Sons of Men - Evansville's War Record
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|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.
October 25, 1998