OUR OWN COMPANY F. 1917, A.D.
By Russell J. Waldo
Originally Published on November 13, 1941
Provided by Craig Lacy of the Medina Historical Society
The days, events and deeds of 1917-19 still are distinct pictures in the minds of hundreds of Medina World War I veterans and relatives. Those who left Medina during the years 1917-1918 numbered more than 600. This included Company F, the National Guard unit, which remained one part of a large company throughout the war. Others who did not become a part of Company F were scattered about France in many organizations with the same goal in sight, the defeat of Germany.
The period of being absorbed into European service was long-extending over several months before the unit actually arrived in France. Company F left Medina April 28, 1917, for Oneida, N.Y. They became part of the Third Infantry New York National Guard. Upon September 28 the same year they were transferred to the 108th Infantry at Camp Wadsworth.
The unit left Camp Wadsworth on May 1, 1918, for Newport News from which they sailed on May 17 for France. They arrived at Brest, France on Memorial Day. Company F served as shock troops for the British Army. They were constantly on the move, serving at East Popering, Dickelbusch Sector, Vierastrast Ridge, the Hindenburg Line at Boony, La Salle River at Chambrai, Jon DeMer Ridge and St. Maurice.
There were 254 men in the company when they left for France. Records show 29 killed in action. Those eventually returning numbered 225. The number who were injured and transferred numbered 42. The company was under the command of Captain John S. Thompson, First Lieutenants D. R. King, and Edward Moyer; Second Lieutenants Barton C. Woodward and Guernsey L. Wilder.
The remainder of Co. F included the following men who enlisted prior to April 28, 1917. Ward Hollenbeck, Harvey Snell, Edward Lowery, Harry Whittleton, Clarence Grinnell, Wm. Finch, Armel Eggleston (Albion), Allen Sinclair, David Bunn, Harold Freeman, Milford Barrus, Bernard Cowan, Jas. P. Clark, Lloyd Sanford (Albion), Harold Wirth (Lyndonville), Buell Perry (Albion) James Burns, Leon Clark, Grant Colton, William Collins, Cecil Green, Louis Nester, Charles Peters, Raymond Reed, David Tracy, Warner Tripp, Mahoon Ward, Fred Alloway, Allwood Applin, John Applin, Burt Bates (Albion), 2nd part WALDO- ho hum….Allen Botsford, Lewis Brietsman (Knowlesville), Walter Gaylord, Harry Harmon, Frederick Hellert, Howard Hinkley, Irvan Hull, Floyd Johnson, Lawrence Kimball (Albion), Joseph Livingston, Jr., Carl Long (Albion), Elmer McGaffick (Albion), Donald Mackey, Wm. Morgott, James Moriarty, Harold Pickett (Knowlesville), Jesse Reed, Leslie Williams, Ernest Wilson (Albion), Paul Zasak, Andrew Sheret (Albion), Frank Bloom, Albert Tripp (Albion), Alfred Bowles, Edward Hodgkins, Martin McKernan, Steve Smith, Michael Smith, Louie Buttons, George Washak, John Green, Louie Raymondjack, John Machusack, John Ballon, Thomas Pahura, Leo Mauiochick and John Tomelka.
Those of Co. F. who were decorated included, Captain John S. Thompson decorated with British Distinguished Conduct Medal and Belgian Medal, Lieutenant King, French Service Cross, Croix de Guerre, and the United States Medal. Corporal James P. Clark, American Distinguished Service Cross, Corporal Patrick Sayott, American Distinguished Service Cross.
Co. F. started back from Brest, France, February 28, 1919. They were mustered out of service at Camp Upson March 31, 1919. In deciding upon the name of the local Legion post none other could be considered which would mean more than Corporal James P. Clark. His citation read; “In the absence of the officers, he took command of Company F. and fell at the head of his troops”. (Sept. 29, 1918 on the Hindenburg Line.) His parents are Mr. and Mrs. James W. Clark. His body rests in France.
Many will recall the day of departure, April 28, 1917, at 7:45 p.m. from the New York Central station. It was a huge parade. The factory groups formed upon the south side of West Center Street and the fraternal organizations formed upon the north side of the street. The head of the line formed upon the corner of Park and Catherine in front of W. C. Robbins’ home. The women’s organizations formed on Prospect Avenue facing south. Visiting delegations from other towns formed from Prospect to the City Hall on Park Avenue. School children formed on Eagle Street west from Prospect around on Catherine Street.
The head of the parade started north on Catherine Street at Park Avenue. It consisted of the groups on Park Avenue to the City Hall followed by the south side of Center Street and the north side of Center Street. The line continued to Pearl Street where Co. F entered at Eagle Street. The parade the passed through Commercial and Main Streets to Oak Orchard Street to West Avenue and down West Avenue to the New York Central station.
Fifteen taps of the fire bell announced the parade would start in five minutes. The line of parade was the band, Village officials, clergymen, fire department, G.A.R., Spanish American War Veterans, public school children, parochial school children and the Ladies Relief Corps. The Daughters of Veterans float portrayed Betsy Ross sewing the first flag.
The Red Cross part in the parade consisted of four girls mounted on the Suffragist float followed by the Mount Carmel Guild sock knitting girls. Following were the Daughters of Isabell, O. E. S., another band, the Middleport delegation, the Lyndonville delegation and another band. The Holley delegation followed.
The Albion Elks had a float followed by the Medina Elks and Alert Club and City Club, The Knights of Columbus secured the Buffalo “Spirit of 1776” Drum corps. The Post Office employees followed. The Polish organizations were headed by Rev. Francis Wasiki, the Odd Fellows uniformed drill team then a band, the H.J. Heinz Co., Mahar Brothers, Central Foundry, S. A. Cook Co., Swett Electric and Swett Iron Works, Empire Couch and another band followed by the Albion Automobile Club.
An interesting experience heard of the time in France has come from Samuel Gibbs. He and a buddy had been waking toward their camp and discovered an attractive camp (Engineers). Feeling the need of a bath and a shave they nosed about the camp and found a most attractive shower bath with an ample supply of hot water. They proceeded to take advantage of it and then to shave. The last was only completed when an occupant of the camp burst into the bath house. Tall language followed before Sam could identify himself. The soldier who burst into the bath house was a brother of Bert Miller. Were Sam and his buddy glad to see him and was Sam glad he was from Medina. Later Sam was invited to his buddy’s wedding saying he deserved it as the hot shower bath and shave was never to be forgotten.