Saturday, November 15, 2003

Just a rainy Saturday's blog.

I returned from Indianapolis last night. Third visit to that city this year, and while I saw a few new places, mostly it was a retread of a business trip.

For today, more on my grandfather and World War I, which I naturally had an inclination to take up on November 11. Jay sends this: "There were at one time two group photos from the First World War around the house, one genuinely panoramic. One photo, I believe, was of the company in which Grandpa was a lieutenant. I believe it was referred to as the something like the 112th Engineer Train. I don't recall the exact name.

"It had apparently been an Illinois National Guard detachment. My understanding is that he was working as an engineer along the Illinois portion of the Mississippi River when the war began. He joined the first unit he could find rather than going back to Texas. I believe only one or two other men out of a hundred or so were from outside of Illinois.

"The other, smaller photo was of a group of officers, all those in whatever Regiment or Battalion he was attached to. He was in France at the time of the Armistice, moving towards the front. How close, I couldn't say. Uncle Dick Henderson was in the Army in the First World War, as well as his brother, Ralph. I understand he was driving an army truck in one of the French ports when the war ended.

"You may have heard that Grandpa tried to enlist in the Second World War, too. He turned 48 in October 1941 and I believe he had already lost a certain amount of his hearing. What mother says is that he thought he ought to get a colonel's commission, given his prior military experience and training, and his twenty-five years as a civil engineer. Allegedly, the authorities were unwilling to offer him more than a major's commission. In any case, he didn't join the Army but he did spend much of the war on war-related construction projects, notably the Naval Ordinance facility in McAlester, Oklahoma. He had wanted to work on the Al-Can highway to Alaska, too, but apparently was refused because of his age."


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