Sons of Men - Evansville's War Record
Gold Star Biographies
[Home] [Previous Soldier] [Next Soldier]


Pvt. John Arthur Crofts
Co. C, 120th Infantry, 30th Division
April 6, 1894 - July 5,1919


   The life of John Arthur Crofts illustrates the truism that it is not
the rank, uniform or military ceremonies, but genuine, sterling
character and innate heroism which makes the true soldier.  He fought
during the war with a heroism that attracted the official notice of
three of the Allied nations. When the war was over he again proved
himself a typical American.  He put aside the uniform, and incon-
spicuously resumed the activities of a civilian.

   John Arthur Crofts was born in Evansville, April 6, 1894. When
his school days were over he worked for his father on a farm. Before
entering the service he worked for the Laib Company and for the
Wells-Fargo Express Company. On September 20, 1917, he entered
service and was sent to Camp Taylor. There he was assigned to Company I,
335th Infantry, and spent the winter in training and preparing himself
for the emergencies which he later met on the battlefield.
On March 29, 1918, he was transferred to Camp Sevier, S.C., where
he remained until May 8. Four days later he embarked at Boston on
the Bohemian for overseas service. He landed at Liverpool, England,
and on the following day, May 28, 1918, he went to Calais, France.

   During that summer the Allied forces not only checked the assault
of the enemy, but launched a military offensive which crumbled the
strong Hindenburg Line. Crofts served in the St. Quentin sector.
"Amid the hail of German fire at Bellicourt, France, Crofts
and a companion worked on the battlefield carrying a wounded comrade.
A machine gun bullet plowed through his arm. Crofts sought
the attention of a first aid station and his wound was temporarily
bandaged. He promptly returned and continued his work for thirty-six
hours with no further medical attention."

   As a reward for his heroism, Private Crofta received the
Distinguished Service Cross, one of the highest medals awarded by the
United States Government. Private Crofta's family received the
following letter of citation:

   "A.E.F., U.S.A., Distinguished Service Cross Citation
   "Private John A. Crofts, Company C, 120th Infantry,
    distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in connection
    with military operations against an armed enemy of the
    United States at Bellicourt, France, on September 29, 1918,
    and in recognition of his gallant conduct I have awarded him,
    in the name of the President, the Distinguished Service Cross,
    awarded on December 14, 1918."
      JOHN J. PERSHING.
      Commander-in-Chief.

   The American general was not the only one to cite Crofta for
bravery. The following citation, accompanied by a Croix de Guerre,
is from Marshal Petain, commander of the French Armies of the East:

   "With the approbation of the commander-in-chief of
    the A.E.F. in France, the marshal of France,
    commander-in-chief of the French Armies of the East,
    cites in order of the army corps, Private Crofts,
    Company C, 120th United States Infantry. When
    seriously wounded in the arm and no longer able
    to perform his duties as stretcherbearer, although
    ordered to the rear, he nevertheless continued to
    care for the wounded who were able to walk,
    remaining at his post for a day and night under
    violent shell fire."

   A comrade of his, Mr. Frank Keller of Owensboro, Ky., states
that Crofts was wounded in the foot about October 9, 1918, and a
short time later he suffered from a gas attack which later caused his
death. As an additional reward for his bravery, a British Military
Medal was forwarded to his wife by Adjt. Gen. P. C. Harris.

   In January, 1919, he returned to America on the Louisville, and
disembarked at New York.  On January 28, 1919, after an active,
honorable career in the service of his country, he received his
discharge at Camp Taylor. He was employed by the American Express
Company. As a result of his wounds, and especially the gas attack,
he fell ill the next summer. On July 5,1919, John A. Crofts, modest
hero, brave Yank soldier, honored by the three great Allied nations.
died at his home on Kratzville Road.
_____

Sons of Men: Evansville's War Record,
Compiled by Heiman Blatt,
Published by Abe P. Madison, 1920
pp48-49.

cdmyers@wowway.com
October 25, 1998