True Stories of Life as a Doughboy in World War I

By James E. Darst, former Lieutenant of 341st Machine Gun Battalion, 89th Division

(Contributed By The Family of James E. Darst)


Lt. Darst tells how the 89th Division Lived, Suffered, Laughed and Fought on Soil of France



Lieut. Darst Is Missouri Born And Bred, a Soldier and Writer

James E. Darst, who held a commission as second lieutenant of infantry while he was in the army, is a St. Louisan, born and bred.  As the author of this account of the achievements of the Eighty-ninth Division he has the triple advantage of being a newspaper man, a published writer of  fiction and non-fiction, and a soldier who was in the think of the fighting at the Battle of St. Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.  He was not a correspondent, living at division headquarters and poring over the statistics of training and advance, but was a platoon leader, living in the front-line trenches when it was his company's turn to live there and getting "local color" by the best of all methods-namely, being a part of the local color himself. Mr. Darst is an experienced newspaper man and writer.  He was at various times on the local department of the Globe-Democrat, was a Sunday editor and night editor.  His employment with the Globe-Democrat covered a period of four years. After the war he was on the staff of the American Legion Magazine. He served as a press aide to Marshal Ferdinand Foch, Commander-in-Chief of the western forces in World War I during Foch's two-month triumphal tour of the United States in 1921.

University Graduate
Mr. Darst was born in Ferguson, St Louis County, Mo., August 29, 1890.  He was educated in the public schools, and the academy and college of St. Louis University, graduating in 1910 with the degree of A.B.  He has been in newspaper work in St. Louis most of the time since his graduation.  After his return from overseas he came back to his former position on the Globe-Democrat.  When the war with Germany broke out in 1917, Mr. Darst immediately volunteered for the first officers' training camp.  He served three months at Fort Riley, Kan., being commissioned second lieutenant August 15, 1917.  He reported September 6 to the Eighty-ninth Division at Camp Funston, Kan., and after serving two months with the One Hundred and Sixty-fourth Depot Brigade was assigned to the Three Hundred and Fortieth Machine Gun Battalion.  Three months later, in January, 1918, when the machine-gun organization of all the American divisions was changed, he was transferred with his entire company to the Three Hundred and Forty-first Machine-Gun Battalion.

In Command of Platoon
Lt.. Darst went over with Company D of the Three Hundred and Forty-first Machine Gun Battalion, commanded a platoon in the line and saw service in the Toul sector, the St. Mihiel drive and the last Meuse-Argonne offensive.  He developed pneumonia after from phosgen gas during the St. Mihiel drive and spent six weeks in the hospital.  He rejoined his division just in time to participate in the last drive of the Meuse-Argonne offensive, starting November 1.  He was struck soon after the drive started by a piece of high-explosive shell, and again spent five weeks in the hospital.  He was ordered to the United States as a convalescent officer, arriving in New York February 27, 1919.  His division is still in Germany, a part of the army of occupation, with headquarters at Treves.

 The former home of James Waters Darst and wife, Julia Perkins, built 1899. Located at 13 N. Elizabeth, Ferguson, Mo. (northern St. Louis County). Their son, James E. Darst, who grew up here, was an editor of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and served in the 89th Division during World War I. Photo taken by Scott K. Williams on September 3, 2002.

The below articles, from the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, were contributed by the family of James E. Darst.


You are the 19098th visitor to this site since we began counting, June 2002. This page was last updated, Thursday, 03-Oct-2002 10:50:38 CDT.