Melvin Clay Daugherty

Company F, Second Battalion, 349th Infantry Regiment,

175th Infantry Brigade, 88th Division

By Hal Fairfield

Pvt. 1st Cl. Melvin C. Daugherty is third from the left. The other soldiers are unidentified. This photograph may have been recorded in early Spring, 1919 at Gondrecourt, France, judging from the 6-months service chevron on the lower left sleeve of the service coats.

 

Melvin Daugherty, with at least 25 other young men, left their hometowns in Dent County, Missouri and traveled by train to Camp Dodge, Polk County, Iowa. On Monday, 27 May 1918 these Missouri men were inducted into the National Army to fight the war raging in Europe. Melvin Daugherty was assigned Company F, Second Battalion, 349th Infantry Regiment, 175th Infantry Brigade in the 88th Division—"The Cloverleaf Division".

The 88th Combat Division was ordered overseas to join the A. E. F. and on Friday, 9 August 1918, after less than seven weeks "training", Melvin Daugherty’s 349th Infantry unit boards the White Star Liner, "Olympic" at Hoboken, New Jersey for the transatlantic journey to France. Training continues aboard ship to make-up the deficit. The "Olympic" docks at Southampton, England on 16 August 1918 and for the next two days units of the 349th Infantry make the English Channel crossing and assemble at Le Havre, France.

The Division (less Artillery) is ordered to the 21st Training Area at Semur, France for two months of "open warfare" training. Advance units of the Division had already established billets for the troops in the surrounding villages. Melvin Daugherty’s unit traveled by train aboard the famous "Hommes 40, Chevaux 8 (40 men or 8 horses) boxcars and assembled at the training area by 19 August 1918. Intensive training for all units begins.

Again the training schedule is interrupted. On 14 September 1918 the 21,000 men of the Division move to Héricourt, France. Four trains a day operate for five days to complete the transportation of the 88th Division to the Héricourt Training Area. Command ordered the 88th Division to relieve the 29th Division, who had just completed their "quiet sector" tour of duty, however, the French Staff in command of the sector discovered that the 88th was without gas masks or steel helmets. Alternatively, the French Staff ordered the 38th French Division to relieve the 29th U. S. Division until equipment could be issued. Meanwhile, our Division resumes its intensive training schedule at Héricourt.

The final phase of training in "trench warfare" entailed the occupation of front line trenches in a "quiet sector" of the Western Front. On 6 October 1918 the Division HQ advances to Montreux-Château, the rear area of the front called Center Section, Haute Alsace, which defends the valley between the Vosges Mountains and the Alps, known at the Belfort Gap (this Alsace Region had been under German political control since 1870). Units assigned to the front begin training in the trenches with the 38th French Division. At this time Melvin Daugherty and the 256 men of Company F were assigned to the rear zone and billeted in the village of Chevremont. Our Division would co-occupy the Center Section with the 38th French Division until 15 October when the 88th Division assumes full command of the "Sector".

Under the cover of darkness, Monday night, 28 October 1918 the four companies of Second Battalion, 349th Infantry advanced to relieve Third Battalion, 350th Infantry. As part of this relief, Melvin Daugherty and the men of Company F, loaded in full field packs, forced marched 21 kilometers (13 miles) and relieved the units in line during the early morning hours of 29 October. Here, Melvin Daugherty found himself assigned to trench duty at the Center of Resistance (C. R.) Balschwiller, Northern Sub-Sector, Center Section, Defensive Zone, Alsatian Front. This duty would be short lived for all the men of the 175th Infantry Brigade.

While Melvin Daugherty was on front line duty at C. R. Balschwiller, emergency orders were received from the newly formed Second American Army calling for the hurried move of the entire 175th Infantry Brigade, including Company F, to the region of Toul, France for an offensive against the German held city of Metz. These orders received on Sunday, 3 November implemented the relief of the 88th Division by the 154th French Division. Melvin Daugherty’s entire 175th Infantry Brigade was detached from the 88th Division, quickly removed from the battle line and moved to Belfort, where they entrained on Wednesday, 6 November 1918. The 175th Brigade moves to the village of Minorville, France, and is assigned IV Corps Reserve, Second American Army. The balance of the 88th Division follows the 175th to the Toul area and its last elements arrive Monday, 11 November 1918. The "ceasefire" Armistice began at 11:00 am, Monday, 11 November 1918 and ended all offensive actions on the Western Front—the war was over.

On 29 November 1918 the 88th Division (less artillery) and including the 175th Brigade move to the 1st Training Area at Gondrecourt, where training follows. Schools, sport activities, and cultural pursuits are encouraged but primarily the men want to know "when do we go home". On 7 May 1919 the 88th Division (less Artillery and Engineers) moves to the American Embarkation Center, Le Mans. Then on 15 May 1919 the 88th Division (less Artillery) with the Engineers moves to the port at St. Nazaire, France, where on Monday, 19 May 1919, Melvin Daugherty’s entire Second Battalion together with other elements of the 88th Division boards the U. S. S. "Rijndam" bound for Newport News, Virginia, U. S. A. and home. Private First Class Melvin Daugherty is honorably discharged from the U. S. Army at Camp Zachary Taylor, Kentucky on Thursday, 12 June 1919. Upon discharge he receives $60 bonus pay and a travel pay voucher to Salem, Missouri.

Melvin Clay Daugherty is my Grandfather.

Hal Fairfield

 

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