Source: Tippecanoe County, Indiana Honor Roll, 1919, Haywood Publishing Company, Lafayette, Indiana
The real worth of Purdue University in the recent war emergency has been evidenced in a most remarkable and conclusive manner and the standing of the local university before the country at large has been demonstrated beyond a question. The military record of Purdue University begins with its birth. when President Lincoln signed the Morrill Act on July 2, 1862. War spirit was running high in those days, too, and the country was realizing, as it did during the recent great struggle, the lack of preparation for the defense of the nation against its enemies. It therefore was a very natural and logical thing that one of the prime requirements for the land grant colleges, established by Lincoln's act, should be compulsory instruction in military science and tactics. Thus, it was the United States government that gave Purdue its first opportunity to prepare itself in a military way and it was this same government that selected Purdue from among the educational institutions of the nation and made it, at the outbreak of the war, one of the first university military training camps in the country. And the honor came in a most simple and direct manner, through the merits of the school solely, through its remarkable record as an institution of learning and through the systematic And business like nature of its affairs. The motor mechanics school, established for the duration of the war, brought hundreds of soldiers here. It necessitated the erection of mess halls, barracks and wash rooms. The beautiful new armory, just completed at a cost of $200,000, was used to house the men in training here. Members of the Purdue faculty hastened to take practical training in factories manufacturing motors, and experts were engaged to instruct the men. But not only in a strictly military way did Purdue coordinate its activities to serve the nation in its time of need. Scarcely had the president's call for the declaration of war been answered when the Governor of Indiana, alert to fundamental conditions, took steps to provide for food production and conservation in the state. In a few days after his calling together a public conference on this subject, the agricultural extension department of Purdue, under the leadership of Prof. George L. Christie, was officially assigned to this great task. Prof. Christie immediately organized meetings in every county of the state, presenting through its trained force of agricultural workers, definite programs for action, and the work was well under way to continue ceaselessly through all the following days And weeks to the glorious day of peace. This mere recital of the various ways in which the institution took a positive part in public war service, demonstrates not only the patriotic spirit which pervaded the university, but its actual capacity for doing the things needed. It is a noteworthy illustration of how an educational institution had to bear its burden of the war and of its tremendous responsibilities in keeping up the supply of trained men necessary to victory, with nothing permitted to swerve it from the accomplishment of this high duty to the nation.
The Purdue Ambulance men were the first volunteer soldiers from Lafayette called to the colors before the national draft drawing at Washington and they left this city on June 23, 1917, just one year to the day after Battery C had entrained for the Mexican border. At that time the company was composed of sixty-four Lafayette and Purdue men, the original roster being as follows: A. L. Butterworth, R. C. Carter, F. B. Comingore, J. M. Donlin. A. S. Eldridge, J. P. Fisher, C. M. Flanders. James E. Gallagher, H. S. Grady, J. W. Green, W. W. Griffith. G. B. Holman, C. Horat. L. E. Horat, J. D. Horat, G. M. Jamison, J. S. Johnson, J. H. Keenan. H. G. Kerlin. L. J. Kinnard, L. T. Knight, R. L. McGrath, D. R. McKinley. R. W. McInstray, W. E. Miller, W. M. Ogborn. B. Osterday, R. G. Plank, C. E. Ritenour, J. M. Rynearson, R. F. Shewmaker, Charles W. Shook, A. Smith. Kenneth R. Snyder, G. H. Spaulding. A. Summers, R. A. VanDeveer. M. E. Reitzel, W. F. Sully, F. E. Cornett, J. M. Jenkins, A. R. Nally, R. S. Hancock. O. Reed, N. C. Hodges. A. C. Fuller, R. D. Snoddy, G. C. Peters, W. C. Aitkenhead, H. T. Pryor, M. R. Smith, J. H. Steward, A. H. Bass, M. F. Thompson, R. A. Gillespie, T. Prosser, J. Kiser, J. O. Moncrief, E. A. Mathieson, P. M. Foster. F. 11. Stever, T. Smith, V. C. Trumpell, M. Goss, If. Smith, L. Weinberg, J. Wilson, G. McCarthy and I. I. Arnett. During the progress of the war a number of changes took place in the personnel of the corps. Several of the members resigned and entered the aviation and other army service, while others dropped out entirely and a few were made reserve officers. The departure of the men from this city was made amidst the tears and expressions of admiration of the many relatives and friends who gathered at the station to bid them Godspeed. It was the prevailing opinion at that time that the men would be sent abroad inside of thirty days, but it was the nature of events that the boys were to remain in Allentown for many months. Eventually two ambulance units were established with the Purdue corps as a nucleus, namely. Section 559, which saw distinguished service in Italy, and Section 598 which won equal distinction in France. Robert L. McGrath, who died in the service of his country abroad, was the only Lafayette boy not to return with Section 559 and for this reason his loss was keenly felt by his family and friends. Section 559 arrived upon its return from the Italian front in April. 1919, on the royal Italian mail ship "Duca d' Abruzzi" and the unit was taken to Camp Dix, N. J., where several of the men received their honorable discharges. The majority, however, being mustered out at Camp Sherman, Chillicothe, Ohio, and arriving in Lafayette on May 7, 1919, the memorable day of the handing of the peace treaty to the Germans and the fourth anniversary of the wanton sinking of the Lusitania.
Section 559 has a war record to be proud of. For gallant work performed during the list days of the war, when die Austrians were forced back into Austria and compelled to sue for an armistice, every man in this section was awarded the Cross of Merit in War by the Italian government. The unit, which is known officially as Section 559, United States Ambulance Service, was with the first contingent of American troops to land in Italy. It was the only unit composed of Hoosiers which served on the Italian front. The other unit of the ambulance service recruited at Purdue at the same time in May 1917, made a record on the French front, where it had been serving for a year and a half with the French army. This unit, known as Section 598, was decorated with the Croix de Guerre and several members received high American decorations. Unit 559 was attached to the Eighth Italian army corps and followed this organization during the offensive, the Piave to Vittoris, where the Austrians made their last stand in the war. The work during the period of the offensive was very trying and dangerous.
After the armistice, section headquarters was established at Virtoris and the Hoosiers settled down to work with the Italian Army of Occupation in the Tyrolese and Cadore mountains. Vittoris is thirty miles north of the first Austrian lines established in 1915 and served throughout the war as Austrian army headquarters. The Hoosiers were billeted in a fine villa which had been occupied by General von Hindenburg in 1917 when he directed the big Austrian drive which forced the Italians to the Piave river. The city had throughout the war been the target of incessant Italian air raids and so One-half acre of the grounds surrounding the villa had been transformed into a huge series of concrete dugouts. The city also served as a rail head for the Austrian army. The nearest outpost held by the section while it was on duty with the Army of Occupation was sixty-five miles from Vittorio. Cars worked from this outpost to Cortina and Toblach, two cities located far in the occupied Austrian territory. During November and December the section was largely occupied with transporting Austrian wounded which had been left. Because of the absence of railroads in these mountains it was necessary to do all the work by automobile. The Lafayette boys were assigned to duty at a point where it was necessary to transport the wounded 160 miles over dangerous mountainous roads. These trips were anything but a pleasure when the winter set in. Often as much as six feet of snow bad to be contended with. The Italian army used large snow sweepers to clear the roads. Section 559 arrived on the Italian front August 15, 19 18. and it was in the thick of it from that time until the armistice was signed. Before the big offensive in October the ambulance drivers evacuated first aid stations back of the trenches facing the Piave river. The following members of the section live in Lafayette: J. P. Fisher, K. R. Snyder. R. F. Shewmaker, J. S. Johnson, W. E. Miller, R. A. VanDeveer. R. G. Bergman, A. F. Butterworth, F. B. Comingore, C. M. Flanders, H. S. Grady. W. W. Griffith, C. J. Horat, L. E. Horat, R. G. Plank, G. H. Spaulding, R. D. Swarts, J. M. Donlin and C. E. Ritenour. These men of Section 559 were all Purdue or Lafayette men. The remainder of the section was comprised of members from various other states.
Section 598, as a whole was awarded the French war cross. the Croix de Guerre, and twenty-five members of the section were decorated individually with the war cross, one with the Legion of Honor, and one with the Medaille Militaire and American Distinguished Service Cross.
The army corps citation was received by the section in September 1918, and read as follows: "The American Sanitary Section No. 598, ably commanded by Lieut. Angrand and the American lieutenant, Battershell, brilliantly contributed, during the course of the recent offensive, to the relief of the wounded in zones that were subjected to the violent artillery fire of the enemy."
The recognized major battles in which Section 5 98 participated were the Somme defensive, March 21 to April 6, 1918; the Aisne defensive, from May 27 to June; the Champagne-Marne defensive, from July 15 to 18; the Aisne-Marne offensive, from July 18 to August 6, and the Oise-Aisne offensive, from August 18 to Nov. 11.
The twenty-five men decorated by the French government for distinguished service were Lieut. C. C. Battershell, two citations, Croix de Guerre; Lieut. Angrand, (French), three citations, Croix de Guerre and Legion of Honor; Sergt. Frederick W. Held, Sergt. Herman H. Schmitz, Sergt. Joseph F. Smollen, Corporal Frank A. Mahon; Privates Fred A. Renicke, Croix de Guerre, Medaille Militaire, and Distinguished Service Cross; Roy S. Hancock, Millard R * Smith, Robert D. Snoddy, Thomas Prosser, Francis H. 1. Brown, Paul J. Sterrett, Arthur R. Nally, Garrett H. Peters, John Keizer, William K. Wells, Willard F. Thompson, Morris V. Rumsey. Frederick O. Biven, William A. Noble and Batiste Tilleyre (French).
The roster of the section at the time of the signing of the armistice was as follows: Lieut. Clifford Hoy, Lieut. L. J. Foley, Lieut. C. C. Battershell, Lieut. C. C. Angrand; Sergeants F. W. Held, H. H. Schmitz, Joseph F. Smollen, Corp. F. A. Mahon and Privates William C. Aitkenhead, F. E. Cornet, R. S. Hancock, O. J. Moncrief, A. R. Nally, W. M. Naughton, G. H. Peters, M. R. Smith, R. D. Snoddy, O. A. Stromer, W. F. Thompson, Fred A. Renick, R. Williams, A. Ashmore, F. O. Vivin, F. H. I. Brown, W. H. Freivogel, E. S. Kilgore, W. A. Noble, C. J. Phillips, H. E. Podmore, P. N. Preble, T. Prosser. M. V. Rumsey, P. J. Sterrett, L. L. Weinberg, M. K. Well. C. H. Nally, M. E. Reitzel, R. A. Gillespie, A. C. Fuller and E. A. Mathieson.