Sons of Men - Evansville's War Record
Gold Star Biographies
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Pvt. Elmer S. Harper
Co. L, 120th Infantry, 30th Division
January 31, 1895 - October 1, 1918

   Elmer S. Harper was born on a farm in Knight Township,
Vanderburgh County, January 31, 1895.  He first attended Harlan Avenue
School and later attended school in Kentucky. At the time he
went into the service of liis country he was employed in a barber shop
on Second Avenue. He was a member of White Oak Camp No.26,
W. 0. W. He left Evansville for Camp Zachary Taylor on September 22, 1917,
and served in Co. B, 335th Infantry, until April, 1918, when
he was transferred to Co. L, 120th Infantry, (Old Hickory) Division
at Camp Sevier, S. C.

   He was later transferred to Camp Merritt, N. J., and then. to
Boston, where he went aboard the transport Militiades on May 14.
From there he went to New York harbor where, accompanied by a
convoy, he set sail for overseas on May 16, 1918. The ship was
attacked by submarines near the Irish coast, but no serious damage
was sustained. Harper landed at Gravesend, England on June 5, 1918,
and the same day went by way of Dover to Calais, France. The first
night he spent in France, a German air raiding party came buzzing
over the camp near midnight. He was awakened by the thunderous
noise of the big anti-aircraft guns which drove the enemy away. On
the evening of June 11 he left Calais with his company and started
war maneuvers.  He reached Herzelle, France, on the border of
Belgium on July 4, where he remained until July 11.  From that date
until July 18, he remained in a road camp in Belgium. On the
twenty-fifth of that month he entered the trenches near Ypres and was
given training under the British until August 12. When he had rested
in a road camp until August 17, he went back into the trenches until
September 6. He traveled through Croisette, Forceville, and Fincourt in
France and went into the lines near Bellicourt, France, on September
27.  At this place two days later at 5:30 in the morning he went "over
the top" in the famous drive on the great Hindenburg Line. He was
seriously wounded by shrapnel and died on October 1, 1918.

   Other Evansville men were with him at the time he was shot, one
of them, Riley R. Rawlings, and a soldier from Ft. Branch, whose
name is given as Griffith. In telling of this battle those who fought
beside him say that Harper fought in accordance with the tradition
of the typical U. S. soldier, which is "do or die."

Sons of Men: Evansville's War Record,
Compiled by Heiman Blatt,
Published by Abe P. Madison, 1920
April 15, 1998