WWI Photo Collection – 31st Railway Engineers in France


I love collecting WWI albums and named photo groupings.  They are much harder to come by compared with the relatively plentiful single photo purchases.  In this case, I was able to come across a wonderful grouping of photos from the grandson of a WWI 31st Engineer veteran.  I promised to post the photos on the site to help raise interest in this obscure unit and help bring this man’s photos to the digital world.  Digital preservation allows thousands of viewers to enjoy images that would otherwise be relegated to the corner of a dusty upstairs closet.  I will do my best to describe what I can about the unit and share a few biographical vignettes.

Pvt. Herbert Conner posed in France

Pvt. Conner

 

“My grandfather was born in 1892 in Fordsville, Kentucky later the family moved to Amity Oregon and later to St Helens, Oregon. As a young man he was a prizefighter(that what they called them in those days). He was a logger for awhile later he went to work in Portland, Oregon for the railroad before the war  and after the war he continued with the railroad for over forty years as a fireman and an engineer. He never owned a car and the station was about two blocks from his house and Kelly’s Bar and the grocery store were across the street from work  so I guess he felt he didn’t need one. He passed away in 1968.

Grandpa was very proud to have served in World War 1. I do not believe he was in combat. The 31st engineers provided supplies and transported troops. The only story I can remember when he was on guard duty in France and a soldier had gone awol for the night, apparently celebrating and didn’t know the password or had forgotten it and Grandpa felt sorry for him and let him back in the camp. It has been such a long time ago there were probably other things that happened that I can’t remember right now. He must have spent some time at the French Riviera and Monte Carlo because there was a lot of postcards from that area and one postcard to his brother had him on the Italian Riviera for awhile.”

Some Guys from A Company

SS Manchuria in Port (Not the return ship for the 31st)

Hospital Train

German Prisoners

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