John Roetman in World War 1

John Roetman served as an Ambulance driver in World War I. Excerpts taken from his Autobiography.

John Roetman WW1

John Roetman_my first photo

“…World War One was in full force and I was eligible. I knew they would get me in the draft so I volunteer to go thru to draft board because I heard they were sending a special group down to Georgia to train in the Med. Dept. …I had to leave on March 5, 1918.”

john roetman draft a
Registered for the draft on June 5, 1917

kent county draft_ww1


postcard addressed to hattie roetman_ww1

postcard to hattie apsey_ww1

“We arrived in Georgia OK and was marched a few miles to camp. It was in a Confederate cemetery called Chickamauga Park. We had large tents that slept four men. It was March and the weather was still cold especially at night.”

April 21, 1918
April 21, 1918


ww1 camp2

ww1_John Roetman center


ww1_washing socks


“Hattie had met a girl friend of a boy in my company and they decided to come down to visit us before we left for over seas. They got a room together in Chattanaggo at a lady’s named Mrs. Green. Hattie stayed with Mable Webster who was married to Ralph (Red) Webster and a girl named Helen who later married George Geerling.”

John Roetman_ww1_coney island ny
1918 Coney Island, NY

“On July 8, 1918 we left for over seas and were sent to Camp Marrit New Jersey. From there we got passes and saw the sights of NY and Coney Island.”

ww1_1918_New Years Eve_Martincourt_France
Back of photo reads: John Roetman (Wagoner), Ralph Webster – dead now, Billy Wallace, Charlie Martin, Clifford Warner, Cruss, George Gearling Motorcycle Dispatcher – New Years Eve Martincourt France

The men sailed for France on the battle ship, Louisian. They arrived in Brest, France after 13 days on the ocean. Final destination was Marseilles.



ww1 ambulances


John Roetman_Mar 2_1918_rogerville France with Geo Gearling


john roetman special pass

“… the officers & Capt faked orders to go to Paris. There were only seven of us boys that got to go to Paris and I led the way. We all got passes to go to the ball game & theater.”

“The war finally came to an end on Nov. 11, 1918. But there was still a lot of work to be done. I was sent up to Esch Germany with the Army of Occupation. It was just outside of Metz which was in no man’s land at the time. All I had to do was carry the sick or wounded in my ambulance if that should occur. I got to see some of Germany that way…”

ww1 ruined homes
The ravages of war
John Roetman ww1 cannon
John Roetman center

“We were eleven days coming back. We arrived in New Port News Va. and I will never forget the face of the little children that followed us as we marched along. I felt like the Pied Piper. all the children in France were in rags or had been wounded some way or another. We often had small boys as mascot around the camp. They were orphans and had no place to go with their mangled bodies. Some of the officers did get to adopt some.”

John Roetman ww1_unknown child

John Roetman ww1c

John Roetman ww1a

John Roetman ww1b


“I mustered out on July 8, 1919 and came back to East G.R.”

  john roetman discharge papers4john roetman discharge papers3