Norwich, Vermont Veteran Clinton Gardner’s D-Day Experience


The following post was originally written (not by me) and posted to the Dartmouth Library blog. I’m including the entirety of the post in hopes of spreading the good word about Mr. Gardner and his work during WWII.


On June 6, 1944, Clinton Gardner, Class of 1944, found himself digging a foxhole on Omaha Beach as part of the D-Day invasion of German occupied Europe. The landing area was already strewn with bodies and the Germans were raking the incoming allied forces with artillery and machine gun fire. Gardner, a Lieutenant in the artillery, was not about to move any further inland until the infantry made a hole in the German defenses, and that did not seem to be about to happen.

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Clint’s Battle Damaged M-1 Helmet w/ Hawley Liner

An incoming round suddenly exploded in front of him. His head snapped back and then a curtain of blood blinded him. In his memoir, D-Day and Beyond, Gardner recounts how he stood up and staggered toward two of his fellow officers wiping blood from his eyes. The two officers stared at him in horror. Then he reached up and felt his helmet. There was a gaping hole, large enough that he could get two hands into it. Gingerly he felt around and found that he could feel a soft, mushy surface that he assumed must be his brain. Sick and disoriented though he was, he managed to get his first aid kit out and pour sulfa powder into the hole and then stuff it full of gauze.

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A Letter Home

Unable to walk or speak properly, Gardner watched as his unit packed up and began to move inland, following the infantry who had suddenly begun to advance. The other officers told him that they would send medics back for him. He was soon alone on the beach with a handful of wounded and dying soldiers, all of whom would have been killed by German mortar fire had not a group of British troops happened along. The British moved the wounded Americans up the beach to a sheltered area among some rocks.

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Rutland Herald Article

After 23 hours wounded on the beach, a group of medics finally arrived and moved Gardner and the others to a field hospital in Vierville. There Gardner made the happy discovery that what he had felt through the gash in his helmet was not his brain, but badly lacerated scalp tissue. Though his skull was scarred, it was not broken. Getting the helmet off was another matter: it took three doctors and a fair amount of pulling and twisting as the edges had curled in and were imbedded in his scalp. Eventually Gardner was sent back to England to recover, but that was not the end of the war for him. Later he would find himself being bombed by friendly fire during Battle of the Bulge and still later he would serve as the American Commandant at Buchenwald following its liberation.

Gardner’s helmet remains, to this day, the most damaged helmet whose wearer survived his wounds.

To see Clint Gardner’s helmet or to read his letter home ask for MS-1109. A guide to the collection is available. To read his book, D-Day and Beyond, ask for Alumni G1728.

 

100 Years Later: Vermont’s Entry into the First World War


It has been called THE GREAT WAR and THE WAR TO END ALL WARS.

According to Tweets from WWI, the American intervention in the war can be summarized as:

There is only room for one: ‘s idealism vs. German ‘s imperialism (US caricature).

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Today, we know it as World War One (WWI). It began in 1914 and ended with an armistice at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. The global toll had already reached nearly 40 million casualties, including American losses of 117,465 dead and 204,002 wounded.

100 Years Ago Today

After War was officially declared (House and Senate) on April 6th, 1917 the U.S. began preparations to enter the quagmire of European trench warfare.

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Vermonter John Corcoran (r) in WWI

In June of 1917, U.S. transport ships carrying nearly 15,000 U.S. troops (many from New England) in the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) approached the shores of France, these soldiers would join the Allied fight against the Central Powers.  They disembarked at the port of Saint Nazaire; the landing site had been kept secret because of the menace of German submarines, but by the time the Americans had lined up to take their first salute on French soil, an enthusiastic crowd had gathered to welcome them. However, the “Doughboys,” as the British referred to the green American troops, were said to be untrained and ill-equipped, untested for the rigors of fighting along the Western Front.

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PortraitsofWar’s WWI Smithsonian Cover

As U.S. troops landed in France, Americans were mindful of a 125+ year old debt owed that nation. France had been the colonists’ most important ally during the Revolutionary War, having supplied money, material and military brains. The Marquis de Lafayette had fought beside Patriot soldiers, equipping some of them at his own expense. He won the affection of George Washington and became a hero to the young nation. Urged on by Lafayette, France had sent ships, troops, and arms that played a key role in the Patriots’ victory. In early July 1917, the newly arrived American Expeditionary Force troops marched under the Arc de Triomphe, cheered by the people of Paris. In a ceremony at Lafayette’s tomb, where the Frenchman lies buried under dirt from Bunker Hill, an American officer lay down a wreath of pink and white roses. Another officer stepped forward, snapped a salute, and declared: “Lafayette, we are here!”

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Earl F. Lavallee of Winooski, VT in Germany, 1918.

As followers of PortraitsofWar will know, we take a great pride in providing interesting and never-before-seen imagery and narration of wartime photography ranging from the American Civil War to the Korean War. In most cases, I take an authentic photograph from my personal collection and work towards uncovering various details that hopefully elucidate some aspect of the photo.

101st Ammunition Train

In this case, I worked the other way around. My familiarity with the First World War history of the State of Vermont is well known to followers of this blog as well as within my home state. One of my favorite Vermont units to serve in the war was the 101st Ammunition Train of the 26th “Yankee Division”.

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Jeannine Russell (Vermont Agency of Transportation Archaeology Officer), Myself (Vermont Agency of Transportation Archaeologist) and David Schütz (Vermont State Curator) inspecting WWI flags

Only a week ago I was lucky enough to be invited into the bowels of the Vermont Historical Society storage area to inspect a series of American Civil War flags with a few colleagues of mine from work. While in the holding area I mentioned that a series of WWI groups had donated regimental flags and/or guidons to the State of Vermont in the years following the war.

Although I can be a bit fuzzy in my recollections, I apparently had my facts straight and we moved a series of shelves to uncover the aforementioned flags. As I fingered through the labels I instantly recognized the attribution: 101st flags. Please see below for a bit of insight into my recollection…

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101st Ammunition Train Guidon Donation Alert, Burlington Free Press, February, 1919

Ok – So my first attempt at searching on the Library of Congress Newspaper website turned up only one reference to the flags, I kept searching (tried COLORS) and came up with this…

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Flags presented

The above snippit from a 1919 Burlington Free Press article reads:

Colors Presented

War Flags and Shields Presented to State

Montpelier, Oct. 23 – The presentation of the colors and shields of the organizations from Vermont participating in the the world war occurred this evening in the State House with some 200 veterans attending and over 400 spectators in the seats of the representative hall and balcony.

The services were fitting and were attended by many of the men who have been prominent in the connection with the war. Col. F.B. Thomas presided over the exercise and the program carried out consisted of the “History of the 57th Pioneer Infantry” Capt. Ernest W. Gibson – Brattleboro

Presentation of colors – First Vermont and 57th Pioneer Infantry, Col. F. B. Thomas… History and presentation of colors of 302nd Field Artillery , Color Sergeant Albert J. Seguin of Newport.

History and presentation of 101st Ammunition Train Col. William J. Keville of Boston Mass.

Presentation of guidon, Company E. 101st Ammunition Train, Capt. Harold M. Howe of Northfield, VT.

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Ca. 1919 Co. E101st Ammunition Train guidon photo (from Brennan C. Gauthier Collection)

Presentation of guidon, Company F 101st Ammunition Train, Captain McMath

Presentation of guidon, Company G, 101st Ammunition Train, Chester Mooney of Newport.

As I stated earlier, I remembered the fact that the 101st and the 302nd had presented the State of Vermont with standards and guidons from prominent units representing Vermont involvement in the war. The following photos show the results of my inquiries:

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Left to Right: Jeannine Russell (Vermont Agency of Transportation Archaeology Officer), Myself (Vermont Agency of Transportation Archaeologist) an David Schütz (Vermont State Curator)

In the above photo we have just unrolled the 101st Ammunition Train guidons from their muslin cocoons. Present are representative samples of Co. C, G, F and E of the 101st. Each of these matches with the above 1919 article. How amazing is it to read a 98 year old article about a presentation and see the EXACT pieces in living color?

I’m particular excited about the Co. E guidon. I own a ratty panoramic photo taken of the unit when they returned in 1919. Click here to see ever single facial feature of the men in that group.

Ok – so here’s a photo of the guidon taken right before donation in 1919:

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And here’s the guidon today (my big head is at the left edge of the frame):

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WWI guidons of the 101st Ammunition Train

Also, I requested that the regimental flag of the 302nd Field Artillery be brought out for photographing. Special thanks to Jonathan Croft for being the photographer!

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302nd Field Artillery

Has it really been 100 years?

WWI 26th Division Chaplain Photo – Bloomfield, VT Native Arthur LeVeer in France, 1918


It’s always fun to sift through assorted boxes from my collection in search of new material to post here to PortraitofWar. In tonight’s case, I stumbled across a portrait shot of a WWI Catholic chaplain from my adopted home of Vermont!  With only 16,000 soldiers, marines and sailors during WWI, Vermont is a hard state to collect.

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102nd Infantry Regiment Chaplain Arthur J. LeVeer in 1918

Chaplain Arthur Joseph LaVeer was born along the Connecticut River in the Northeast Kingdom (a regional name) town of Bloomfield, Vermont on February 3rd, 1886. Commissioned as a 1st Lt. on August 22nd, 1918, LeVeer was quickly sent overseas to serve as a chaplain with the 102nd Infantry Regiment of the 26th “Yankee Division.”

Identified chaplain photos are incredibly hard to find on the open market, and to find an example taken overseas showing a unit patch and chaplain insignia makes this an exciting acquisition. Father LeVeer served at St. Norbert’s Church in Hardwick for the remainder of his life; this is a spot that I’ve passed hundreds of times during my life without giving a second thought to the WWI history of the area.

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Arthur’s WWI Record

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Arthur’s WWII Draft Card

Rev. Arthur LeVeer is buried in the Mount Cavalry Cemetery in Saint Albans, Franklin County, Vermont.

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LeVeer in the 1960s

Local Burlington, VT WWI Headstone Research – William F. Duggan (1895-1970)


My daily jogging routine takes me past St. Joseph Cemetery in Burlington, VT; this cemetery is fairly discrete with no over-the-top entryway and is located in a section of Burlington typically used as a pass-between for the Old North End and the UVM campus.  St. Joseph is the oldest Catholic cemetery in Burlington, and primarily consists of Irish-Catholic and French-Catholic burials.  The cemetery property was donated by Col. Archibald Waterman Hyde (1786-1847) in 1830, a War of 1812 veteran who served as Barracks Master in Burlington during the war.  According to his FindaGrave.com entry, Hyde:

“In his later years he affected antique costumes and habits, dressed in small-clothes, wore knee- and shoe-buckles, or long boots, with a long cue hanging down his back; eulogized the forefathers, and lamented the degeneracy of their descendants. He was a man of his word, a faithful friend, open-handed to the poor. He never married.”

An interesting side-piece to this post! (So many questions about Hyde….)  Now let’s focus on William F. Duggan…

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William F. Duggan Headstone

I always take pause to check out the various headstones as I do my pre and post run stretches, and I take particular notice of interesting military-related graves. In this case, I found a semi-obscured headstone with three small American flags clearly marking a veteran grave.  I snapped a picture in hopes of researching and posting the info to PortraitsofWar.  This post is dedicated to William F. Duggan – just an ordinary Vermont WWI veteran who deserves a place in the digital world!  I hope a few of his relatives chime in…

Biography

William Francis Duggan was born on September 25th, 1895 in Burlington, Chittenden County, VT.  The son of William Amos and Katherine M. Duggan, he married Georgianna Esther Hall of 19 Cherry Street, Burlington on June 6th, 1916.

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1st Marriage Registration Card

William was sent away to war a few years later and served in a number of disparate units during the three months he spent in France and Germany during the war; he served stateside with the 52nd Aero Squadron from March until June 17th, 1918, and then transferred to Battery B of the 110th Field Artillery (29th Division) until July 10th, he then transferred again to Company L of the 340th Infantry Regiment, 85th Division, and later to Battery F of the 137th Field Artillery, 41st Division.   He served overseas with the 137th from October 6th, 1918 until December 24th, 1918.  He left Europe and returned to the US on January 17th, 1919, where he was summarily discharged.  His home at the time (and for years prior) was 57 Rose Street, Burlington, Chittenden County, VT:

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Duggan’s Childhoom Home – 57 Rose Street, Burlington

William F. Duggan’s Wartime Record

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WWI Service Record

With William’s WWI service record researched, I began to look into his pre and postwar life in Burlington.  He lived in the my community, and such, I’m interested in his comings and goings on the streets that I frequent.  It turns out that Will likely knew the streets of Burlington better than most 2016 residents!  During his lifetime, William F. Duggan worked as a streetcar operator, fireman,used furniture salesman, taxi driver (many years), and as a Burlington Electric employee.  Quite the credentials!

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WWI Draft Card – Note STREETCAR Operator

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1928 Burlington Directory – Note occupation as second hand furniture salesman

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1944 Burlington Directory – Note occupation as fireman at Fort Ethan Allen

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WWII Draft Card – Note occupation as Burlington Light Department

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1954 Burlington Directory – Note occupation as taxi driver at the corner of Main and St. Paul St.

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1962 Burlington Directory – Finally retired!  Woo Hoo!

 

 

Although I can’t find the marriage record for his second marriage, I do know that he remarried later in life and had six children with his second wife.  William and Mary Louis Rielling had six children together – Patricia, Dorothy (Quintin), Mary (Kidder), Elizabeth (Rousseau), Kathleen (Dutra), and Robert Duggan.  As of the writing of this post, only Patricia has passed.

William sounds like an incredible guy, and I hope to learn more about him and his exploits through this post. A wartime photo of him would be the icing on the cake!

I plan to trim a bit of the grass around his headstone to allow for easier view, and he will certainly be a part of my daily run routine for years to come 🙂

 

 

 

WWI Vermont RPPC Photo – Herbert L. French of Stratton/Lononderry, VT 1918 France 78th Div.


WWI Photos of Vermonters are hard to find and I continually search for superlative examples at flea markets and yard sales.  This past May I was lucky enough to encounter a Vermonter dealer at a Massachusetts flea market.  Low and behold, the seller had a fantastic image of a WWI Vermonter for sale!   Herbert L. French is identified as being from Stratton, VT and as being a member of the 307th Field Artillery of the 78th Division.

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Herbert L. French

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WWI Vermont Roster Entry

WWI Vermont Roster Entry

Misidentified WWI Veteran Grave Card

Misidentified WWI Veteran Grave Card

WWI Draft Card

WWI Draft Card

WWII Draft Card

WWII Draft Card