New Hampshire WWI Military: They Died of Disease

Photograph of the Base Hospital at Camp Devens MA. Property of the blog editor.

The United States World War One Centennial Commission has published an excellent narrative on the infectious diseases of World War I. The so-called Spanish Flu (that was not Spanish at all) was the primary killer of the World War I era, however measles, tuberculosis and other communicable illness took their toll.

Due to the crowding in army camps and transport ships many soldiers died before they even had a chance to participate in any battles. Their service was often omitted from local and state honor rolls. A large number of New Hampshire men and women died of disease and those who are not already credited to a specific town article on this blog will be included here Continue reading

100 Years Ago: United States Naval Schools of WWI

U.S. Navy Recruitment Poster,
Lithograph, 96×63 cm. 1910-1920.
Library of Congress Prints and
Photographs Division
, Washington DC.

Although much of my focus has been on those who served in the United States Army during WWI, there were other branches of the armed services equally involved, including the marine corps and the navy.  The Sextant, a web site maintained by the Naval History and Heritage Command states that starting in 1916, “the United States began a gigantic six-year program of naval expansion … from 1916 to 1922, the Navy added 10 battleships, 1 aircraft carrier, 287 destroyers and 88 submarines to the fleet…”

Once WWI was declared in the U.S., it became a necessity to set up camps to train those would would soon staff these ships for the United States Navy, and the Portsmouth Navy Yard Camp was among these.  In addition, several of the above mentioned ships and submarines were built at the Portsmouth Navy yard.  That topic will involve a great deal of research, and so for now I will just list the primary U.S. Naval Schools  and their locations, as found in the Nashua Telegraph newspaper of Wednesday September 18, 1918 page 5. Continue reading

New Hampshire WWI Military: Heroes of Chester

During WWI the Post Office was an important
place. Today this building is still a landmark–
the site of the Olde Post Restaurant.

When the United States entered the World War in 1917, Chester was among those towns who gladly stepped forward to offer its sons and daughters to the war effort. According to the town history 22 men from Chester served in the military (my count is 25 men and 2 women). In addition those who remained at home grew Victory Gardens, raised money for Liberty Bonds and participated in Red Cross and local aid drives. The Chester citizens both celebrated and mourned.  Four young men would leave town never to return. Continue reading

New Hampshire WWI Military: Railroad Regiment Daredevils

Mess line of the 14th Engineers at Camp Rockingham, Salem NH in 1917. From “History of the Fourteenth Engineers, U.S. Army,” 1923.

The Light Railway Engineers of World War I are little known regiments composed of men initially recruited from among railroad workers.  Most of the men of the  Fourteenth Engineers (Rwy), my primary focus, came from the Boston MA area including New Hampshire. When war was declared in April of 1917, the United States War Department requested nine regiments to be formed to work specifically with railroads–three for operating, five for construction, and one for repair. These recruiting efforts resulted in the Eleventh Regiment from New York, NY; Twelfth Regiment from St. Louis, MO; Thirteenth Regiment from Chicago, IL; Fourteenth Regiment from Boston, MA; Fifteenth Regiment from Pittsburgh PA; Sixteenth Regiment from Detroit, Michigan; Seventeenth Regiment from Atlanta GA; Eighteenth Regiment from San Francisco, CA; and the Nineteenth Regiment from Philadelphia PA. Continue reading

New Hampshire WWI Military: The Heroes of Hancock

Circa 1918-1919 postcard photograph of the Hancock Public Library with WWI memorial.

Circa 1918-1919 postcard photograph of the Hancock Public Library with WWI memorial.

I recently purchased an interesting old postcard dating back to World War I days.  It displays a photograph of the (then) town library, along with a painted sign in the front yard.  The sign’s names are those of Hancock New Hampshire’s heroes of the World War or WWI as we now call it.

It was common during World War I for a town to place the names of participants on a wooden display, reverently painted by citizens, or a local artist. After a while  these memorials faded–weathered from the sun, rain, and snow.  Much of the time they were not replaced.  This seems to be the case in the town of Hancock. Continue reading