Grand Rapids in the World War

Grand Rapids Draft


A Citizens’ History of Grand Rapids, Michigan with program of the Campau Centennial, Sept. 23 to 26, 1926, Compiled and Edited by William J. Etten, Published by A. P. Johnson Company for the Campau Centennial Committee, 1926.
World War days tested the loyalty, patriotism and stability of Grand Rapids. They brought out, in a superlative degree, the majesty of the city’s calmness. There were neither pre-war nor post-war upheavals, social or economic. As the hunter calmly awaits the charge of its quarry, Grand Rapids awaited the strains and pressure of war and met them.

Being engaged largely in the manufacture of products intended for peaceful pursuits, some time elapsed before its industrial leaders could fit their factories to war production. Hence, during the early period Grand Rapids did not share in the business harvest which was so plentiful where war materials are produced.

What the city may have lacked, however, in fitting itself to war conditions, it made up in promptness of response to the country’s call for me. Within a few days after the president’s proclamation of war, April 6, 1917, the Grand Rapids Naval Division had 21 more men than were required to fill its quota. By the end of the next month, the Grand Rapids Battalion, which later became a part of the 126th U. S. Infantry, had been recruited to its maximum strength. April 11, a great patriot demonstration was held at the Armory. This inaugurated a long period of war activity. It was followed by meetings in all parts of the city, nearly every noon and night, of men and women who had taken responsibility for the home trenches. A large Liberty bond organization was formed under the direction of Clay H. Hollister, president of the Old National bank. This was followed by the organization of the Red Cross, of food committees, war work organizations devoted to furnishing such comforts to soldiers and sailors as were not provided by the government; Y. M. C. A. work, the American Protective League, an organization devoted to the checking up of aliens and pro-German activities, and numerous other committees and organizations, each doing its bit to keep the home fires burning.

Recruits were being trained day and night by the state naval and military organizations and, May 2, the Grand Rapids Division of the Naval Reserves received orders to mobilize for enlistment in the National Naval Volunteers. May 10, a cavalry troop consisting of nearly 100 men, raised in the city, left for a training station.

In the meantime, Congress had passed the conscription bill, drafting eligible men into the military service, and June 5 was named for the first draft registration. All male citizens between the ages of 21 and 30, inclusive, were required to register, unless at that time members of military organizations in federal service.

The 126th Infantry, organized from units of the Michigan Brigade of National Guard troops, in its final muster had the required strength of 3,625 enlisted men. It was intensively trained at Grayling, Mich. and Camp McArthur, Texas, and embarked on the President Grant for France from Camp Merritt, N.J., at midnight, February 18, 1918. The 126th was commanded by Col. Joseph B. Westnedge of Kalamazoo. Battalion commanders were Majors Jay C. McCullough, Albert C. Wilson and Earl R. Stewart. The first and only officer killed in action, First Lieut. Carl A. Johnson of Company M, was ambushed at an observation post near Soppe-le-bas. The American Legion named its post in Grand Rapids after Lieutenant Johnson.

The 126th became a unit in the Thirty-second Division, which took part in many desperate encounters with the enemy. It is recorded as having been in the Alsace defensive sector; in the Chateau-Thierry, or Aisne-Marne, offensive; Soissons sector, or Oise-Aisne defensive (Juvigny); in the Meuse-Argonne offensive. In the latter action the division was used as a spearhead and fought for 20 days without rest or pause.

The Thirty-second Division fought so nobly that the French called it “Les Terribles,” or “The Terribles.”

Total casualties of the 126th were 562 men killed, 2,430 wounded or gassed.

The regiment saw active service from May 19, 1918, to the day of the armistice, with but ten days of surcease, when it was sent to the rear for replacements. After the armistice, the regiment advanced to the Rhine, where it stationed near Coblenz as part of the Army of Occupation. May 14, 1919, the regiment entrained for Brest, returning to the United States on the Francis J. Luckenback, a small merchant freighter. It arrived in Boston harbor May 14, where the troops immediately entrained for Camp Devens.

A complete history of the 126th Infantry has been ably compiled by Capt. Emil B. Gansser.

The Eighty-fifth Infantry was made up almost entirely of men drafted from Grand Rapids and vicinity. It was diverted to Archangel, Russia, where it experience a service similar to that of Washington’s army at Valley Forge.

War Memorial

Grand Rapids was quick to honor its war dead, but slow to decide upon a permanent cenotaph. A temporary war memorial was erected at Fulton Street park in September 1918, bearing the names of those who had died in the struggle for world freedom, with this tribute: “They Gave Their Lives That We Might Live.”

As this history goes to press a new and fitting memorial in granite is being completed in the center of the same park. It consists of two massive pillars after the Egyptian school of architecture. The names to be engraved upon this memorial schedule include all those from Grand Rapids who gave their lives in the world war. They are the following and some others, the list not being complete as this history is compiled:

George Henry Allen
Einar O. Anderson
Jerome Angell
Wilmer Ellsworth Atkinson
William Frederick Austin
Peter Baker
Leonard Balcerzak
John Baranowskas
Ernest Jaline Barclay
Elmer Lyle Barnaby
Horace Melvin Barnaby
Lynn E. Barnes
Max Barney
James Alexander Bayne
Frank Beattie
William T. Beattie
Gustave G. Becker
Harry A. Bennett
William John Berghuis
Leon Bielecki
Raymond L. Blemming
Burg Blonk
Albert C. (Bobczynski) Bobeck
William C. Bobekowsky
Lucius Comstock Boltwood
George Boneburg
Alfred Wesley Brake
Kryn Breen
Gordon D. Brewster
William Charles Brinkman
Charles Burggraff
William Alden Bush
George R. Butterfield
Claude Bywater
Daniel Waters Cassard
Horace Grover Caster
Salmon Philip Champion
Harold J. Christie
Peter Paul Cirwyski
Joseph King Clark
Patrick M. Cole
John Nelson Compton, Jr.
Thomas F. Connolly
Earl Eugene Cornell
Gilbert Corson
Richard Covert
Everett D. Crocker
Gordon M. Crothers
Alonzo B. Cummings
Charles Edward Cunningham
Samuel J. Dagg
Carl William Dahleen
Roy Dalrymple
Earl L. Davidson
Fred W. Davis
Maurice Lyle Davis
Daniel DeHammer
Arthur David DeVries
Cornelius DeYoung
Edward Charles Doyle
Martin Joseph Doyle
Charles H. Dunham
Frank S. Ellis
Frederick Walter Evans
Peter F. Farrell
William Mead Ferris, Jr.
Leo Martin Finnegan
Harry E. Fonger
Neal Ernest Fonger
Irving Jenner Ford
Murray Fox
Reginald Stott Franchot
Irving J. Freeman
Roy Gale
Peter Garbauckas
Lionel Hiles Gardiner
Thomas Browning Gehring
Frank J. Gerschewski
Peter Cominic Giacoma
Charles Gillis
Clyde Gillispie
George Franklin Goebel
Herman S. Graves
Donald Eugene Green
Lawrence D. Groh
Naseeb Shalen Hadlah
Ivan Raymond Hamilton
Florence Hankinson
Clyde Morris Hastings
Henry Helms
Willard H. Helsel
John Hiemstra
Abe Hoeksema
George Merrick Hollister
Karl Hootkins
Leonard Horrevoets
William McKinley Huff
Gaetano Imperi
Frank B. Jannausch
Carl A. Johnson
Harmon R. Jones
Harry Ralph Jones
Nickolas Jonker
Jay S. Kantz
Harry Kapteyn
Lyman Kennedy
Wesley W. Kerr
Herbert P. Kimball
Walter Kimber
Stanley (Kmies) Kmiec
Rhoda O. Knapp
Jmes Kooistra
Herman Korringa
Joseph Kozloski
Warner Kramer
Joseph Leo Krzykwa
John Kubilis
Homer E. LaBar
Albert C. Labutsky
John H. Lake
James W. Lamoreaux
William George Lanksi
Pearl Edward Lawrence
Edward William Leonard
Albert Lofquist
Anthony Loibl
Clyde Arthur Loomis
John Kendall McConnell
Albert Daniel McDermott
Ralph Fisk MacMillan
George Frederick Maitner
Joseph Walter Malewitz
Julius Charles Manshum
John Matel
Richard Masereeuw
Samuel B. Meisels
Leland R. Menter
William Merizon
Clarence F. Merry
Edward Mieras
William G. Mierow
Leo Anthony Miller
Peter John Miller
Maurice Moseley
Clare Ernest Mosher
John Henry Mouw
John Nelison, Jr.
Kenneth Alonzo Nelson
Stuart R. Nicholson
Elmer Anderson Noblett
Frank James O’Connor
John M. Orlekowski
John Ostrowski
Johannes Overmars
Leon Parks
Ray Harrison Parmalee
Albert Pekelder
Virgil B. Perry
Joseph M. Pieszko
Frank Adolph Pilecki
Johannes Post
Leo Victor Prelwitz
Oliver William Prescott
Peter Prins
George G. Printup
Leon Radecki
Albert Rauschenberger
Howell Lewis Reid
Christopher Richard Reinsma
Vear (Vera) M. Rockwell
Randolph Rogers
Alexander J. Romanowski
Edward Adrian Roodvoets
Elmer Roos
John Leo Ryan
Joseph Frank Sandusky
Roland Sargent
Paul Edward Schmidt
Eli H. Schoonmaker
William Alden Schulte
William Sears
George Seven
Herbert J. Sheldon
Gus Shoemaker
George Arthur Cyril Sifton
Joseph W. Sikorskis
Anthony Skorupski
Adrian Slootmaker
Edward Smallegange
Gerrit John Smeelink
Gerrit Smith
John S. Smith
Orra L. Snyder
Maurice V. Sohrauer
Harry G. Spoelstra
Ford Lee Stearns
John Stellema
Edwin T. Stiles
Edward Daniel Sullivan
Louis Ernest Teistler
Joseph M. Todd
H. C. Tuttle
Harry Joseph Vanden Berg
Cornelius Vander Heide
Leonard Van Der Hooning
Jacob J. Vander Leest
John A. van Donger
Wynerd Van Dyke
Louis Van Kuiken
Bernard Van’t Hof
Leon Van’t Hof
William Carl van Wingen
Ralph Van Zanten
John Volkers
John Vink
Harold H. Wagner
William E. Ward
Elizabeth Watson
Henry Judson Webster
George Weertman
Clifton G. Weisberger
George Arthur Wells
William Edward Welmerink
Irving Wenger
Ira L. Wescott
John Westerhof
George Williams
Carl Edward Wilmes
Dale L. Wilson
Charles F. Wood
Philip B. Wood
Loyd Ambrose Woodmansee
Robert P. Woodworth
Leander F. Yant
Martin A. Young
Samuel Zive
Robert A. Zoellner
Cieslaw Zurawski

Transcriber: Ronnie Aungst
Created: 10 May 1999

Document Source: Etten, William J., A Citizens’ History of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Published by A. P. Johnson for the Campau Centennial Committee, 1926.
Location of Original: Los Angeles Public Library
Transcriber: JKG

Created: 10 May 1999