WWI Vermont Veteran Photo – John J. Corcoran, 101st Machine Gun Battalion Wounded in Action


My continued obsession with WWI Vermont material has landed me a new WWI photo taken in France in June of 1918.  I literally stumbled across this listing; the seller didn’t mention the fact that the soldier was a Vermonter.  Luckily I checked out the back of the photo before moving on to the next auction listing.

The photo was addressed to a Mrs. George Bolduc of Fitzdale, Vermont dated June 25th, 1918.  The writer added the following info:

“June 25th, 1918

Dear Sister,

Am well and happy and hope you and children are well.  Will write you a letter later, am pretty busy just now so am sending this in place of a letter.  This is not very good but will have to pass some love to you all.  From bro-

John Corcoran

101st MG BN, AEF”

101stMG043a

John J. Corcoran(R)

John poses in the above photo with an unnamed friend of his from the 101st MG Bn. sporting a beautiful example of a woolen M1911 sweater.  I’ve attached below a period advertisement showing two versions of the service sweater.  These were either hand-knit from patterns or could be privately purchased through various supply and retail companies.

I am fortunate enough to own a copy of the hard-to-find 101st Machine Gun Battalion unit history.  Wagoner John J. Corcoran is listed with a frontal snapshot beside his biography.  He was born on May 29th, 1890 in Maine and eventually made his way over to Vermont where he lived in Lunenburg, VT working as a paper maker with the Gilman Paper Company.  He enlisted at Fort Ethan Allen on June 29th, 1917 with the 1st Vermont Infantry, where he was later transferred into the 103rd MG of the 26th Division.  His WWI and WWII draft cards were both listed on ancestry.com and I’ve included them below along with a copy of his death record.  He passed away in 1947 and is buried in Lunenburg.  I hope to travel there soon to take a photo of his grave!

101st MG Bn. Unit History Roster Entry

101st MG Bn. Unit History Roster Entry

CorcoranWWIRecordVT

WWI Draft Card

WWI Draft Card

WWII Draft Card

WWII Draft Card

John was badly wounded on July 22nd, 1918 during an attack on the French town of Epieds.  I’ve included a period map of the battle as well as an image of the location today.  Not much has changed!  This attack was coordinated only a few days after the Battle of Chateau Thierry.  Luckily, John’s encounter with the Germans was noted in the 101st MG unit history diary section.  I’ve transcribed the section:

“At daybreak both companies were sent into some woods overlooking Trugny to assist the attack of Major Rau’s battalion against the town. We could not locate any enemy to fire at, and the best we could do was wait to protect Rau’s left against possible counterattack.  We were shelled and M.G. bullets flew pretty thick.  Bristol of C Co. was wounded.  After awhile(sic) the attack crumbled in spite of Rau’s gallant efforts against impossible odds, and the troops were withdrawn to the old positions.  A little later C Co. was sent over to the right to join Rau.  There they found him with only a few of his men left.  The guns were set up on the edge of the woods in a defensive position.  B Co. got orders to support an attack of the 102nd Infantry Regiment on the town of Epieds over on the left flank.  The company formed a fourth wave behind the infantry, and spread out into a long skirmish line.  The advance started over the open wheat field at a slow walk, with frequent halts during which each man flattened out so that no moving thing was visible in the field.  M.G. bullets began to kick up little puffs of dust all around us, and the enemy artillery barrage came down fiercely just ahead.  We knew we would have to go through this, and every nerve was tense.  We soon found ourselves in the midst of it – direct fire at that, mostly from one pounders, and 105’s and Austrian 88’s which come with the shriek of a thousand devils.  The fumes choked us and the concussion half stunned us.  it was here that Hez Porter, following his platoon leader, was instantly killed.  Corcoran, Dick and Wendt were wounded…………………………….”

Unit History  Casualty Report

Unit History
Casualty Report

Corcoran038

CorcoranWounded

Death Registration

Death Registration

WWI Dogtag Collection – 1st Lt. Liva McLain – Evacuation Hospital No.7 in France


I recently picked a nice WWI dogtag from a medical officer named Liva C. McLain, and found that he likely served as a surgeon with the 7th Evacuation Hospital at Chateau Montanglaust in France, a hospital especially equipped to deal with those wounded with mustard gas.

He is mentioned on page six of the following medical corps pamphlet,

http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/LXIX/25/2121.full.pdf

It looks like Liva served with the hospital during some key battles during the war.  His hospital served the wounded at both Chateau Thierry and Belleau Woods.  Here’s a good JSTOR article about the unit’s participation at Belleau Woods:

http://www.jstor.org/stable/3405593?seq=2&Search=yes&searchText=7&searchText=no.&list=hide&searchUri=%2Faction%2FdoBasicSearch%3Ffilter%3Diid%253A10.2307%252Fi278008%26Query%3Dno.%2B7%26Search.x%3D0%26Search.y%3D0%26wc%3Don&prevSearch=&item=1&ttl=1&returnArticleService=showFullText&resultsServiceName=null

Here is a link to a soldier in the 103rd Infantry Regiment of the 26th Division who spent some time recuperating at the 7th Hospital:

http://worldwar1letters.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/evacuation-hospital-no-7-at-chateau-montanglaust-8131918/

The 7th Evacuation Hospital was organized on 26 November 1917, at Fort Riley, Kansas, as Evacuation Hospital Number 7. The organization participated in WW 1 in the following campaigns: Champagne-Marne, Aisne-Marne, St Mihiel, and Meuse-Argonne. It received a decoration streamer with colors of the French Croix de Guerre with Silver Star, embroidered St Mihiel-Msuse-Argonne. The organization was demobilized on 1 May 1919.

 

 

Updates – 12/12/2013

In an effort to reevaluate some of my WWI collection material, I decided to do a new ancestry search on Lt. McLain.  I came up with an interesting document to confirm the above information.  Nothing earth shattering, but it provides a bit of clarity to the presented information.

 

Lt. McLain's WWI California Veteran Registry Card

Lt. McLain’s WWI California Veteran Registry Card