Missourians in the First World War

"Lafayette, We Are Here!"

By Scott K. Williams (Florissant, Mo.)

     September 26, 1918 and the 129th Field Artillery Regiment, 35th Division begins its barrage against the German positions in France. The above illustration is battery D commanded by 2nd Lt. Harry S. Truman (soldier with spectacles), future President of the United States. Just before midnight on September 25 Truman's battery awoke early to prepare for an 4 AM offensive against the German line at the Argonne Forest... Had they not awoke earlier, as Truman later recalled, he "wouldn't be here [today] because the Germans fired a barrage on my sleeping place" [during the night]. The above illustration, a heritage series print, courtesy of the National Guard.

The American Legion's "American" Birthplace: St. Louis, Mo.

American Legion Monument, across the street from the Soldier's Memorial, at 1315 Chestnut Street in St. Louis, marks St. Louis as the location where the veterans of World War I (American Expeditionary Force) began the American Legion in May 9 of 1919. While the veterans had met in Paris, France on March 15-17, 1919, the American Legion name and the organization's Constitution was approved in St. Louis, Mo. So while the American Legion was conceived in Paris, France, it really was of American birth, being born in St. Louis, Mo. The Preamble of the American Legion's Constitution reads,

"For God and Country we associate ourselves together for the following purposes: to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America; to maintain law and order; to foster and perpetuate a one hundred percent Americanism; to preserve the memories and incidents of our associations in the great wars; to inculcate a sense of individual obligation to the community,state and nation; to combat the autocracy of both the classes and the masses; to make right the master of might; to promote peace and goodwill on earth; to safeguard and transmit to posterity the principles of justice, freedom and democracy; to consecrate and sanctify our comradeship by our devotion to mutual helpfulness."

 For more information about the American Legion, visit their website at: http://www.legion.org/



"Good-bye, Ma; Good-bye, Pa;
Goodbye, mule with the old hee-haw.
I may not know what the war's about
But I'll be, by gosh, I'll soon find out.
And oh, my sweetheart, don't you fear
I'll get you a king for a souvenir
I'll get you a Turk and the Kaiser, too,
And that's about all one feller can do."

--Song popular among Missouri WWI soldiers 


State of Missouri Medal Awarded to WWI Veteran Missourians

The Last Veterans

According to the Veterans Administration, 2,212 World War I veterans were alive on September 30, 2001.  As of November 2001, approximately 50 WWI veterans are still living in the State of Missouri. By 2008, the last known German and French veterans of the Great War have died. The last surviving veterans are now nearly all gone, if not already by the time one reads this. Both my grandfathers served in this war, one in the U.S.Army in the trenches of France and another in a battleships of the U.S. Navy. They are sorely missed.



True Stories of Life as a Doughboy in World War I, Nine amazing articles written by James E. Darst, 341st Machine Gun Battalion, 89th Division (of Ferguson, Mo.) Tells how the 89th Division Lived, Suffered, Laughed and Fought on Soil of France.

"A Diary of a Doughboy", 1917-1919 by Allen C. Huber (Mo. National Guard, 138th Infantry, 35th Division. Commonly called the "Joffre Regiment", originating from St. Louis, Mo.)

History of the 1st Battalion, 356th Infantry, 89th Division. (Battle Reports, Rosters, Casualities, ect.)  [Transcribed by Jefferson C. Saunders]

War Time Letters of Joseph T. Brooks, Co. K, 135th  Infantry

Camp Gaillard, "Chain of Rocks", St. Louis, Missouri (12th Army Engineers)

Missouri WWI Research Help (Need Help Reseaching Your Ancestor ?)

Missouri Army Units of World War I (The units that contained a majority of Missourians)

The Doughboy Cafe (Hear it now, playing WWI Songs Online 24 hours a day!)

 Noted Missourians of the First World War  

Missouri World War I Ancestor Memorial (Now You can Honor Your Family Member)

St. Louis First World War  Dead  

Archie Bowman Monument, St. Charles Co., Mo. 

      "What Gassing Meant"

Missouri Monument at Cheppy, France

A Tribute to the Missouri Mule

U.S.S. Missouri (BB-11) Battleship


External Links:



A Tribute to the Missouri Mule

"Missouri friends", Missouri mules in France. Source: "From Doniphan to Verdun, the Official History of the 140th Infantry", by Evan A. Edwards, 1920

     During World War I using horses and mules were still the primary method for moving around heavy field artillery. The Missouri mule exported to France was considered among the world's best breeds for this type of duty. "He kept the artillery right up to the front with the attacking infantry. He went without his oats and waded through mud and over filled-in shell holes...The Missouri mule took his share of the gas and shell shock.  He slept out o'nights in the rain and cold.  He kept his "hee haw" muffled at critical moments. He pulled and pulled--my, how he pulled when he put to it." (p. 573, The Heritage of Missouri, A History, by Duane Meyer, Ph.D. State Publishing Co., Inc., St. Louis, Mo. 1963) 

    Illustration from "History of the 89th Division" by George English, 1920


Army Units That Contained Missourians

Stereo-View Image of the 89th division, in 1919 resting before a review in Treves, Germany. Missouri, above all other States, gave the largest contribution of men to this division. Note:  It is possible to see this image in 3D. Simply stare at the image and cross your eyes to merge the two images into one. Adjusting your distance from the screen may also help.

During World War I, approximately 156,232 Missourians served in the Army as soldiers, in addition to 14,132 in the U.S. Navy and 3721 in the Marine Corps. About half of these men went overseas, while the rest remained in the United States at training locations. Missouri had 11, 172 casualties (1,270 killed in action; 493 were mortally wounded; 887 died of disease; 141 died of accidents/other causes; 6,945 were wounded, 495 missing (209 later accounted for). 149 were Prisoners of War. 782 Missourians died in training camps in the U.S. Harvey C. Clark, Missouri Adjutant General stated, "Missouri was represented in practically every company, battalion, corps, or contingent of the American Army and contributed its full quota to the officers reserve corps, the navy, the regular army, the aviation service, the marine corps, the engineers, railroad troops, and sanitary units." While this is true, Missourians did have primary concentrations located (among men from other States) in the following units:

St. Louis Base Hospital Unit, No. 21

(Barnes Hospital Unit, organized by the St. Louis Red Cross, went to France in April/May 1917, equipped with 500 beds. 1,499 doctors from Missouri volunteered for service,  496 from St. Louis alone. About a quarter of those that volunteered went to France, others served the wounded in the States. Unit 21 was staffed with Army officers enlisted from the Washington University Medical School. It is reported that five doctors "were killed in line of duty, four more died of illness contracted in service, and two taken prisoner." Six nurses were listed as casualties as well. In addition, the University of Missouri operated a ambulance service in France.)

Kansas City Base Hospital Unit, No. 28: 

Commanded by Lt. Col. J.F. Binnie and Maj. L.S. Milne. This unit cared for two hospitals equipped with 2,000 beds. It was also reported that "Kansas City doctors and nurses were showing one of the smallest death reports in proportion to number of patients of all the hospitals of the American Expeditionary forces. The bulk of nurses for this hospital crossed the Atlantic aboard the troopship RMS Mauretania. Troopship manifest, June 30, 1918, with Army Nurse Corps and Civilian hospital staff and listing of addresses for next of kin:


35th Division*:

Enlargement, Click HereIn the trenches of France.  Source: "Heroes of the Argonne: An Authentic History of the 35th Division", by Charles B. Hoyt, 1919. (Click on image for enlargement)

(It has been estimated two-thirds of the "Brave 35th" were from Missouri while one-third were from Kansas. The 35th division was composed of volunteers of the Missouri and Kansas National Guard.  The division embarked for France in April 1918 and returned home in April/May 1919). It sustained 7,913 total casualties (1,530 deaths, 6,216 wounded, 167 captured as prisoners of war).

Missouri units of the 35th division included:

138th Infantry

129th Machine Gun Battalion

139th Infantry

140th Infantry

130th Machine Gun Battalion

110th Engineers

128th Field Artillery

129th Field Artillery

110th Trench Mortar Battery

 see also Rosters of the Missouri National Guard units that became the 35th Division (includes organization structure of entire division, including that derived from the Kansas National Guard. Plus more photos of the 35th)

42nd ("Rainbow") Division* :

(Embarked for France on Oct. 19, 1917 and began its return home in April 1919.The Rainbow division was composed of national guard troops from 27 different States. The following battalion was formerly the 1st Missouri Field Signal Battalion. )

117th Field Signal Battalion (formerly the "Missouri Signal Corps Battalion" of Kansas City)

89th "Middle West" Division* :

(The  "Fighting 89th" embarked for France June 1918, returned to Missouri in June, 1919. Although it was drafted, it was considered to be one of the hardest fighting. . The 89th division sustained 7,047 total casualties (1,516 killed, 5,513 wounded, 18 missing and presumed dead). 

"Gen. Leonard Wood Says 89th Was Second to None"

(By James E Darst, Contributed by his son, Stephen Darst)

     Washington, April 6-Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood, who trained the Eighty-ninth Division at Camp Funston, but was not permitted to go overseas with them, five minutes after Secretary of War Baker pinned a distinguished service medal on his chest Saturday afternoon said to the Globe-Democrat correspondent: "You had a fine body of men in that division, and its standing is second to none.  While the division was composed of men from seven states, naturally Missouri and Kansas, being the more populous of the seven states, contributed more men than the less populous states like Colorado, South Dakota and Arizona."

     Gen. Wood could not even approximate the number of men from Missouri in the division, and the roster by states could not be obtained without searching over the entire  list of all the thousands of names and picking them out, he said, a process which probably would consume a week,  There were about 10,000 Missourians and 6000 St. Louisans in the division. "And you had a fine loot of men in the Tenth, too," concluded Gen. Wood as he got in to pose for a photograph with Gen. Hugh L. Scott and Secretary Baker in front of the War Department.

Biographical Sketch of author Lt. James E. Darst

A) ROSTER of the Dead and Missing-89th Division (includes name/address of surviving family member, plus photo of cemetery most are buried)  

B) ROSTERs of the Gassed and Wounded-89th Division (includes date of casualty, plus more photos of the 89th division)

C). Complete 48 page book with the divisional history of the 89th division. (includes roster's of all commissioned officers, roster of officers and enlisted men that received decorations/citations, troopship listing and more)

D) History of the 1st Battalion, 356th Infantry, 89th Division. (Battle Reports, Rosters, Casualities, ect.)  [Transcribed by Jefferson C. Saunders]

Click here for enlargement314th Engineers of the 89th division removing mines from houses in Laneuville, France during the Meuse-Argonne offensive. Source: "History of the 89th Division", by George H. English, Jr., 1920. Click on image for enlargement.

The following five regiments of this division were almost entirely Missourians of the 89th division::

354th Infantry

356th Infantry

342nd Field Artillery

314th Engineers

314th Field Signal Battalion


Other Units:

12th Engineers (Organized and trained in St. Louis. Quartered and drilled at Camp Gaillard, "Chain of Rocks", City of St. Louis.  In France operated light railroads from Sept. 1917 to April 1919. Took part in the following engagements: Somme Sector; Cambrai Offensive/Defensive; North Picardy Sector; Baccarat Sector; St. Mihiel Offensive; Meuse-Argonne Offensive; Toul Sector. ) Regimental History and Roster of the 12th Engineers.

210th Army Engineers (Assigned to Camp Forest, Georgia, and never left the States.)

323rd Field Signal Battalion (Served in France from Oct. 1918 to May 1919)

Pioneer Infantry were used to assist the Engineer regiments. Also, in case they were needed as Infantry they could be called up at a moment's notice. They were trained entirely as infantry and had no engineering training. Engineer regiments, on the other hand, were trained as both infantry and in engineering techniques. Unlike regular infantry regiments,  Pioneer Infantry, colored and white (or Engineer regiments, for that matter), once they were shipped overseas were stripped of their machine guns and just issued rifles. Most if not all the colored Pioneer Infantry regiments never saw combat. They were usually restricted to unloading ship cargo, or gruesome burial details. Commanded by white officers, black doughboys were treated nearly the same as their Civil War counterpart in the Union Army. 

805th Pioneer Infantry (Colored) (In France from fall of 1918 to June/July 1919)

806th Pioneers Infantry  (Colored) (In France from fall of 1918 to June/July 1919)

815th Pioneers  Infantry (Colored) (In France from fall of 1918 to June/July 1919)

Also see a 1997 interview with Thomas Davis (809th Pioneer Infantry), a "black Yankee" (as the French called them) who was a native of Shelbina, Missouri.

Missourians of the 37th Engineers aboard Troopship S.S. Mauretania (2nd Battalion) (With names and addresses of soldier's emergency contacts)

*Note: American Army Divisions of World War I: Consisted of two infantry brigades, one field artillery brigade, one engineer regiment, and one signal battalion. Each infantry brigade was composed of two infantry regiments and one machine-gun battalion. The field artillery brigade was made up of three artillery regiments. In all, an American division totaled about 28,000 men. 

Missouri Monument at Cheppy, France


Missouri First World War Monument at Cheppy, France. Dedicated to the men of Missouri who gave their lives during the World War. Located at the road junction, south of the town of Cheppy (Meuse). Consists of a stone shaft surmounted by bronze figure. Erected: 1922 by the State of Missouri.

U.S.S. Missouri During World War One

The U.S.S. Missouri battleship as it appeared in 1918. [Click on image for enlargement photo]

By the time the United States entered World War I, the U.S.S. Missouri (BB-11) , a Maine class battleship, built in 1903 was an outdated warship. During the First World War, she was used as a training ship in the Chesapeake Bay area. At the end of the war in 1919 she was sent to France and used to transport to bring U.S. servicemen home. The U.S.S. Missouri (BB-11) Decommissioned in September 1919 and sold for scrap in January 1922. She should not be confused with the World War II Battleship, U.S.S. Missouri (BB-63).


Page 2: Noted Missourians of the First World War

Home: "History's Time Portal to Old St. Louis"

You are our 194149th visitor since we begun keeping count. May 8, 2001

This page was last modified Sunday, 01-Feb-2009 13:20:51 CST.


[ Yahoo! ]

Copyright 2001-2003, Scott K. Williams, Florissant, Missouri