always, on Armistice Day I think of Grand Dad Gerald. He fought in the trenches in World War one, through the Argonne Forest, and had his arm broken by shrapnel on 11 November, the morning of the armistice.
After he left the hospital he was put on a train with orders to return to his unit. The way I heard it was that he was in no hurry to get back, and decided instead to tour France. He made no attempt to find his correct stop and enjoyed the train ride until some Military Police found him. They inspected his orders, observed that he had missed his stop, and put him on another train going back the other way. He pulled that trick a couple times, but eventually ended up back at his unit.
The end of the war caught a lot of people by surprise, and his unit didn’t return stateside until 3 May, 1919. It was not a impressive performance by our government.
He was out-processed and de-loused at Camp Dix, New Jersey, where he was greeted by his sister who had traveled from Colorado.
Camp Dix, NJ May 4, 1919
Grand Dad had been assigned to the 28th Infantry Division, originally a National Guard unit from Pennsylvania, and composed almost entirely of men from that state. Their losses in France were heavy and the 28th was reinforced by men from across the US, including Grand Dad.
At demobilization Grand Dad and the reinforcements were discharged one day before the original cohort of Pennsylvania men. The following day those original members of the 28th marched through Philadelphia in a victory parade.
Grand Dad and Sis took the picture below of his company. I believe a typical army company numbers about 100 men. A photograph taken in France shows 190 men, although they may have been over strength with reinforcements. The important point is that the company started the war with about 100 men, or more, but the picture only shows about 20 who made it to the end of the conflict. I estimate that from arriving in May until the November armistice the company suffered approximately 80% casualties.
Co H, 109th Inf, 28th Div, 29 May 1919
Grand Dad was fortunate to make it home in one piece. He married the girl from the farm down the road and raised a family. He was lucky.Published in