Supply Company, 351st Infantry, 88th Division, AEF
The Supply Company, 351st Infantry originated at Camp Dodge, Iowa, September, 1917. Lieutenant Grant was in command of the Supply Company for about a month until Capt. Charles O. Bunner took command.
Orders for the transfer of the Division to overseas service came and the company started its long journey on the eighth day ol August, 1918. The men were all very eager for the trip and the first stop of importance was Camp Mills, New York.
The company saw a great deal of work at this embarkation point equipping the men ol the regiment for overseas. The regiment left on the sixteenth day of August and the Supply Company made its trip on an English vessel by the name of Saxon.
The general opinion is that the ship was built in the time of the early Saxons and the extraordinary accommodations on the boat seemed to prove this fact.
During the engagement of the regiment on the Alsace-Haute front the Supply Company was located in Manspach a little German village in the rear of the lines.
While the company was located in the town of Manspach many things happened that are amusing to mention. Among the stories is one told of the old Cernían woman in the “orderly” room.
The orderly room of the company was located in this woman’s home. The usual rush of Americans taking quarters was too much for the old woman. She had an old sewing machine handed down Irom the time of the “Ark” and was very proud of it.
When morning came Sergeant Harry Stiff, who knew a little German, walked into the room and the following conversation ensued: “Gute Morgan, Gross-Mutter, you have a fine machine.” The old lady answered with “It’s a good machine.“ Then in quick English, too much for the old lady, Harry came out with “It’s a H—II of a machine.“
A story is told about Wagoner Ritchie driving almost into the German Iront lines before receiving orders to return. The officer told him to back around and double quick out of the place and Ritchie answered, “Sir, 1 have my orders to walk my team.“ About this time the officer became highly excited and Ritchie disobeyed the orders on walking animals.
The “Grenade" sergeant came into the limelight while the company was stationed at this place. Raymond Costigan, hailing from Davenport, Iowa, earned this fake title and it remained with him ever after. Raymond handled the ammunition and pyrotechnics with the rest of this kind of work and believe all, he was some handler.
Regimental Supply Sergeant Harry E. Bostrom also from St. Paul had his first experience of warfare at this point. Sergeant Bostrom was in charge of supplies at the station before the town of Manspach and was late in arriving in the new town.
He came to the organization in the middle of the night and upon arrival was obliged to report to regimental headquarters when he arrived at the company. One of the sergeants told him it would be necessary to go fully armed and to carry a gas mask at alert position.
Harry carried out the orders and never fell for any joke being played on him. His mind was somewhat relieved when he made the trip of about one hundred years in the dark not finding any Germans lurking behind the trees. From the talk he understood he had a trip up into the front lines of a mile or so.
Many stories are told of Sergeant Gordon Wallace acting as supply sergeant for the 1st Battalion. In the awarding of D.S.Cs Gordon should not be forgotten. He tells of the time that the bullets were so thick the men could not sleep in the same place two nights in a row.
He also claims that they were obliged to move out of one place after a shell had torn off the corner of the shack and in another instant the “bunks" were actually destroyed by shell fire. Gordon got quite tired of the army game so left the company after the war was over and will be home to greet the boys when they return.
During the stay in Manspach “trench equipment" came in for the men at the front and every truck brought in quartermaster, signal and ordnance property. A good deal of this equipment was strange to the men handling it, but nevertheless was rushed to the front as fast as received. Everything from pigeon equipment to machine guns and rolling kitchens came along and the experience was interesting as well as an entirely new one tor all concerned.
After the signing of the armistice the company was returned to the Gondrecourt area, but before coming into this area was in reserve and ready for action in the Toul sector. The Supply Company came into the little town of Baudignecourt on the thirtieth of November and this little place has furnished the excitement for the company for the last five months.
A great percentage of the men in the Supply Company come from the states of Minnesota, Iowa and Missouri,
CHAS. O BUNNER,
Captain 351st Infantry.
Baudignecourt, Meuse, France,
May 4, 1919.