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10th Field Artillery, US Army

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10th Field Artillery, US Army

during the Great War 1914-1918.

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Dick Dean Palmer 10th Field Artillery, "B" Bty.

I have always been amazed when I think about my father and his life time. He was born at Wheatland, Platte County, Wyoming in 1897 or 1898 depending on what story you want to believe. When he signed up for Social Security he had a hard time proving when he was born as there was no documentation to offer as proof of birth except an old family bible which noted that he had been born in a year of a great blizzard and hard winter, they accepted 1898 for that reason. An 1898 birth date put his birth prior to the twentieth century and at the end of the horse and buggy days. One of his early jobs was delivering the mail with a team and wagon to Rock River, Wheatland and Medicine Bow, Wyoming, yet he lived to see man walk on the moon. It is hard to believe that both happened in a single life time.

He enlisted in the Army (8th Calvary) at the tender age of 17 and in 1916 was with John J. Pershing chasing Poncho Villa around Arizona along the Mexican border. I remember him telling me stories of that period. He told of the heat, the dust and how a member of their detachment was killed one night by a shot from across the border in Mexico. After that deployment he was reassigned to The Third Division, Battery B 10th Field Artillery, and went over seas with the American Expeditionary Force under General John J. Pershing in 1917.

Having arrived in France in May of 1917 the 3rd Division continued training exercises and some of its elements were assigned to duty with French and English divisions, fighting under their command. These elements preformed with great efficiency and distinction, and were cited for their bravery under fire by foreign Commanders. As a result the entire division under American leadership was assigned to the eastern end of the front lines for the coming German Offensive during the 2nd Battle of the Marne. As fate would have it, in arguably the most important battle of WWI, the 3rd Division was to hold the area that bore the brunt of the German advance, and the 10th Field Artillery was to support the 38th Infantry, the Battalion that held back the German onslaught and earned the Division the title Rock of the Marne.

As Dad told it to me; on July 14, 1918 the 3rd Division moved to the front and took up positions near Chateau Terrie for the coming Second Battle of the Marne. At times moving up during the night the artillery barrage along the front was a continual all night roar that reminded him of a distant storm where lightning continually illuminated the horizon. On the night of the 14th, however, the German guns were silent. Battery B took up positions on the forward slope of a hill in support of the 38th Division that held the front lines with French Divisions to the left and right. The French Divisions retreated during the night and left their flanks exposed. The Germans could now occupy the front and both flanks, nearly surrounding them. If the 3rd Division had failed to hold, the road would have been open to Paris, and the war would have had a different ending.

The guns of Battery B opened fire about midnight on the 14th and the German barrage started about hour later. During the early part of the bombardment all the Division telephone communications were knocked out and most of the communications personnel were killed, they then had only runners to communicate with the rear headquarters. During the night as shells were expended, ammunitions were brought forward from the rear ammunition dumps with 4 horse teams and wagons. On one trip, with two wagons, my father was on the first wagon leading the horse on the front left when a German shell hit between the horses killing all four horses, the man on the right front lead horse and three other men. The remaining wagon was loaded by the survivors and they returned to the guns. This is the action for which Dad, and two others were awarded the Silver Star and the Purple Heart. He was also gassed during the war and had a 25% service connected disability as a result which brought him a $25.00 per month pension deducted dollar for dollar from his Social Security Pension of $750.00.

Late in the morning with only two guns still operating, and down to their last two rounds of shrapnel, the gun crews were ordered to hold at all cost, fire their last two rounds point blank into the advancing German troops, spike their guns (rendering them inoperative) and with the other gun crews to resist with small arms.

Since an earlier call had gone out for volunteers to act a runners, due to the heavy casualties in the communications companies, Dad and a Privet 1st Class Ravenscroft volunteered to act as runners and reported to the Head Quarters Company during the night of the 15th of July. Due to the confusion on the Battle Field they were reported Missing in Action and letters were sent to their next of kin. They were held by Head Quarters Company as runners until August 20th when they made their way back to Battery B. If memory serves, I believe he told me that this is the act for which he was awarded the Bronze Star. Dad remained with the Battery for the rest of the war and served in the Army of Occupation in Germany until returning home in 1919.

Upon returning home after the war Dads father informed him that they didnt find out he was still alive until September when they received a letter he had written August 7th 1918.

his combat service in WWI he received the Bronze Star, Silver Star, Purple Heart, French Croix de Guerre with Gilt Star and the WWI Victory Medal with 5 campaign stars. His Unit was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation for their support of the 38th Infantry Division and he was recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross which he never received due to exigency of the Service; the war having ended.

I have been trying to obtain his service records since his passing in 1995 but have been informed that those records were destroyed in a fire in the records bureau in Kansas City in the 1970s. I am still trying by other sources and will continue to do so. I would like to have the written citations for his various medals.

I have a copy of the History of the 3rd Div. WW1 printed shortly after the war that verifies the events related above but leaves out the names of enlisted men.

Howard Palmer

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